On May 6, 2014, Alberta President of Treasury Board and Minister
of Finance Doug Horner announced the provincial government's
intention to "briefly hit the pause button" on two pieces
of pension reform legislation that were introduced in April. As
discussed in a previous
Blakes Bulletin: Two New Bills Bring More Changes to Alberta's
Pension Legislation, Bills 9 and 10 were the latest
developments in the province's ongoing reforms to both
public-sector and private-sector pension legislation.
After reaching a deal with its largest union on a new collective
agreement and avoiding further debate over its controversial Bills
45 and 46 (designed to bar strikes in the public service and impose
a new agreement), labour and opposition groups pressured the
Alberta government to reconsider certain aspects of Bill 9. The
provisions at issue would have imposed changes to early retirement
and indexation benefits for four of Alberta's public-sector
pension plans. As part of its efforts to rebuild relations with its
unions, the government agreed to refer Bill 9 to the all-party
Standing Committee on Alberta's Economic Future (Standing
Committee) for further consultation. The Standing Committee is
expected to report back to the legislature on its recommendations
in October 2014.
At the same time, and with considerably less explanation, the
government also announced that Bill 10, which amends Alberta's
new and not-yet-in-force Employment Pension Plans Act (New
Act), would also be referred to the Standing Committee. Though not
directly discussed in the government's announcement, the
concerns with Bill 10 presumably relate to its provisions dealing
with the ability to convert past-service defined benefits to target
benefits as part of a plan conversion to the new target benefit
structure permitted by the New Act.
The government has not yet commented on the implications of the
delay to Bill 10 on its broader private-sector reforms under the
New Act. It had been widely anticipated that the passage of Bill 10
would be followed immediately by the release of the long-awaited
regulations under the New Act and that the legislation would take
effect shortly thereafter. However, Bill 10 made numerous other
changes to the New Act and it is not yet known whether the
remainder of the legislation can or will proceed without those
This would be just the latest delay in a private-sector pension
reform process that began in 2007 with the appointment of the
Alberta-British Columbia Joint Expert Panel on Pension Standards.
Plan sponsors may now potentially be forced to wait several more
months for those long-needed reforms.
Blakes will be following the changes related to both
Alberta's private-sector and public-sector pension legislation
and will provide further updates as developments occur.
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