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The Supportive Community Chapter for Faith Workers and their Families of

The United Church of Canada

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Pension Connection


Why a Campaign?

In 2017 we had heard so many concerns about the state of the Pension Plan from its members, that we decided to act:

- We sent informative emails to most members

- We researched the state of our plan

- We engaged experts in the filed, including some on General Council Staff, for instance, see this discussion of our Plan in light of the new “Targeted Benefit” plans.

We learned that there were some things that just need to change:

- Current pensioners are suffering since the long tradition of upgrades to keep pace with inflation ended in 2009 - 14% behind and counting!

- Without any fanfare, the Plan’s Text was changed in 2011 to allow a reduction in pension pay outs by the Administrator any time

- The Pension Workshops seemed to be out of touch with members needs

Our Call to Action:

- Proposals were crafted and made available on our website for anyone to sponsor them through to the 43rd General Council (Some were referred to the General Council Executive, AKA the Pension Plan Administrator, for their action. The Executive acted in September 2018, by asking its Secretary to work on a suggestion for a response - by the Autumn of 2019. We encourage everyone to write to her with their ideas.

1. Protecting the Pension Plan with Participant Permission

2. Supplementing Pension Benefits

3. Inflation Affects Pensioners Too: Adding Cost of Living Allowance to Retirees’ Pension as with Active Members’ Salary

Unifaithfuls are there for our Members through the Pension Campaign

United Church (DB) and

Targeted Benefit (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