Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Proposal MEPCO DISCUSSION PAPER

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1 Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Proposal MEPCO DISCUSSION PAPER JUNE 17, 2015

2 1 Ontario s Registered Pension Plan Proposal Background: In the 2014 Provincial Budget, the Ontario Government announced that it was following through on its election platform commitment to have a stronger and more secure retirement income system for Ontarians and to develop a mandatory pension plan, the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). The ORPP initiative began targeting those lower and middle income workers that do not belong to a pension plan, have not been able to save enough for retirement and who rely solely on the CPP, and federal OAS and GIS supplements. Appendix A provides current information on ORPP from the Ministry of Finance website. On December 8, 2014 the Government introduced Bill 56, the Ontario Retirement Pension Act, 2014, to establish the operational framework, timing for the ORPP implementation and certain proposed design requirements. The introduction of Bill 56 was followed on December 17, 2014 by a consultation paper, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan: Key Design Questions and seeking public feedback on: 1) the types of pension arrangements that might qualify as comparable workplace pension plans, which could be exempted from mandatory ORPP participation; 2) the minimum earnings threshold, below which workers would be exempt from making ORPP contributions; and 3) options for assisting the self-employed to save for retirement. Bill 56 was amended in Standing Committee to require the Minister of Finance to prepare costbenefit analysis of the proposed ORPP and to table a report in the Legislature before December 31, Bill 56 received Royal Assent on May 5, April s 2015 Budget Bill (Bill 91, Building Ontario Up Act (Budget Measures), 2015 ) provided added information regarding the ORPP and confirmed January 1, 2017 as date for implementation, updates on public consultations on key design elements and next steps that involves further analysis and dialogue on the views expressed in the earlier consultations. This work would focus on the proposed exemption for comparable workplace pension plans, the minimum earnings threshold, recognizing the need to balance adequate retirement income security for workers and ensuring that low income workers are not adversely affected by saving more for retirement. Bill 91 confirmed that the ORPP is to be governed and administered by an arm s length entity called the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Administration Corporation. In addition, there seems to be a growing sense that the ORPP might become universal, with no exemptions for comparable plans. MEPCO has submitted two letters (Appendix B) to the Honourable Mitzie Hunter during the government s consultation work and in light of the universality concerns. The letters reflect AMO/MEPCO concerns on two emerging plan design issues of major importance to municipal governments: 1) the definition of comparable plans (OMERS is a fully indexed Defined Benefit plan) and OMERS has exclusivity pursuant to the OMERS Act and; 2) the impact of the ORPP on municipal part-time employees and where municipal employees not enrolled in OMERS. No response or clarification has been received or an indication when a statement on the Government s direction can be expected.

3 2 MEPCO Objectives: While MEPCO recognizes the value of a strong retirement income system, it is important that the Government understands that the OMERS Plan as a defined benefit plan and other comparable plans in Ontario are currently meeting this goal. There is no good reason to include OMERS and a number of good reasons to exempt the OMERS Plan from the proposed ORPP. If the Government does not exempt OMERS, the Government also needs to know the implications and ramifications. The MEPCO Board has considered three areas of implication: 1) municipal employer sponsor interests related to the proposed ORPP; 2) specific municipal employer impacts of a universal ORPP related to costs, impacts on municipal part-time employees and those not yet enrolled in OMERS, OMERS Plan changes and OMERS Plan administration; and 3) potential related provincial cost increases. 1) Municipal Employer Interests Regarding the Proposed ORPP MEPCO shares the OMERS goal of ensuring a sustainable, affordable and resilient pension benefit that meets the needs of municipal employers and employees. While similar to many pension plans in the public sector in Canada, the OMERS Plan provides a pension benefit that is superior to what is found in the private sector both in its basic benefit level and its ancillary benefits (e.g. indexing, early retirement subsidies). Employees and employers have a common interest in protecting the long term health of the OMERS plan. With regard to the proposed ORPP, OMERS municipal employers have the following interests/positions: The stated Government objective is to address gaps in workplace pension coverage and inadequate levels of retirement savings and the Government has recognized that there are currently pension plans in place that provide more than adequate retirement benefits. OMERS Plan members are not facing a gap in pension coverage and are already making very significant contributions towards retirement, with indexed pension benefits.. OMERS has the exclusive ability, pursuant to Section 7 of the OMERS Act, to provide pension benefits for all municipal and local board employees and this should not be superseded; OMERS Plan employers who pay one half of the current blended contribution rate of 21.3% already face significant pension costs. Further contributions to the new ORPP, would result in the diversion of significant resources from core service delivery priorities. Meeting any additional municipal employer costs resulting from the ORPP is severely restrained by an inelastic revenue base in the property tax system, and municipal governments have far fewer fiscal tools than other orders of government. Dealing with unfunded responsibilities imposed by provincial or federal governments present new municipal fiscal challenges. Jointly Sponsored Pension Plans (JSPPs), such as OMERS, have complex governance structures and processes that make it difficult to negotiate any plan changes that might be necessary if the proposed ORPP is universal or if universality is tied to maximum and minimum earnings thresholds.

