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Retirement benefits paid out by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System accounted for 9.3 per cent of retirement income in Ontario in 2023, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis.

The report analyzed data related to the OMERS’ pension payments, operations and assets. It found members’ retirement income alone supported more than 97,000 jobs and contributed roughly $8.7 billion to the province’s gross domestic product, an average of $16.40 for every $10 of retirement benefits paid out in 2023. In addition, the OMERS’ investments in Ontario created an additional 45,300 jobs and contributed $5 billion to the province’s GDP.

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In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, Celine Chiovitti, chief pension officer at the OMERS, said the report highlights the broader impact of members’ pension benefits. “We believe it is important to start thinking of pensions as social infrastructure and the role they can play in society, especially given the ageing demographic taking place across Canada and globally.”

It also underscores the importance of plan sponsors providing more information about their plans. She cited a recent survey by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario, released ahead of today’s Pension Awareness Day event, that found 60 per cent of respondents believe there isn’t enough public information available about pensions.

“We feel our responsibility is to continue to advocate for access to secure, stable and adequate income in retirement and to raise awareness of the benefits of pensions through opportunities such as Pension Awareness Day and our ongoing communications and engagement activities.”

Read: FSRA’s Pension Awareness Day helping engage, educate employees on benefits of workplace pension plans

The impact on GDP and employment by region was largely proportional to the population size, said the report, noting the Greater Toronto Area, which is home to nearly half of Ontario’s population, generated roughly 50 per cent of the GDP supported by the OMERS.

However, the OMERS’ contributions were particularly significant in less populated regions. The report found in Northern Ontario, two per cent of the total population received retirement benefits from the OMERS, making it the region with the largest number of retired OMERS members relative to its population. For every $10 of pension benefits in Northern Ontario, $12.33 of GDP was generated and these benefits supported 79 per cent of the 7,700 jobs contributed to the region by the OMERS.

“What really stood out for us is that one in 11 households in Ontario are impacted by OMERS in some way, whether directly through membership or indirectly through the economic impact of our investment and pension payments,” said Chiovitti. “The impact is so far-reaching across the province, including in smaller communities and for young people.”

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