NEWS & VIEWS. British Columbia Proposes New Pensions Act, Alberta Expected to Follow

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1 NEWS & VIEWS IN THIS ISSUE 1 British Columbia Proposes New Pensions Act, Alberta Expected to Follow Federal Budget Highlights Group Benefit Plan Impact 4 Ontario Draft Regulations Released 5 Purchasing Annuities For a Pension Plan: The Buy-in and Buy-out Approach 6 Market Indices 7 Tracking the Funded Status of Pension Plans 8 Impact on Pension Expense under International Accounting 9 About Us British Columbia Proposes New Pensions Act, Alberta Expected to Follow The British Columbia government has introduced Bill 38, a new Pension Benefits Standards Act (the Act ), to replace its current pension legislation. The new Act provides private-sector employers with more design options, such as target benefit plans, but will require the adoption of governance policies by all plans and funding policies by defined benefit or target benefit plans. The key changes found in the new Act are the following: zmembers employed in British Columbia at the date of their termination from the plan are vested immediately in their entitlement to receive a pension for the entire period during which they were an active member of the plan. zplan sponsors and the Superintendent are no longer allowed to partially wind up a pension plan. za plan with no active members will only be permitted to continue without winding up with the consent of the Superintendent. zplan sponsors can introduce a target benefit provision. The introduction of such a provision allows plan sponsors to have a predetermined benefit formula, but benefits, including accrued benefits, can be reduced if the circumstances warrant such a reduction. It appears that target plans may include non-unionized employees, in contrast to Ontario. zplan administrators must establish a governance policy structuring the processes for overseeing, managing and administering the plan. zin addition, administrators of defined benefit or target benefit plans must establish a funding policy that outlines the funding objectives and the methods for achieving those objectives Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 1 of 9

2 zlocked-in arrangements will be required to allow a person suffering from financial hardship to withdraw a lump sum amount. zthe plan document can permit refund of optional ancillary contributions while the member is active and/or at termination of membership. zthe plan text may allow members to suspend active membership while remaining employed. zthe Superintendent can levy administrative penalties for non-compliance without the requirement for a prosecution. zcollectively bargained and non-collectively bargained multi-employer pension plans are distinguished from one another. While most of the differences will be set out in the Regulation, presumably terms and conditions regarding communications, benefit reductions, governance and plan amendments will differ between collectively bargained and non collectively bargained multi-employer pension plans. Also, the use of a letter of credit in lieu of required solvency payments is not permitted for collectively bargained multi employer pension plans. za framework for the governance of jointly sponsored plans, including the private sector, will be introduced. A jointly sponsored plan will be permitted to reduce accrued benefits with the Superintendent s consent. zthe administrator of a pension plan, other than a target benefit plan, may set up a separate account, named a solvency reserve account, within the plan s pension fund. The only funds that can be deposited are payments made in respect of a solvency deficiency. Any actuarial excess in this account may be withdrawn by the employer, subject to the Regulation. The Regulation containing many of the details of the above changes has not yet been released. The success of many of the above changes will be affected by such Regulation. Some small designated plans (many of which are individual pension plans) currently exempt from B.C. pension regulation could now be captured by the new legislation. This is due to new wording in the Act that specifically exempts plans where all members are connected persons, as defined under the Income Tax Act, as opposed to the previous exemption which would also exclude plans with high earners who are not connected to the employer. This means that individual pension plans or designated plans where any of the members are non-owner employees or executives could now be subject to significant additional regulation and resulting loss of flexibility. Details of what this means exactly to these sponsors will likely be spelled out in the Regulation. Alberta is expected to soon follow with a closely harmonized act, in line with the 2008 recommendations of the Alberta/British Columbia Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards. Alberta legislation is expected to be introduced in the fall of 2012, although it may be introduced as early as this spring. We will closely follow legislative developments and will be prepared to assist clients with the challenges and opportunities presented by this new legislation in Alberta and British Columbia Federal Budget Highlights Group Benefit Plan Impact The 2012 Federal Budget has proposed amendments which will have an impact on some employee benefits plans. In particular, there is a change to the income tax treatment of group sickness or accident insurance plans and to long-term disability plans for federallyregulated private sector employers Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 2 of 9

