Ontario's Proposed Pension Reforms
The McGuinty government announced reforms to the employment pension system that would assist pensioners, plan members and sponsors.
This is part of a multi-step process that represents the first pension reform of this magnitude in more than 20 years.
The reforms strike a balance among the diverse interests of pension plan sponsors, plan members and pensioners. They also build on the broad public consultations held by the government and the recommendations of the Expert Commission on Pensions.
The government's package of pension reforms includes the following proposals:
MEASURES TO ASSIST AND SUPPORT PENSIONERS AND PLAN MEMBERS
- Extend grow-in benefits to all eligible members whose employment is terminated by their employer other than for cause. Grow-in benefits allow some terminated members of pension plans to qualify for early retirement benefits they would not otherwise be eligible to receive, if their age plus years of service total at least 55. This proposed reform would make grow-in benefits available to more individuals affected by layoffs.
- Provide for immediate vesting for members. Vesting means that a member has acquired the right to eventually receive a pension. This would provide a modest increase in pension coverage.
- Improve access to information for pensioners so they get information about their pensions more quickly. These proposals respond to member and pensioner concerns and provide more transparency.
- Enhance the security of pension benefits for members and pensioners by enabling the regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, to require special valuations for plans at risk. This would offer pensioners and members additional protection through improved oversight.
MEASURES TO ASSIST AND SUPPORT PLAN SPONSORS
- Eliminate partial wind-ups. A partial wind-up occurs when only part of a pension plan is closed. This would simplify administration and reduce compliance costs for plan administrators and sponsors.
- Clarify requirements for plan administration. This would also reduce compliance costs.
- Enable plans to restructure more easily, while protecting members' interests. This would simplify the regulatory approval process while providing more flexibility in commercial transactions, like mergers and divestments.
- Allow sponsors to amend plan rules to permit phased retirement, a measure that would enhance labour force flexibility and help employers retain valuable employees.