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Financial Sustainability

New travel credit card program launched

Queen’s University has introduced a new travel credit card (TCard) program through Scotiabank that provides employees and departments more flexibility in paying for expenses when traveling on behalf of the university. This new program replaces the previous American Express (AMEX) Corporate Program.

With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, travel has been limited to essential purposes only,  providing an opportunity to introduce the TCard program and be ready for when travel is once again allowed. The launch of the program is in no way an endorsement of non-essential travel during this pandemic.

“The introduction of the Scotiabank TCard program will make the travel process more efficient while providing additional benefits and financial savings to departments and research budgets” says Nicole Fowler, Associate Director, Procurement Operations, Strategic Procurement Services.  Features of the new TCard program include:

  • Queen’s pays directly to the card provider on behalf of the cardholder, any travel expenses charged to the TCard that are submitted and approved through an expense claim processed in the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS);
  • Collision/Loss Damage Waiver (CDW / LDW) insurance for rental vehicles while travelling for business purposes;
  • Additional coverage for travelers, including international concierge service, insurance for flight delay, emergency purchases, lost luggage, and travel accident insurance;
  • Synchronization with the Employee Reimbursement System (ERS) for ease of submitting reimbursement claims; and
  • Travelers are permitted to submitted multiple claims for one trip, if advance paying for airfare, transportation, etc.

As the TCard program will significantly reduce the need for travel advances, corresponding changes have been made to the Cash Advance procedure of the Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy.   Moving forward, cash advances will only be available for expenditures that cannot be processed on a TCard.

Applications for Travel Credit Cards are now being accepted via acQuire. Complete the application found in Credit Card Forms. Weekly training sessions are being held for cardholders – information can be found on the SPS website.

Full details regarding the new TCard policy and procedure can be found on the SPS website.

Questions regarding the new TCard program can be sent to creditcards@queensu.ca

Queen’s advances environmental sustainability commitments, transparency in investments

Queen’s University’s Investment Committee, charged in February by the Board of Trustees with the task of acting on recommendations of the Climate Change Action Task Force (CCTAF), is putting in place an integrated strategy that will enable the University to effectively address environmental sustainability in its investments. Actions include the development of an enhanced Responsible Investing website, the establishment of new metrics to measure the carbon footprint of Queen’s investments, and a renewable energy investment allocation within the university’s endowment fund.

Queen’s is putting greater transparency at the center of its investment strategy, and has already put in place an enhanced website for the Department of Investment Services. The website provides details on the institution’s Responsible Investing policies and practices, and now includes transparency into the University’s external investment managers’ responses to annual Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) questionnaires.

“We recognize that our investment managers are doing great work in applying ESG principles,” says Jim Keohane, Chair of the Investment Committee. “As a founding signatory to Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, we are proud that Queen’s is leading the way in the sector on providing this level of transparency in our investments.”

Another initiative is an energy transition allocation designed to enable investment in areas which can outperform with the transition to a lower carbon economy, such as renewable energy.  This effort has been spearheaded by the Investment Committee’s Energy Transition Subcommittee (ETS), which was struck in the spring of 2020. The allocation is being developed and includes an approved US$30 million investment in renewable energy which is in the final stages of due diligence review.

“This new allocation will represent a significant investment into the world’s largest private renewable power company,” says Don Raymond, Chair of the ETS. “Queen’s sees the need for Canada to address the challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability collectively and comprehensively. Environmental sustainability practices can help mitigate climate change, and both can benefit from innovation in the use and production of energy.”

With the assistance of the Institute for Sustainable Finance at the Smith School of Business, an approach to measuring the carbon footprint of the University’s Pooled Endowment Fund is also being developed and will be used by the committee to help select a data provider for carbon measurement.

The Investment Committee’s initiatives fit well with the university’s efforts to support the International Association of Universities Global Cluster on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development.  They represent a step toward aligning the University’s goals and impact with those of the Global Academy, and its efforts to promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane recently pointed out in his Report on the Conversation

Queen’s signs climate charter

Queen's has become a founding signatory on a charter that commits Canadian universities to responsible investing for the environment.

Photo of solar panels
Queen's is one of 15 Canadian universities signing the Charter.

In its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2040, Queen’s has taken many steps to lessen its impact on the environment. Now it is pledging to promote sustainability through its investments as well by becoming a founding signatory of Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities.

