Retirees' Association

Retirees Association of Queen's

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Pension & Benefits Report - UPP Update

 

Over the last year RAQ has continued to receive briefings on the progress of the University Pension Project (UPP) from Queen’s Administrators. During the past year, negotiations of final plan design and governance were assumed by Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Guelph, represented by administrators from the three on one side of the table, and the three faculty associations and the Steelworkers’ Union on the other.  This allowed negotiations to proceed rapidly, with the ability of other universities to join later.  Before a new Plan can proceed, each participating university must engage in a consent process with its local Plan members, including pensioners.  Current employees can consent and pensioners will have the opportunity to object.

The rules for conducting the consent/objection process are set out in the Pension Benefits Act.  Information about the proposal and about consent/objection rules must be distributed by each university, with time given for the information to be absorbed and for questions to be answered before the deadline.  It is hoped that the information packages may be assembled and approved for distribution in the first quarter of 2019, with 90 days for consent/objection to follow.  RAQ will ask for a special open meeting to be held for pensioners, in addition to those held for employees.

How would moving from the QPP to a new UPP affect us (that is, retirees currently receiving a Queen’s pension)?  The UPP Website (http://www.universitypension.ca) FAQs gives this answer:

“For anyone who is retired under a current university plan, there would be no impact on the amount of monthly pension due to the transition to a JSPP. Retirees would not be affected by any contribution increases and would receive the same cost-of-living increases after conversion that they would under their current plan.”  

We interpret this as an assurance that we will continue to have the “no decrease” guarantee and that future increases would continue to be calculated using the same multi-year average of investment returns that Queen’s uses for our current pensions.  The UPP’s negotiated terms on changes of contributions of employees and their universities or cost-of-living increases would apply only to contributions made after the UPP came into effect.  Once we changed from being employees receiving salaries to retired pensioners, contributions to our pension accounts ended.

 

 

As those who follow financial news will know, activity in investment markets has been very volatile, especially since the beginning of 2018.  For the seven months from September 1st to March 31st, the QPP investment returns have risen by 4.45%.  We hope there will be better results in the remaining months of this pension year but there are no guarantees.                                                            

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Queen’s has been conducting a Benefits Review with representatives of all employee groups.  Human Resources has asked RAQ to provide a list of potential retiree benefits beyond those already included.  Any such benefits would have to be paid entirely by individual retirees wishing to acquire them. When Queen’s invites insurers to bid to become the Queen’s Benefits provider, they would be asked to also give prices for optional retiree benefits.  We could then compare Queen’s prices with those available to RAQ members through RAQ’s membership in CURAC.

As always, the Committee welcomes questions and comments from members of RAQ.

 

George Brandie (Chair), Chris Chapler, Bill Forbes, Bruce Hutchinson,

Sue Miklas  and Joyce Zakos, RAQ pension and benefits committee