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The Supportive Community Chapter for Faith Workers and their Families of

The United Church of Canada

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Planning and Living

In Retirement

Making Informed Retirement Plans in the Changing Church

December 2018 – www:unifaith.ca

Wanting expert information about pensions and retirement, United Church ministers and partners joined Unifor Local 707 in their Oakville union hall on Nov. 24.

 

The free day-long event, open to all United Church Pension Plan Members and families, featured interactive presentations, including a lawyer speaking on wills and other legal planning matters and Unifor retirement representatives discussing ways to ensure retirement years are fulfilling and enjoyable.

 

Pensions were top of mind for everyone in the room. Service Canada representative, Jacqueline Jeffers, outlined the nuts and bolts of the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. Then she explained nuances that were evidently news to many people present.

 

For instance, when determining how much a retiree’s CPP benefit will be, CPP automatically drops out the lowest 17 percent of the person’s contributory period between ages 18 and 65. That increases the average contribution overall for a bigger monthly pension cheque.

 

In addition, people who stayed home to rear their children from infancy up to age 7 can request those years be dropped from their CPP contributing years. That may further increase the pension cheque.  After her 90-minute presentation flew by, Jacqueline was happy to step into a breakout room and continue answering people’s questions.

 

Our United Church Plan Members and partners then left the Local 707 folks for our own pension presentation. Unifaith Treasurer Lois Matton led us through a frank look at the good, challenging and disconcerting stuff that comprises the United Church pension.

 

We had the benefit of Dan Clark’s findings and opinions. Several years ago, Dan approached Unifaith with his concerns about ministers’ pensions and volunteered his services as Unifaith’s lead pension expert. He has worked in pension consulting for over 30 years, serving Fortune 500 companies and some of Canada’s largest unions. Dan’s experience includes consulting on the design and funding of single employer plans, multi-employer plans and joint-trusteed plans. After retiring, Dan became more involved in the finances of his own United Church congregation. He has been invaluable to us all.

 

At our November workshop, ministers who had not yet seen Unifaith’s previous emails regarding the United Church’s change in its own pension language were startled. One eyebrow-raising item was that a recent plan amendment gives the United Church Pension Board the authority to decrease pension benefits at any time, regardless of the pension’s funding position.

 

That item is 14.02 (c) - Limitation on Amendment of the Plan, which states:

 

“the Administrator may in its discretion make amendments to the Plan, which reduce in value or which affect prejudicially any right, option or benefit entitlement accrued under the Plan on and after January 1, 2011 …. “For greater clarity, the Administrator's power to amend the Plan under this section 14.02(c) may be exercised irrespective of the funded status of the Plan at any time.”

 

Other causes for concern for current and future United Church clergy retirees include:

    No cost of living increase for pensioners since 2009;

    and, No benefit upgrade for active members since 2009

(2006 is still base year for earnings).

 

One thing became very apparent to us: United Church ministers and other church pension stakeholders need to be more informed about their own pension – and need their own voice to express concerns and advocate for solutions.

Unifaith and Unifor are co-hosting our next free Preparing For and Living In Retirement Workshop at

Unifor Local 88, 364 Victoria St, Ingersoll, ON

8:30 am to 4:15 pm, Sat., Feb. 2, 2019


All United Church of Canada Pension Plan Members and Families are welcome!

To register, please contact Karen Paton-Evans, Unifaith at 519-902-4161

Or send an email