Ontario Wants PBGF Liabilities Reported
There is a “need for data” to better estimate the exposure of Ontario’s Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF) to future claims and the appropriate level of funding needed from employer sponsors, says a Hicks Morley ‘FTR Now.’ To address this, the Ontario budget states that the regulations under the Ontario Pension Benefits Act will be amended to require pension plan administrators to calculate and report their plan’s PBGF liabilities. The budget did not elaborate on whether it would become a new required component of actuarial valuation reports, part of the annual PBGF filing, or be implemented via some other route. The PBGF provides protection to members of pension plans in the event of plan sponsor insolvency. However, the budget states that the number of plans covered by the PBGF is decreasing because of the continued closure of defined benefit plans as well as conversions to the jointly sponsored pension plan model. With fewer plans covered, risk is concentrated among fewer employers.
Protected Grounds Only Basis To Refuse Masks
It is only necessary to accommodate refusals to wear masks in public places that are based on a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code and not refusals based on personal objections, says a Fasken ‘HR Space.’ The public health requirements in Ontario to enforce mask-wearing in many public places and workplaces to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission has sometimes resulted in situations where an individual cannot or does not want to comply. In these cases, employers must determine whether they are required to accommodate the individual and to what extent. A recent decision by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Sharma v. Toronto (City), dismissed a human rights application against the city of Toronto. The applicant claimed that the city discriminated against him because several businesses denied him services as a result of the by-law. The premise for his claim was that he could not wear a mask based on two protected grounds under the code, creed and disability. He claimed his creed required that he not “blindly accept” government laws such as the by-law because it was his “civic duty to be critical of government and their decisions.” As well, he claimed wearing a mask would impede his breathing and it was his position that the burden should not be on individuals with a disability to explain their need for accommodation to businesses or establishments. The application was rejected on the basis that it had no reasonable prospect of success even if all the allegations were accepted as true. With respect to creed, the tribunal observed that it has generally understood this to mean an individual’s “sincerely held religious beliefs or practices.” This did not include “mere political opinion.” This decision is a reminder that employers must assess refusals to comply with mask-wearing requirements on a case-by-case basis to determine if a code-protected ground such as creed or disability is present. Where an employee or patron identifies a code-protected ground that inhibits them from wearing a mask, the duty to accommodate is engaged and the employer must reasonably accommodate the individual to the point of undue hardship. This decision also affirms that an individual must disclose more than a mere opinion to be entitled to accommodation. The duty to accommodate is not triggered by a personal objection arising from a political, philosophical, or lifestyle disagreement that is not connected to a recognizable cohesive belief system which can be characterized as a creed under the code.
Exposure To Cryptocurrencies Increases
Institutional investors and wealth managers to increase their exposure to alternative asset classes including cryptocurrencies in the next two years, says research by Nickel Digital Asset Management. Its survey of professional investors found 93 per cent of respondents expect professional investors to increase their exposure to cryptocurrencies and 74 per cent expect to see an increase in allocations to real estate. However, 79 per cent said securing quality custody services is a significant hurdle preventing institutional investors and wealth managers from investing in cryptoassets for the first time. This is followed by 70 per cent who cited market volatility and 68 per cent who said the regulatory environment.
Thematic ETFs Reach New Record
Thematic ETFs and ETPs listed globally reached a record US$394 billion at the end of February, says ETFGI. These products gathered net inflows of US$17.67 billion during February, bringing year-to-date net inflows to a record US$42.63 billion which is much higher than the US$13.33 billion gathered at this point last year.
CP Investments Developing Rental Projects
Rental housing company Tricon Residential Inc. and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CP Investments ) have signed a deal to create a joint venture to develop rental projects in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area. The joint venture will focus on developing rental apartments intended for a long-term hold. Tricon will serve as the developer, asset manager, and property manager. The joint venture’s first project is in Toronto’s downtown and is expected to consist of two towers totaling 870 units. Construction is expected to start on the site early next year with completion expected in 2025.
