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OPTions Fall 2011, Number 53

Stephen J. GriggsThe OPTrust Board of Trustees appointed Stephen J. Griggs to the newly-created role of President and CEO, effective June 1, 2011. In this role, Mr. Griggs will assume responsibility for leading OPTrust's integrated administrative and investment operations.

Most recently, Mr. Griggs was the Executive Director of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, representing the interests of leading Canadian pension plans and other institutional shareholders. He has also served as Chairman at Investeco Capital Corp.

Mr. Griggs brings a wealth of leadership experience in the financial services industry to OPTrust. He served as President and CEO of Legg Mason Canada and has been the Chief Operating Officer for two leading Canadian mutual fund companies. Mr. Griggs was a director of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada for a number of years.

"We are delighted to have someone of Stephen Griggs's experience and calibre join OPTrust as CEO," said Maurice Gabay, Chair of the OPTrust Board of Trustees. "Stephen's demonstrated leadership and his commitment to excellence in governance make him an ideal person to lead the organization."

In addition to his professional activities, Mr. Griggs is a dedicated community leader. He serves on the boards of Healthy Minds Canada, the Ontario Board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Ojibway Historical Preservation Society and the St. Patrick's Benevolent Society of Toronto.

New rules for contracts dated January 1, 2012 or later:

Under the new rules, when a spousal relationship ends and a court order, domestic contract or family arbitration award is dated on or after January 1, 2012 and requires a member to split his or her OPTrust pension to equalize the family assets, the former spouse is now entitled to an immediate lump sum payment. This applies if the separation occurred before or after January 1, 2012.

The Family Statute Law Amendment Act, 2009, gives both plan members and former spouses the right to request a statement of family law value from OPTrust. For common-law relationships, the request can only be made by the plan member. OPTrust will provide the family law statement within 60 days of receiving a complete application.

The division of pension assets on the breakdown of a spousal relationship is not mandatory under the current rules, nor will it be mandatory when the new rules come into effect.

Current rules for contracts dated before January 1, 2012:

The current rules apply to court orders and domestic contracts dated before January 1, 2012. The rules apply to existing orders/ contracts filed with OPTrust and orders/ contracts submitted to OPTrust after January 1, 2012, if dated before January 1, 2012.

Today, under the existing rules, members and spouses are required to seek the advice of an independent actuary to determine the value of an OPTrust pension benefit and do not have the right to a statement of family law value.

Currently, when dividing a pension to equalize family assets, the former spouse's pension payment is connected to the member and is paid only when the plan member ends his or her membership, retires, dies or reaches age 65.

Look for more detailed information in the next issue of OPTions and on our website.

Retirement planningLike all OPTrust members, you are contributing to the pension promise – a secure retirement income at the end of your career. One that is payable for your lifetime and will grow with inflation during your retirement. While you are building your pension and planning for the future, understanding your retirement options and when to start your OPTrust pension may help you with your personal, long-term goals.

Your retirement options

Under the OPSEU Pension Plan, the normal retirement age is 65. If you have two or more years of continuous membership or credit in the Plan, you are entitled to an OPTrust pension at retirement based on your credit. OPTrust's permanent early retirement options give you the choice of retiring with a Factor 90 (age plus credit equal 90 years) or 60/20 (at least 60 years old with 20 or more years' credit) pension. You can also retire as early as age 55 but with a 5% reduction for every year you are less than age 65. Even if you qualify for one of the Plan's retirement options, you can continue to work past the age of 65 and choose to continue to contribute to the Plan and defer your pension. However, by the end of the year when you reach the age of 71, the Income Tax Act requires that you stop making contributions to a registered pension plan and start your pension payments.

Your Annual Pension Statement provides more information

Your Annual Pension Statement shows both your earliest unreduced and age 65 retirement dates, including an estimate of your OPTrust pension for each option. Your statement shows your total credit in the Plan and how much future credit is required to reach your earliest unreduced retirement date. Every year, for members who are age 55 and older, OPTrust provides a pension estimate statement to show possible retirement dates and amounts for each year up to age 65.

Vicki Ringelberg
Vicki Ringelberg was appointed to the Board of Trustees by the Government of Ontario in July 2011.

Ms. Ringelberg's career spans over 20 years in the investment industry, where she held various senior positions. Most recently she served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at AIC Limited and Portland Investment Counsel. While at AIC Limited, Ms. Ringelberg was also an active member of the Board of Directors, member of the Audit Committee and a member of the Compliance and Risk Management Committee.

Ms. Ringelberg is currently director of Portland India Select Business Mauritius Portfolios Ltd., Portland General Partner Inc., and a member of the Board of Trustees for Portland Canadian Trusts.

