B.C. and Alberta release report on pension standards

November 28, 2008 – The British Columbia and Alberta governments have just released the report of the Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards, which provides recommendations to harmonize and modernize the pension standards legislation of the two provinces and improve access to pension plans.

In the Executive Summary of the report, the panel notes that the two Acts have not been thoroughly reviewed for two decades, finding, “During that time the occupational pension system has matured and become more complex, and pension plan participation has declined significantly in the private sector.” Therefore, the panel writes, its key objective was to recommend changes that would strike a balance between encouraging the establishment and maintenance of workplace pension plans and giving plan members confidence in the security of their pension benefits.

The appointment of a joint panel also provided it with an opportunity to explore prospects for greater harmonization of pension standards between the provinces. The panel concludes that a fundamental reform of pension legislation is necessary to address these objectives.

Interested members of the public are invited to review the report and provide feedback about the recommendations. This feedback and the panel’s recommendations will be carefully considered by both governments before any new policy is set.

“The appointment of the panel is an important example of co-operation between Alberta and British
Columbia in the spirit of our Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement,” says Colin Hansen, British Columbia’s Minister of Finance. “Minister Evans and I have agreed to continue to collaborate on this important project to modernize and harmonize our pension standards and create a better environment for workplace pensions in our two provinces.”

“This is a landmark review of Alberta’s and British Columbia’s pension legislation,” says Iris Evans, Alberta’s Minister of Finance and Enterprise. “The report and feedback will provide a solid base for a strategy for increased opportunity and choice in the pension environment for individuals, businesses and investors in both provinces.”

Three experts from Alberta and three from British Columbia were appointed to review and report on each province’s existing pension legislation. As part of the review, the panel accepted more than 100 written submissions from stakeholders and met with more than 40 stakeholder groups. The report provides 125 recommendations to improve pension standards in both provinces.

For copies of the report, “Getting our Acts Together: Pension Reform in Alberta and British Columbia,” and to provide feedback, visit www.ab-bc-pensionreview.ca. Written feedback will be accepted until March 2, 2009.