Benefits Canada Experts

Claude Marchessault

Claude Marchessault is an educator, lawyer and the former executive director of the British Columbia Teachers’, College and Public Service pension plans.

These are the views of the author and not necessarily those of Benefits Canada.

Many employees may be dreaming of a carefree retirement following many years in the trenches — but they’ll likely have to keep dreaming if they don’t have first-rate, post-retirement health and dental insurance coverage. Many employers provide supplemental health insurance (drug, dental, extended health and out-of-country medical) as part of comprehensive packages of employee benefits, […]

  • July 20, 2021 July 21, 2021
  • 09:00

For years, a major public sector pension governance time bomb has been hidden in plain sight. But it may be too late to alert the bomb squad; the coronavirus pandemic and climate change may have already activated a countdown that can’t be stopped. Investment management is a key component of sustainability and central to any pension governance […]

  • November 10, 2020 February 5, 2021
  • 08:45

A report published by the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council in February 2019 offers compelling evidence about the broad benefits of workplace pension plans. The report, by Robert Brown, builds on a 2017 CPPLC report by Bob Baldwin that asked Canadians to quantify the maximum amount they’d pay, as a percentage of annual income, to maintain their […]

  • April 16, 2019 September 13, 2019
  • 08:30

While retirement income security is top of mind for many Canadians, British Columbia’s public sector pension plans are noteworthy models that can be emulated by sponsors seeking plan design solutions, particularly when it comes to governance. Some other Canadian jurisdictions have introduced, or are in the process of developing, pension governance models similar to British Columbia, but […]

  • August 15, 2018 September 13, 2019
  • 08:00

For more than 30 years, Canada’s public sector pension organizations have distinguished themselves by delivering secure, sustainable defined benefit pensions and, in the process, have earned a reputation as global leaders. That wasn’t always the case, so will it continue to be the case in 30 years? Six years ago, The Economist published a report that described how […]

  • April 24, 2018 September 13, 2019
  • 08:30

Canada’s public sector pension organizations are global leaders. Over the past 30 years, they’ve distinguished themselves in the delivery of secure and sustainable defined benefit pensions but they’re facing new challenges. At issue is whether they can meet those challenges and repeat past successes for the next generation of Canadians. A new report commissioned by […]

  • December 18, 2017 September 13, 2019
  • 16:02

There’s little doubt that working Canadians want a secure source of retirement income. The challenge for the pension industry is how to deliver the desired retirement income in a sustainable manner. In April 2017, the Canadian Public Pension Leadership Council published the results of a survey that provided key takeaways that will be useful to governments, policy-makers […]

  • July 11, 2017 September 13, 2019
  • 17:00

The November 2008 report from British Columbia and Alberta’s joint expert panel on pension standards encouraged the two provincial governments to take a leadership position in pension reform and forge harmonized pension standards legislation that would provide a solid foundation for private sector pension plans and facilitate interprovincial labour mobility. While the panel’s vision of […]

  • November 15, 2016 September 13, 2019
  • 09:05

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of a benefits communications policy for those who communicate pensions and benefits to employees. Two recent court decisions demonstrate just how important a benefits communications policy can be for employers. In Feldstein v. 364 Northern Development Corp., the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded more than $93,000 in […]

  • October 3, 2016 September 13, 2019
  • 09:07

If your job description includes responsibility for communicating pensions and benefits to fellow employees, then you’ll already know that with each new communication comes potential increased legal liability for your organization. Canadian courts and arbitrators have shown an increasing propensity to award damages to employees in cases of employer communications found to be untrue, inaccurate, […]

  • July 21, 2016 September 13, 2019
  • 09:30

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Thomas Agnew

Constructive dismissal and the corresponding duty to mitigate damages

In a recent case, the Ontario Superior Court found an employee failed to mitigate damages when he refused a return-to-work offer from his employer, with whom he…

  • June 4, 2019 September 13, 2019
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A summary of Ontario’s changing employment and labour legislation

Many of the changes that were introduced to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act in January 2018 were short-lived, as the province’s new government elected in June…

  • February 19, 2019 September 13, 2019
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Employer obligations around medical pot, benefits plans

With the legalization of recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018, employers have been preparing to answer questions about whether their current benefits plans should provide…

  • December 4, 2018 September 13, 2019
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Court confirms employer’s right to change job conditions

In a recent decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found an employer didn’t constructively dismiss a long-service employee when it provided her with 18 months…

  • May 15, 2018 September 13, 2019
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Benefits Canada Experts