Laying out a set of principles and practices to guide the investment decisions of Canadian institutions of higher education, the Charter is being signed by 15 Canadian universities including Queen’s, McGill, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Western University, and Dalhousie University.

“Universities have a unique and critical role to play in the fight against climate change. As researchers and educators, we produce and disseminate knowledge about both the current state of our environment and efforts to change a potentially disastrous trajectory. Looking to the future, we must consider decisions that help transition our society to a low-carbon economy. Embracing the principles of this Charter helps articulate how the university will address climate change and the responsibility we will take in ensuring a healthy environment for the future,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Queen’s and the other signatories of the Climate Change Charter pledge to adhere to a set of principles and practices:

  • Adopt a responsible investing framework to guide investment decision-making, in line with recognized standards such as the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment (UN-PRI). Such a framework should:
    • Incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment management practices.
    • Encourage active engagement with companies to foster disclosure of ESG (including climate) related risks, and adoption of operational practices that reduce carbon emissions and foster ESG-positive behaviour more broadly. 
  • Regularly measure the carbon intensity of our investment portfolios and set meaningful targets for their reduction over time.
  • Evaluate progress towards these objectives on a regular basis and share the results of such assessments publicly.
  • Ensure that the performance evaluation of our investment managers takes into account their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the other criteria for assessing their performance.

The Charter was reviewed and endorsed by the Queen’s Climate Change Action Task Force (CCATF) and the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees. The Charter reflects a commitment to principles for moving to low-carbon investment practices, and it aligns with the recommendations of the CCATF that were approved by the Board in March 2020. It also aligns with Queen’s current Responsible Investing Policy, and critically is set in a risk-return context in line with the Board of Trustee’s fiduciary responsibilities.

Each university signing the Charter will continue to manage its own investments independently and set its own investment policies. It also lays out an agreement to set metrics for evaluating the carbon intensities within investment portfolios, so that all signatories will be able to measure their progress.

The Charter’s advisory committee was made up of financial experts, and it does not single out any specific industries.

Signing this charter is the latest of many efforts taken by Queen’s to strengthen its commitment to sustainability. In 2016, Queen’s adopted the Climate Action Plan, which lays out a strategy for the university to become carbon neutral by 2040. As part of this work, the university has made significant investments in infrastructure to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, the West Campus District Energy Conversion Project was a $10.5 million project that reduced greenhouse gas emissions on campus by 1,500 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. To collaborate with other leading North American universities and share best practices around sustainability, Queen’s joined the University Climate Change Coalition in 2019.

Queen’s has also established a Sustainability Working Group that is co-chaired by the vice-principal (finance and administration) and the deputy provost (operations and inclusion). The group provides strategic direction and recommendations for the evaluation, planning, development, communication, and implementation of initiatives aligned with the university’s sustainability goals.

To learn more about the university’s strategy to help build a sustainable future, see the Queen’s Climate Action Plan.

Read the Charter on the Queen's Responsible Investing website.

More than a decade of service to Queen’s

Donald M. Raymond is concluding his term as chair of the Board of Trustees and reflects on memorable moments.

Donald M. Raymond
Donald M. Raymond speaks during the November 2018 announcement of Patrick Deane being named as Queen's 21st Principal and Vice-Chancellor. (University Communications / Bernard Clark)

As his time as chair of Queen’s Board of Trustees comes to a close, Donald M. Raymond reflects on the university’s progress and feels confident in its ability to face new challenges. He has presided over the governance body since 2016, having first joined the board in 2008, and has made wide-ranging contributions to the institution’s financial stability, student experience, climate policy, and infrastructure development.

The Queen’s Gazette connected with Dr. Raymond recently to revisit some of his most memorable moments and achievements, and to learn what he sees as strengths Queen’s can continue to carry forward.


How do you feel Queen’s has evolved since you joined the Board of Trustees in 2008?

There have been obvious physical signs of change. The student body has grown around 40 per cent, we’ve built new residences, the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Mitchell Hall, a new medical building, and revitalized Richardson Stadium, among many other projects.

Looking a little more inwardly, to who we are as a community, I have seen a major increase in the focus on student success and wellbeing in all its forms — mental health, diversity, inclusion, and indigeneity. Of course, there is still work to do and we must be ever vigilant in championing continued progress.

