Message from the Pension and Benefits Board
The Pension and Benefits Board met in March 2018 to assess the financial position of the pension plan and hear reports from our actuaries. The various subcommittees of the Board also had the opportunity to convene and discuss current and future initiatives relating to the pension and benefits plans of our Church.
As reported in the previous Window newsletter, the Pension and Benefits Board was very encouraged by the results of the March 31, 2017 actuarial valuation, namely that as of March 31, 2017, the plan is in a surplus position on a going concern basis with the funded status being 116.7% and the solvency ratio being 86.6%. Since this time, going concern and solvency funded positions have improved marginally as a result of better than expected asset returns and a decrease in interest rates.
At the March meeting, our actuaries presented a comprehensive overview of the Government of Ontario’s proposed funding regulations and their predicted impact on the plan. Since the meeting, several of the regulations under Ontario’s new framework for single employer defined benefit (DB) pension plans have been released after much anticipation. Presently the Board is reviewing the new regulations and will discuss next steps at the Board meeting this coming fall.
Update from the 144th General Assembly
The 144th General Assembly met at Wilfrid Laurier University from June 3–6, 2018. The Rev. Cameron Bigelow, Convener of the Pension and Benefits Board, presented the Pension and Benefits report, which provided updates on the pension plan’s financial status and the Board’s review of the Group Benefits Plan and Employee Assistance Program (EAP).Upcoming Administrative Changes to Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
In September 2016, the Life and Mission Agency submitted a request to the Pension and Benefits Board for the continuation of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as an integral component to the health and well-being of its ministers and other plan members. The program, currently under the administration of the LMA until the end of this summer, provides ministers and other plan members and their families with confidential access to counseling, coaching and consultation services. In consideration of this request, the Board has completed a thorough review of the EAP over the past year and determined it to be of great importance to the Church’s overall benefit program. At this year’s General Assembly, it was agreed that the Pension and Benefits Board assume the financial and administrative responsibility of the Employee Assistance Program, and that the cost become a component of the overall health and dental benefit plan of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Important Change to Pension Coverage for Doctoral Students
The General Assembly adopted a change to the constitution of the pension plan related to Ministers and Diaconal Ministers who become full-time doctoral students and who elect to continue making contributions and accrue pensionable service under the plan. The change will apply starting with Ministers and Diaconal Ministers who become full-time doctoral students on or after June 30, 2018. Under the new rules, doctoral students will be limited to a maximum of two years of participation in the pension plan, instead of the maximum of five years currently permitted under the Income Tax Act. This amendment is required to accommodate Assembly Council’s recommendation to reduce the employer funding.
Where a doctoral student elects to participate in the pension plan, he or she must make contributions at a percentage of pensionable income that is 2% above the standard member contribution rate, up to the maximum permitted under the Income Tax Act. General Assembly funds the employer share of the contributions during these periods. The contribution formula is applied to pensionable income in the last complete calendar year of employment before becoming a doctoral student, adjusted annually by the percentage increase in the Maximum Qualifying Income in subsequent years.
If you would like to register your concerns or comments formally, please send them in writing to the pension plan’s administrator or to the Superintendent of Financial Services of Ontario, c/o the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, Pension Plans Branch, 5160 Yonge Street, P.O. Box 85, Toronto, ON M2N 6L9. Please refer to pension plan registration number 0368902 in any correspondence with the Commission.
Are your beneficiaries up to date?
Life is ever-changing and oftentimes quite challenging to keep up with, which is why estate planning tasks, such as updating beneficiaries, can easily get lost in the shuffle. However, it is important to keep your beneficiary designations up to date – especially if you’ve recently undergone a significant life change.
A variety of life changes may prompt the need to review who you have as your beneficiary, some common reasons for updating designated beneficiaries include:
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Separation or divorce
- Death in the family
- Death of a designated beneficiary
- When a minor beneficiary reaches the age of 18
To update your beneficiaries, please contact our office.
Group Benefits News: Go Digital with Sun Life!
New Live Chat Feature on mysunlife.ca!
This spring, Sun Life launched a new Click to Chat service on mysunlife.ca that allows group benefits plan members to get answers to their questions faster than ever. Click to Chat instantly connects members with Client Care Centre representatives through a live chat on their secure website.
To start a chat, you must be signed in to your mysunlife.ca account, where you will be able to see and click on the “Chat Live Now” button in the top navigation bar on all pages of the group benefits portion of the my Sun Life website. Once you select the button, you will be connected with a Client Care Centre representative.
Essential Tips for a Safe and Healthy Summer
Summer is often thought of as the season of carefree living, where you can simply spend it sitting back, relaxing and soaking up the sun. However, there are many things about the summer that can also motivate you to get moving and live a healthier life.
Here are some essential tips for enjoying a safe and healthy summer:Get Active
The longer days and beautiful weather make summer the ideal time to get out and get active. Whenever possible, leave the car at home and opt for more active and environmentally-friendly methods of travel like walking or cycling. The summer is also a great time to get your family and friends involved in getting more active – bring them to the beach to play volleyball or to the park to play frisbee, or if you want to expand your social circle, organizing a summer sports team with members of your church is a great way to get to know people as most cities and towns across Canada offer recreational sports leagues that you can sign up for.Stay Hydrated
No matter what season you’re in, proper hydration is absolutely essential for your overall health as the water you drink plays a key role in normalizing blood pressure, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints and aiding digestion. However, hot summer temperatures and outdoor activities cause your body to lose water faster as a result of it having to produce sweat to stay cool, so make sure to keep yourself consistently well hydrated throughout these hot summer days.
Recommended daily water intake: 8 x 8 ⇨ 8 glasses of 8 ounces of waterTake Advantage of Seasonal Produce
A diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables instead of higher-fat and higher-calorie foods is one of the most, if not the most, effective ways to get and stay healthy. Fortunately, summer is peak season for a seemingly endless selection of fresh and colourful produce options. Blueberries, strawberries, peaches, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, asparagus, cucumbers and corn – those are just some of the nutritious fruits and veggies that ripen to perfection in the summer. Visit your local farmers market to take advantage of the season’s fresh produce!Always Use Sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen whenever you are outdoors this summer is extremely important because it prevents ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun from penetrating your skin and potentially causing skin cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society advises using a sunscreen that is water-resistant, offers both UVA and UVB protection and has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Make sure to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin at least 20 minutes before going out, and reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
Protective wear like sunglasses or a hat will give your skin extra protection against excessive sun and UV exposure.
Test your knowledge of all things pension-related with our crossword. If you get stuck, many of the answers can be found throughout this newsletter.
If you would prefer to do our crossword by hand, you can download a printable version. For our printable version, You can check your answers with the correct responses at the bottom of the page.