Louis Gagnon

Consider health benefits, workplace policies as legal cannabis approaches

On Oct. 17, 2018, it will be legal to purchase and consume recreational cannabis in Canada. In a recent survey of Mercer’s employer clients and Canadian employees, we found…

  • August 21, 2018 September 13, 2019
  • 08:30

Creating a thriving workplace with data, personalized employee benefits

Some organizations are unique. Their employees are genuinely excited to be at work and an undercurrent of energy and vitality permeates the air. They’ve transformed the…

  • May 29, 2018 September 13, 2019
  • 10:00

Time to get to work on measuring absenteeism due to mental health

While many Canadian organizations continue to search for solutions to rising health-care costs, most are falling short. That’s why they must investigate any opportunity to find…

  • February 6, 2018 September 13, 2019
  • 08:00

Four ideas to mitigate challenges of Canada’s retirement savings gap

Macroeconomic trends such as longer lives, a lack of access to pensions and retirement supports, a low-growth environment, and persistent lack of financial literacy and…

  • November 1, 2017 September 13, 2019
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Mary Picard

Expert panel: Why employers should offer group TFSAs in 2022

At the start of every new year, many employees resolve to improve their fitness — emotionally, financially and/or physically. One pretty easy way that employers…

  • January 18, 2022 January 18, 2022
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Rayaz Khan

Expert panel: Publicity placing employees in false light could lead to legal issues

The possible legal ramifications of publicity placing a current or past employee in a false light is an issue employers should keep in mind in…

  • January 11, 2022 January 21, 2022
  • 09:00

The ins and outs of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy one year on

On the heels of the World Health Organization declaring the novel coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, Canada’s federal government rolled out several…

  • March 30, 2021 April 6, 2021
  • 09:00

Uber case about arbitration clause, not classification of employees

In June, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Uber Technologies Inc. v Heller, dismissing an appeal of a decision by the Ontario…

  • September 8, 2020 November 30, 2020
  • 08:45

A legal update on the government’s CEWS and CERB programs

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many complicated issues for employers. Prudent employers should ensure they’re aware of the resources that may be available during this…

  • April 14, 2020 November 11, 2020
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Benefits Canada Experts

Gavin Benjamin

Expert panel: DB, DC pension predictions for 2022

As a new year dawns, our attention turns to what’s ahead, the following are a few of my predictions for trends in the world of…

  • January 4, 2022 January 4, 2022
  • 09:00

Expert panel: How could inflation impact DB pension plans?

After being off of Canadians’ radar screens for years, the re-emergence of inflation in recent months is receiving significant attention for many, including pension plan…

  • October 26, 2021 October 25, 2021
  • 09:00

Could pandemic-related mortality rates impact DB pension plans?

Over the past several months, much attention has been paid to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on financial markets and, subsequently, defined benefit pension plans’ financial conditions…

  • June 8, 2021 June 23, 2021
  • 09:00

How commuted-value calculation changes will impact lump-sum DB pension payments

In January 2020, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries released final changes to the actuarial standards of practice for calculating commuted values, with the changes scheduled…

  • October 27, 2020 February 4, 2021
  • 08:45
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Colin Ripsman

Expert panel: An investment roadmap for 2022

Last year was a tumultuous one, with economies ravaged by successive waves of coronavirus pandemic-related stresses and closures. Despite the negative impact these forces had…

  • January 4, 2022 January 4, 2022
  • 09:00

Institutional investing in 2021: looking towards the future

Last year offered up one of most tempestuous investment environments in recent memory, and this year looks to be equally dynamic. It will be increasingly…

  • January 4, 2021 April 14, 2021
  • 09:23

Institutional investing in 2020: a year in review

We won’t soon forget 2020. This tumultuous year was characterized by a global pandemic, lockdowns around the world, spiking unemployment levels and business failures. Increasing…

  • December 16, 2020 February 5, 2021
  • 09:33

Investment strategies for frozen DB plans

\Over the course of the last 15 years we have seen an increase in the number of frozen corporate defined benefit plans in Canada. Frozen…

  • April 1, 2019 January 10, 2021
  • 08:32
Benefits Canada Experts

Kim Siddall

Expert panel: Designing a benefits plan for the new world of work in 2022 and beyond

As companies adapt their people strategies for return to the office or for a new remote or hybrid work arrangement, employee retention will be a…

  • December 30, 2021 December 16, 2021
  • 09:00

Expert panel: Six ways to incorporate green initiatives into benefits offerings

The Council of Parties to the United Nations’ climate convention, known as COP26, which is currently underway in Glasgow has put climate change on the…

  • November 2, 2021 November 4, 2021
  • 09:00

How employers can help staff dive back into in-person work

As Canadians watch the U.S. reopen with life returning to normal in various stages, in addition to thoughts of attending sporting events, concerts and gathering…

