Canada's pension leaders to share lessons on retirement issues at leading American policy think tank

posting date Posted: October 31, 2017


October 31, 2017 (Toronto, ON) – The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., has invited Toronto-based retirement security firm Common Wealth and Canada’s top public sector pension plans, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) and OPTrust, as well as the President of the Canadian Labour Congress, to discuss retirement innovation and reform that could be applied to the U.S. system.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 2, 2017, and comes just as a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office calls for a comprehensive examination of the nation’s retirement system. Americans are faced with major challenges in achieving a financially secure retirement, including Social Security uncertainty and lack of universal access to retirement plans.

Senior U.S. elected officials, policy makers, pension/investment leaders, labour leaders, regulators, and experts will attend the convening session. Key U.S. speakers include:

  • Jason Fichtner, Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center; former acting Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
  • William Gale, Director of Retirement Security Project, Brookings Institution
  • Joshua Gotbaum, Guest Scholar, Brookings Institution; Chair of Maryland Small Business Retirement Security Board; former director of Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp
  • Mark Iwry, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury
  • David John, Deputy Director of Retirement Security Project, Brookings Institution; Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP
  • Ida Rademacher, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Financial Security Program
Key Canadian speakers include:



Fixing the U.S. Retirement System - Does Canada Have the Answers?
Date: Thursday, November 2, 2017
Time: 1:30pm-4:30pm
Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC
Event website:

The event will provide an opportunity to share ideas, best practices, and candid lessons on retirement issues across the Canada-U.S. border.  

Register and watch the webcast


Social Security-like reform worked in Canada – Could it work in the U.S.?

  • Explain recent Canada pension plan reforms
  • Provide behind-the-scenes insight into the history, policy and politics

How Canada fixed its government employees pension plans

  • Explore the politics, design principles, and lessons associated with the well-regarded “Canadian model” of public pension funds
  • Relevant to U.S. public sector pensions, the design of state-sponsored retirement plans for private sector workers, the reform of multi-employer pension plans, and other new initiatives to expand pension coverage

Retirement security for low- and moderate-income workers

  • Feature both public- and private-sector efforts to expand retirement security and pension coverage for lower- and moderate-income workers in both Canada and the U.S.
  • Explore the cross-border lessons, shared challenges, and opportunities from these efforts 


Brookings Institution – Deputy Director of Retirement Security Project, David John
“Brookings is delighted to bring together leaders from both the U.S. and Canadian retirement security communities to discuss retirement policy and innovation. Canada’s recent experience shows that thoughtful retirement policy reform is possible, and we hope it will help Americans chart a path forward to improve our retirement system and strengthen retirement security for our citizens.”

Common Wealth - Co-founders, Alex Mazer and Jonathan Weisstub
"Canada's healthcare system is often praised and used as an example for other countries to emulate, but we believe that the lessons from our pension and retirement system are also worth spreading around the world. We are grateful to the Brookings Institution for the opportunity to offer our insights from the Canadian experience."

HOOPP – President and CEO, Jim Keohane
"We are proud to represent Canada, which has one of the world's best pension systems. Viewing our organization through a holistic lens allows us to deliver on the pension promise to our over 500 employers and more than 320,000 members. We believe that our strategies may provide potential solutions for the U.S. retirement system."

OPTrust – President and CEO, Hugh O’Reilly
“As the attention of policy makers in the U.S. and elsewhere increasingly turns to pensions and retirement security, we’ve seen significant interest in learning about the Canadian approach. We thank the Brookings Institution for providing a platform for us to share our experiences and highlight the benefits of the Canadian pension model.”

Canadian Labour Congress – President, Hassan Yussuff
“Canada is undergoing important and innovative pension reforms and we are eager to share our progress with our American neighbors. What better venue than the Brookings Institution to engage in this timely discussion.”



The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC. Our mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national and global level. The research agenda and recommendations of Brookings’s experts are rooted in open-minded inquiry and our 300+ scholars represent diverse points of view. Research topics cover foreign policy, economics, development, governance and metropolitan policy.


Common Wealth was founded in 2015 with the goal of expanding access to retirement security. Co-founders Alex Mazer and Jonathan Weisstub wanted to use their cross-sector backgrounds of law, business, and government service to use finance to serve the public good. Building on its work with some of the world’s pension institutions, the firm created the first retirement plan for lower- and moderate-income Canadians, launched in 2017 in partnership with SEIU. Common Wealth has built a team of experienced pension professionals and established partnerships with leading institutions in Canada and the U.S.


Created in 1960, HOOPP is the pension plan of choice for Ontario’s hospital and community-based healthcare sector with over 470 participating employers and 300,000 plus members and retired members. With more than $70 billion in assets, HOOPP is one of the largest DB pension plans in Ontario, and in Canada.  HOOPP is governed by a Board of Trustees with representation from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and four unions.


With net assets of $19 billion, OPTrust invests and manages one of Canada's largest pension funds and administers the OPSEU Pension Plan, a defined benefit plan with almost 90,000 members and retirees. 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.


The Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labour organization in Canada, bringing together dozens of national and international unions, provincial and territorial federations of labour and community-based labour councils to represent 3.3 million workers for more than 50 years. The CLC is an advocate politically for policies and programs that improve the lives of all Canadians, such as the creation of better and more secure jobs, better public pension plans and retirement security, a stronger public health care system and affordable and accessible child care.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Brookings Institution
Delaney Parrish, Director of Communications

Judy Mann, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications
T 416-369-8033, C 416-270-3619

Claire Prashaw, Manager, Public Affairs

Common Wealth
Janette Luu, Director, Marketing & Communications

Canadian Labour Congress
Chantal St-Denis, Communications


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