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Opinion Piece …..

United Church (UC) and Targeted Benefit Pensions (TBP)

There is a legal definition of a TBP and a conceptual definition.  The UC is correct that legally they are not a TBP, but the distinctive feature of a TBP is that a benefit is no longer defined - it can be decreased - usually because the plan does not perform well.  The Ontario Pension Benefits Act (PBA) requires a collective agreement before a benefit is legally a target benefit.  

But the UC plan document allows a decrease in some benefits at will.  The defined benefit for some periods of service have been changed into a target, a target that can be lowered (benefits decreased) and with the last amendment (2011) the reason does not have to be that the plan did not perform well.

The UC has adopted the concept of a target benefit by giving itself the power to decrease part of the defined benefit under any circumstance.  That part of the defined benefit formula is now a target, it may be expressed as a defined benefit but it is subject to change.  However, it does not fit the current legal definition of a target benefit under the PBA because there is no collective agreement.

This is a fundamental shift in how the plan is funded.  The United Church is no longer responsible for funding 100% of deficits.  It can now lower the "target benefit" so that the funded ratio improves.  The United Church is still responsible for 100% of the deficit for those periods of service where the benefit has not been made a target.

So the UC Plan may not be a TBP but it does have part of their benefit that behaves like a target benefit.  If there was a legal definition of a Hybrid TBP, then UC Plan would fit that definition.

Dan Clark, Retired Pension Consultant

April 2018

Newsletter - January 13, 2019

Dear United Church Colleagues,

The time has come.

Perhaps you have heard of Unifaith and its predecessor Clergy United, over the past fifteen years or so, and been sceptical, even scoffed. Or decided you simply can’t add anything else to your present overload.

It’s time to reconsider. The only national association for all Ministry Personnel, as of January 2019, is the one we make ourselves. And an association is needed.

We now are part of a denomination that inspires us, trains us, and disciplines us, but can’t really advocate for us, nor should they. The powers that be have decided to keep exploring ways to satisfy our professional and personal need to gather in community. We believe the answer is already here: it is us – with you – together. No need for another committee.

Join us and your colleagues in ministry across the Church. Help grow us to fill your professional and family needs. Together we can be a voice for United Church personnel as decisions about our work conditions and retirement are happening, to make sure they happen with us, not to us.

There are a few givens with Unifaith, but what it is growing to be will be what its members make of it. Currently we are a truly national association of support and advocacy for ministry personnel and their families. We have the backing of one of Canada’s largest groups of working people. The annual dues are minimal, remain entirely with Unifaith, and are tax deductible. Many Unifor perks are included, but we are not a union local with a collective agreement.  We are a Community Chapter, a completely new way for Unifor to support non-unionized and precarious workers in Canada.

Although we use social media, we are people like you – not a computer-based hub. Our workshops are relevant.  Our conflict management support is hands on and successful. Our pension campaign has gotten the attention of the national church. Our friendship is real.

Membership is not related to a particular theological stance. It us open to all current, retired, DSL’d, and Candidate Ministry Personnel – along with their immediate families.

More information is available for the asking. Send us a note Info@Unifaith.ca. Use the postal address or phone number below. Unifaith exists for you – NOW. Your membership form is waiting for you: www.Unifaith.ca/application.html