Rovinescu Joins Brookfield
Calin Rovinescu is a senior advisor in the global private equity group at Brookfield Asset Management Inc. He will look for global investment opportunities with a special focus on the aviation and aerospace sectors. He served as Air Canada’s president and chief executive from April 2009 until he retired in February. Before that he co-founded investment bank Genuity Capital Markets, which was later acquired by Canaccord Financial Inc. to form Canaccord Genuity.
Ambachtsheer Chats On Pensions
The CFA Society Toronto’s ‘2021 Annual Spring Pension Conference’ will open with a fireside chat with Keith Ambachtsheer, adjunct professor of finance at the Rotman School of Management and director emeritus of the International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM), on future-proofing pensions He will provide a retrospective on pension plan design covering the evolution of the Maple model and other global models as well as share his thoughts on future proofing pension plans in a new world of ultra-low interest rates. The event, which takes place April 14 and 15, will also feature sessions on C-Suite insights on today’s investment environment, navigating risk in a world of unknowns, and current and future impacts from COVID-19 on private markets. Information is at https://www.cvent.com/events/2021-annual-spring-pension-conference-building-back-better-opportunities-and-risks-post-covid/event-summary-8f00ecb1f1f74944a44feafd1a88a0df.aspx
High Cost Drugs Drive Cost Increase
High-cost drugs remain the primary cost driver for Canadian public and private drug plans, says the ‘2019 Annual Report of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).’ Sales of patented drugs grew to over $17 billion in 2019 and seven of the top 10 selling patented drugs had annual treatment costs that exceeded $10,000 per year. High-cost medicines accounted for almost 50 per cent of all patented medicine sales. It also shows 1,364 patented medicines for human use were reported to the PMPRB, including 81 new medicines. Canadian list prices were fourth highest among 31 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, lower only than prices in Switzerland, Germany, and the U.S.
Vestcor Corrects Auditor General
While Vestcor understands there is an interest in having it appear before New Brunswick’s standing committee on public accounts committee to discuss an auditor general’s report, it says the Vestcor Act clearly states that it is not an agent of the Crown and the independent structure of its two owners ‒ the New Brunswick Public Service Pension Plan (NBPSPP) and New Brunswick Teachers’ Pension Plan (NBTPP) ‒ must respected. As well, an office of the auditor general suggestion that these two pension funds are public funds and that Vestcor’s services are provided to the province “is incorrect,” it says in a letter to the committee. The two pension funds are funds of their respective pension plan trustees and allow them to satisfy their pension obligations. Up until the introduction of shared risk pensions and other pension reform between 2012 and 2014, the province controlled and was fully liable for the promised benefits of those plans. However, with those changes, the province ceased to control the pension plans and is no longer obligated to pay the pension benefits from the plans or general revenues. The trustees now have the responsibility of investing and administering the assets of the plan so as to ensure that there will be sufficient funds to pay the benefits to their members. However, it has advised the auditor general on many occasions that it would be happy to discuss and answer questions on any of its publicly released performance and externally audited financial information.
Directors Need Tools And Knowledge
Company directors who sit on investment committees say they lack the knowledge and tools they need to meet their fiduciary responsibilities, says a survey by Global Manager Research, an investment manager and performance measurement database. Since investment governance is often not a priority, directors tend to rely heavily on investment managers rather than seek broader input via discussion and third-party reports. The issue is partly a lack of best practices they can use, writes Craig Harrison, president of Global Manager Research, in the article ‘Directors Concerned About Ability To Meet Duty’ at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor website.
