On December 10, 2019, Bill 132: Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019, received Royal Assent. Bill 132 amends many existing statutes to modernize outdated and ineffective regulatory requirements, aiming to increase regulatory efficiency. Amendments to the Ontario Pension Benefits Act (“PBA”) will give rise to the following key changes:
- Electronic Communications: Members of a pension plan are generally deemed to consent to the receipt of certain documents in electronic form. Electronic documents containing personal information must be sent in a secure format. Plan members will have the ability to opt out of receiving documents electronically at any time.
- Biennial Statements for Missing Members: The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (“FSRA”) now has the authority to waive the requirement to provide periodic written statements to missing members. To waive the requirement, FSRA must be satisfied that the plan administrator is unable to locate the member after making reasonable efforts to do so. Waivers are automatically revoked if the plan administrator receives contact information for the missing member.
- Family Law Matters: FSRA now has the authority to make rules respecting the processes for spouses to obtain a statement of imputed value, and for the transfer of a lump sum from a spouse’s pension plan.
- Conversion to Jointly Sponsored Pension Plans: Employers may apply for FSRA’s consent to transfer assets from a single employer pension plan into a jointly sponsored pension plan. If the application for registration of the jointly sponsored plan is not received by FSRA within 90 days after the application for consent is made, the application for consent is deemed not to have been made. FSRA has the ability to waive or vary certain provisions of the regulation with respect to conversion in appropriate circumstances.
- Plan Administrators: A board of trustees may now act as the administrator of a single employer jointly sponsored pension plan. Where a board of trustees is appointed as the plan administrator, the pension plan document or agreement must set out the powers and duties of the board of trustees.
- General Compliance & Rule Making Authority: Amendments to the “regulation scope provisions” of the PBA confirm that FSRA’s rules, and FSRA’s future amendments to those rules, may simply be adopted prospectively without revising the regulation.
The PBA amendments will come into force upon the date of proclamation, which has yet to be determined.