While some of the recommendations put forward in the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions report were well received by the industry, whether or not the province will institute those changes quickly is another matter.

“They’re talking about putting in new regulatory structure,” says Kevin Sorhaitz, a principal and consulting actuary with Buck Consultants in Toronto. “While it’d be optimal to put the structure in place and change the regulations, that’s not typically how things happen.”

Past history would suggest it does take a while, he adds, saying it could take years and not months before new regulations are put into place.

The government is currently seeking feedback on the report from Ontarians, with a written comment period ending Feb. 27, 2009, so any proposed legislation would likely have to wait until next year.

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And the current government’s mandate is set to end in approximately three years as another election is scheduled for some time in 2011.

“I can see it being done in less than three years so they’ll have to work hard to get it done before the next election,” says Barry Gros, Aon Consulting’s vice-president, retirement strategies.

The earliest potential date for effective change would be 2010, predicts Steve Bonnar, a principal in the Toronto office of Towers Perrin. And if some of the recommendations aren’t implemented before the 2011 election, he thinks that could post a problem for the government.

“I don’t think I would want to be in a position going into an election without making any fundamental progress on the pension front in an environment when I am anticipating that given the current market turmoil, people will still be thinking of pensions,” explains Bonnar.

Although it could take some time for these recommendations to come to fruition, there is some concern there could be a shift in the provincial government’s agenda.

“My concern would be that government priorities can change very quickly,” says Evan Howard, a partner in Osler’s pension and benefits group. “I would hope that looking at some of these proposals and considering them remains a priority for the government because it’s something—as the report rightly notes—that has been ignored for the last 20 years.”

With files from April Scott-Clarke.

To comment on this story, email craig.sebastiano@rci.rogers.com.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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