The final report of the Alberta/British Columbia Joint
Expert Panel on Pension Standards, titled Getting our Acts
Together – Pension Reform in Alberta and British
Columbia, was released to the public on November 28, 2008. The
Report recommends a "fundamental reform of pension
legislation" to achieve a balance between encouraging the
establishment and maintenance of pension plans, and providing
confidence in benefit security. If ultimately adopted by the
governments and turned into legislation, many of the
recommendations would have significant legal (and other)
implications for pension plan sponsors and members. This Update
highlights a number of the more significant recommendations and
comments on several of these recommendations from a legal
The Alberta/British Columbia Joint Expert Panel (Panel) was
originally appointed on October 19, 2007 with a mandate to conduct
a full and independent public review of the Employment Pension
Plans Act (Alberta) and the Pension Benefits Standards
Act (British Columbia). Osler Calgary partner, Christopher
Brown, served as Alberta co-chair of the Panel along with five
other pension experts from the two provinces.
The recommendations in the Panel's final report Panel's final
report are organized under six principal headings: (i) Objectives
and Regulatory Framework; (ii) Governance and Investment; (iii)
Funding and Benefit Security; (iv) Specific Pension Standards; (v)
Related Legal and Other Frameworks; and (vi) The "ABC
The Panel states that its conclusions are an attempt "to
balance the disparate views and interests of plan beneficiaries and
employers, and the potentially contradictory goals of improved
benefit security and higher participation." The Report also
states that the Panel has constructed its recommendations as a
package, intended to be taken as a whole, and encourages the
governments and other readers to view the recommendations in that
A summary of the Panel's key recommendations is contained in
the addendum to this Update. A complete list of the recommendations
can be found in Appendix D to the Report. The Alberta and British
Columbia governments are seeking written feedback on the
Panel's recommendations by March 2, 2009.
To read the full Update on this Report, click here.
Michael Wolpert is a partner in the Calgary
office of Osler's Pensions and Benefits Department.
Kristin Smith is an associate in the Pensions and
Benefits Department of the firm's Calgary office.
Cheryl Rea is an associate in the Pensions and
Benefits Department in the firm's Calgary office.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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