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Canadian pension regulators respond to COVID-19 crisis

An in-depth look at this and other subjects are covered in the current issue of the Morneau Shepell News & Views.

TORONTO, April 29, 2020 /CNW/ - Morneau Shepell released the April 2020 issue of its monthly newsletter, News & Views, in which the company looks at the following topics:

  • OSFI freezes defined benefit transfers and annuity purchases, extends regulatory deadlines – The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) has announced that it would implement certain regulatory adjustments in light of the extraordinary circumstances posed by the COVID-19 crisis. OSFI has announced a temporary freeze on portability transfers and annuity purchases relating to defined benefit provisions of pension plans. Additionally, the deadlines for certain actions and filing requirements under federal pension legislation have been extended.
  • FSRA releases COVID-19 response – The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has announced that it will be accepting requests for filing extensions of up to 60 days. While FSRA does not have power to extend prescribed timelines for producing member statements, it has indicated it will not be penalizing administrators for non-compliance with deadlines for the time-being.
  • Quebec regulator introduces temporary relief measures – Retraite Québec has announced temporary measures to assist pension plan members and administrators in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Retraite Québec will offer a three-month extension of the deadlines for certain regulatory obligations, require pension plans to consider the estimated the solvency level for payments to be made from defined benefit plans, and allow for additional temporary withdrawals from life income funds for individuals under 70.
  • Western provinces announce regulatory extensions – Pension regulators in several western provinces have announced regulatory extensions and other changes in light of the COVID-19 situation. The Alberta regulator will also consider extensions for amortization periods for unfunded liabilities and/or solvency deficiencies and contribution remittances on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the Saskatchewan Superintendent of Pensions has announced a freeze on transfers and payments out of defined benefit plans.
  • Atlantic pension regulators respond to COVID-19 – Pension regulators in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have announced extensions for Annual Information Returns and Actuarial Valuation Report whose filing deadlines are upcoming.
  • Adoption of revised commuted value standards delayed – On April 6, 2020, the Actuarial Standards Board of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries announced it would delay the adoption of its revised commuted value standards until at least December 1, 2020. The updated standards were published in January 2020 and had been previously scheduled to become effective as of August 1, 2020.
  • Minimum RRIF and variable benefit withdrawals reduced for 2020 – On March 25, 2020, Parliament passed Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act (Bill C-13), which reduces the minimum withdrawal requirements for registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), life income funds (LIFs) and locked-in retirement income funds (LRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020. The bill also reduces the minimum withdrawal amount for an individual member's variable benefit account under a defined contribution provision of a pension plan by 25 per cent.
  • Tracking the funded status of pension plans as at March 31, 2020 – Morneau Shepell describes the funded status of pension plans since December 31, 2019 based on three typical investment portfolios. A graph shows the changes in the financial position of a typical defined benefit plan since the end of 2019. A table shows the impact of past returns on plan assets and the effect of interest rate changes on solvency liabilities of a medium duration pension plan.
  • The impact of pension expense under international accounting as at March 31, 2020 – Morneau Shepell has shown the evolution of the pension expense for a typical defined benefit pension plan. Since the beginning of the year, the pension expense has decreased by 19 per cent (for a contributory plan) mainly due to the increase in the discount rates, despite the poor returns on assets (relative to the discount rate).

About Morneau Shepell
Morneau Shepell is the leading provider of technology-enabled HR services that deliver an integrated approach to employee well-being through our cloud-based platform. Our focus is providing world-class solutions to our clients to support the mental, physical, social and financial well-being of their people. By improving lives, we improve business. Our approach spans services in employee and family assistance, health and wellness, recognition, pension and benefits administration, retirement consulting, actuarial and investment services. Morneau Shepell employs approximately 6,000 employees who work with some 24,000 client organizations that use our services in 162 countries. Morneau Shepell is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit morneaushepell.com.

SOURCE Morneau Shepell Inc.

For further information: Heather MacDonald, Morneau Shepell, media@morneaushepell.com, 855-622-3327