Well-Performing Pensions Possible
Healthy, well-performing pensions are possible, says M. Catherine Miller, managing partner of Marris + Miller. In her book ‘Pension Clarity: The Leader’s Guide to Smarter Planning for Our Future,’ she says it’s time for a modern, transformational approach to the future pension market: one in which there is an agreement about what will mitigate risk and keep people, organizations, and global society safe and secure. The book shows how to address insufficiencies and opportunities in pension planning for the future and how to build effective, secure, and reliable pension plans that mitigate risk. It discusses how to design pensions for financial security, how to assess existing benefit plans to minimize costs and maximize value, how to create pension plans that are designed to benefit individuals, and how to engage employees in the pension process. She says the fact is, pension management is not only about one business and one set of employees, but also about how the steps taken towards the future are managed.
PE Activity Declines
Last year saw $14 billion invested across 635 private equity (PE) deals, says the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA). The Canadian PE market has traditionally averaged $21 billion in yearly PE investment and 2020 was notable in that mega deals accounted for only $3.7 billion compared to $11.6 billion in 2019. The exit market in 2020 saw the highest value of PE-backed IPOs ($13.9 billion across four IPOs), but with the lowest number of exits on record. There were only 35 exits in 2020 which was 57 per cent lower than the five-year average (82 exits, 2015-2019). In addition to IPOs, other exits include 24 merger and acquisition deals totaling $1 billion and six secondary buy-out deals with $2.7 billion invested in 2020.
Plans Back Constellation Insurance
Constellation Insurance Holdings, Inc., backed by institutional investors Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), has entered into an agreement for its inaugural transaction ‒ the acquisition of Cincinnati-based Ohio National Mutual Holdings, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary Ohio National Financial Services, Inc. Established in 1909, Ohio National is a leading provider of financial products and services that helps its policyholders achieve financial security and independence. It has a network of financial professionals operating across 49 states and, as of December 31, 2020, its affiliated companies have US$41.2 billion in assets under management.
Smith Heads SLGI
Oricia Smith is president of SLGI Asset Management Inc. and senior vice-president, investment solutions, of Sun Life Canada. Since joining the firm in 2016 as vice-president of the International Investment Centre (IIC), she has overseen the development and governance of assets invested on behalf of clients globally.
CEOs Discuss Sustainable Leadership
Ten live webcasts between June 7 and 11with national and international experts will be featured at ‘RIA Virtual Conference.’ Sessions include a CEO roundtable on leadership and governance for a sustainable and inclusive Canada; strategies and practices for investors to align their portfolios with net zero; and achieving the SDGs by 2030. Information is at https://riaconference.ca/
Additional Conditions Applied To IPPs
The Registered Plans Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has applied additional conditions to individual pension plans (IPPs) and designated plans, says an Aon ‘Radar.’ CRA ‘Newsletter 21-1’ these conditions concern plan designs that use a money purchase provision to avoid conditions under the act and regulations that limit employer contributions to a defined benefit provision of these plans. One applies to employers who sponsor IPPs and designated plans with excess surplus to try to avoid restrictions under the act by amending the plan to suspend DB accruals for members and adding a money purchase provision to which the employer would then continue to make contributions to for the members. It considers this to be a misuse of the RPP provisions of the act because it allows for continued tax-deductible contributions while preserving or building up the surplus. In the past, CRA has imposed a condition on a case-by-case basis to prohibit employers and members from contributing to a money purchase provision if actuarial surplus under the DB provision of the plan is more than the surplus limit. It is now imposing this on all designated plans and IPPs. The other concerns designated plan funding restrictions. CRA has seen an increase in the number of applications for registration of pension plans that cover a small number of members and that contain both a DB and a money purchase provision. The composition of the membership is such that the plans would be designated plans if the current service benefits were provided on a defined benefit basis. However, since these plans are designed to limit the provision of defined benefits to past service benefits, these plans fall outside of the designated plan definition. The CRA considers this plan design to be contrary to the intent of the RPP provisions of the act and regulations. By circumventing the funding restrictions for a designated plan, the design allows for much higher tax-deductible contributions than intended for a defined benefit RPP that is primarily for the benefit of high-income earners or connected persons. It will now impose a condition that an RPP will be deemed to be a designated plan throughout a calendar year, when the plan provides past service benefits under a defined benefit provision in the year or a previous year for members who are specified individuals.
