Time Capsule: 35 years of Benefits Canada

In 1977, the Benefits Canada tree was planted in the industry.

Now, with 35 years of bringing you the best in pension and benefits news and trends, we have a lot to celebrate!

We’ve seen our magazine grow from a single print publication to a multimedia brand including our comprehensive website, daily e-newsletter, regular conferences and events, and our newest addition, BenefitsCanadaTV.

We’ve seen our audience grow from plan sponsors to a range of industry stakeholders, including consultants, insurers, money managers, pharmacy benefit managers, employee assistance program providers and many others.

And we’ve been there to bring you the latest developments in pensions and benefits—from Canada Pension Plan reforms, to the birth of the Canadian healthcare spending account, to the recently announced pooled registered pension plan that may change the retirement landscape going forward.

We hope you enjoy this “blast from the past” as we share with you the evolution of our industry and our publication—and that you’ll stay with us as we keep on growing.

– Alyssa Hodder, Editor

A look back at our industry…

1976 – ACPM launches

1977 – Maclean Hunter Publishing Ltd. launches Benefits Canada magazine

1977 – Nova Scotia passes its first Pension Benefits Act

1977 – Benefits Canada‘s first annual survey of group insurance carriers

1977 – The Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC) is established

1978 – Canada Pension Plan introduces credit splitting

1980 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Top Pension Funds Report

1980 – First healthcare spending account is implemented in Canada

1980 – The Task Force on Retirement Income Policy (the Lazar Report) and the Royal Commission on the Status of Pensions in Ontario (the Haley Report) are released

1980 – Benefits Canada’s first annual money managers survey

1980 – Ontario introduces plan termination insurance

1982 – Time Capsule Read: Put 25% into real estate

1983 – Report on the Parliamentary Task Force on Pension Reform (the Frith report) is issued

1983 – Manitoba passes amendments to its Pension Benefits Act

1984 – First full flexible benefits program in Canada is introduced

1984 – Under the new Canada Health Act, the federal government commits to the principles of medicare and adds a fifth principle: accessibility. Heath practitioners can no longer bill extra above mandated fee schedules

1984 – Quebec Pension Plan is amended to allow pensions to begin between ages 60 and 70, and an Ottawa report calls for one national pension authority

1985 – Newfoundland establishes its first Pension Benefits Act

1986 – The Supreme Court of Canada addresses surplus in the watershed Dominion Stores case

1988 – Ontario’s Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund is hit with a $29-million insured claim by Massey Combine Corp.’s pension plan members

1989 – Prince Edward Island introduces its first Pension Benefits Act

1989 – The feds end the universality of Old Age Security, announcing clawbacks for every dollar of net income over a certain threshold

1989 – In Brooks vs. Canada Safeway, the Supreme Court rules that once an employer provides an employee health benefits program, exclusions based on pregnancy are discriminatory

1989 – Benefits Canada pour Québec (renamed Avantages) is founded

1990 – Quebec is the first province to mandate pension committees and locked-in retirement accounts

1990 – The finance minister announces an increase in the foreign property rule for pension fund investments, increasing the cap to 12% in 1990 and to 20% by 1994

1992 – Benefits Canada launches its annual Custody Report

1992 – Maclean Hunter acquires Canadian Investment Review, originally launched by Keith Ambachtsheer

1993 – In Dayco Canada Ltd. vs. National Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Workers Union of Canada, the Supreme Court rules that employee health benefits are vested entitlements for employees

1993 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Top DC Plans Report

1993 – Time Capsule Read: Retirees 1, Employers 0

1994 – Regulators in Canada and the U.S. seize control of the Confederation Insurance Company, which lost $29 million in 1993

1994 – Rogers Media acquires Benefits Canada magazine upon the takeover of Maclean Hunter Ltd.

1996 – Ontario’s Bill 26 and Quebec’s Bill 33 cut healthcare coverage, leaving seniors paying more for drugs

1996 – Retirees launch a claim against Bell Canada concerning the value of their GICs held by defunct Confed Lif; the case is settled when Bell guarantees investments

1996 – Canadian Investment Review’s first annual Global Investment Conference

1997 – Quebec is the first province to create a phased-in retirement option to allow individuals to collect a pension and work at the same time

1997 – Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s National Forum on Healthcare calls for a national pharmacare program

1997 – Canadian Investment Review goes online

1997 – Benefits Canada’s 20th anniversary marks a redesign of the magazine and a new website with customized online search tool

1998 – Kirby Commission on corporate governance recommends that pension plan boards communicate risk management and governance practices to pension plan holders

1998 – Ontario’s Financial Services Commission is established to regulate insurance, pension plans, loan and trust companies, credit unions, co-operative corporations, etc.

