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From the Trustee

Information about the Pension Plan including links to more info and the annual report.

As a trustee for the College Pension Plan, I am constantly finding interesting items about pensions in the news or in publications for the pension “industry.” Most items are mainly of interest to trustees and others responsible for running pension plans. However, some of them might be interest to pension plan members. Or at least I hope so. I plan to post links to a few items on this CPPR website on a regular basis.

Paul RamseyRetiree Trustee, College Pension Plan

Trustee Report to the CPPR 2023 Annual General Meeting

Pensions are supposed to be dull; and trustee reports duller. Looking at our College Pension Plan from 30,000 feet, all seems serene: our pensions remain secure and our plan is well funded, but it has been an “interesting” year of investment ups and downs and I suspect the future may hold more of the same.

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CAAT Pension Plan releases white paper on the business benefits of better pensions

CAAT Pension Plan today released a white paper, titled Better Pensions Needed to Create a Better Canada, on current demographic trends and state of retirement preparedness that open opportunities for businesses to better retain and engage their workforce.

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A Reminder…

We should occasionally remind ourselves that the “defined benefit” and “joint trusteeship “features of our pension plan are enshrined in provincial legislation.  That’s both a good thing (it makes it difficult to change those features) and something to worry about (they can be changed if politicians decide to do so).

British Columbia is now in the “pre-election window” for the 2024 vote.  As of now, no provincial party seems interested in altering the public sector pension plans.  But across the country, in New Brunswick, a government is busy ripping up defined benefit plans.

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West Kelowna Senior Facing Rising Debt as Mortgage Payment Doubles

Seniors are not immune to the effects of rising housing costs; 20% of seniors are carrying a mortgage.  Many are already taking advantage of the government’s program allowing deferral of property tax payments.  The Seniors’ Advocate is proposing an expansion of that program. Read the full story below.

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College Pension Plan Annual Report

Read our annual report for information about BC’s College Pension Plan, including investment performance, governance and financial statements.

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Swedish Retirees Demand Fairer Pensions For Women – Forbes India

College Pension Plan benefits paid to women are lower than those paid to men. This is mainly because women accrue less pensionable service: they are more likely to work part-time for more years, and they are more likely to take parental leaves.  This situation is not unique to our pension plan.  In Sweden a similar situation exists with their national pension plan (like our CPP), and women have been protesting for change for over a decade.
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Consideration of ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance

When the BCI (the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation) invests our contributions to the College Pension Plan it considers more than quarterly dividends and interest rates. Consideration of ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) factors are central to how investments are made and monitored. BCI does an annual public report on ESG issues. This is their 2020 report.
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Did you know that 57% of College Pension Plan members are female? 43% male?

We all made contributions to our pension plan when we were working (and sometimes grumbled about them), but only 25% of the pensions we receive is from those contributions. The other 75% is from investment income.
Did you know that, in spite of the pandemic, our pension plan assets continued to grow? They are now $5.7 billion. And the annualized rate of return on investments is 8.8%. This information, and much else can be found in the College Pension Plan’s 2020 Annual Report. The report can be found on the plan’s website by clicking below.
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What are the implications for pension funds coming out of coronavirus crisis?

As a pension plan trustee, I found this overview of the impacts of the coronavirus crisis very good. There is no panic among the trustees of our pension plan, but we have lots of serious work to do to examine our position and make necessary changes.
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Newfoundland pensions

Twenty years ago, public pension plans in B.C. changed from government-run plans to joint-trusteed plans, where employers and employees both appoint trustees to oversee plan operations, investments, etc.  This article about changes to the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Pension Plan is interesting for two reasons: First, at a time when defined benefit plans are often under political attack, the teachers and government of Newfoundland and Labrador chose preserve their DP plan.  Second, they followed British Columbia in moving to a joint-trusteed plan and used joint decision-making to restore the plan’s financial health.
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Ontario Teaches Pension Plan

It’s been a long time since pension plans just invested their assets in government bonds and clipped coupons to fund pensions. Most large public sector plans in Canada invest in equities—Canadian and global,–mortgages, real estate, infrastructure, private corporations, etc. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has been a leader in diversification of pension assets, and the results for their members have been very positive. Here’s an example of their leading-edge diversification. I’m not sure other pension plans are quite ready to partner with Google on “smart cities,” but they’ll be following this investment with interest.

Many big corporations have been late to address—or even acknowledge—the climate change crisis.  Now large investors of pension plan funds are asking them to get with the program and develop corporate strategies that align with the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.  What impact this will have is unclear, and the initiative seems really late in coming, but at least it came.

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Responsible Investing

One issue that trustees take seriously is responsible investing.  Trustees have a principal fiduciary responsibility to insure that their pension plans can meet their obligation to pay members’ pensions.  But most, if not all, trustees also want to see pension plan assets invested with attention to the governance, social, and environmental impacts of those investments.  For example, BCI (the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation), which is the College Pension Plan’s investment agent, has been pressing companies it invests in to diversify membership on their boards—so that they’re not all old white guys.  What happens if these goals conflict?  Here’s one view of what pension plans should do.
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CRA Article

Tax rules in Canada for pension income are pretty straight forward, but it’s always good to remind ourselves of what they are.  Put simply, if you are required to file a Canadian income tax return, it doesn’t matter whether you get your pension income from Canadian sources or from elsewhere, it’s all taxable income to the Canada Revenue Agency.   And the CRA expects you to report it and pay taxes on it. Here’s an article on two recent attempts to get around that requirement: they both failed.
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