My first board meeting was in September 2008, a few weeks after the onset of the global financial crisis. The board had 44 trustees, Queen’s had a new principal, and the institution faced severe financial challenges, including an unsustainable pension plan. Since then, the board has been downsized to a still large, but much more efficient structure of 25 members, Queen’s again has a new principal, the pension plan is sustainable, we had a record-breaking capital campaign, our endowment surpassed $1 billion, and we are now on a firm financial footing.

You became chair in 2016. Do you recall your aspirations for the university at the time? In reflecting on the four years since, do you feel you have accomplished what you hoped you would?

Coming into the role as chair, I had a few goals, recognizing that four years is a very short period of time when measured in university years. One goal was to continue our work on ensuring the sustainability of the Queen’s Pension Plan, as it’s an important benefit for our employees. The creation of the University Pension Plan took many years of hard work by many people and is now a reality.

I also knew that important decisions regarding the principalship would occur during my tenure as board chair. While I played a role on the joint Board-Senate search committee chaired by the chancellor that ultimately recommended Patrick Deane, my job was to get board approval, land the candidate, and successfully onboard our 21st principal – in reality not that difficult given his prior experience at Queen’s and his role as McMaster’s president.

I also knew that there would be unforeseen challenges along the way and there certainly were, the COVID-19 crisis being the most obvious example. My goal was to work closely with the principal and other senior leaders, including members of his senior team, the chancellor, and my board colleagues, to help make the best decisions for Queen’s in what are often complex situations.

What are some of your most memorable milestones or accomplishments as board chair? What are you most proud of?

During my tenure as chair, we celebrated Queen’s 175th anniversary, we bade farewell to our 20th and welcomed our 21st principal, we opened wonderful, new facilities that have strengthened our campus experience. Those were all very fun events.

I am also proud of Queen’s decisions and actions to address climate change. In addition to reducing our campus carbon footprint, I would highlight the recently adopted recommendations of the Climate Change Action Taskforce. Unlike some other universities that have made largely symbolic decisions, I believe that Queen’s will contribute far more to meaningful change in the transition to a sustainable future. We will do this by collaborating with the newly established Institute for Sustainable Finance and engaging the multidisciplinary research enterprise to help solve this generation’s grand challenge. Ultimately, we will be judged by our actions and impact.

How about memorable challenges?

Revamping the Student Code of Conduct, which had been essentially unchanged in over 100 years, was a necessary but also a very difficult process. It is also a shining example of collaboration between Queen’s student leaders and the administration and board to achieve the best outcome for the university. There are many similar examples, but I wanted to highlight the special role students play in governance at Queen’s.

Of course, chairing my final board meeting via videoconference will not soon be forgotten.

As you complete your term as chair, what is your hope for the board, and for Queen’s generally, as it heads into the future? Any thoughts specific to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As it relates to the pandemic, it was incredible how quickly the university adapted to the necessities of online learning. It was an enormous undertaking that using normal university processes would have required years of planning. It shows how galvanizing a crisis can be in accelerating change. It took the entire Queen’s community — faculty, staff, administrators, and students — in many cases working practically 24/7 to make it happen and it was impressive to see.

A key challenge in the coming months is to ensure that the day-to-day decisions that must be made through this very uncertain time are anchored in our long-term strategy. In any major disruption, some institutions emerge stronger and some weaker, though perhaps only in a relative sense. It is important that Queen’s takes the opportunity to reset and reinvent itself, while not losing sight of the things that make it special.

Looking a little further down the road, my hope is that the board and Queen’s unites around a common vision that flows from the Principal Deane’s Conversation and resulting strategic direction developed with the board.

Do you have any words of wisdom for incoming chairperson, Mary Wilson Trider, as she takes on the role?

Mary and I have spoken a lot in recent months, but if I could make one suggestion, it would be to become deeply familiar with Queen’s fascinating past, as looking back can help bring current and future challenges into perspective. Queen’s has been through some very difficult times in its long history and has always emerged stronger. Reading our history also makes one realize that we are stewards for a brief period of time and that our objective ought to be to leave Queen’s stronger than when we started.

Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the campus community?

It may sound trite, but it has been an incredible honour to serve on the Board of Trustees of my alma mater, let alone have the opportunity to play a leadership role. I feel that Queen’s will be guided well through the pandemic and beyond by the current board and administrative leadership.