4 3 2) Specific OMERS Impacts of a Universal ORPP Model There are two ways the Government s ORPP objectives can be accomplished: a) comparable plans can be exempted, the OMERS municipal employer preference because it is the simplest and clearest approach; or b) comparable plans if made subject to the proposed ORPP, must have a mandatory and legislated offset of the ORPP benefit. The Government s initial view was that comparable defined benefit plans (such as OMERS) would be exempt from ORPP. If instead the ORPP is universal, then employers and employees in comparable plans will see cost increase, unless all comparable plans offset ORPP benefits. Should the Government present a compelling case for the second approach, we caution that the following resulting complex matters require careful consideration and resolution. i) Securing Necessary OMERS Plan Changes This is a key concern with the universal approach. We cannot simply assume that comparable pension plans could be amended to offset the ORPP benefit, just as many currently offset/integrate with the CPP. How would the proposed legislation be drafted to take into account the practical impacts on OMERS governance and pension policy, such as its Funding Management Strategy 1? By law, OMERS plan changes must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Sponsors Corporation Board. If no plans are exempt, then there is no easy and simple solution within the OMERS governance to ensure that comparable plans such as OMERS would be able to offset the ORPP benefit. Without such an offset, employers and employees would face higher costs. Once again, employers and employees already pay a high contribution rate (current blended rate is 21.3%) to OMERS and OMERS benefits are more than adequate. Municipal employers cannot afford to set aside more taxpayer resources and we know that employees have concerns too given their sponsors commitment to a contribution limit. ii) Impacts on Part-Time Employees and Employees Not Enrolled in OMERS Under the government s proposed approach of exempting comparable plans, our only concern related to whether part-time employees of a municipal government if they had not reached the qualification for OMERS or full time municipal governments not enrolled in OMERS would be part of the ORPP or not. This lack of clarity becomes greater when viewed in the context of Bill 56, Section 3 provisions that enable the Minister of Finance to collect information about employees from a municipality or local board. At stake is OMERS membership growth from eligible part-time employees of municipalities, local boards and associated employers. This potential pool of plan members is a significant component of continuing plan sustainability and there may be unnecessary administrative burden and complexity, if part-time employees were required to cycle in and out of the ORPP prior to OMERS eligibility. 1 The OMERS Funding Management Strategy (FMS) outlines how plan benefits and contributions will be modified as the OMERS Plan moves through periods of deficit and surplus.

5 4 iii) Costs of Offsetting an ORPP Benefit Implementing the offset of a new ORPP benefit is costly as well as complex. Every Defined Benefit plan with Ontario members would need to modify its administrative systems and processes. For plans with members, now located across the country, it will become necessary to permanently track service in Ontario during which ORPP benefits are earned while employed in Ontario. This period of Ontario service would need to be tracked permanently, even if ORPP is ultimately integrated into an expanded CPP. The costs and effort that will be required to modify the administrative systems and processes for every pension plan will be a significant ongoing burden. Large Defined Benefit plans often have the most complex and automated administrative systems. Plan administrators would need to be given sufficient lead time after ORPP design features are finalized and communicated, to modify and test their systems in advance of ORPP implementation. It would appear that the government believes that with universality, ORPP would have a greater pool of assets and more simple and efficient administrative processes. We would stress that efficiency and costs must be considered from the broader perspective of the entire pension sector, and from this perspective making ORPP universal would make no sense. The system would face higher overall costs and lower efficiency. The government should not underestimate the time and effort that would be required for every defined benefit plan with Ontario members to change its administrative systems and processes to reflect a universal ORPP. iv) Impacts on Contribution Rates A number of jointly sponsored Ontario public sector plans were required by law to have a legislated maximum contribution rate. OMERS was excluded from the legislated maximum contribution limit because it was a Plan that did not directly rest on the province s books. However, in light of the ever increasing rates, OMERS sponsors were able to reach agreement on a maximum contribution rate of 22.6%, as part of the OMERS Funding Management Strategy. This contribution rate cap provides predictability for OMERS employers in managing costs. Presumably, if comparable plans are not excluded from ORPP, it would need to be the intention of the Ontario government that this maximum contribution rate is inclusive of ORPP contributions. Adding a further 3.8% ORPP contribution on top of the 22.6% would be a massive hit. A 1% rate increase at OMERS is over $150 million for municipal governments alone. Unless the government regulates an ORPP offset, the offset would have to be reached at OMERS by a two-thirds majority vote. These have been rare in the history of OMERS. 3. Potential Related Provincial Cost Increases If ORPP is made universal, the province s own costs will increase unless all Ontario public sector pension plans (e.g., HOOPP, CAATs) are amended to directly offset ORPP benefits or the province increases its transfers to cover the added pension costs so as to not impact the normal operational budgets of hospitals, etc. For OMERS, the impact on provincial transfers relates to Public and Separate School Boards (administration staff) and Children Aid Societies as they are OMERS employers. A 1.9% employer contribution on an average annual income of $67,300 active OMERS employee salary would result in

