Manitoba overhauls Pension Benefits Act

Changes include pension committees, phased retirement and immediate full vesting
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/03/2010

Manitoba is introducing pension reforms that will give more control to employees and offer employers more workforce management options for workers nearing retirement. This is the most significant reform the province has seen in 35 years, said Debbie Lyon, superintendent of pensions at the Manitoba Pension Commission.

“People are changing jobs more frequently, we have an aging workforce, plus there is an increased interest from members in managing their own pension,” said Lyon, in explaining the reasons for the reform.

One of the new regulations requires the implementation of pension committees. This applies to plans with 50 or more members, and workers and retirees would choose at least two representatives for the committee, according to the revised Manitoba Pension Benefits Act. This will give employees greater accountability in choosing their own plans. It is considered the most contentious issue of the reform because the creation of the committees will be seen as a “loss of control” by some plan sponsors, said Tim McGorman, a vice-president in the retirement strategies practice at Aon Consulting in Winnipeg.