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COVID-19 – FSRA provides some regulatory relief

pension plans

Ontario’s provincial pension plan regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (“FSRA”), recently published a communication detailing its response to the COVID-19 pandemic (the “FSRA Communication”).

The FSRA Communication provides that FSRA is monitoring the situation and considering alternative approaches to assist administrators in their ongoing administration and compliance efforts relating to pension plans. As a part of its efforts to accommodate plan administrators, FSRA has indicated the following:

  • Extension of filing deadlines: In accordance with Section 105 of the Pension Benefits Act (Ontario) (the “PBA”), administrators may request a filing extension of up to 60 days for regulatory submissions such as valuation reports and actuarial reports. These requests can be made through the FSRA Pension Services Portal. For extension requests beyond 60 days, FSRA recommends emailing or mailing your assigned Pension Officer.
  • Communications with members: With respect to member disclosure requirements, if an administrator anticipates potential issues meeting prescribed timelines, the administrator should contact its assigned Pension Officer. Although FSRA does not have the statutory power to extend such timelines, they have advised that effective March 18, 2020, it will not levy summary administrative monetary penalties with respect to non-compliance of member disclosure timelines, provided that the administrator has contacted its assigned Pension Officer to advise of the challenges faced and its proposed course of action.
  • Applications for transactions: If an administrator has filed a specific request for consent with FSRA, it should contact its assigned Pension Officer for any information/queries. Applications for pension asset transfers and wind-ups will continue to be reviewed, although there may be some delay. New applications should be submitted via email.
  • DB transfer ratios: If an administrator knows or ought to have known that the transfer ratio in respect of a defined benefit plan has fallen by 10% or more since the most recently determined transfer ratio (or if the most recently determined transfer ratio was above 1 and it has fallen to 0.9 or less), the administrator is not permitted to transfer any part of the commuted value of a pension, deferred pension or ancillary benefit to which a member or former member is entitled without FSRA’s prior approval.

A link to the FSRA Communication can be found here. Administrators should regularly check FSRA’s website for any further updates.

By Jana Steele and Omar Sunderji, Osler

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