The Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan grew its assets to $79 billion in 2018, up from $77.8 billion at the end of 2017.

However, the plan’s funded status fell slightly to 121 per cent, down from 122 per cent the previous year. It eked out a positive 2.17 per cent return in 2018, beating its benchmark, which returned just 0.01 per cent.

The majority of the return came from the plan’s liability-hedge portfolio, which saw contributions from fixed income and real estate, yielding $1.1 billion in investment income. The return-seeking portfolio didn’t fare as well, but still posted $0.6 billion, with the strongest gains from private equity and alternative strategies.

Read: HOOPP returns 10.88%, maintains funded status

“To ensure we deliver on our pension promise to members, our investment strategy takes a very long-term view while anticipating and adapting to market changes,” said Jim Keohane, president and chief executive officer of the HOOPP, in a press release. “Our approach allows us to preserve value even during turbulent and challenging investment environments.”

So far in 2019, the plan has welcomed 14,000 new members following the merger of six health-care pension plans, although two of those mergers are pending regulatory approval.

Read: Canada-model pensions are most efficient system: report