Gold Price Should Be Double
Based on the amount of debt that is there, the current gold price should be at $3,000 (per ounce) and not $1,700, says Nick Barisheff, founder of BMG Group. In 2013, his book ‘$10,000 Gold’ said gold would reach that price. Back then, the official U.S. federal debt was around $17 trillion. Now it’s $30 trillion and his soon-to-be released follow up book is going to be called ‘$50,000 Gold.’ One good reason precious metals are going to keep rising in price is COVID-19. “Right now you have massive debt and money printing like never before. When that happens, the value of the currency declines particularly against gold and silver. The price goes up and you end up with runaway inflation. It can’t be anything else,” he says. Compounded with this is the biggest equity bubble ever in the United States. Barisheff says, “There will be indicators and the indicators are already here for everyone to see. When it becomes obvious to everyone that this is imploding, it will be very difficult to buy gold if not impossible, and that is how the price goes ballistic.”
Fears Turn To Inflation Risk
Since the global financial crisis, fears of deflation have dominated the minds of policymakers and investors. However, the focus has since turned toward the risk of inflation overheating following unprecedented increases in monetary and fiscal stimulus in a short amount of time, says a BMO Asset Management ‘Market Commentary.’ There are several factors contributing to low inflation. One is liberalized trade starting in the 1980s and culminating with China’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which has lowered the cost of producing and importing goods. As well, there has been structurally lower economic growth thanks to aging demographics and lower productivity, which has lowered demand-pull inflation. And, beginning in the 1990s, central banks have targeted inflation. The concern now, however, is that recent developments since the pandemic may reverse some of these structural drivers.
ESG ETF Assets Grow
Assets invested in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ETFs and ETPs listed globally reached a record US$226.75 billion at the end of February, says ETFGI. These ETFs gathered net inflows of US$20.87 billion during February, bringing year-to-date net inflows to a record US$40.67 billion which is much higher than the US$13.61 billion gathered at this point last year which was the prior record. Assets invested in ESG ETFs and ETPs increased by 8.8 per cent from US$208.28 billion at the end of January 2021 to US$226.75 billion.
CPP Investments and AIMCo Take Stakes In Iguá
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) will get a 45 per cent aggregate stake in Iguá Saneamento S.A. It is partnering with other existing investors, including the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and IG4 Capital Group. AIMCo will own an estimated 39 per cent aggregate stake. Iguá is a water and sewage service holding company operating 18 concessions and contracts across five Brazilian states and providing sanitation services for more than six million people.
Gentles Has New Role
Low Volatility Examined
Northern Trust Asset Management’s Michael Hunstad, managing director and head of quantitative strategies; Christopher Fronk, director and equity specialist; Alice Fang, president and CEO, will examine ‘Low Volatility Investing – Where do we go from here?’ at a Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events webinar. They will explore the original thesis of low volatility investing and its persistence in today’s investment environment. They will also investigate the wide dispersion of returns among low volatility strategies to understand the drivers of these outcomes and if there are lessons to be learned for investors as they continue to seek strong risk-adjusted returns and downside protection within their portfolios. It takes place April 21. Information is at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/257931547345200908
Canada Tops In Health Management
Canada is the top performing investment migration country in terms of health management and risk readiness, says the ‘Investment Migration Programs Health Risk Assessment’ from Deep Knowledge Analytics and Henley & Partners. Investment migration programs to attract foreign capital and talent have been used to manage the global health and economic crisis triggered by COVID-19. The assessment shows New Zealand in second position, with Australia narrowly behind in third place. Four European countries are in the top 10, with Switzerland in fourth place, Austria in fifth place, Italy in ninth place, and the UK occupying the 10th spot. Dmitry Kaminskiy, co-founder of Deep Knowledge Group, says the “health as the new wealth” paradigm has gained significant prominence among the global investment community. “The notion that health, rather than wealth, is the most valuable asset class, will see the ascendance of regions that promote both individual and institutional migration and relocation on the basis of prioritizing well-being, rather than capital.”
