Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs are to help answer questions you may have about the Steelworkers Pension Plan.

If you don’t see an answer to your question, please email us at info@steelworkerspensionplan and we will post the answer as others may have the same question.

The answers provided in these FAQs are intended to provide simple straightforward answers to common questions. In this format, the legal complexities involved cannot be fully considered, so please remember that it is the legal documents of the Plan and applicable pension law that determine your entitlements, not these FAQs.

Questions about the structure and organization of the Plan

What is a MEPP?

The Steelworkers Pension Plan or SPP is a multi-employer pension plan. That means that many different employers contribute to the same plan. MEPPs, such as the SPP, cover millions of workers across Canada.

What is a target benefit plan?

MEPPs are often referred to as Target Benefit Plans because they receive fixed contributions. Professional advisors then use the contributions received and the expected investment earnings on them to target the amount of pension benefit that can be paid. If there is a funding shortfall, a MEPP can reduce benefits. If there is a funding surplus, MEPP trustees can increase benefits. The ‘target’ means that the expected pension benefits are not guaranteed by employers, as they are in a traditional single employer defined benefit plan.

Who does the day-to-day administration of the Plan, processing pension applications, keeping track of contributions, sending out member pension statements and the like?

The trustees of the SPP have retained Benefit Plan Administrators (“BPA”) to act as administrator. It is common for pension plans to hire a third party that is expert in the field of pension administration to administer the benefits of members. If you have a question about your pension you can reach BPA at 1-888-290-9777.

What is a custodian?

A custodian is the organization that holds pension plan assets on behalf of plan members. The SPP trustees have retained Royal Bank of Canada as their custodian. When the employers make pension contributions they are deposited in the account with the custodian (RBC). The SPP trustees, BPA (the third-party administrator) and the United Steelworkers do not actually handle any of the SPP funds.

What is a SIPP?

The Statement of Investment Policy and Procedures is a legal document developed by the Trustees, with assistance of their professional advisors, that sets out the investment policy of the fund. For example, it sets out what types of assets the fund can be invested in, and what proportion of the assets can be invested in a particular asset class (for example corporate or government bonds or foreign or Canadian equities).

Who invests SPP assets?

The SPP trustees have retained world-class, professional investment managers, each with a different area of expertise. Connor Clark & Lunn invests in Canadian equities. PH&N (owned by RBC) invests in government and corporate bonds. TD Asset Management invests in real estate and US equities. Mawer invests in global equities and Northleaf Capital Partners invests in private corporate credit.

Does pension legislation protecting plan members apply to SPP?

Yes. All jurisdictions in Canada, except Prince Edward Island, have pension laws that regulate employment pension plans. SPP is registered with the Ontario’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) because that is where most plan members are employed. Plan members outside Ontario or working in federally regulated industries are protected by the pension law of their province of employment or the federal government. SPP is also registered with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

What is the role of FSRA?

FSRA is the provincial regulator that protects the interest of pension plan members and promotes good pension administration. FSRA ensures that pension plans comply with Ontario’s Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) which sets out a variety of minimum standards. FSRA is also responsible for ensuring that Ontario-registered plans comply with the rules covering the pension benefits of SPP members working in other jurisdictions.

What is the role of the United Steelworkers in SPP?

The United Steelworkers (USW) negotiates collective agreements with employers that establish participation in SPP and set contribution rates. The USW does not have access to SPP funds. The USW will not provide funding to SPP in the event of a pension funding shortfall. The Director of District 6 appoints trustees to SPP, according to the terms of the trust document.

Questions about benefits

How is my pension calculated?

Your pension is calculated in accordance with a formula approved by SPP trustees that is based on the total contributions that have been received for you by SPP. The greater the contributions, the greater the pension. The pension benefit formula is set on the advice of the professional actuary so that contributions and expected investment earnings will be enough to pay the target benefit. BPA, the third-party administrator, is responsible for applying the pension benefit formula to contributions received on your behalf and calculating your pension.

When can I retire?

