Special Notice

Special Notice

Special Notice provides timely information and insights on legal, legislative and regulatory developments relating to pensions and benefits.

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February 28, 2018  –  2018 Federal Budget: Goodbye Health and Welfare Trusts; Hello Expanded Parental Leave

The 2018 Federal Budget, Equality + Growth, A Strong Middle Class (Budget), was tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on February 27, 2018. Key announcements of interest to employers and benefits plan sponsors include:

  • Elimination of health and welfare trusts (HWTs) in favour of Employee Life and Health Trusts (ELHTs);
  • Introduction of a new Parental Sharing Benefit through the Employment Insurance (EI) program;
  • Consultations on a national pharmacare program;
  • Additional enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP);
  • Consultations aimed at enhancing pension protections in the event of a plan sponsor’s bankruptcy;
  • Consultations aimed at addressing the issue of unclaimed pension balances; and
  • Introduction of pay equity legislation and new leaves of absence for federally regulated employees.

This Special Notice provides a summary of the key Budget measures, and their impact on employers and plan sponsors.


January 8, 2018  –  Selected pension and benefit statistics

This Special Notice outlines:

  • Income Tax Act - Pension and Savings Maximums
  • Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP)
  • Old Age Security (OAS)
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) 
  • Monthly Payment Allowance
  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
  • Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)


December 21, 2017  –  Ontario Defined Benefit Plan Funding Reform Moves Closer

On December 14, 2017, Ontario released the highly anticipated details of its consultation on Reform of Ontario’s Funding Rules for Defined Benefit Pension Plans: Description of New Funding Rules (Consultation). The Consultation, which is open for comment until January 29, 2018, provides a description of proposed regulations relating to the province’s new funding rules for defined benefit (DB) pension plans. As the government intends to have the new rules starting with December 31, 2017 valuations filed after the new rules take effect, plan sponsors will need to review the Consultation and assess its implications.

The new funding rules will not apply to listed jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs) or to specified Ontario multi-employer pension plans (SOMEPPs), but will apply to multi-employer plans that are not SOMEPPs.

This Special Notice provides an overview of the Consultation and next steps, and provides an initial assessment of the potential impact of the new funding rules on Ontario-registered DB plans. Please contact your Eckler consultant to obtain more information about how these changes may affect your organization’s plans.


November 16, 2017  –  QPP Reform Moves Ahead

Bill 149, An Act to enhance the Québec Pension Plan and to amend various retirement-related legislative provisions, was introduced on November 2, 2017. This Québec Pension Plan (QPP) reform follows the June 2016 federal-provincial agreement to reform the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), which resulted in a consultation on changes to the QPP in December 2016.

For more information on changes to the CPP, please refer to the June 21, 2016 and October 28, 2016 editions of Eckler’s Special Notice.

This Special Notice provides an overview of provisions under Bill 149 that relate to the QPP reform and discusses its impact on employer pension plans.

August 22, 2017  –  Nova Scotia reintroduces temporary funding relief for DB plan sponsors

Effective August 8, 2017, Nova Scotia became the latest province to offer temporary funding relief for defined benefit (DB) plan sponsors. The relief, contained in N.S. Reg. 117/2017 (Relief Regulation), allows DB plan sponsors to elect to fund new solvency deficiencies identified in valuation reports dated between December 30, 2016, and January 2, 2019, over 15 years. The funding relief is also available for any pre-existing solvency deficiencies being funded over five years.

This new relief may prove welcome news to many plan sponsors. Plans wishing to obtain relief in respect of their December 31, 2016, valuation should be prepared to act quickly, as the reports must be filed by September 30, 2017.

This Special Notice provides an overview of the new temporary relief measures and their impact on plan sponsors.

August 18, 2017  –  Quebec releases Draft Regulation on DB plan funding

Quebec has published a draft regulation on funding for defined benefit (DB) pension plans. This Draft Regulation addresses a range of issues, including:

  • funding policy requirements,
  • annuity purchase requirements,
  • contents of actuarial valuation reports,
  • contents of annual statements,
  • family law issues, and
  • other provisions.

