Media Contacts

Jamie Edwardson

Communications Director
Ministry of Finance
250 356-2821


Highlights of the new Pension Benefits Standards Act
  • Financial hardship unlocking: Former pension plan members who can demonstrate financial hardship will have greater access to locked-in RRSPs and locked-in life income funds. Applications to the financial institution administering the funds may be based on any or all of the following: low expected income, inability to pay medical expenses, eviction due to rent arrears, foreclosure on a mortgage, and inability to pay first month’s rent and damage deposit.
  • Target benefit plans: The new act enables a new kind of pension plan called a “target benefit” plan. A target benefit plan can be thought of as a hybrid of a defined benefit and defined contribution pension plan. Like a defined benefit plan, benefits are determined by a formula. Like a defined contribution plan, benefits can be reduced if there is a funding shortfall. These plans will be required to fund on a new going concern “plus” basis, which requires a buffer against investment risk, and not on a solvency basis.
  • Immediate vesting: Active members who terminate membership will have immediate entitlement to both employee- and employer-paid contributions, replacing the current two-year standard.
  • Jointly sponsored plans: Legislation will accommodate jointly sponsored plans in which employers and employees have shared responsibility for governance and funding.
  • Enhanced disclosure: Pensioners will receive annual statements, and all members will have increased access to pension plan information.
  • Enhanced governance: Governance policies will be required for all plans. Funding policies will be required for defined benefit and target benefit plans.
  • Solvency reserve accounts: Employers will be able to create solvency reserve accounts in pension plans, which clarify ownership of surplus to remove disincentives to fully funding the plan.
  • Buy-out annuity purchases: B.C. will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to clarify that defined benefit plans may manage plan risk by purchasing annuities for members from regulated insurance companies.
  • Multi-jurisdictional pension plans: The new act authorizes B.C.’s participation in the Agreement Respecting Multi-Jurisdictional Pension Plans.