The normal retirement is age 65, but you can start to receive their pension up to 10 years earlier (age 55). Pensions which are started early will be actuarially reduced since they will be paid longer. BPA can provide individual details. As a general rule of thumb, a pension is reduced by about 6% for each year a member retires prior to age 65.

What do I need to do when I want to retire?

When you notify the plan administrator (BPA) that you want to retire, BPA will send you retirement forms and ask for copies of your and your spouse’s (if you have one) birth certificates. Getting copies of those documents ahead of time will speed up the processing of your retirement application.

What happens if I pass away before I start to receive my pension?

If you pass away before you start to receive your pension, SPP will calculate the value of your pre-retirement death benefit and those funds will be transferred to your beneficiary or estate.

Is my spouse automatically my beneficiary if I die before my pension begins to be paid?

Yes, pension law provides that a member’s spouse is automatically the member’s beneficiary, unless the spouse has waived this entitlement. The PBA defines spouse as the person who, at the time of death, is married to the member and not living separate and apart from the member, the person who has been in a common-law relationship with the member for at least three years, or the person who is in a relationship of some permanence with the member if they are the parents of a child. The definition of spouse for members in other jurisdictions is similar but not identical. A surviving spouse can receive a pre-retirement death benefit as a pension or as a lump sum.

Who is my beneficiary?

You are required to provide BPA with a completed beneficiary designation card. If you do not and you do not have a spouse at your time of death, or your spouse has waived entitlement to the pre-retirement death benefit, death benefits will be paid to your estate once your will is probated. This may result in tax consequences. It is the member’s obligation to make sure that a current beneficiary designation is on file with BPA. If you marry or divorce you must immediately sign a new beneficiary designation card and send it to BPA.

Can I designate my children as my beneficiaries?

If you do not have a spouse, or your spouse has waived entitlement to the pre-retirement death benefit, you can name your children as your beneficiaries. Should you die before you retire, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiaries you designated.

What happens if I pass away after I start to receive my pension?

Your spouse, when your pension begins to be paid, is legally entitled to receive a survivor pension if your spouse does not waive this entitlement. A survivor pension is payable for your spouse’s lifetime should you die first. If you were single when your pension began to be paid and did not select a form of pension with a minimum number of payments, your pension will cease upon your death and no death benefits will be payable. If you were single when your pension began to be paid and selected a form of pension with a minimum number of payments, any pension payments which were outstanding on your date of death will be payable to your designated beneficiary.

Do I have to notify anyone if I move?

Yes – it is important to maintain current contact details with BPA at all times.
Contact BPA here.

What if I get married?

You will be required to complete a new beneficiary designation card and file it with BPA.
You can access a form here.

What if I divorce?

You will be required to complete a new beneficiary designation card and file it with BPA.
You can access a form here.

What if I terminate my employment?

If your employment is terminated, you will be entitled to a pension payable as early as age 55 based on contributions received by SPP up to the date of termination. Depending on your age, service, and amount of pension you may be entitled to transfer the value of your pension out of SPP. If your employment is terminated, please contact BPA to ensure that your employer has notified it of your termination. BPA will send you your termination options.

What if I am laid off? How will my pension be affected?

If you are laid off but not terminated, you will continue to be a member of SPP. You will not earn pension benefits during the layoff since no contributions will be received by SPP during that period (unless your collective agreement says contributions continue during layoff). If the layoff continues beyond 24 months and no contributions have been received in that period, you have the option of applying for a termination benefit from SPP. If you are a security sector member and the layoff continues beyond nine months, you will be provided with your termination options unless you retain recall rights under your collective agreement or are on an approved leave of absence.

What if I am on parental leave? How will my SPP pension be affected?

If you are on parental leave you will continue to be a member of SPP. If you are on parental leave please make sure that your employer has notified BPA. You can contact BPA here.
If only your employer is required to make contributions on your behalf, it will be required to make contributions for you while you are on parental leave. If both you and your employer normally make contributions, only your employer will be required to contribute during your parental leave. It is up to you to decide whether you will make contributions during your parental leave and your responsibility to notify your employer and BPA that you will do so.

Steelworkers Pension Plan
90 Burnhamthorpe Rd W Suite 300
Mississauga, ON L5B 3C3

 

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