This bulletin summarizes regulatory relief for pension and retirement plans across Canada as a result of COVID-19. It reflects changes announced on April 4, 2020.
EPPA (Employment Pension Plans Act) Update 20-01 (the "Update") provides the following immediate administrative relief:
- Extension of the timelines to file annual information returns, audited financial statements, actuarial valuation reports and cost certificates with the Superintendent's office; and
- Extension of the timelines to issue annual and event-driven member disclosure statements.
The Update sets out detailed information and timelines regarding the relevant extensions.
Alberta reminds pension plan administrators that per the Employment Pension Plans Act "an administrator of a pension plan must not, without the consent of, or without being directed to do so by, the Superintendent, transfer assets out of the pension fund … if the transfer would impair the solvency of the plan". Plan administrators should work with the Superintendent's office for plan-specific guidance.
Requests for extensions to the amortization periods for unfunded liabilities and/or solvency deficiencies, as well as the deadline for the remittance of employer and employee contributions should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the Superintendent's office.
Deadlines for annual statements, annual information returns and financial statements are extended by 60 days.
The deadline for filing actuarial valuation reports with a review date of December 31, 2019 and/or a due date in 2020 is extended by 90 days.
Defined benefit pension plan portability transfers and annuity purchases are prohibited effective March 27, 2020 other than buy-in annuities. However, administrators may request the Superintendent's consent to a portability transfer or annuity purchase based on plan-specific or special circumstances.
The freeze does not apply to:
- small benefit commutations where the plan text provides that the small benefit must be taken in cash
- a death benefit payable to the estate of a member when there is no surviving spouse or common-law partner
- monthly pensions in payment
- a withdrawal of a member's additional voluntary contributions
OSFI has extended the filing deadline to 9 months after plan year end for annual information returns, actuarial valuation reports, annual statements to members, financial statements, and auditor's reports. It suggests that annual statement recipients should be notified of the delay.
Annual information returns and actuarial valuation reports that are due prior to April 20, 2020 have a 30 day filing extension.
Newfoundland and Labrador
No changes have been announced.
Annual information returns and actuarial valuation reports that were due on March 31 or are due on April 30 have a filing extension until May 31, 2020.
To request a filing extension of up to 60 days, an administrator may apply via the Pension Services Portal. For extension requests longer than 60 days, contact the plan's pension officer by email or regular mail.
Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario ("FSRA") does not have the ability to extend prescribed timelines for member disclosure but will not assess summary administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance, provided it is advised immediately and there is a reasonable proposed plan of action.
FSRA is deferring the issuance of invoices for fiscal 2020-2021 until further notice.
FSRA notes that if the administrator of a defined benefit pension plan registered in Ontario knows or ought to know that the transfer ratio has fallen by 10% or more since the most recently determined transfer ratio (or if the most recently determined transfer ratio was above 1 and it has fallen to 0.9 or less), the administrator shall not transfer any part of a member or former member's commuted value without obtaining FSRA's prior approval.
There are no changes in Quebec to date. However, Retraite Québec has sent out a newsletter advising pension plan stakeholders that it is "assessing various scenarios in order to manage and mitigate the impact of the current crisis on pension plans." Retraite Québec indicates that it is considering "temporary easing measures that would lighten the administrative burden of supplemental pension plan management and foster better access to retirement savings for members."
No changes have been announced.
Required minimum withdrawals from registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) are reduced by 25 per cent for 2020 and for payment of variable benefits (in-plan withdrawal) in defined contribution pension plans.
Labour and Employment Implications
Pension and retirement plans should be considered within an employer's broader labour and employment strategies. See Workforce Planning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Options for Employers Outside Québec and, for all of our COVID-19 coverage, we invite you to access our Coronavirus
(COVID-19) Knowledge Centre