  • June 1, 2021 June 9, 2021
  • 09:00

Five lessons for employers to apply to the pandemic’s second wave

As coronavirus cases rise across the country and some return-to-work plans become return-to-home plans, many employers are wondering how to help their employees adapt once again…

  • November 3, 2020 February 5, 2021
  • 08:45
Benefits Canada Experts

Janet Rabovsky

Expert panel: Unclear road ahead for institutional investors in 2022

As has been the case for the past couple of years, we’re ending 2021 with as many questions as answers. On the surface, economic conditions…

  • December 27, 2021 December 14, 2021
  • 09:00

Institutional investors taking closer look at Bitcoin, gold amid inflation fears

Almost 16 months since the global coronavirus pandemic was first declared, there’s now yet another thing for institutional investors to worry about — the possibility…

  • June 29, 2021 July 8, 2021
  • 09:00

Is value investing still relevant in a volatile market?

Back in December 2018, I wrote an article asking whether it was a good time for pension plan sponsors to revisit value investing. At that time, public…

  • October 6, 2020 December 6, 2020
  • 08:45

What are the implications for pension funds coming out of coronavirus crisis?

Last August, I wrote about whether central banks were creating a financial bubble with their coordinated easing programs intended to spur economic growth and/or lift inflation.…

  • May 5, 2020 November 12, 2020
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Benefits Canada Experts

Tom Milne

Expert panel: HR trends to keep an eye on in 2022

As 2021 winds down, I have a few predictions of the human resources trends for employers to keep top of mind in 2022. Employers finding…

  • December 23, 2021 December 9, 2021
  • 09:00

Expert panel: Use words, imagery for inclusive employee communications

Words and imagery have the power to connect, evoke emotion and elicit a reaction. They also have the power to be inclusive, or exclusive, and…

  • June 22, 2021 October 25, 2021
  • 09:00

How to communicate the value of a benefits plan to employees

It’s often said perception is reality and that’s definitely true when it comes to benefits plans. If employees can’t easily perceive the value in their…

  • March 9, 2021 March 22, 2021
  • 09:00

Connect to employees through the clutter with short, digital communications

How long is your attention span? Be honest and think back to the last time you received an email about your employee benefits and didn’t…

  • September 1, 2020 November 12, 2020
  • 08:45
Benefits Canada Experts

Jaqui Parchment

Expert panel: How to get, keep top talent amid labour crunch

For months, Canadian employers have been creaking under the strain of a labour crunch. Finding top talent has always been one of leaders’ most pressing…

  • November 30, 2021 November 29, 2021
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Expert panel: Equal access to benefits, digital transformation among keys to return to work

COVID-19 cases are dropping and vaccine counts are rising. The economy is reopening and we can expect to be back at the office soon. But…

  • July 27, 2021 July 26, 2021
  • 09:00

How employers can rethink benefits, rewards amid the coronavirus crisis

Employee benefits and total rewards planning have always been a critical element of business planning, but never more so than during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.…

  • December 8, 2020 April 28, 2021
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How plan sponsors can make the new normal better than ever

Over the past few months, we’ve all had to deal with the challenges of social distancing and self-isolation. Some people have faced the extra pressure…

  • July 21, 2020 November 12, 2020
  • 08:45
Canadian Investment Review Experts

Brent Simmons

Expert panel: Inflation risk — to hedge or not to hedge?

With October inflation hitting an 18-year high, inflation risk is back on the radar of plan sponsors providing inflation-linked defined benefit pensions. In the past,…

  • November 25, 2021 November 26, 2021
  • 12:30

Looking under the hood of jumbo transactions

The recent announcement that General Motors of Canada Co. purchased $1.8 billion of annuities for its salaried pension plan is creating a lot of excitement.…

  • May 11, 2021 May 12, 2021
  • 09:53

Expert panel: How DB plan sponsors can get back into the driver’s seat

Much has been written about how 2020 was unprecedented, challenging and exhausting — take your pick of adjectives. It was also a white-knuckle ride for…

  • March 11, 2021 April 13, 2021
  • 12:00

Plan hibernation: a sleeping bear can still bite

Defined benefit pension plan sponsors who are interested in better pension risk management for their retirees have two main strategies to consider: They can either…

  • November 11, 2020 February 5, 2021
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Benefits Canada Experts

Serafina Morgia

Expert panel: How to connect with employees in a remote world

In Canada, the coronavirus pandemic is entering a new phase — vaccines are widely available, travel restrictions are gradually lifting and people are returning to…