She is a Certified Management Accountant and holds an MBA from the University of Toronto.

OPTrust's secure Online Services site has gained significant popularity among members and pensioners with a record 27,850 registered users in 2010 and growing. Midway through 2011, an additional 3,600 people had signed up for the service.

Discover what other members already know when you sign up for a secure account. Once you are registered, you can:
  • view your Annual Pension Statements
  • view your Annual Buyback Statements
  • update your beneficiary information
  • update e-mail and mailing addresses.
Use the buyback system to:
  • apply online to make pension contributions during a leave of absence
  • get a cost quote for your leave of absence
  • choose to make payments towards your buyback
  • get updated balances for your buyback.

You can also send questions to OPTrust and receive answers about personal pension information in a secure (encrypted) area.

Go paperless

Help reduce OPTrust's environmental footprint by opting to receive statements and other communications electronically, rather than in print. When you log in to your secure account, you can change your "communications preferences" to receive news and information online only.

Fast facts

  • more than 13,000 individual transactions were completed through Online Services last year.
  • beneficiary updates and address changes accounted for almost two-thirds of these transactions.
  • OPTrust received more than 7,600 secure messages through the site in 2010, up from 4,400 the previous year.

 

Membership in the Plan is mandatory for permanently employed OPSEU-represented members of the OPS and certain agencies, boards, commissions and organizations.

But fixed term and casual employees, who are in OPSEU bargaining unit positions, have the option to join the OPSEU Pension Plan at anytime.

Last year, over 1,000 fixed term and casual employees joined the Plan as part of OPTrust's outreach program targeting this group.

If you have colleagues in your workplace who are not plan members, let them know that they have the option to join and contribute to a retirement pension during their career in the Ontario Public Service. You can point your colleague to our special "Join the Plan" section on the OPTrust website at www.optrust.com to learn more.

To enroll in the Plan, employees will need to complete OPTrust's enrollment form together with their human resources representative.

Book an information session

OPTrust offers a lunchtime session for fixed term and casual employees to learn more about the OPSEU Pension Plan. OPTrust staff can deliver a special 20-minute presentation at your workplace on key features of the Plan for employees who are eligible to join. To book a session, contact us at infosessions@optrust.com.

Why join the Plan? Here are five good reasons:
  1. You contribute to a pension protected from market fluctuations.
  2. If you change jobs within the OPS your pension is portable.
  3. An OPTrust pension is payable for your lifetime.
  4. Your pension is adjusted annually for inflation.
  5. It's an easy and secure way to save for the future.

There are two easy ways to update your mailing address, e-mail, and contact information with OPTrust.

Online Services

If you are registered for Online Services, simply log in, click on "change your address" and update your information yourself.

Phone

Call our Member Services staff at 416-681-6100 or 1-800-637-0024.

To protect your privacy, we can only accept mailing address changes made by phone or through your Online Services account.

When you notify your employer of your new address, the information is not provided to OPTrust. That's why it's always a good idea to change your address with OPTrust at the same time to ensure you continue to receive important and timely information about your pension.

OPTrust Direct Contact sessions are a great way to learn more about your pension - directly from an OPTrust representative. Non-members who are eligible to join the Plan (e.g., fixed term or casual employees) are also welcome to come and learn more about enrolling in the Plan.

Getting Ready to Retire - Evening Seminars

seminarsOur evening seminars are tailored for members who are within 10 years of retirement, but all members are welcome to attend.

Topics include:

  • how your pension grows over your career
  • how your pension is calculated and when can you retire
  • what your options are if you leave your job
  • what "CPP integration" means and how it affects you
  • how to buy back credit for past service
  • what other benefits are available, and more...

Understanding Your Pension - Lunch & Learn Seminars
OPTrust staff also offer shorter lunchtime seminars in workplaces across Ontario for members at any stage in their careers. Special sessions for fixed term/casual staff who may be interested in joining are also an option. To book a lunchtime seminar for your workplace, you or your human resources representative can contact us at infosessions@optrust.com.

 

Register now!

See the schedule for a session in your area and sign up online, or call us at 416-681-6100 or 1-800-637-0024.

Important: Space is limited. Please register at least two weeks in advance. Direct Contact sessions are designed to give you an overview of the OPSEU Pension Plan. OPTrust staff cannot provide personal financial advice.

Future sessions will be scheduled for other communities across Ontario. To view a complete, up-to-date schedule and register online, visit the OPTrust website.

Question: Why is there a difference between the amount listed under the best average annual salary and the amount in the pension formula on my statement?

Annual Pension StatementAnswer: The best average annual salary amount shown represents the best five years up to December 31, 2010. However, the salary used in the pension estimate amounts (Factor 90, 60/20, age 65) is a projected salary amount for your earliest unreduced retirement date.

