Saskatchewan’s Public Employees Benefits Agency is transitioning to a not-for-profit corporation.
The PEBA began pursuing the transition in 2021 at the request of the trustees of the two largest pension plans it administers — the Public Employees Pension Plan and the Municipal Employees Pension Plan. The not-for-profit will begin operations on Jan. 1, 2024 under the name Plannera Pensions and Benefits, which was developed based on input from the PEBA’s employees, as well as plan sponsors and members.
“[The two boards] looked at it from the perspective of, ‘What’s in the best interest of plan members?’ and they wanted to make sure the organization that administered the pension plan was sustainable and high performing over the longer term,” says Jeremy Phillips, the PEBA’s assistant deputy minister.
The PEBA is one of the last provincial government agencies in Canada to administer public pensions on behalf of pension boards, he notes, so there’s an opportunity to look at the Canadian model and adopt the best practices for the benefit of all plan members.
“For most members, there’s going to be a sense of ease that their pension is administered by their board and it’s done by an agent or an organization at arm’s length in Saskatchewan. It also allows the administrator to fully focus on plan members.”
Phillips says the not-for-profit model also aligns funding and direction and provides an increased ability to attract and retain talent. “We’ll have more access to high quality talent, especially in the financial services and investment field. I think recruitment and retention are top [concerns] for every organization, but especially for us as pension administrators.”
The pension and benefits plans managed by the PEBA won’t see any changes and there will be no significant changes for plan members. However, Phillips notes PEPP members in the defined contribution plan will see a small increase in administrative fees — likely one to two basis points — but defined benefit plan members won’t see any changes.
The transition will also allow for stability, sustainability and the opportunity for higher performance in the long run, he adds. “This is a more sustainable structure for the administrator of all those plans. There’s the potential for new services, maybe flexibility to look at service delivery.
“Down the road, we can look at the possibility of in-house investment management as well. The vast majority of Canadian plans this size do some type of in-house investment management, which can lower investment costs for plan members.”