Issues surrounding pensions — including the discussion over defined benefit versus defined contribution plans — continue to be debated by stakeholders. Where are policy papers taking this issue? Several websites posted by government and other interested parties outline commentary and answer questions about pension plans in Canada.
AN INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE-SHARING FORUM
The Pension Investment Association of Canada (PIAC) is the representative association for pension funds in Canada in pension investment and related matters. PIAC acts as a forum for members to share information and knowledge, and speaks with a collective voice on pension investment issues to lawmakers and regulators. Its member funds collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets on behalf of more than six million beneficiaries. Under the main headline on the home page, click on “submissions to government” to access the association’s responses on various government initiatives, consultation papers and draft statements regarding pension issues.
FINANCE CANADA CONSULTS WITH STAKEHOLDERS,EMPLOYERS RESPOND WITH DB WARNING
Within the pages of the Department of Finance Canada site, the department has posted a May 2005
that seeks Canadians’ views on how to strengthen the legislative and regulatory framework for defined benefit pension plans. Its stated aim is to improve the security of pension plan benefits and ensure the viability of DB plans. On another of Finance Canada’s pages, there is a
by the chief financial officers of five federally regulated employers in the transportation and communication industries in response to the May consultation paper. The group outlines why it believes the viability of defined benefit pension plans is threatened by the current legislative and regulatory framework and that the role of defined benefit plans will continue to diminish.
PLEASE SIMPLIFY AND HARMONIZE PENSION LAW
The Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) develops policies designed to simplify and harmonize pension law in Canada. Click on “What’s New?” on CAPSA’s home page, then go to “Proposed Funding Principles for a Model Pension Law.” This offers two Adobe Acrobat files — “Funding Principles Paper” and “Funding Consultation Q&A.” The former is a June 2005 discussion paper by CAPSA that outlines its proposals for funding principles for DB plans to be incorporated into the overall model pension law that CAPSA is developing. Also under the “What’s New?” section is a list of frequently asked questions and answers for pension plan administrators.
C.D. HOWE INSTITUTE
ON REFORMING THE SYSTEM TO REWARD LONGER WORKING LIVES
The C.D. Howe Institute website highlights an October 2005 paper by Kevin Milligan, an assistant professor of economics at the University of British Columbia and a research fellow with the C.D. Howe Institute. In the paper, “Making it Pay to Work: Improving the Work Incentives in Canada’s Public Pension System,” Milligan describes how the income-tested Guaranteed Income Supplement claws back CPP/QPP payments from Canadians of modest income and discourages workforce participation by seniors and near-seniors. Milligan proposes eliminating the clawback to make a longer working life more rewarding for older Canadians. The C.D. Howe site also offers a search function for its other published works on pension reform. Go to “Publications” on the menu at the left side of the home page and click on the publication search form (1996 to current) for PDF files. Entering the word “pension” under “title contains” brings up a list of publications published by the institute.
GUIDELINE FOR CONVERTING PLANS FROM DB TO DC
The pension plans section of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Canada site has a plethora of information about pension plans. The “Guidance” section features guidelines and instructions for pension plans and policies, and “Application and Approval Guides” contains guidelines for plan administrators. There’s also a link to the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. At the bottom of the main page there are “Pension links” to several governmental sites. Click on “provincial links” for a cross-country look at pertinent pension-related information.
Ann Macaulay is a freelance editor and regular contributor to Canadian HR Reporter. Her Web Sight column appears regularly in the CloseUp section.