1998 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Communications Awards program

1998 – Maclean Hunter acquires the Canadian Pension Fund Investment Directory

1999 – The Supreme Court rules in Best vs. Best involving pension assets and how they should be divided in divorce

1999 – Canadian Investment Review’s first annual Risk Management Conference

2000 – All OAS and CPP benefits obligations are extended to same-sex common-law relationships

2000 – The feds raise the foreign property limit to 25% in 2000 and to 30% in 2001, and extend maternity benefits to 52 weeks

2000 – Benefits Canada’s first annual DC Plan Summit

2001 – Joint Forum of Financial Market Regulators releases Proposed Regulatory Principles for Capital Accumulation Plans

2001 – Benefits Canada’s Solutions in Drug Plan Management Conference

2001 – Canadian Investment Review’s first annual Investment Innovation Conference (formerly the Alternatives Investment Conference)

2002 – Two national reports on healthcare—the Senate Committee on Social Affairs and the Romanow Commission report—are released

2002 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Healthy Outcomes Conference

2002 – Benefits Canada’s 25th anniversary

2003 – Benefits Canada’s Face-to-Face conference series

2004 – The Supreme Court requires Monsanto to distribute surplus assets as of the date of the company’s partial windup in 1997

2004 – The Capital Accumulation Plan (CAP) Guidelines are released

2004 – Lifecycle funds (a.k.a. target date funds) gain popularity in Canada when fund rules change

2005 – Elimination of the foreign property rule

2006 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Drug Innovations Conference

2006 – Ontario’s Bill 102 inaugurates a new era in generic drug pricing reforms that influence similar policies in other jurisdictions

2006 – Benefits Canada’s first annual CAP Member Survey

2007 – Critical illness insurance becomes a new group insurance offering in Canada

2007 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Benefits Canada Awards, celebrating excellence in pensions and investments

2008 – The Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions and the Alberta/British Columbia Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards each release final reports on pension reform

2008 – Canadian Institutional Investment Network (CIIN) launches

2008 – Benefits Canada’s first annual DC Investment Forum

2008 – Benefits Canada’s first annual Mental Health Summit

2008 – In Elaine Nolan et al vs. Kerry, the Supreme Court rules in favour of the employer, approving the use of DB plan surpluses to fund DC plan liabilities

2009 – Benefits Canada’s first annual DB Summit

2009 – Benefits Canada acquires Employee Benefit News Canada (EBNC)

2010 – Ontario’s Pension Benefits Amendment Act, 2010, and Securing Pension Benefits Now and for the Future Act, 2010, bring changes to surplus entitlement and withdrawal rules

2010 – Together with the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Benefits Canada presents its first annual Benefits & Pension Summit

2010 – Manitoba Pension Benefits Amendment Act requires portability to be offered on termination of plan membership and enhanced disclosure requirements

2010 – Benefits Canada’s Employers Cancer Care Summit

2011 – Government of Canada repeals sections of the Canadian Human Rights Act and Canada Labour Code allowing employers to force employees to retire once they reach a certain age

2011 – Benefits Canada launches BCTV on BenefitsCanada.com

2011 – Changes made to Ontario drug benefits (many other provinces follow)

2011 – SmallBizAdvisor.ca launches

2011 – Nova Scotia’s Bill 96, the Pension Benefits Act, receives royal assent, repealing the province’s existing PBA

2011 – Benefits Canada Awards program expands to Workplace Health & Benefits Awards and Pension & Investment Awards

2011 – Workplace Health & Benefits Awards Gala Annual published

2011 – The feds introduce pooled registered pension plans to expand access to employee pension plans

2012 – The feds suggest changes to OAS to maintain the program’s sustainability

2012 – Benefits Canada celebrates its 35th anniversary!

Get a PDF of our industry timeline.