The reaction to the Ontario government’s decision to set up a pension commission to review the province’s pension laws for the first time in two decades is positive.

“It represents a significant step forward for Ontario’s pension industry,” says Scott Perkin, president of the Association of Canadian Pension Management. “It is a clear indication that the government recognizes the importance of defined benefit pension plans, and the importance of having clear legislation that will allow pension plans to remain viable and sustainable.”

The National Union of Public and General Employees(NUPGE)was also pleased with the creation of the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions. “In recent years, there has been a calculated campaign by corporate Canada and the pensions industry to undermine defined benefit plans, the best form of pension plans,” says Larry Brown, NUPGE’s national secretary-treasurer. “So it’s welcome news that a central focus of this commission will be devoted to the importance of maintaining and encouraging the system of defined benefit pension plans.”

The Ministry of Finance says this review will ensure that plan members and pensioners know that their contributions are protected by a modern set of rules and it is a balanced, open and transparent consultation process that is looking at broader funding issues.

These are important issues around which the Canadian Institute of Actuaries has been advocating for some time, says Normand Gendron, president of the organization. “Ontario is an important jurisdiction for reform, with more than 7,500 registered pension plans counting over two million members: this initiative makes a strong statement that the Ontario government is listening.”

“There are a whole series of not only personal, but economy-wide implications to pension plans,” states Harry Arthurs, chair of the commission. “Ensuring that they’re stable, that they’re affordable, that they’re serving the needs of workers and employers—it’s terrifically important.”

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