June 25, 2018

Government of Ontario: Amendment to the Pension Benefits Act to Permit Waiver of Biennial Statement Requirement

In May 2017, the Government of Ontario amended the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) through Schedule 27 of Bill 127 by adding a new subsection to permit the Superintendent to waive the requirement to send biennial statements to missing former and retired members. The relevant subsections are as follows:

Other statements to former members, retired members 
27(2) When required by the regulations, the administrator of a pension plan shall transmit to each former member and retired member a written statement containing the prescribed information about the pension plan or about his or her pension benefits and any ancillary benefits.

Waiver of requirement (NEW)
(3) The Superintendent may waive the requirement in subsection (2) in respect of a former member or retired member if the Superintendent is satisfied that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the former member or retired member is missing.

Following the release of FSCO's Pension Policy No. A300-901, Waiver of Biennial Statements for Missing Former and Retired Members ("Waiver Policy"), Sun Life reviewed its internal process for transmitting statements to missing former and retired members, whom we refer to as missing policy holders ("MPHs"). 

Sun Life identifies a MPH as an individual who is known to have an incorrect address on file (i.e., Sun Life has received returned mail, or a cheque has become stale dated). For a MPH, Sun Life suppresses the mailing of the statement to avoid a potential breach of the former or retired member's privacy rights. An electronic version of the statement remains available to MPHs on Sun Life's secure member website, and the MPH is identified via email that a statement is available.  Multiple and varied attempts to locate each MPH are made, in accordance with Sun Life's MPH process. 

In its Waiver Policy, FSCO indicates that the waiver of the requirement to send biennial statements must be obtained by individual plan administrators, however Sun Life believes that, as a result of its role as record-keeper, it is in a better position to request the waiver from the Superintendent. In addition, we believe that our MPH process would qualify us for the Superintendent's waiver, and will seek to obtain a blanket waiver for all plans with a missing former or retired member and for whom Sun Life is the record-keeper. 

What is Sun Life doing to address this requirement?
Our next step is to reach out to FSCO to determine if the Superintendent would grant a blanket waiver to Sun Life on behalf of all plans with a missing former or retired member for whom Sun Life is the record-keeper. We are not requesting Plan Sponsors, Consultants or Advisors to complete waiver requests at this time. Once we have a response from FSCO, we will communicate further.

Note that for most plans, biennial statements were mailed and email notifications were sent to former and retired members informing them that statements were available and posted on Sun Life's secure member website for MPHs in December 2017. For these plans, the next biennial statement is scheduled to be sent in December 2019. It is the December 2019 biennial statement requirement for which Sun Life will apply for a waiver. Some plans may have biennial statement requirements on a different timeline, in accordance with the PBA. 

If you have any questions regarding this communication, or wish to view Sun Life's MPH process, please contact your Sun Life Financial Group Retirement Services representative.