3 Changes to Taxable Benefits Wording in the Income Tax Act The budget indicates that, effective March 29, 2012, the Income Tax Act will be changed to provide for more neutral and fair tax treatment of beneficiaries under a group sickness or accident insurance plan. The budget states that employer contributions on non-periodic benefits in respect to a sickness or accident where there is no loss of employment income (which include critical illness and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage) will be taxable to the employee for income tax purposes. Employer-paid premium for AD&D and/or critical illness coverage will now be included in an employee s income (in the year in which the contributions are made). The following table outlines the current schedule of taxable benefits and the impact of the budget related changes: Employer-Paid 1 Premiums Taxable Benefit? 2 Premiums paid or contributions made by the Employer for: Pre Budget Post Budget Life insurance Yes Yes Dependent life insurance Yes Yes Accidental death and dismemberment No Yes Critical illness No Yes Long-term disability No No Short-term disability No No Health care No No Dental care No No 1 Note: this addresses the taxation of the benefit contributions as employee income, not the ultimate benefit payout itself. 2 Specific to all provinces except Quebec (see note related to Quebec taxation below). When does this take effect? It becomes effective for contributions made on or after March 29, 2012 (budget day) that relate to coverage starting in The amendment means employees are subject to tax on the employer contributions as of this date to the extent that contributions relate to coverage after In other words, contributions made for coverage in 2013 under a group sickness and accident insurance plan will be included in the employee s income for 2013, even if these contributions are made between March 29, 2012, and December 31, This prevents employers from moving forward 2013 contributions in order to take advantage of the final year of tax sheltering. Employer premium allocation Where employer contributions are used to pay for AD&D and/or critical illness, it will result in a taxable benefit to the employee. It may be important for organizations to look at their flex benefit allocations based on this change. This is particularly the case for employer-provided flex credits to a flex plan where flex payroll systems will need to be updated in order to provide the correct income tax calculations, enrolment information and payroll information. Quebec employees There is an impact only on federal income tax. Quebec provincial income tax already considers AD&D, critical illness, health care and dental care insurance premiums paid by employer as taxable benefits. Long-term disability plan for federally regulated private sector employers The Government proposes to introduce legislation to require federally regulated private sector employers to insure, on a go-forward basis, any long-term disability plans they offer to their employees. This will impact employers in banking, transportation, communication and other federally regulated industries that provide self insured arrangements. This amendment is to prevent situations such as the one Nortel disabled employees faced due to Nortel s health and welfare trust being only partially funded. As a consequence, they will only receive a small fraction of their disability payments in the future. We suggest that you review the above information and obtain guidance from an expert/advisor for further advice specific to your situation Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 3 of 9

4 Ontario Draft Regulations Released On April 30, 2012, the Ontario government released draft regulations that would implement some of the amendments to the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) found in Bills 120 and 236. The draft regulations will implement the following changes to the PBA, many of which have been previously announced: zincreased small benefit unlocking thresholds are to be adopted; such transfers will be exempted from restrictions on commuted value transfers from underfunded pension plans; zsurplus withdrawal rules are clarified; zthe 2010 changes to the Canadian Institute of Actuaries rules for calculating commuted values are adopted; zthe term individual pension plan is introduced to the regulations, and such plans are to be treated like designated plans. Note that most individual pension plans are already designated plans, so there will likely be minimal impact on such plans; and zthe term retired member is introduced throughout the legislation. The Ministry of Finance has requested public comments on the draft regulations by June 1, Ontario Proposals on Grow-In and Additional Grounds for Wind-Up Released On April 30, 2012, the Ontario government released a discussion paper and regulations clarifying grow-in rules and proposing new grounds for a Superintendent-initiated wind-up. As previously announced, grow-in benefits will be provided effective July 1, 2012, for involuntary terminations of the member for reasons other than willful misconduct, disobedience or willful neglect of duty. The draft regulations clarify that a member is involuntarily terminated if he or she is given notice of termination of employment and decides to end his or her employment within 60 days in advance of the termination date. The intent is to ensure that a member does not lose entitlement to grow-in benefits by leaving a job shortly before the termination date. For example, a member may leave in advance of the termination date to pursue employment elsewhere. Additionally, it is clarified a member will not be entitled to grow-in for involuntary terminations where the member was hired on the basis that the employment would end on expiry of a definite term or contract or on the completion of a specific task, where the member is a construction employee, or where the member was on temporary lay-off. The new grow-in rules also permit a multi-employer pension plan or jointly sponsored pension plan to opt out of providing grow-in benefits. The plan will be required to give prior notice to a trade union representing members and notice to active members in Ontario in the first annual statement issued after the effective date of the election. Notice will also be required in the plan information booklet. Finally, the draft regulations give the Superintendent of Financial Services additional grounds to order a plan to be wound up. The Act currently allows the Superintendent to order a wind-up of a plan under certain circumstances, for example, if all or substantially all of the members cease to be employed by the employer. The Superintendent will now be permitted to order a wind-up if: zthe plan has no active members (i.e. it has only former members, retired members and spousal beneficiaries); or z the plan is frozen (i.e. members of the pension plan no longer accrue pension benefits or ancillary benefits under the plan and employees are no longer allowed to become members of the plan) Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 4 of 9

