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News: 2001 Annual Report

posting date Posted: April 8, 2002

Toronto (April 8, 2002) - After six years of strong investment results, the OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust) has reported an overall rate of return of negative 3.5 per cent for 2001. Over the seven years since the OPSEU Pension Plan was launched, OPTrust has achieved an average annual return of 11.3 per cent.

At the end of 2001, the Plan’s net assets stood at $9.4 billion, down from $10 billion in 2000. This decrease in net assets reflects a $359 million investment loss as well as pension and other benefit payments made over the year.

"OPTrust’s return, like that of all large institutional investors, is closely tied to the performance of the markets," said Stan Sanderson, Chair of OPTrust’s Board of Trustees. "With the retreat of Canadian and international equity markets, 2001 was a difficult year for investors."

Despite its negative return, OPTrust outperformed its weighted benchmark, which showed an overall drop of 4.4 per cent for the year. The benchmark measures the overall performance of the markets in which OPTrust invests. Since 1995, OPTrust has bettered its benchmark in five of the past seven years.

"Because capital markets are subject to business cycles, we anticipate the possibility that a plan like ours may occasionally experience a year of negative returns," said Sanderson. "What is more significant, given our long-term commitment to OPTrust’s members and pensioners, is our ability to grow the fund over time, while keeping risk within acceptable limits."

To meet its funding obligations, OPTrust has set a long-term return target of 7.5 per cent. The Plan’s seven-year average return has exceeded this target by 3.8 per cent. OPTrust also outperformed the 10.5 per cent average return of its weighted benchmark for the same period.

In 2001, OPTrust increased its investment in international equities to 38 per cent of the Plan’s assets, from 29 per cent in 2000. This shift allows the Plan to capitalize on opportunities for improved diversification available in developed international markets.

At the end of 2001, Canadian equities accounted 23 per cent of the portfolio, fixed income investments represented 33 per cent, and real return bonds, real estate and cash made up the remaining 6 per cent.

The OPSEU Pension Plan is a defined benefit plan covering more than 48,000 active members and 16,000 current pensioners. The Plan is jointly sponsored by the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Plan members include employees of the Province and other public sector organizations who are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) or the Ontario Liquor Boards Employees’ Union (OLBEU).

At year-end, the Plan’s financial statements showed a surplus of $1.8 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2000. While it is an indication of the Plan’s continuing strength, the financial surplus is not available to improve benefits or reduce contributions.

Instead, OPTrust carries out a funding valuation every three years, comparing the Plan’s assets to the future cost of members’ benefits. Any resulting funding gain is shared between the Government of Ontario and the OPTrust’s members and pensioners, and may be used to improve benefits, reduce contributions, or create a stabilization fund. As a sponsor, OPSEU is responsible for allocating the members’ and pensioners’ share of any funding gains.

The results of the Plan’s next funding valuation, for the years 1999, 2000 and 2001, will be finalized in mid-2002.

OPTrust’s financial results are presented in its 2001 Annual Report, released this week. The Annual Report, including full financial statements and a list of significant investments, is available in print and on OPTrust’s Web site at www.optrust.com.

 

Media Contact:

Myles Magner
Communications Advisor
OPSEU Pension Trust
tel: 416-681-6209
mmagner@optrust.com