In the coming year, the Association of Canadian Pension Management is looking forward to the possibility of participating in final consultations on policies and legislation determining variable payment life annuities, says Todd Saulnier, a principal at Mercer and president of the ACPM board.

The 2023 federal budget proposed amendments to the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act to improve retirement security for plan members and retirees through new frameworks for VPLAs. The proposal to allow VPLAs as a decumulation option for defined contribution pension plan members was initially introduced in the 2019 budget.

Read: CAPSA developing multi-jurisdictional VPLA framework for DC pension plans

He says now that the feds have shown their intentions, it’s time for legislation that would make the proposal a reality. “I think it will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition because that could be the seed . . . for regular Canadians to receive something that looks more like a pension.”

The ACPM is also anticipating policy consultations pertaining to the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance standards for federally regulated pension plans.

While Ontario and Manitoba are the only provinces that currently have ESG disclosure requirements, a decision by the federal government to require specific ESG reporting and climate disclosures from large Canadian banks, insurance companies and federally regulated financial institutions may result in more jurisdictions adopting similar policies. “We’re still at an evolution in terms of these aspects of how we measure things [and] how to report things. It’s still a moving target.”

Read: Pension plan sponsors uncertain about balancing ESG factors, fiduciary responsibilities: ACPM

The association is also focusing on cybersecurity, as plan sponsors come under increasing pressure to establish risk management strategies to mitigate the impact of targeted attacks or data leaks.

Saulnier says it will be critical for the industry to find solutions on accountability and clearly delineating responsibility for how cybersecurity tasks, such as website security and data protection, are handled by plan sponsors.

“If you’ve got a large corporate entity who’s already managing cybersecurity for all their customers in the corporate world, incorporating those processes for the [company’s] pension plan just makes total sense, in terms of managing those sorts of risks.”

Read: OSFI’s draft pension cybersecurity standard may lead to duplication, increased risk: ACPM