5 The discussion paper states that a wind-up may make benefits more secure in such situations. This change will be relevant to employers who sponsor Ontarioregistered pension plans with no active members or with frozen benefits. It should be noted that the Superintendent will not be required to order a wind-up in such situations, and it remains to be seen when the Superintendent intends to do so. Purchasing Annuities For a Pension Plan: The Buy-in and Buy-out Approach A pension fund administrator may want to acquire life annuities from an insurance company for a variety of reasons. These annuities may serve to reduce market risk, interest risk or even longevity risk. This article takes a look at investing in annuities using the buy in and buy out approaches and considers their treatment under federal, Ontario and Quebec legislations. Under a buy out annuity, a pension plan administrator pays a premium to an insurance company to purchase an annuity contract on behalf of each retiree. The contract is owned by the retiree. The retiree s pension will then be paid directly by the insurer. This arrangement may discharge the plan of its obligation or fiduciary responsibility to the retirees, depending on the legislation governing the plan. This is commonly referred to as a buy out annuity. Federally regulated plans must ensure that their solvency ratio is not reduced following the purchase of a buy-out annuity. If the solvency ratio is reduced, additional contributions would need to be made to the fund in order to maintain the plan s solvency ratio. By contrast, annuity buy-outs in Ontario are not treated differently than other lump-sum payouts. [Amended August 2012] For federally regulated plans, an administrator can fully discharge it obligation to its retirees through a buy-out annuity. However, plans subject to Ontario or Quebec legislation cannot discharge their fiduciary responsibilities toward retirees by purchasing annuities, except in the case of a plan wind-up. Accordingly, even though theoretically it is possible to use the buy-out approach, in practice the plan is not released from its obligations and responsibilities and will have to ensure that annuity payments continue to be made in the event that the insurer is unable to do so. [Amended August 2012] Note that a buy-out annuity could have unintended consequences on the the sponsor s financial statements as it may trigger a settlement under accounting rules. In the case of a buy in annuity, a premium is paid to the insurer and a single annuity contract is issued to the pension fund. The pensions are paid to retirees by the plan fund and not by the insurer. The annuity contract is considered an investment made by the pension fund. Buy in annuities are clearly permitted under the federal and Quebec jurisdictions. In Ontario, contract wording determines whether the arrangement is considered an annuity or an investment product. It should be noted that few insurers offer this type of annuity purchase. In its recently published draft Policy Advisory, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) stated that it has no objections to buy in annuities. It also stated that the transaction would not affect in any way the responsibility of the plan towards the retirees since the benefits are payable by the plan no matter what happens to the insurer. The value of the investment will have to be equal to the liability it covers, and the investment will be included in the plan s assets. Since this type of investment does not negatively affect the plan s solvency, the transaction does not require the Superintendent s consent and no additional contribution are required by the plan sponsor. As for the effects of the buy-in approach on the plan sponsor s financial statements, it appears that the transaction would not be considered a settlement under accounting rules. For greater certainty, a confirmation from the plan s auditor may be sought Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 5 of 9