Queen’s awards Aramark new foodservices management contract

Queen’s is pleased to announce that Aramark Canada has been awarded a new multi-year foodservices management contract for the provision of food services to students, employees, and visitors on campus through its three residence dining halls, 23 retail food service venues, catering services, and the Donald Gordon Hotel and Conference Centre. The contract comes into effect July 1, 2020.

Aramark was selected through an open and competitive Request for Proposal bidding process, and their proposal was approved by the Board of Trustees at its May 9, 2020 meeting.

“We are very pleased and excited to welcome Aramark to the university to manage the day-to-day operations of our food services,” said Leah Wales, Executive Director, Housing and Ancillary Services. “Together, we will continue to focus on healthy, quality food options our students value such as variety, allergy concerns, cultural authenticity, vegetarian and vegan options, Fair Trade products, and agricultural sustainability.”

The change impacts approximately 650 employees on campus. The majority of workers are members of CUPE Local 229 and will stay on to work with Aramark, who will be reaching out to workers shortly to provide them with details around this transition. The current foodservices management provider, Sodexo, has already informed workers of the pending changeover.

“I also want to thank our outgoing provider, Sodexo, which has been an amazing partner for many years, and we wish them every success in the future,” added Wales. “They have had a lasting and positive impact on the student experience at Queen’s.”

Students, employees, and visitors will recognize many of the same great staff and can expect to see continued improvements in quality and diversity of food offerings, refreshed physical facilities, and a strong commitment to local food suppliers and wellness programs, including a new teaching kitchen within the renovated Leonard Dining Hall.   

Queen’s has always sourced a portion of its food from local producers and will continue to do so. The university purchases fresh produce from over 27 farms in Ontario and Quebec – more if you factor in eggs, dairy, and meat.

Suppliers such as Burnbrae Farms supplies approximately 1 million free-run eggs each year, and Wilton Cheese is sourced in Odessa, just 28 kilometers away. This commitment to sourcing from local producers is even more important as the region recovers from the impacts of economic shutdowns related to COVID-19.

Queen’s proposed student centre design wins national architecture award

John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) recognized with 2019 Award of Excellence for revitalization plans.

Exterior rendering of the proposed JDUC redevelopment design.
Exterior rendering of the proposed JDUC redevelopment design.

Canadian Architect magazine recognized the proposed design for a revitalized John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) with a 2019 Award of Excellence recently. For 53 years, the annual award program has highlighted exceptional architectural projects during the design stage. Prize jurors lauded the plans for its sustainability features, its focus on increasing accessibility, and for seamlessly blending historic and contemporary design.

JDUC interior rendering
JDUC design interior rendering.

“The JDUC has served as a central student hub on campus for more than 70 years and has been integral to the student experience here at Queen’s,” says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities). “Our team has worked closely with Queen’s student representatives and the architectural teams to imagine a revitalized JDUC that will encourage learning and community, and be open and inclusive to everyone.”

The redevelopment plan, designed by architects from HDR + MJMA, includes a refreshed look for the facility, the addition of new study and social areas for undergraduate and graduate students, rooms for campus clubs and student services, and accessible entrances and amenities. The proposed sustainability features have been designed to meet the requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Spearheaded by the Alma Mater Society (AMS) and Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), the redevelopment project was conditionally approved by Queen’s University’s Board of Trustees in March 2019.

“This is an intelligent and effective addition in the heart of an established university campus,” says Joe Lobko, an award juror whose comments were shared by Canadian Architect. “It creates a beautiful and convincing student gathering place while strongly marking its corner site and providing a welcoming invitation to this part of the campus. It knits old and new, but allows each to be of its time.”

Cross-section view of JDUC design.
Cross-section view of JDUC design.

Under the Queen’s-supported proposal, the AMS and SGPS will contribute $50.5 million over 25 years, through a student fee levy – contributions confirmed during graduate and undergraduate referendums in February 2018 and January 2019. Queen’s will support the initiative with a contribution of $11.8 million, including $1.8 million from the university’s operating funds, and $10 million in donor support. Fundraising for the project is underway.

JDUC design exterior rendering.
JDUC design exterior rendering.