The regulations were expected following funding rule changes that were implemented on January 1, 2016, under Bill 29: An Act to amend the Supplemental Pension Plans Act (formerly Bill 57), mainly with respect to the funding of defined benefit pension plans. Bill 29’s most important change was the replacement of solvency funding with enhanced going-concern funding augmented by a stabilization provision.

For more information on Quebec’s funding rules, refer to Eckler’s June 19, 2015, Special Notice, New Québec Legislation Proposes Major Changes to Pension Funding Rules. This Special Notice provides an overview of the proposals contained in the Draft Regulation.

May 30, 2017  –  Ontario: defined benefit funding changes (and interim relief) on horizon

On May 19, 2017, the Ontario Ministry of Finance issued a News Release and a Backgrounder to give a progress update on the province’s ongoing defined benefit (DB) pension funding reform. 

These materials contain information on next steps in the funding reform process, provide details about the new funding framework, a timeline for interim relief measures, and information on changes to the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF).


The new framework is currently expected to apply only to single-employer DB plans, and to multi-employer pension plans that do not currently qualify as a specified Ontario multi-employer pension plan (SOMEPP). There is no indication that it will apply to jointly sponsored pension plans (JSPPs). Also, the government is in the process of developing a separate regulatory framework for target benefit multi-employer pension plans (TBMEPPs), which would replace the rules that currently apply to SOMEPPs.


This Special Notice reviews the latest announcements and discusses their potential impact on employers and plan sponsors.

April 27, 2017  –  2017 Ontario Budget: Universal Child/Youth Pharmacare and Pension Progress Report

The 2017 Ontario Budget, A Stronger, Healthier Ontario (Budget), was presented by Finance Minister Charles Sousa on April 27, 2017. With its first balanced budget since the 2008-09 recession, the government introduced several family-friendly measures.

Most notable are:

  • the introduction of OHIP+, a universal pharmacare program for the province’s children and youth; and
  • the modernization of caregiver credits to mirror recent federal changes.

The Budget also provides progress reports on the following pension related initiatives:

  • the defined benefit (DB) solvency funding framework review,
  • the new financial services regulatory authority, and
  • the framework for target benefit multi-employer pension plans (TBMEPPs), 

and announces new initiatives relating to:

  • the framework for defined contribution (DC) plans, and
  • the treatment of “missing” plan beneficiaries.

This Special Notice provides a summary of key Budget measures and their impact on employers and plan sponsors.

March 22, 2017  –  2017 Federal Budget: More flexibility for caregivers, minor news on pensions

The 2017 Federal Budget, Building a Strong Middle Class (Budget), was tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on March 22, 2017. As with the 2016 Budget, the focus was on middle class growth, as well as innovation, skills development and job creation. 

While the Budget was notably silent on pension topics – including next steps for reform of the Canada Pension Plan – it did contain some announcements of interest to employers and benefits plan sponsors, including:

  • changes to employment insurance (EI) benefits to improve flexibility for claimants, including a new EI caregiver benefit;
  • a new, streamlined Canada Caregiver Credit;
  • changes to the Canada Labour Code offering greater flexibility for federally regulated employees;
  • dedicated healthcare funding for home care and mental health;
  • changes to the treatment of fertility expenses for the medical expense tax credit (METC); and
  • an update on the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB).

This Special Notice provides a summary of key Budget measures and their impact on employers and plan sponsors.

February 23, 2017  –  B.C. Budget cuts MSP premiums in half

British Columbia announced significant changes to its Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums in Budget 2017. These premiums are payable for MSP coverage by adult account holders and qualifying spouses – effective January 1, 2017, no premiums are payable by minors or dependent post-secondary students. The changes announced in the Budget tabled February 21, 2017 will halve premiums for an estimated two million residents, effective January 1, 2018, and the government has committed to eliminating all MSP premiums in the future.

This Special Notice provides an overview of the Budget’s MSP changes and implications for plan sponsors.