6 5 an added cost increase of $1,279 per employee. The current $400 million that is the employer portion of costs of Public and Separate School Boards and CAS would increase by about $70 million 2. So will this $70 million have to be funded from the current provincial transfers to them and services impacted or will the province increase transfers to them to compensate for the added costs? Again, OMERS is a defined benefit plan. Will the public agree with even more public funding going to defined benefit based public pensions? Conclusion In summary, exempting comparable plans is by far the most effective and efficient outcome. It is the strongly recommended approach of MEPCO/AMO. If the Government decides that comparable plans will not be exempt from the ORPP, then numerous difficult and complex issues arise, unnecessarily complicating Ontario s pension landscape for municipal governments and other OMERS sponsors and making it more costly to operate. Assuming that the ORPP can be integrated with the OMERS Plan, there would need to be no increase in OMERS pension benefits but clearly there would be incremental costs. Great care must be taken, in consultation with pension plan sponsors and stakeholders to ensure that this lens of impacts, direct and unintended is fully understood and demonstrated in an accountable and transparent fashion before the Government concludes any position on universality. 2 These particular employers in OMERS contribution rate is 10.65%. The proposed ORPP would increase this by 1.9%, i.e. 1.9%/10.65% or a 17.8% increase. Currently, the Province transfers to OMERS $400 million annually for employer costs. Then 1.9/10.65x400m = $71.35 million].

7 6 APPENDIX A HOW THE PROPOSED ORPP WOULD WORK 3 The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) is intended to provide a predictable source of retirement income for millions of Ontarians. The ORPP will be introduced in This will coincide with the expected reductions in Employment Insurance premiums, helping to minimize the impact on employees and employers. To help with the adjustment, enrolment of employers and employees in the ORPP would occur in stages, beginning with the largest employers. ORPP contribution rates would be phased-in over 2 years. Contribution amounts Employees and employers will contribute an equal amount, capped at 1.9% each (3.8% combined) on an employee's annual earnings up to $90,000. Earnings above $90,000 (in 2014 dollars) will be exempt from ORPP contributions. Contributions will be invested by an organization at arm's length from the government. Retirement benefit The amount of money you receive after you retire will depend on: how many years you contribute to the pension plan and your salary throughout those years ORPP benefits will be indexed to inflation to provide a predictable source of retirement income for life. See how much Barbara, Bonnie and Bernice would get from the ORPP if they contribute for about 40 years. Barbara Bonnie Bernice Salary: $45,000 Contributions Barbara contributes $2.16 per day Employer Contributions Barbara's employer contributes $2.16 per day Retirement Benefits Barbara gets $6,410 / year for life Updated: May 5, 2015 Salary: $70,000 Contributions Bonnie contributes $3.46 per day Employer Contributions Bonnie's employer contributes $3.46 per day Retirement Benefits Bonnie gets $9,970 / year for life Salary: $90,000 Contributions Bernice contributes $4.50 per day Employer Contributions Bernice's employer contributes $4.50 per day Retirement Benefits Bernice gets $12,815 / year for life 3 Ministry of Finance Website Source:

8 7 APPENDIX B AMO/MEPCO ORPP SUBMISSIONS May 14, 2015 The Honourable Mitzie Hunter Associate Minister of Finance, ORPP Frost Building South, 6th Floor 7 Queen's Park Crescent Toronto ON M7A1Y7 Dear Associate Minister Hunter: Re: Proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) This is further to our letter of February 17, 2015 responding to the intial ORPP plan design consultation. We have raised the need for a timely Government decision on the definition of comparable plans and the need for OMERS exemption from ORPP, given OMERS exclusivity, pursuant to section 7 of the OMERS Act. The Government has also stated that Ontarians who have a comparable pension plan will not be required to enroll in the ORPP. Consequently, the expectation of municipal employers is that the OMERS exclusive ability to provide pension benefits for all municipal and local board employees will be maintained and not be superseded. We are hearing that the Government may not exclude any category of pension plans from the proposed ORPP. Can you please confirm whether this is accurate at all? We strongly urge the Government to issue a statement on the definition of comparable plans and their exemption immediately, so that there is a clear public understanding of the Government s direction. We have a responsibility to our members to represent their interests. We cannot effectively do this in the absence of this critical information. I look forward to your response clarifying this matter. Yours truly, Doug Reycraft Chair, MEPCO Board cc. The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance The Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Scott Thompson, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance Laurie Leblanc, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Michael Fenn, OMERS Administration Corporation Penny Somerville, OMERS Administration Corporation Barry Brown, OMERS Sponsors Corporation Marianne Love, OMERS Sponsors Corporation

9 8 February 17, 2015 The Honourable Mitzie Hunter Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan) Frost Building South, 6th Floor 7 Queen's Park Crescent Toronto ON M7A1Y7 Dear Associate Minister Hunter: Re: Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Key Design Questions, December 2014 Consultation Paper The Municipal Employer Pension Centre of Ontario (MEPCO) has reviewed both Bill 56, An Act to require the establishment of the Ontario Pension Plan (ORPP) and the referenced consultation paper. MEPCO recognizes the value of a strong retirement income system. As the Government consults on the ORPP design, we would like to raise several high level matters for your consideration as you work your way through the design. As a first principle, it is critical that the design and implementation of the ORPP should not adversely affect the continuing successful operation of established defined benefit pension plans operating in Ontario, including OMERS. The Definition of Comparable Plans and OMERS Exclusivity The Government has stated that Ontarians who have a comparable pension plan will not be required to enroll in the ORPP. While the Government has identified defined benefit (DB) plans, multi-employer pension plans (MEPPs) and target benefit (TB) pension plans as those most comparable to the proposed ORPP, the precise definition of a comparable plan that would be exempted from the ORPP has not yet been determined. It would appear that OMERS exclusive ability, pursuant to Section 7 of the OMERS Act, to provide pension benefits for municipal and local board employees will be maintained and not be superseded, so that all employees working for an OMERS employer are exempt from the ORPP. We would strongly urge the Government to issue a statement on this matter as soon as possible, so that it is clear to OMERS employer and employee sponsors and other comparable pension providers that they will not be adversely impacted. /2

10 9 Impacts of the ORPP on Municipal Part-Time Employees and Employees Not Enrolled in OMERS In the context of defining comparable plans, it is not clear whether part-time employees of an employer in a comparable plan, who are not plan members or who have yet to qualify, would also be exempted from the ORPP. This lack of clarity becomes of greater concern when viewed in the context of Bill 56, Section 3 provisions, that enable the Minister of Finance to collect information about employees from a municipality or local board. At stake is OMERS membership growth from eligible part-time employees of municipalities, local boards and associated employers. This potential pool of plan members is a significant component of continuing plan sustainability and there may be unnecessary administrative burden and complexity, if part-time employees were required to cycle in and out of the ORPP prior to OMERS eligibility. Further, there are 410 of the total of 444 Ontario municipal governments enrolled in OMERS and some of the 34 municipal employers that are not enrolled are making contributions to employee RRSPs. What would the ORPP mean for non-omers municipal and local board employers and employees? A key measure of a successful ORPP initiative will be the degree to which it can operate effectively within the current pension landscape in Ontario, without negatively affecting the operation and sustainability of comparable pension plans that provide retirement security. We appreciate your consideration of our concerns and your timely response to the matters raised. Yours truly, Doug Reycraft Chair, MEPCO Board cc. The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance The Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Scott Thompson, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance Laurie Leblanc, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Budget Secretariat, Ministry of Finance Michael Fenn, OMERS Administration Corporation Penny Somerville, OMERS Administration Corporation Barry Brown, OMERS Sponsors Corporation Marianne Love, OMERS Sponsors Corporation

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