Rights and responsibilities
If you are a pension plan member you deserve to feel confident that the money will be there when you retire, and that means knowing your rights, and also the responsibilities you have as a pension plan member.
In Ontario, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Ontario Pension Benefits Act (PBA) and its supporting regulations. The PBA sets minimum legal standards for registered pension plans in Ontario.
This means there are safeguards in place to protect your rights.
If you are a pension plan member, you are entitled to receive information about your pension plan from your plan administrator. Your plan administrator is the person, group, body or entity responsible for managing your pension plan and your plan’s funds. They must provide you with the following information in a timely manner:
- a written explanation of the pension plan within 60 days prior to the date you become eligible for plan membership, or within 60 days after being hired (if plan membership begins with employment)
- an annual statement within six months after the plan's fiscal year-end
- a retirement statement within 30 days of retirement (and a description of your retirement options at least 60 days before retirement)
- a termination statement within 30 days after employment or membership termination
- a death benefit statement to your surviving spouse, designated beneficiary or estate within 30 days after the plan administrator receives notice of death, and
- information related to special situations, such as notice that the plan will be wound up (terminated or discontinued).
You also have the right to request access to information from your plan administrator such as:
- the pension plan text (this includes any plan amendments)
- any documents that must be filed in support of an application for plan registration and any amendments
- annual information returns, actuarial information summaries and other information summaries
- financial statements regarding the pension plan or pension fund
- actuarial funding reports
- documents that delegate the administration of the pension plan or fund
- correspondence between the plan administrator and FSCO for the five years before the request was made
- the sections of collective agreements that set out the employer's responsibilities with respect to the plan
- statements of investment policies and procedures, and
- the sections of any agreement concerning the purchase or sale of a business, or the assets of a business that relate to the plan.
- Provide any required information to your employer/administrator (date of birth, marital status, address and contact information, etc.)
- Update your employer/administrator with any changes (marriage or divorce, new contact information) or corrections to your data/information
- Complete a beneficiary designation form, and update when required
- If there is a choice as to the type or level of benefit that can be earned, consider the options and make an informed decision
- Become familiar with the rules of your pension plan. Contact the plan’s administrator if you are unclear
- Review your annual statements and inform your employer/administrator of any data errors on those statements. Be sure to review the benefit you’ve already earned and the future benefits that could be earned
- In defined contribution plans, consider the investment options provided to you. Get investment advice and select the investments you prefer from those made available through the plan
- If in any doubt, ask your pension plan administrator questions
- Keep your pension plan documents with your financial papers along with your plan administrator’s contact information. Give a copy to your beneficiaries and let them know where you keep your pension plan documents.
Your pension plan administrator’s responsibilities
Your pension plan administrator also has obligations and responsibilities to you as a pension plan member. They are required to:
- be eligible to act as an administrator as prescribed by the Ontario Pension Benefits Act
- comply with the Ontario Pension Benefits Act and regulations
- provide you with enrollment material when you are eligible to join the pension plan
- ensure all contributions are paid when due
- provide annual statements to you that shows the benefit that has been earned to date
- notify you of any of plan amendments or changes
- provide you with the appropriate option forms if you decide to terminate employment or retire
- provide your spouse, beneficiary or estate with prescribed information if you die
- provide the required information if you have a marriage breakdown and are dividing your assets
- pay out your retirement benefits in accordance with your pension plan’s terms and applicable legislation.