6 As at April 30, 2012 Market Indices The following table shows the Morneau Shepell monthly summary of returns from various market indices. It also includes returns from benchmark portfolios used by pension funds. Monthly Quarter to date RETURNS Year to date 1 year TSX GROUP/PC-BOND DEX Universe Bond Index 0.1% 0.1% -0.1% 9.0% DEX 91 Day Treasury Bill Index 0.0% 0.0% 0.3% 0.9% DEX Short Term Bond Index -0.1% -0.1% -0.1% 3.7% DEX Mid Term Bond Index 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 10.2% DEX Long Term Bond Index 0.3% 0.3% -0.6% 17.9% DEX High Yield Bond Index 1.2% 1.2% 6.3% -0.2% DEX Real Return Bond Index -0.4% -0.4% -1.6% 12.3% CANADIAN EQUITY S&P/TSX Composite Index (Total Return) -0.6% -0.6% 3.8% -9.4% S&P/TSX Composite Index Capped -0.6% -0.6% 3.8% -9.4% S&P/TSX MegaCap Index -1.0% -1.0% 2.7% -10.0% S&P/TSX 60 Index -0.8% -0.8% 3.7% -9.8% S&P/TSX Completion Index -0.1% -0.1% 3.9% -8.2% S&P/TSX Small Cap Index -3.8% -3.8% 2.0% -17.8% BMO Small Cap Unweighted -4.3% -4.3% 3.1% -17.3% BMO Small Cap Weighted -3.2% -3.2% 4.1% -13.8% U.S. EQUITY INDICES S&P 500 (US$) -0.6% -0.6% 11.9% 4.8% S&P 500 (C$) -1.6% -1.6% 8.7% 9.3% FOREIGN EQUITY INDICES 1 MSCI ACWI (C$) -2.3% -2.3% 7.3% -1.8% MSCI World (C$) -2.3% -2.3% 7.0% -0.7% MSCI EAFE (C$) -3.1% -3.1% 5.5% -9.2% MSCI Europe (C$) -3.4% -3.4% 4.9% -12.9% MSCI Pacific (C$) -2.5% -2.5% 6.5% -1.6% MSCI Emerging Markets(C$) -2.3% -2.3% 9.4% -8.7% OTHER Consumer Price Index (Canada, March 2012) 0.4% 1.2% 1.2% 1.9% Exchange Rate US$/C$ -1.0% -1.0% -2.9% 4.4% MORNEAU SHEPELL BENCHMARK PORTFOLIOS 2 60% Equity/40% Bonds -0.8% -0.8% 3.2% 0.4% 55% Equity/45% Bonds -0.7% -0.7% 2.9% 0.9% 50% Equity/50% Bonds -0.6% -0.6% 2.5% 1.3% 45% Equity/55% Bonds -0.5% -0.5% 2.1% 1.8% 40% Equity/60% Bonds -0.5% -0.5% 2.1% 3.2% 1 Returns net of taxes on dividends, except for MSCI Emerging Markets. ASSET MANAGEMENT CONSULTING PRACTICE This practice provides objective advice on all aspects of asset management for pension funds, including investment policy statements, portfolio manager searches, investment performance measurement and investment strategy. Jean Bergeron, FSA, FCIA, CFA, Partner Tel.: Fax: Robert F. Boston, CFA, Partner Tel.: Fax: RISK MANAGEMENT CONSULTING PRACTICE Our team provides a structured, comprehensive approach to pension risk management, including implementation of liability-driven investment strategies, advice on allocation of the risk budget within an asset-liability framework and execution of continuous and dynamic processes for risk reduction. Patrick De Roy, FSA, FCIA, CFA, FRM, CERA, Partner Tel.: Fax: The returns are compounded monthly Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 6 of 9