“It is a priority for Queen’s to invest in the creation of spaces that support our students, giving them the resources they need to live, study, gather, build community, and access support services that will enable them to thrive,” says Karen Bertrand, Vice-Principal (Advancement). “We are now turning to our alumni and friends with the hope they will be inspired and contribute to this important project.”

Construction will begin once the JDUC revitalization project meets its fundraising target and the Board of Trustees grants final approval.

Cleaning goes green on campus

Custodial Services is adopting environmentally-friendly cleaning practices across the university.

Rick Smith of Custodial Services cleaning a classroom in Mitchell Hall.

Every day, thousands of people are on the Queen’s campus working and studying, as well as living in the student residences. All this activity creates a few big challenges for the university. Among them is the need to keep things safe and clean, while also maintaining a commitment to sustainability.

To promote cleanliness and sustainability simultaneously, Queen’s is now working towards fully adopting green cleaning practices. This transition is coming about through several connected changes in the Custodial Services team. Most significantly, they are adopting certified green cleaning products, reusable microfiber cloths, and will no longer use hot water in cleaning.  Already implemented in a few buildings on the campus, these new approaches are expected to be in use across the campus in 2020. On top of improving the sustainability of the university, these changes are also expected to raise the standards of cleanliness on campus.

“Creating a culture of sustainability at Queen's means we must strive to embed sustainability into all aspects of the university. It is wonderful to see our leadership team in Custodial Services taking the initiative to provide environmentally friendly cleaning options for our campus,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration).

The adoption of certified green cleaning products will help Queen’s reduce its use of chemicals without sacrificing standards for clean spaces. Once they have fully transitioned to environmentally-friendly cleaning, the Custodial Services team will exclusively use products that have been certified as Green Guard Gold by Underwriters Laboratories, an organization that evaluates the environmental friendliness and effectiveness of cleaning products through rigorous testing. Green Guard Gold cleaners are those that have been found to improve indoor air quality (which means they contain no volatile organic compounds) while also having low chemical emissions.

“These new cleaning products are being sourced from a Canadian company, and they are rated to provide the highest standards of efficacy, cleanliness and sustainability. Once we’ve finished transitioning to using these products across the university, our campus will be both cleaner and greener,” says Samuel Whyte, Director, Quality and Service Excellence (Custodial) in Physical Plant Services.

Reducing waste

These cleaners also minimize waste by making it easy to adjust the dilution of the cleaning liquid. Many of the green cleaning products are applied through a dispenser that mixes the product with cold water. Cleaning staff can change the amount of product that they mix with the water depending on the job they are doing. For instance, there are distinct recommended settings for cleaning glass, carpets, and washroom surfaces to ensure that cleaning staff use only the necessary amount of cleaning product in their work, greatly reducing the number of single-use containers used in cleaning.

The fact that the cleaning products are all effective when used with cold water will help to significantly reduce the amount of hot water used. This could translate into a reduction in the amount of energy the university uses. Custodial Services is also reducing waste through the adoption of reusable microfiber cleaning cloths, which will replace the use of paper towels in 2020.

New colour-coded cleaning system

These cleaning supplies will be utilized through a new systemized cleaning process that is being implemented in conjunction with the green cleaning products. Custodial Services will now be using a colour-coded system to organize which teams clean which areas of a building and what supplies they use.

In this new system, different types of areas are given a specific colour code. For instance, student learning areas, such as classrooms and libraries, are given the colour code of yellow. These spaces will be cleaned only with yellow microfiber cloths and other cleaning instruments, like mops, that are marked yellow. Similarly, public and common areas are coded green, staff areas are coded blue, and washrooms and changing areas are coded red. Different teams of cleaners will specialize in cleaning different types of areas. Using the same products and teams for similar spaces helps prevent cross contamination and increases efficiency.  

“Over the past few years, we have witnessed Queen’s take strides towards making our campus more sustainable. As students, we are proud to see Custodial Services stepping up with innovative technologies that contribute to a greener future,” says William Greene, Vice President (University Affairs) of the Queen’s Alma Mater Society.

Queen’s has been embracing sustainability throughout a wide range of its practices in recent years. Hospitality Services has implemented a range of programs to reduce waste. The West Campus District Energy Conversion Project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,500 tonnes. And Queen’s recently joined the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) and hosted a UC3 forum to discuss the university’s role in promoting sustainability both on and off campus. Outlined in the Queen’s Climate Action Plan, the university’s ultimate goal is to become carbon neutral by 2040.

