A Message from the Pension and Benefits Board
There has been a lot happening in the world at large these last few months.We are all aware of the implications the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our church, our communities and for the economy. It’s natural to worry as you see these types of events unfold. With all the recent ups and downs in the markets, it’s hard to say where the market will land, and what impact this will have on our pension plan.
In the meantime, here’s what we can tell you:
• Your pension is based on a formula and is not directly tied to investment performance.
• The pension you’ve earned to date is guaranteed.
• The plan’s assets are kept entirely separate from the church’s assets. The funds are held by an independent custodial trustee in accordance with pension legislation.
• The Trustee Board ensures that the pension fund is managed in accordance with a formal Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIPP). The detailed guidelines and constraints outlined in the SIPP are designed specifically to manage the overall level of investment risk that the pension fund faces – and are reviewed regularly.
• Our pension fund holds a broad range of investments, with no large, single holding. This helps to spread risk and reduce the impact of a poorly performing investment or sector.
• Defined benefit plans like ours are designed to operate over a very long time horizon. While short-term investment returns can have an impact on our plan’s immediate financial health, our long-term returns carry far more weight.
What to do When the Ride Gets Rough
For those of you with RRSPs or other savings invested in the market, keep in mind that experts typically recommend that the best plan is to stay the course. Studies suggest that investors who buy and hold, riding out market ups and downs, fare better in the long run than investors who jump in and out of the market.
One of the best ways to deal with market queasiness is to return to the basics:
• Assess your risk exposure;
• Make sure you’re well diversified; and
• Check to see if your asset mix has strayed off course. If so, re-balance to bring it back in line with your target asset mix.
Pension Plan Governance
As part of its governance practice, the Pension and Benefits Board monitors the plan’s financial health regularly by reviewing the funded position of the pension plan on a quarterly basis. The latest review of the financial health of the plan as of December 31, 2019, showed that on a going concern, or long-term basis, the value of the plan’s assets was about 114% of the plan’s liabilities. On a solvency, or plan termination basis, the plan was about 93% funded as of December 31, 2019. Based on these preliminary results, the Pension and Benefits Board has asked our actuaries to complete and file an actuarial valuation of the plan as of December 31, 2019, with the pension regulators. While the funded position of the plan has likely deteriorated since then, a valuation filing as of December 31, 2019, will ensure that any volatility in the financial markets in the near term will not force the church to increase its required contributions to the pension fund for at least the next three years, helping the church manage its financial commitments to the plan for as long as possible. Remember, it’s all about the long-term game. Market volatility and downturns are inevitable, but stock markets are still expected to grow over the long term.
Annual Pension Statement
Due to the current closure of the PCC national office as a result of COVID -19, there will be a delay in preparing and mailing out the 2019 Annual Pension Statements.We at the Pension and Benefit’s Office are working on a plan to prepare, print and mail out all your statements at the earliest available opportunity.We anticipate that all statements will be mailed by the end of June.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns, and we sincerely appreciate your patience at this time.
Is Your Contact Information Up to Date?
Life is full of surprises and changes can happen at the blink of an eye. With these changes can come challenges to keep track of when and who to inform about any updates to your information. The Pension and Benefits office wants to make sure you are always up to date with all the changes to your plans that can occur throughout the year. Our main points of contact used to communicate with our members are through email communications and updates on our web pages.
To help make sure you are always informed, we ask that you contact us as well as Sun Life Financial, with any updates or changes to your contact information. This includes:
- Changes to your address, phone number or email
- Life events that include marital status, birth, adoption or death
- A second contact or Power of Attorney
- Any changes that may include your Beneficiaries
Resources and Tips to Stay Mindful
The world is currently going through a huge change which can be very scary and unpredictable at times. It may be taking a toll on your physical and mental health.We want to provide a variety of resources, from our trusted sources at Sun Life Financial and ComPsych, to bring you information and comfort that will help you in the present and future.
Communicate with Family and Friends
Social distancing can be very challenging, especially with the warmer weather flooding in. Resisting the urge to visit friends or family can be hard, but it shouldn’t stop you from socializing completely! There are many easy to use video chat options, such as Zoom, Facebook Messenger and Skype. Try setting up a weekly schedule that allows you to virtually visit everyone, whether it’s just with one friend or your whole family, and integrate new ideas to keep it fun, such as baking, making crafts, relaxing in your backyards or reading a book, all together. Having a support group will make these days fly by!
Everyone has their own ways with coping during the pandemic and finding a good balance between over-educating and under-educating yourself on all the new information can be very difficult. There is a lot of information circulating and it can be very overwhelming trying to determine what is true and trusted. Below are some linked resources that you and your family may find helpful about various topics relating to COVID-19:
How to Talk to Children About Coronavirus – Sun Life Financial
The Do’s and Dont’s of Social Distancing – Sun Life Financial
Where to Find More Info on COVID-19 – Sun Life Financial
Coronavirus Resources – ComPsych
Isolating Together During the Pandemic – ComPsych
Coping with Uncertainty Webinar – ComPsych
As the weather is warming up, the possibilities are almost endless with fun activities you can create while social distancing. Whether you’re young or old, allow your imagination and creativity to run wild as there is never an age limit for sparking joy! Here are some fun and creative ways to keep you smiling at any age:
- Build or paint a bird house
- Try out a new recipe
- Start an indoor or outdoor garden
- Design a new board game
- Set up a scavenger hunt
- Paint some rocks for the garden
- Help BBQ a new meal
- Paint the scenery you see around you
- Redecorate or declutter a room
- Look through old photo albums
Relaxing during a pandemic might sound like an oxymoron, but this is the perfect opportunity to allow your body and mind to take a much deserved break. The globe is in a constant state of movement, from working all day to rushing home to make dinner, to doing chores all weekend and sports practices all week.We can often times get lost in how busy our lives are. It is hard not to feel pressured or obligated to keep busy or feel productive during these times, so here are some great tips and resources to help you take it day by day:
Take a Relaxation Break Info Slides – Sun Life Financial
Tools to Help Handle COVID-19 Related Stress Webinar – ComPsych
Mental Health Apps to Take Charge of Stress and Anxiety – Sun Life Financial
Managing Worrying and Anxiety During the COVID-19 Pandemic Webinar – ComPsych
Updates to Our Web Pages
We are always looking for new ways to communicate with our members. Our web pages offer a wide range of information, updates and resources for our members to explore and take advantage of. Here are some new and frequently updated features to our web pages to visit regularly:
Sun Life’s Health and Dental Updates Page
A web page that lists any updates or changes to members’ plans brought to you by Sun Life Financial. This provides members up-to-date information about their plans, such as temporary changes, claims practice updates, as well as resources to help answer all your questions during this difficult time.
EAP Webinars- Events Page
Our Employee Assistant Program offers many resources for our members, including webinar’s on various topics to educate and inform on everyday situations. Our Events Page allows members to watch previously broadcasted webinars as well as sign up for upcoming ones.
Main Page Sliders
Our sliders on the Pension and Benefits department homepage are frequently updated and always full of information, from upcoming webinars to information about what is happening at home and globally.