Question: Is the best average annual salary shown on my statement the gross or net amount?

Answer: Your statement shows the gross annual salary amount provided by your employer. Your OPTrust pension is calculated using the best five year average annual salary amount times your credit in the Plan. As your salary increases over your career, your OPTrust pension will increase, too.

Question: Why does my statement show a negative figure under the adjustment section?

Answer: You may notice that you will have a small positive or negative adjustment amount of up to 0.04 years in the "2010 Adjustments" line. In most cases, this is because OPTrust rounds your credit to the nearest month. Any adjustments greater than 0.04 years - approximately 15 days - are a result of corrections made to your credit for service prior to 2010. If your statement shows no 2010 adjustment, it is likely that your credit is exactly or very close to being rounded to a whole month.

Question: Do I have to retire on the earliest retirement date shown on my statement?

Answer: No. Your statement shows the earliest unreduced retirement date. However, you can retire at a later date. OPTrust members can continue working and contributing to the pension plan up to age 71.

Question: Why did the format of my Annual Pension Statement change?

Answer: The feedback we receive from members and pensioners each year often determines our service delivery. As part of our member- focused research, OPTrust conducted a series of focus groups and telephone surveys with active members to understand how to better enhance the annual statement.

The research showed that members want a statement that is easier to read, more informative, well organized and more visually appealing. At the same time, members told us that they like the use of colour, bold headings and explanations on their statements. Based on this feedback we redesigned the Annual Pension Statement to incorporate all these elements.

During 2010, our Member and Pensioner Services team answered over 53,000 telephone calls with 98% of those calls answered in less than 10 seconds. If yours was one of the thousands of phone calls we receive every month, you'll know that our team is quick to respond and help you make an informed decision about your pension options.

High ratings

In fact, our telephone service received particularly high scores in 2010, with members and pensioners giving us an average rating of 9.3 out of 10, up from 9.0 the previous year, and exceeding our target score for the second year in a row.

Phone system
New phone system

Building on this level of success, OPTrust has introduced a new phone system with three key features to help us continue providing you with superior service you've come to expect.

First, your telephone calls are now routed to a dedicated Member Services team to give you optimal service delivery. When contacting us by telephone, simply stay on the line and your call will be directed to our Member Services team to answer your questions and process your transaction. Pensioners now have a team dedicated to responding to their inquiries.

Second, your telephone calls may be recorded for quality assurance. Like many client service-focused organizations, OPTrust wants to ensure that the information and service you receive over the phone meets exceptionally high standards. By occasionally reviewing telephone conversations with members we can ensure that we're on track to maintain these standards now and over time.

Our commitment to providing excellent telephone service is important to us and meeting your needs is our top priority. We will continue to answer your telephone calls promptly and offer information about your pension options.

To reach our Member and Pensioner Services team, contact 416-681-6100 or 1-800-637-0024 (toll-free in Canada) and stay on the line for Member Services.

Online SurveyAt OPTrust, we are always looking at ways to enhance the service we deliver to you - whether it's in person, over the telephone or online. Often, our service delivery is informed by feedback received from members and pensioners through focus groups or surveys.

Earlier this summer, OPTrust launched a web-based survey to gauge members' and pensioners' satisfaction with Online Services and explore options for further service improvements.

In September, we are also launching two electronic surveys to gather members' input on overall impressions with OPTrust and to rate a pension transaction that was recently completed. Both surveys are random and will go out by e-mail. They are structured so that members will only get one survey every three years. When we do not have an e-mail address, OPTrust will send a paper survey. The surveys are short and the information provided is completely anonymous.

 

Your OPTrust pension is designed to provide you with a combined pension income - from both OPTrust and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) - that equals approximately 2% of your average salary multiplied by your years of credited service in the OPSEU Pension Plan.

During your membership in the OPSEU Pension Plan, your contributions to the Plan are reduced because you also make contributions to the CPP on the portion of your salary that is between the Year's Basic Exemption and the Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings. When you reach age 65, OPTrust integrates your pension with CPP since you are eligible to collect a retirement pension from CPP. So the pension you receive from the OPSEU Pension Plan is adjusted for CPP integration to reflect the lower contributions you made to the Plan while you were employed.

In effect, when you retire before age 65, OPTrust pays the full 2% pension benefit.

Starting at age 65, your 2% pension will be made up of an OPTrust portion plus a CPP portion. The estimated difference in your before and after age 65 pension amounts is reflected on your 2010 Annual Pension Statement.

Your Pension during retirement booklet


For more information on CPP integration, see OPTrust's booklet Your Pension during Retirement. You can contact CPP directly at www.servicecanada.gc.ca or 1-800-277-9914.