Toronto, (January 18, 2006): OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust), one of Canada’s largest joint-trustee pension plans, announced today the appointment of a former Ontario politician and a retired union activist to its board of trustees.
OPTrust is a $10.5 billion pension plan with approximately 74,000 members. The plan is co-sponsored by the government and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Each sponsor appoints five trustees.
The new trustees are Richard Johnston, member of the Ontario legislature from 1979 to 1990 and former contender for the New Democratic Party leadership; and Ruth Galinis, a former government employee and retired OPSEU official.
Deb Stark, Board Chair, commented that OPTrust’s governance model is based on appointing trustees who understand the pension needs of plan members.
“We believe that complex investment recommendations must make sense to non-financial trustees to make sense to the plan,” she explained. “The trustees have access to all the expertise they require to evaluate the risks and potential returns of different investment assets and make the right decisions.” OPTrust currently retains more than 20 external investment, financial and legal advisors and continues to expand its staff investment expertise.
“The joint-trustee model works for us, as evidenced by our track record,” Ms. Stark said. “Since the pension plan was set up in 1995, investment returns have exceeded those required to meet pension obligations and are competitive with other public sector plans. Furthermore, we have avoided the large funding shortfalls plaguing other plans, and our contribution rates have been stable.”
Appointed to the OPTrust board by the government of Ontario, Richard Johnston, was an administrator and counselor at Trent University before becoming a social worker specializing in helping the elderly. As an MPP, he crusaded for improved benefits for the poor and disabled. He served as Chair of the Ontario Council of Regents for the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario from 1991 until 1995, President of the First National Technical Institute on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and a director at Trent University from 1995 to 1998, and President of Centennial College in Scarborough from 1998 to 2004. Mr. Johnston currently operates a vineyard in Prince Edward County.
Appointed to the OPTrust board by OPSEU, Ruth Galinis was recently awarded lifetime membership in the union. Starting her career as a human rights officer in the Ministry of Labour, she worked as a regional consultant consecutively with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. She served as an OPSEU local representative in Sault Ste. Marie and the labour representative on the Sault College board of governors. Ms. Galinis is the first OPSEU retiree appointed to the OPTrust board.