January 19, 2008
The Honourable Dwight Duncan
Minister of Finance
Attention: Comments on Report of the Expert Commission on Pensions
c/o Pension and Income Security Policy Branch
5th Floor, Frost Building South
7 Queen's Park Crescent
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y7
At monthly executive board meetings in December 2008 and Jan 2009 CUPE Local 1750, Bargaining Unit for Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) employees, discussed The Expert Commission's Report, having made oral and written submissions to this commission.
Our Pension Plan is solely governed and administered by The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) and has been so governed since its introduction in the middle of the last century. For several years now we have been lobbying the WSIB to update the Governance structure but to no avail. The WSIB has informed a number of times they have no appetite to disturb the status quo.
Our Pension Plan is perhaps the only remaining major Ontario Public Sector Pension Plan with such an outdated Governance structure. The majority of Plans now have a joint employer and employee structure. The OPSEU Plan and OMERS readily spring to mind.
We are pleased to see the Expert Commission's Report directly speaks to Pension Plan Governance reform. In part the Executive summary states;
"In addition, the Commission stressed the need for pension plans to improve the process, quality and transparency of their own decision-making, and to facilitate greater participation in plan governance by active and retired plan members.
Unions should be encouraged to negotiate for a greater role in plan governance for themselves, as well as active and retired plan members, and should develop their capacities to contribute to the governance process. Recommendations 8-2 and 8-3
Plan sponsors should be permitted to enter into an agreement with a union or similar representative organization to establish a jointly governed pension plan that will provide target benefits. Such plans should be governed by a board on which active and retired members hold not less than 50% of the seats, and should be subject to the same going concern valuations and funding as JSPPs and MEPPs. Recommendation 8-27
Unless jointly governed, or administered by a joint advisory committee under a Collective agreement, all plans should be required to establish pension advisory committees representing all constituencies of active and retired members, unless members vote against having one.
The administrator should provide advisory committees with the information they require, some means of communication with their constituents, and the opportunity to participate in any votes or consultations designed to solicit the views of plan members. Recommendations 8-24 to 8-26
Retirees should no longer be referred to as 'former members" of plans, but rather as "retired members; " they should be given effective access to all information available to active members; and they should be eligible to participate in any plan governance process in which active members may participate. The manner and extent of their participation should be determined by the plan's governing body. Recommendations 8-28 to 8-30".
These are the very issues that drive our need for change to the Governance Structure of our Pension Plan. We understand from your public comments you intend to act quickly in response to the Expert Commission's Report and implement the changes you determine appropriate.
Our Local also works in concert with the Member Advisory Committee of the WSIB's Employees Pension Plan (MAC) in this matter and sincerely trusts the changes you implement will assist us in achieving long overdue change and modernization in the Governance structure of our Pension Plan.
We appreciate the opportunity to make these comments.
CUPE Local 1750
cc. Member Advisory Committee WSIB Employees Pension Plan