The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) has released a broad-based framework for the risk-based regulation of pension plans in Ontario. This represents an enhanced form of risk monitoring by the FSCO. Pension plan sponsors and administrators should review their governance framework to determine whether it is consistent with the FSCO's approach.
The Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities has released two guidelines on pension plan governance. Guideline 6 provides guidance to plan administrators on the application of prudence in the investment of pension plan assets, while Guideline 7 discusses the creation of a pension plan funding policy in the context of defined benefit plans.
In June 2011 Bill 160 was passed to implement many of the recommendations of the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety. As Bill 160 became law quickly following the panel's report, it left many Ontario employers wondering which recommendations made it into Bill 160, which were left out and what is yet to come. This update looks at the status of occupational health and safety change in Ontario.
The federal government recently announced changes to the regulations that govern the way in which the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions recovers costs from the pension industry for the administration of the Pension Benefits Standards Act 1985.
Despite the proliferation of occupational health and safety provisions designed to protect against workplace violence, occupational health and safety enforcers have rarely, if ever, prosecuted employers when workers are victims of workplace violence. A recent case from Alberta suggests that this may be about to change.
In a landmark decision the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the Agricultural Employees Protection Act 2002, which created a new and distinct industrial relations regime for agricultural workers, is constitutional. The decision makes clear that the guarantee of freedom of association in Section 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not require the enactment of a particular model of industrial relations or collective bargaining.
In a recent case the Ontario Divisional Court upheld an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision that all fatal and critical injuries to a person at a workplace must be reported to the Ministry of Labour. The decision has the potential to affect Ontario employers and constructors that are obliged by the Occupational Health and Safety Act to report and preserve the scene of fatal and critical injuries.
The recent passage of Bill 160 paves the way for a transformation of the structure and institutions governing and enforcing occupational health and safety (OHS), and of the bodies providing information, assistance and training on OHS to workplace parties in Ontario. Bill 160, which amends the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, will come into force on a date to be determined shortly.
The Ontario Court of Appeal recently released two decisions concerning pension plan administration. The issues addressed by the court are precisely those to which every pension plan sponsor, pension committee and pension plan administrator should be alert.
The three national political parties have released their pension platforms in the federal election campaign. Partly owing to the ageing demographic, high voter turnout among seniors and growing concerns over security in retirement, pension issues have become increasingly prominent in this federal election.
A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision comes as a surprise to many pension and insolvency professionals, lenders and pension plan sponsors. Essentially, the court directed that moneys held in reserve by the monitor appointed under the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act should be used to pay off pension fund deficits in preference to secured creditors.
The government of Ontario made pension and retirement savings reform a focus of its recently released budget for 2011. The 2011 Budget builds on the government's 2010 proposals, citing the enactment of the Pension Benefits Amendment Act 2010 (Bill 236) and the Securing Pension Benefits Now and for the Future Act 2010 (Bill 120).
The Quebec government recently tabled its 2011-2012 Budget and released an accompanying paper highlighting a number of challenges to maintaining the retirement income of Quebec residents. To ensure the long-term stability of the pension plan and to combat the problem of insufficient retirement savings, the budget and paper propose a number of measures.
The Ontario government has released for public comment draft regulations on the division of pension assets on marital breakdown. Previously, there was little guidance on how to value and divide pensions. The regulations give plan administrators the responsibility of calculating the values of both the pension and the pension attributable to the period of marriage or cohabitation, as applicable.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has released its decision in a case concerning an actuarial 'get rich quick' scheme under which federal government employees would resign from employment and be hired by a company set up by an actuary in order to be entitled to a higher pension transfer value from the federal Public Service Superannuation Plan. The court held that the actuary had breached its fiduciary duties.
The government is holding focused consultations with key stakeholders and industry groups regarding its proposed Pooled Registered Pension Plan. The plan - a type of defined contribution pension plan which is administered by financial institutions on a large-scale pooled basis - intends to enable smaller employers and the self-employed to participate in a pension plan with fewer administrative and regulatory complexities.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) recently published the Guide to Intervention for Federally Regulated Private Pension Plans. OSFI has discretionary powers to intervene in the management of federally regulated private pension plans in order to respond to problems that could adversely affect the benefits accruing to plan members, former members and other beneficiaries.
Last year was the busiest year for pension reform and major pension initiatives in more than 20 years. This update provides comments on the federal government's recent proposal for pooled registered pension plans. It also provides a snapshot of pension reforms to date in the federal jurisdiction and the provinces, and relevant reforms to the Income Tax Act.
A recent British Columbia Labour Relations Board decision establishes that employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in comments made on social networking sites, and that when those comments are damaging to the employer's business or offensive, insulting and disrespectful to supervisors, the employer may have just cause for termination.
The Ontario government has released a pension consultation paper looking at broad-based pension reform and illustrating the effect of different approaches on the adequacy of retirement income. The most significant proposal within the paper advocates the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan, which could have significant cost implications for employers and employees.