Canadian DB Pensions on "What's Important" in Retirement

Jason White, Senior Public Affairs Advisor at OPTrust sent me a joint statement where Canadian defined benefit (DB) pension plans collaborate on retirement security video to mark financial literacy month:

Defined benefit (DB) pension plans from across Canada today released an informational video entitled What's Important produced in collaboration to mark Financial Literacy Month and raise awareness about the value of retirement income security.

The plans include BC’s College, Municipal, Public Service and WorkSafeBC, College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT), OMERS, Ontario Pension Board, OPTrust, and Teachers’ Pension Plan Corporation Newfoundland & Labrador. The video was developed in support of member education and awareness.

While each of the plans represent a different membership, they are united in their commitment to providing their members with key pension facts so that they can make informed decisions about their financial security in retirement.

“OMERS is focused on making a positive impact in the lives of our members by providing them with a sustainable, affordable and meaningful pension in retirement. We are proud advocates of the defined benefit model and pleased to partner with our peers in promoting its value together,” said Celine Chiovitti, Executive Vice President & Head of Pensions, OMERS.

This video collaboration serves to highlight the strength of Canadian pension plans, and the importance of the defined-benefit model we all continue to advocate for, and its importance in protecting the pension promise to all of our respective members,” added Peter Shena, Executive Vice President & Chief Pension Officer, Ontario Pension Board (OPB).

Audrey Forbes, Senior Vice President, Member Experience, OPTrust, noted “Together we believe in the value defined benefit pensions offer to Canadians and the economy. The collaboration between all pension plans started a year ago during National Financial Literacy Month to raise awareness about the value of retirement security.”

The video underscores the importance of getting all the facts when making decisions that can impact an individual’s financial future in retirement – before those decisions are made. What’s Important can be viewed here.


For information on BC’s College, Municipal, Public Service and WorkSafeBC pension plans, please visit


Established in 1967, the CAAT Pension Plan is an independent, jointly governed plan that offers two designs of a defined benefit pension. CAAT's award-winning DBplus plan is leading an extraordinary pace of growth for the Plan. Originally created to support the Ontario college system, the CAAT Plan now proudly serves more than 200 participating employers from various sectors including the for-profit, nonprofit, and broader public sectors. Currently, it has over 74,000 active and retired members. The CAAT Plan is respected for its pension and investment management expertise and focus on stability and benefit security. At January 1, 2021, the Plan was 119% funded on a going-concern basis. Learn more at:


Founded in 1962, OMERS is a jointly sponsored, defined benefit pension plan, with 1,000 participating employers ranging from large cities to local agencies, and over half a million active, deferred and retired members. Our members include union and non-union employees of municipalities, school boards, local boards, transit systems, electrical utilities, emergency services and children’s aid societies across Ontario. OMERS teams work in Toronto, London, New York, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Singapore, Sydney and other major cities across North America and Europe – serving members and employers and originating and managing a diversified portfolio of high-quality investments in public markets, private equity, infrastructure and real estate. OMERS had net assets of $114 billion as at June 30, 2021.


Ontario Pension Board (OPB) administers Ontario’s Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP), a defined benefit pension plan serving approximately 91, 000 active, former and retired members. With $31 billion in net assets, the PSPP is one of Canada’s largest pension plans. It’s also one of Canada’s oldest pension plans, and celebrated 100 years of successfully delivering the pension promise in 2020. To learn more about OPB, visit


With net assets of over $23 billion, OPTrust invests and manages one of Canada’s largest pension funds and administers the OPSEU Pension plan (including OPTrust Select), a defined benefit plan with over 98,000 members. OPTRUST was established to give plan members and the Government of Ontario an equal voice in the administration of the Plan and the investment of its assets through joint trusteeship. OPTrust is governed by a 10-member Board of Trustees, five of whom are appointed by OPSEU and five by the Government of Ontario.


As the second largest public sector pension plan in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Teachers’ Pension Plan Corporation (TPPC) serves more than 18,000 active, retired, and inactive plan members. Since August 2016, the Teachers’ Pension Plan (TPP) is jointly sponsored by the Government of Newfoundland and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association. The TPPC administers the TPP and the investment of its assets. The TPP is fully funded, on a going concern basis, with a funded ratio of 114.9% at December 31, 2020. To learn more about the TPPC, visit their website at

Celine Chiovitti, Executive Vice President & Head of Pensions at OMERS, also posted her thoughts on how 'What’s Important' answers the most common questions about defined benefit pensions and commuted values in three minutes:

We’re delighted to share What’s Important, an educational video that addresses the most common questions about defined benefit pensions and commuted values that just launched today.

OMERS began working in collaboration with eight of our peers to produce What’s Important to mark Financial Literacy Month to raise awareness about the value of retirement security.