Queen’s Pension Plan AGM: Dec. 6, 2019

The annual meeting of the Queen’s Pension Plan will be held from 1-2:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019 in Ellis Hall Auditorium.

All Queen’s Pension Plan members, including retirees, are invited to attend the annual general meeting. 
One of the plan’s investment counselors, its actuarial consultant, and members of the Pension Committee are scheduled to be present to answer any questions. Members will also be given the opportunity to raise other matters relating to the Queen’s Pension Plan that may be of concern. 
For more information, contact the Pension Services unit of Human Resources at 32070.

Inaugural chair of the University Pension Plan Board of Trustees announced

Following a comprehensive national search, the University Pension Plan (UPP) Joint Sponsors – comprising the Employee Sponsor (Faculty Associations, United Steel Workers locals, and CUPE locals) and the Employer Sponsor (University of Toronto, University of Guelph and Queen’s University) – has announced the selection of Gale Rubenstein as the inaugural chair of the UPP Board of Trustees.

The UPP is the first jointly sponsored, defined benefit pension plan for Ontario’s university sector. The official registration date of the UPP is Jan. 1, 2020. Ms. Rubenstein will play an instrumental role in the start up, launch and effective governance of the UPP.

Once fully operational, anticipated to be July 1, 2021, the UPP’s asset base will be over $10 billion. The UPP will be a sector-wide defined benefit pension plan, open to other Ontario universities to join.

The Board of Trustees – consisting of 14 trustees, including the chair – will be the administrator of the UPP and responsible for overseeing both plan investment and administration. The process to select the remaining Trustees, in which the Joint Sponsors each nominate individuals with appropriate expertise, is currently underway.

Read the full release on the UPP website.

Pension transition plan receives strong support

Members of the Queen’s University Pension Plan (QPP) have given their consent to move forward with the creation of a new jointly sponsored pension plan known as the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP).

The results of Queen’s mail-in segment of the consent process were tabulated by a third-party, Mercer (Canada) Limited, which received consent ballots from non-represented members and objection ballots from inactive plan members over the past few months. The threshold required to achieve consent was two-thirds of active members indicating consent, and not more than one-third of inactive members filing their objection.

Combined with union consent provided on behalf of their members, both metrics were achieved. Consent thresholds were also met at the University of Toronto and University of Guelph, meaning consent was given to transition all of the universities’ existing pension plans into a single jointly sponsored pension plan, the UPP.

“Receiving the consent of our pension plan members is a major milestone and a critical step required by provincial regulators,” says Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “It brings Queen’s and the Ontario university sector one step closer to a new, sustainable defined benefit pension plan for the future.”

The process of informing the Queen’s Pension Plan members and navigating the consent process is the culmination of many months of collaboration, consultation, and hard work on behalf of numerous stakeholders at the three universities. At Queen’s, the administration, the Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA), the United Steelworkers (USW), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), and representatives of the non-unionized employees through the Ontario Association of Non-Unionized University Employees, all made efforts to support the UPP. The Retirees’ Association of Queen’s (RAQ) also helped in getting the message out to existing pensioners.

“Representatives from the university’s unions and the administration all worked hard to share information about the UPP across a multitude of communication channels in order to ensure people had the information they needed to make informed decisions about consenting to the change,” Janiec says. “We are truly grateful for everyone’s hard work.”

Moving to a jointly sponsored pension plan greatly helps the universities and ultimately their members; it eases some of the regulatory constraints faced by single-employer plans, mitigates risk, and creates a larger pool of money to invest for potentially better returns. It is an effort that is supported by the provincial government and is a model for some of Canada’s largest and most successful pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS).

The alternative, notes Janiec, was not status quo. A change was necessary if the Queen’s Pension Plan was to remain sustainable over the long term. And while achieving consent to proceed with the UPP is important, it is not the last step in the process.

The transfer of the existing pension plans into the UPP still involves several technical steps and additional approvals to proceed. The UPP is anticipated to be operational by July 1, 2021. It will be governed by both employers and plan members. Once established, other Ontario universities will have the option of joining.

For more information, please read the UPP Joint Communique or visit the UPP website at www.universitypension.ca


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