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BC AND ALBERTA PENSION PLAN ASSESSMENTS – DEADLINE APPROACHING

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As part of the enhanced governance requirements under British Columbia’s Pension Benefits Standard Act and Alberta’s Employment Pension Plans Act, pension plan administrators in Alberta and British Columbia are required to conduct an assessment their plan every three years. The deadline to complete the first assessment is December 31, 2017.

December may seem far off with summer just getting into full swing, but if you administer a pension plan in Alberta or BC you should start the assessment process soon in order to meet the deadline.

Contents of the assessment

The scope of the assessment under the legislation is broad, covering the “administration of the plan”. The assessment should at a minimum cover the following areas and policies:

  • the plan’s compliance with the applicable pension legislation
  • the plan’s governance
  • the funding of the plan
  • the investment of the pension fund
  • the performance of the trustees, if any, and
  • the performance of the administrative staff and any agents of the administrator

The Alberta Superintendent of Pensions has issued draft guidelines stating that the use and completion of the CAPSA Guideline No. 4 Pension Plan Administrator Governance Self-Assessment Questionnaire is acceptable as the written assessment. The British Columbia Superintendent has not yet issued assessment guidelines, but we understand guidance is under development.

Administrators may also develop their own assessment framework or use one prepared by a third party. Regardless of which assessment framework you use, you should be satisfied that it is appropriate for your plan.

Does the assessment need to be filed?

No. You must complete and retain the written assessment and make it available to the relevant Superintendent of Pensions upon request.

Confidentiality concerns

Although required by statute to complete the assessment, you should be careful about what you include in the final written assessment. Much like pension committee minutes, the assessment may contain confidential information about your plan and is a potential source of liability. Further, an assessment in the hands of a Superintendent may be subject to a request under freedom of information legislation.

A review by a lawyer prior to finalizing a plan assessment can mitigate some of these confidentiality concerns and identify potential liability in the written assessment.

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