Canada Helps Disabled In Workplace
To help improve workplace accessibility and access to jobs, the government of Canada has introduced the National Workplace Accessibility Stream under the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) and its accommodation and inclusion management (AIM) program will use the funds to help employers build healthy and productive workplaces. The CCRW provides Canadian employers funding and expert advice to set up workplace accommodations like adaptive technologies, ergonomic equipment for home offices, and individual needs assessments for employees. Online training and an evidence-based support framework will help employers successfully implement accommodations in their operations. It will also produce 150 workplace accommodation profiles to maintain existing jobs and help create new job opportunities for persons with disabilities by reducing barriers in the workplace.
INTEGRIS Offers DC Solution
INTEGRIS Pension Management Corp. is offering a multi-employer defined contribution pension plan solution to corporate clients through its partnership with Link Investment Management Inc. The offering is a low-cost, low-touch, technology-forward administration solution for corporations that want to offer workplace retirement solutions for valued employees – without the significant compliance and monitoring overhead that often accompanies single-employer group retirement plans. Anchored in proprietary software and exchange traded fund low-cost investment models, through LINK it will deliver the value of established group savings plans at a lower cost in a user-friendly digital interface.
Inflation Fears Overplayed
Heightened fears about inflation are overplayed and could negatively impact investors’ portfolios, says Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group. The warning came as the U.S. Federal Reserve upgraded its growth forecast to 6.5 per cent from 4.2 per cent previously for 2021. “As the world increasingly looks towards a post-pandemic global economic rebound, inflation fears have been heightened in recent weeks. These concerns are now likely to be exacerbated as the Fed, the central bank responsible for the world’s largest economy, has dramatically upgraded its outlook. This can be expected to further fuel rhetoric about inflation,” he says. While inflation climbs, higher interest rates and lower stock prices could result. ‘However, longer-term inflation fears, due to pent-up demand are premature and are being overplayed,” he says.
Employees Earn Point For Vaccine
Manulife’s ‘Vitality’ program for its group benefit and individual insurance customers will award 400 points to those who receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Available this spring, program members will have the option to share proof of their COVID-19 vaccination in exchange for the points. These help program members achieve new status levels and unlock different rewards within the program. The program engages Canadians in unique ways to get healthier and earn points. From choosing simple activities like eating well and exercising, the more engaged users are, the more points they can earn and the greater the rewards.
Imperial Oil Asked For Corporate Target
Bâtirente, with support from Æquo Shareholder Engagement Services, has submitted a shareholder proposal to the Imperial Oil Limited, asking it to adopt a corporate target that would enable it to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The proposal is part of Bâtirente efforts aimed at encouraging oil companies to reduce their GHG emissions and diversify their activities toward low carbon products and services. It believes that it is imperative for companies to set themselves a long-term strategy when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint. “All companies, especially those in the energy sector, must align their business activities and strategies with the Paris Agreement and thereby reduce their emissions by 2050”, says Daniel Simard, CEO of Bâtirente.
