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COVID-19 Plan Administration Issues: Actions from Federal and Ontario Pension Regulators

The federal and Ontario pension regulators are adjusting their policies by addressing plan administration issues arising from the COVID-19 crisis. With these adjustments, the regulators are protecting the interests of pension plan members and assisting plan administrators in complying with regulatory requirements.

This is relevant to you if your organization has a pension plan registered with the Office of Superintendent of Financial Institutions of Canada or the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (formerly the Financial Services Commission of Ontario). The pension regulators of other provinces have not yet issued any guidance specific to COVID-19.

Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions of Canada

Full Freeze on Portability for Defined Benefit

Effective March 27, 2020, there is a temporary full freeze on portability transfers and annuity purchases relating to defined benefit provisions of pension plans. During the freeze period, a plan administrator may request the Superintendent’s consent to a transfer or annuity purchase based on plan-specific and special circumstances.

Extension of Filing Deadlines and Member Annual Statements

The deadline for listed annual filings in respect of a pension plan with a plan year ending between September 30, 2019 and March 31, 2020 is extended. The listed filings include annual information returns, actuarial valuation reports and actuarial information summaries. The deadline is extended from six months after the plan’s year-end to nine months after the plan’s year-end. A similar extension applies to the provision of annual statements to members and former members and their spouses.

Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF)

Request for relief for filing and payment may be made by email to the pension officer assigned to the plan.

Regulatory Filing

A request for a filing extension of up to 60 days can be made by using the Pension Services Portal (PSP). A request for an extension of more than 60 days must be made by email to the pension officer assigned to the plan.

Member Disclosure

Summary administrative monetary penalties may be imposed for failing to meet the prescribed timelines for member disclosure. If there are challenges in meeting the prescribed deadlines, the administrator needs to contact (by email) the pension officer assigned to the plan, explaining the challenges and providing a reasonable proposed action plan to avoid penalties.

Pension Services Portal (PSP)

Administrators are recommended to use PSP for filing where available.

For further questions pertaining to managing pension plans, please contact any of our Pension & Benefits team members listed below. BLG has created a COVID-19 Resource Centre to assist businesses on a variety of topics, including investment management, leasing, contractual risks, public disclosure requirements and criminal law.

  • By: Sonia Mak