Our industry is ripe for change. Take what’s been happening with drug reform. Alberta kicked off the action in April by introducing the Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy. Ontario picked up the ball with its own changes to generic drug pricing and professional allowances for pharmacists. Since then, British Columbia has joined the action and entered into discussions with the pharmacy industry. Not to be left out, Quebec is preparing its own game plan, since it is legally required to have the lowest drug prices in the country.

The pension industry, which hasn’t seen significant change in more than two decades, is going through its own metamorphosis as well. In our June 2010 issue, Paul Litner, a partner in the pension and benefits department at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, explained the results of the commissions, discussion papers and industry consultations that have been taking place. From the passing of Ontario’s Bill 236, to the first reading of Bill C-9 by the federal government at the end of March, reform is under way.

And coverage continues. In this issue of Benefits Canada (p. 53), Tom Reid, senior vice-president, group retirement services, with Sun Life Financial, details how the June finance ministers’ meeting in Charlottetown will also impact the “millions of working Canadians concerned about saving adequately for retirement.”

So what does all of this mean for plan sponsors? That depends on your organizational goals and values and the needs of your members, say experts. Whereas cost savings is paramount for all businesses, how you go about meeting that need varies widely—and often requires creative solutions.

Many employers turn to consultants to decipher industry changes and design a workable plan. In our annual Consultants Report (p.15), managing editor Brooke Smith discovered that targeted communication, including the rise of social media, is key to relaying plan changes to members. Some of the other ways consultants are meeting plan sponsor needs include:
• showing what other employers are offering their members as a benchmarking tool;
• finding solutions to lower-risk pension funding and investment policies and strategies; and
• aligning business objectives with meaningful programs for employees.

Look for ongoing analysis by industry experts on the pages of this magazine and on our website—the perfect forum for breaking noteworthy news. BC

Alison Wood is Editor of Benefits Canada.

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© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the July/August 2010 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.