7 As at April 30, 2012 Tracking the Funded Status of Pension Plans This graph shows the changes in the financial position of a typical defined benefit plan since December 31, For this illustration, assets and liabilities of the plan were each arbitrarily set at $100 million as at December 31, The graph shows the impact of past returns on plan assets and the effect of interest rate changes on solvency liabilities The Evolution of the Financial Situation of Pension Plans since December 31, 2007 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q Assets ($M) Solvency Liabilities ($M) Assets fell to their lowest level in February 2009, at which point the solvency deficiency (i.e. the difference between assets and solvency liabilities) reached $37 million. Liabilities climbed to their highest point in January 2012, and that month also showed the highest solvency deficiency yet, at $39.5 million. In April 2012, equity markets around the world declined resulting in a decrease in assets. Fortunately, liabilities improved at a faster rate, resulting in a slightly reduced solvency deficit. By the end of April 2012, the solvency deficit had shrunk to $35.7 million, down from $36.3 million in March Since the beginning of the year, the funded status of this typical pension plan has improved by 5.8%. Please contact your Morneau Shepell consultant for a customized analysis of your pension plan. Comments: Canada Bond Yields YIELD (CLOSING) DEC April 2012 CHANGE 2012 Overnight rate target 1.00% 1.00% 0 bp 3 months 0.82% 1.05% 23 bps 2 years 0.95% 1.34% 39 bps 5 years 1.27% 1.60% 33 bps 7 years 1.51% 1.73% 22 bps 10 years 1.94% 2.04% 10 bps 30 years 2.49% 2.61% 12 bps Source: Bank of Canada 1. No consideration has been made for contributions paid into the plan or for benefits paid out of the plan. 2. Solvency liabilities are projected using the rates prescribed by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries for the purpose of determining pension commuted values. Early application of the 2009 standards is not reflected. 3. The underlying typical defined benefit plan is a final average plan with no pension indexing. 4. Solvency liability calculations take into account revised CIA guidance on the solvency valuation assumptions (annuity proxy) announced on February 16, Assets are shown at full market value. Returns on assets are based on those of the Morneau Shepell benchmark portfolio (55% equities and 45% fixed income) Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 7 of 9

8 As at April 30, 2012 Impact on Pension Expense under International Accounting Every year, companies must establish an expense for their defined benefit pension plans. The graph shows the expense impact for a typical pension plan that starts the year at an arbitrary value of 100 (expense index). The expense is influenced by changes in the discount rate based on high-quality corporate and provincial (adjusted) bonds 1 and the median return of pension fund assets. Expense Index from December 31, 2011 Contributory plan Non-contributory plan (In %) Discount rate Return on assets (55% equities) n/a The pension expense has increased since the beginning of the year largely due to a drop in the discount rate. Over the last month, the discount rate has increased, but the pension expense has remained even due to low returns realized on plan assets in April. The table below shows the discount rates for varying durations and the change since the beginning of the year. A plan s duration generally varies between 10 (mature plan) and 20 (young plan). DURATION Discount rate DECEMBER 2011 April 2012 CHANGE IN % 4.07% -9 bps % 4.27% -12 bps % 4.40% -11 bps % 4.47% -11 bps Please contact your Morneau Shepell consultant for a customized analysis of your pension plan Comments: 1. The discount rates shown reflect the educational note published by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries entitled Accounting Discount Rate Assumption for Pension and Post-employment Benefit Plans (September 2011). 2. The expense is established as at December 31, 2011, based on the average financial position of the pension plans used in our 2011 Survey of Economic Assumptions in Accounting for Pensions and Other Post-Retirement Benefits report (i.e. a ratio of assets to obligation value of 85% as at December 31, 2010). Also, we are assuming that, under the international accounting, the employer elected the exemption at transition with regards to past gains and losses, and that future gains and losses are recognized in other comprehensive income (excluded from expenses shown). 3. The return on assets corresponds to the return on the Morneau Shepell benchmark portfolio (55% equities and 45% fixed income). 4. The actuarial obligation is that of a final average earnings plan, without indexing (two scenarios: with and without employee contributions) Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 8 of 9

9 About Us Morneau Shepell is the largest Canada-based human resource consulting and outsourcing firm focused on pensions, benefits, employee assistance program (EAP) and workplace health management and productivity solutions. We offer business solutions that help our clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity and improve their competitive positions by supporting their employees financial security, health and Calgary London Québec Fredericton Montréal St. John s Halifax Ottawa Toronto Kitchener Pittsburgh Vancouver morneaushepell.com Contributing Editors Jean Bergeron, FSA, FCIA, CFA Asset Management Consulting Marc Drouin, FSA, FCIA Benefits Consulting Cheryl Kane, MBA, CEBS, FLMI Benefits Consulting Claire Norman, CEBS Benefits Consulting Glenn Smith, FSA, FCIA Retirement Consulting Andrew Zur, LL.B. Pension Legislation Please contact your Morneau Shepell consultant for additional information about this newsletter Morneau Shepell May 2012 Volume 9, issue 5 9 of 9

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