  • November 23, 2021 November 23, 2021
  • 09:00

Planning for the new post-pandemic normal

For most Canadians, it’s been well over a year since most of the country went into its first lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. I…

  • May 18, 2021 June 1, 2021
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Benefits Canada Experts

Wendy Cukier

Expert panel: Less talk, more action needed to move needle on DEI at top

While talk about the importance of improving diversity on corporate boards and in the C-suite has been ongoing for decades, actual action has been too…

  • November 9, 2021 November 10, 2021
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Benefits Canada Experts

Susan G. Seller

Expert panel: Climate change putting spotlight on ESG issues for pension plans

The images of floods, forest fires and heat waves over the past few years is putting climate change front of mind for many, including pension…

  • October 19, 2021 October 19, 2021
  • 09:00

The evolution of pension governance policies

Pension governance policies have been common for many years, at least since the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities published its initial guidelines on pension…

  • March 23, 2021 March 30, 2021
  • 09:00

Navigating pension fiduciary duties during coronavirus pandemic

Employers that act as pension plan administrators have statutory fiduciary duties that are defined by the plan documents and by governing pension legislation. While those duties…

  • June 9, 2020 November 26, 2020
  • 08:30

Legal case highlights thorny issue of consent benefits under DB pension plans

An important case around an employer’s ability to change its practice in granting consent benefits under a pension plan is winding its way through the courts. The…

  • December 10, 2019 November 30, 2020
  • 08:30
Benefits Canada Experts

Katharine Coons

Expert panel: Preparing a psychologically safe return-to-workplace plan

Any return to the workplace, whether it’s after a medical or parental leave  — or say, following a global pandemic — requires consideration and care…

  • October 12, 2021 October 7, 2021
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Sam Goodman

Sounding board: Institutional investors making Canada’s approach to China unsustainable

With the repatriation of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor following their three-year incarceration in China, relations between Ottawa and Beijing are to be reset.…

  • October 12, 2021 October 25, 2021
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ESG investing and human rights: “Ignorance is no longer an excuse”

It’s a welcome development that so many pension fund managers are increasingly preoccupied with the ethical implications of their investments and incorporating data to ensure…

  • July 6, 2021 July 21, 2021
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Kenneth MacDonald

Expert panel: Digital health solutions take a holistic approach to patient care

Various forms of digital health care have been available in Canada for several years, but I’d argue nothing has accelerated the awareness, need and adoption…

  • October 5, 2021 October 5, 2021
  • 09:00

Expert panel: Supporting employees’ mental health a marathon, not a sprint

Anyone who’s ever run a marathon or completed an endurance race or trek knows the last few miles are the hardest, both physically and mentally.…

  • July 6, 2021 July 23, 2021
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Expert panel: Think of health-care spending accounts as the duct tape of benefits plans

Any do-it-yourself handyman’s toolbox isn’t complete without a roll a flexible multi-purpose cloth adhesive that has unlimited uses — a.k.a. duct tape. It’s been used…

  • February 16, 2021 October 20, 2021
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Pandemic blurring work-life lines a recipe for employee burnout

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, technology was blurring the lines between work and home life. An unhealthy attachment to our mobile phones made it easy…

  • September 15, 2020 May 31, 2021
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Robert Sharps

Expert panel: How is cryptocurrency impacting institutional investors’ portfolios?

Whether institutional investors welcome it — or even realize it — cryptocurrency is having an impact on their portfolios. The immense size of the crypto…

  • July 22, 2021 July 22, 2021
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Sébastien Page

Expert panel: How is cryptocurrency impacting institutional investors’ portfolios?

Whether institutional investors welcome it — or even realize it — cryptocurrency is having an impact on their portfolios. The immense size of the crypto…

  • July 22, 2021 July 22, 2021
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Catherine Ann Marshall

Expert panel: Understanding the changing legal climates for institutional investors

In case you missed it, a recent legal opinion by pension lawyer Randy Bauslaugh suggested plan sponsors might be personally liable for failing to consider…

  • July 20, 2021 July 23, 2021
  • 12:00

RESTing the case on climate change

A lawsuit settlement on the other side of the world is reverberating around the globe as it increases the environmental, social and governance standards for…

  • December 2, 2020 July 23, 2021
  • 08:24

The slow burn of climate change in heat of pandemic

Meeting a deadline in the midst of a pandemic seems like a good test of corporate resiliency and, according to a recent survey of Canadian…

  • June 24, 2020 July 23, 2021
  • 07:41

PRI reporting deadline: A race to the finish line in 2020

There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind. Asset owners and managers who are signatories of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investments…

  • February 27, 2020 July 23, 2021
  • 07:54