Manitoba overhauling its Pension Benefits Act

Wants to give retirees more flexibility with income, seeks input on first major review of the act since 1984

The province of Manitoba is planning to conduct a full review of its Pension Benefits Act in the spring, and is kicking it off this fall by taking a look at ways to give retirees more flexibility with their retirement income.

The province is seeking input on pension issues, including opportunities to improve benefits for retirees with life income funds (LIFs) and locked-in retirement income funds (LRIFs).

“Manitobans are telling us they need greater flexibility with their retirement incomes,” said Becky Barrett, Manitoba’s labour and immigration minister. “But we have to balance this desire for flexibility with the need to protect their financial future.”

Consultations this fall will focus on permitting greater withdrawals of retirement income from these funds than currently permitted. The current provincial regulations set limits on the amount of income that can be withdrawn each year by retirees with LIFs and LRIFs.

“These retirement benefit plans were introduced several years ago to give individuals with locked-in pension funds greater control over their retirement capital and income. There is a need to review the regulations and consider permitting greater access to this capital earlier in retirement,” said Barrett. “This has to be balanced with a recognition of the special status of pensions and pension benefits during retirement when other income potential may be limited.”

This is the first major review since 1984. The act sets minimum standards for pension benefits such as eligibility, vesting, locking-in, survivor benefits, disclosure and the funding and investing of pension plan assets.

"These reviews are necessary to strengthen and modernize our pension legislation for the benefit of all Manitobans," she said. "It is important to consider reforms that make sense in the Manitoba context, while balancing the needs of both employees participating in and employers sponsoring pension plans."

Latest stories