What’s Important explains to members why it is important to get all the facts about retirement security before making decisions about their financial futures. And here are three reasons why:

  1. Having a secure and stable source of retirement income improves the lives of OMERS members and strengthens communities in Ontario.

  2. Many of our members have attributed low stress levels, good health and an increased sense of financial security to reliable income in retirement.

  3. Many of our members give back to their communities and credit their increased life satisfaction, associated with their OMERS pension, with their ability to volunteer and offer donations.

We are honoured to support member education and awareness through releasing What’s Important in partnership with BC’s College, Municipal, Public Service and WorkSafe BC Pension Plans, College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT), Ontario Pension Board, OPTrust, and Teachers’ Pension Plan Corporation Newfoundland & Labrador.

You can view the What's Important video here and I embedded it below at the end of this post.

The video transcript is also available:

Speaker 1: There are lots of things that are important in life, family, friends, health, career, and financial security. It's also important to understand how the pension decisions you make today can impact your retirement income in the future.

As a member of one of Canada's public sector defined benefit pension plans, you can rest easy knowing the contributions you and your employer make today, along with investment returns, will provide a lifetime pension in retirement, and that offers peace of mind for you and your loved ones. Simply put, your pension offers a predictable steady stream of income that will be there for you throughout your retirement. That's because your defined benefit pension is based on a set formula to determine the amount you will receive in retirement. As a result, your pension is not affected by the day-to-day ups and downs of market or investment performance. And to help protect your pension dollars, annual increases for inflation may also be available.

What's more, you can leave the investment decisions to a team of experienced investment professionals with access to large-scale investment opportunities around the globe that are usually not available to most people. But did you also know if you decide to leave your current job before retirement, you can leave your pension with your plan? So when you're ready to retire, you can count on secure income in retirement, thanks to your pension. And because you will know the amount you'll receive before you retire, you can better plan for your financial future, and that's very important.

Making decisions is a part of life. You may get married, start a family, or go back to school. Your career path may take different turns with new job opportunities during your working years. And along the way, depending on your plan, you may hear you can take the value of your pension out before a certain age or years of service, but it's important to get all the facts before you act. Taking money, known as the commuted value, out of your plan to invest elsewhere is a big decision, and once it's done it, can't be undone.

Did you know you need to leave your current job to take out the value of your pension? There may be tax implications, and a portion of your pension funds cannot be accessed until retirement. Taking out the value of your pension also means ending your membership in the plan and, in most cases, walking away from survivor benefits and any health benefits in retirement that may be offered. Most importantly, by leaving your pension plan, you're missing out on the security of predictable retirement income for life.

So decisions like these matter. That's why your pension plan has a team of knowledgeable experts to answer any questions you may have about your pension, and they will be with you from the minute you join the plan throughout your retirement. Understanding the financial impacts of the decisions you make about your pension is important because safeguarding your financial future in retirement, and that of your loved ones, is important too.

When people ask me why defined benefit pensions are important, I explain they provide guaranteed lifetime income for members when they retire.

No matter what happens to global stock markets -- up, down, sideways -- members of a well-managed, well-governed defined benefit plan enjoy the peace of mind and security that comes with a DB pension plan.

"Well Leo, I'm relatively young, over the last three years, I put all my money in bitcoin and Tesla shares and plan on retiring at the age of 35."

Fantastic. Good for you! 

Most sane people don't put all their money in bitcoin and Tesla, they diversify, they stress a lot about markets, worry about asset allocation and whether they will have enough savings to retire on. 

For most hardworking people looking to retire, the fear of outliving their savings is a very real and legitimate fear.

This is where the value of a defined benefit plan really comes through.

Unlike defined contribution (DC) plans which are enhanced savings plans that are vulnerable to the vagaries of global stock and bond markets, Canada's large, well-governed defined benefit (DB) pensions invest across public and private markets all over the world. 

This way they diversify their income streams across global stock and bond markets as well as global real estate, infrastructure, private equity and private debt markets.

Large global pensions look for global sources of income streams across public and private markets and they are able to internalize costs, managing the bulk of the assets internally.

Those substantial cost savings are then passed on to their members and are an important factor in their stellar long-term performance.

Moreover, most of these well-governed DB pensions also got their plan design right, they share the risk properly between active and retired members, adding an important funding sustainability lever to their plan.

I can go on and on but just this week, I went over why Canada's large pensions are good for our economy and why retirement plans are good for business.

Pension policy is critically important for our economy over the long run.

Importantly, increasing defined benefit pensions coverage for more Canadians should be a critical goal if we want to improve the economic outlook of our nation.

It's not the only issue, we need to improve productivity, but improving retirement outcomes will improve productivity levels.

Alright, let me wrap it up there.

Please take the time to watch the What's Important video below.