Eckmire Joins Babylon At Telus
Rare Disease Drugs Explored
CPBI Ontario’s ‘Why Rare Disease Drugs Matter to Private Payers’ will explore the impact of drugs for rare diseases (DRDs) on private plans, risk mitigation, and how private payers might influence a national DRD policy. May 4, Chris Bonnett, principal consultant at H3 Consulting, will define DRDs and describe the current and trending impact on prescription drug spending. Information is at https://www.cpbi-icra.ca/Events/Details/Ontario/2021/05-04-Why-Rare-Disease-Drugs-Matter-to-Private
Sick Leave Offerings Vary
The labour market in Canada has experienced unprecedented changes over the last 12 months as entire sectors of the economy have been subject to temporary restrictions on business activities as a result of public health measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, says Statistics Canada. At the same time, many workers have seen changes in working conditions, such as teleworking, reduced work hours, and greater job insecurity. Its ‘2020 Survey on Quality of Employment (SQE)’ shows as Canada entered the pandemic in March 2020, 52.1 per cent of people who worked in the previous two years had access to paid sick leave in their current or last job. Just under seven in 10 permanent employees had access to paid sick leave (66.3 per cent). Among temporary employees, four in 10 with a contract of a fixed duration had access to paid sick leave, compared with 12.6 per cent among other temporary employees, including on-call, seasonal, and casual workers. Few self-employed Canadians (6.2 per cent) had access to paid sick leave through their job, particularly self-employed workers without employees. It also shows in February and March 2020, about two in 10 workers, including unpaid family workers, had an irregular work schedule in their current or last job. For most (62.3 per cent), this involved variation in both the schedule and the number of hours worked. Among people with an irregular schedule, six in 10 would have preferred a regular schedule and two in 10 worked less than they would have liked.
ACPM Challenges Entitlement View
The Association of Canadian Pension Management (ACPM) disagrees with the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) interpretation of the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 (the PBSA) in its ‘InfoPensions 23 ‒ Entitlement to Pension.’ Its view is that the PBSA permits an employer to design a plan such that a member may commence receiving a pension while employed, but it is not a minimum standard that a plan be designed to permit this outcome. This is based on a reading of the statute as a whole, the history of the PBSA, and a purposive approach to the interpretation of the statute. It says Subsection 16(1) sets out that a member is “entitled” to an “immediate pension benefit” on attaining “pensionable age.” Each of these terms is important to the interpretation of subsection 16(1) as the proper construction of the PBSA demands that the entitlement be a contingent future entitlement and that the contingency – be it an election to retire or a requirement to cease employment ‒ is determined by reference to the pension plan terms. Absent any contingency or triggering event – such as cessation of employment or member election ‒ the definition of “immediate pension benefit” would demand that every person who attains “pensionable age” automatically start to receive a pension benefit within one year of having attained it, whether they want to or not.
Valuations Rise Considerably
Valuations have risen considerably during the COVID-19 crisis, says FTSE Russell’s ‘March 2021 Factor Forensics Report, Factor valuations after a tumultuous year.’ The global lockdown and working from home favoured growth sectors, notably technology, which have seen large P/E expansions, while those of cyclical sectors contracted. But as vaccinations progressed and leading indicators improved, cyclicals have rebounded strongly at the expense of last year’s pandemic winners, further propelling the global rotation into the value and smaller cap factors from quality and momentum. However, there are COVID-19 factor losers. Value is overweight the cyclical sectors that were hit hardest during the pandemic. Value and size are both overweight the financials sector, which has been in structural decline since the global financial crisis, but has outperformed recently as it became perceived as a major beneficiary of a reflating economy and steepening yield curves.
PSP Investments Takes Interest In Robotics
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) has made a strategic investment in Promise Robotics, a platform for the robotic manufacturing of houses and building components. Promise Robotics harnesses the scale and power of advanced robotics and artificial intelligence to accelerate manufacturing times and to remove uncertainties associated with the construction of homes and buildings. It helps builders, real estate developers, and other industry professionals leverage the efficiencies of industrialized automation for sustainable construction.
Lafrance Joins Bell
Search For New Value Examined
‘In Search of New Value: Trends in Canadian Pension Asset Management and Operations’ will be examined April 13 in a Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events Webinar. Alistair Almeida, segment lead, asset owners, at CIBC Mellon, and Julie Pominville, chief operating officer at Trans-Canada Capital Inc., will look at considerations, risks, and opportunities as plans seek to position their organizations for the future. This will include what life looks like after COVID-19 from an investment strategy perspective, the top benefits of in-house asset management, and the key drivers for outsourcing. Information is https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4830681659942181391