Ontario announces details of new provincial pension plan, raising concerns about exclusion

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Last week, the Government of Ontario released details of the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). They also unveiled a new website explaining – in broad strokes – how the plan will work. OCUFA was active in the consultations around the design of the ORPP, and made a formal submission to government on how the plan could benefit contract faculty. While we are working to confirm some key details, we do have some concerns about the proposed design.

The proposed ORPP would enroll individuals who are not otherwise covered in a comparable pension plan. The definition of “comparable” in this context is key. During the consultations, the government had suggested that restricting the definition of comparable to Defined Benefit (DB) and Target Benefit (TB) pension plans had the advantage of expanding the number of participating employees, making the plan more portable, and increasing the stability and sustainability of the plan. They also recognized that DB and TB plans are most comparable to the ORPP because, unlike Defined Contribution (DC) plans, they provide pooled investment risk and benefits for life. Last week’s announcement opened the definition of comparable to include DC plans – a move in the wrong direction. OCUFA has argued that the ORPP should be as universal as possible. By opening up the definition, the new design of the ORPP has the potential to exclude many more workers.

OCUFA also argued that in order to benefit contract faculty, the ORPP should consider whether an individual has access to a workplace pension plan, not whether they are in a workplace where a pension plan exists. All universities have pensions plans, but many contract faculty do not have access to them. If the unit of eligibility is workplaces, and not individuals, this will disadvantage many faculty members with precarious jobs. These are the individuals who need access to the ORPP the most. It is still not clear whether the ORPP will be using individual access or workplace availability as an eligibility criteria. OCUFA will be working in the coming weeks to clarify this point.

OCUFA will continue to provide analysis of the proposed plan, which will be available on the OCUFA website and in OCUFA Report.

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