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The Honourable Stockwell Day, P.C., M.P.
President of the Treasury Board
It gives me great pleasure to table the annual Report on the Public Service Pension Plan for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010. This year’s report has been written as part of a multi-year effort to expand and enhance information that is important and relevant to plan members as well as to parliamentarians.
The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat provides strategic direction and leadership with respect to the public service pension plan, exercises an oversight function and conducts required financial analysis of the plan on behalf of the Government of Canada. Another part of the Secretariat’s mandate includes ensuring value for money in government.
The Government of Canada places great importance on the financial integrity of the public service pension plan, and we remain committed to maintaining its strength and ensuring its long-term sustainability. In the 2010 Budget, we announced that we would continue to examine ways to better manage all aspects of compensation, including the financial management of our pension plan. To address this, we have clarified roles and responsibilities of plan administrators and the employer, and have taken a close look at our administrative processes to modernize and streamline how our many services are delivered to plan members. These factors have helped to ensure that the public service pension plan continues to provide the appropriate benefits to plan members at a fair cost shared between plan members and Canadian taxpayers.
As we continue to take a prudent course toward fiscal balance, I would like to thank all those involved in preparing this report and in the ongoing work to make sure the confidence and the integrity of the pension plan continues.
Chief Human Resouces Officer
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
The human resources regime in the federal public service has been undergoing a dramatic shift over the past two years. In 2008, the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Public Service found that the human resources governance regime was “overly complex, with multiple players and a resulting burden of duplicative and often unnecessary rules.” In response to these findings, the Prime Minister announced changes in 2009 to make the governance of human resources simpler, more streamlined, and more coherent. These changes included consolidating the former Canada Public Service Agency and the parts of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (the Secretariat) that dealt with pensions and benefits, labour relations, and compensation into a new Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer. This new Office is housed within the Secretariat.
As Chief Human Resources Officer, I am responsible for providing strategic enterprise-wide leadership in people management that supports the renewal of the public service. Renewal requires getting the basics of sound people management right, as well as modernizing our systems, tools, and practices for the future. As part of this, my Office and I are focused on delivering sustainable, relevant and centrally managed pension plans that continue to meet the needs of both employees and the employer.
Over the past year, the Secretariat conducted its first survey of both active and retired pension plan members. The results showed clearly that a large majority of members attributed importance to the pension plan both as a reason for joining the federal public service and in their decision to keep working for the government. Clearly, the public service pension plan is an important recruitment and retention tool that supports the renewal of the public service. The results of the survey will also enable us to better understand what plan members want to know and how they prefer to get that information.
While we found that plan members still like to receive their information in more traditional formats, such as through these annual reports and by way of their annual statements, we will continue to pursue other avenues to communicate more efficiently with members. One such example is our public service pension and benefits Web portal, which houses information for active and retired federal public service pension plan members, their survivors and their dependants, as well as for prospective members considering a career in the public service. This portal puts information into the hands of employees by enabling them to access the information directly. Plan members are entitled to be informed of their pension benefits, and this site contains valuable information, tools, and services regarding the public service pension plan.
The content of this year’s report is a result of much effort and collaboration, notably with the pension plan’s administrator, Public Works and Government Services Canada. I would like to thank all those who were involved, and I look forward to continued collaboration in providing better information to plan members.
The public service pension plan, established by the Public Service Superannuation Act(PSSA), provides pension benefits for federal public service employees. It is a contributory defined benefit plan covering substantially all of the employees of the Government of Canada, some Crown corporations, and territorial governments. The Government has a statutory obligation for the payment of benefits relating to the public service pension plan.
The public service pension plan is the largest pension plan in Canada, covering approximately 317,000 active members in more than 145 departments and agencies, and 238,000 retired members and survivors. During the year ended March 31, 2010, pension plan member and employer pension contributions on a cash basis totalled $4.3 billion while benefit payments to retired members and survivors reached $5.0 billion. The value of accrued pension benefits increased to $126.7 billion as at March 31, 2010.
Figure 1. Membership Profile, 2001–10 (year ended March 31)
There has been a net increase in active membership relative to retired members over the past nine years. The average annual compounded rate of growth for active contributors was 3.2 per cent compared with 1.2 per cent for retired members.
|Membership Profile||Number of Participants 2001||Number of Participants 2010||2001–10 Per Cent Change||Percentage of Total 2001||Percentage of Total 2010|
Over the past nine years, the number of active contributors increased by 32.2 per cent while the number of retired members increased by 11.7 per cent. Over the same period, the number of survivors increased by 4.2 per cent, and the number of deferred annuitants by 5.6 per cent.
Figure 2. Total Cash Contributions, 2001–10 (year ended March 31)
|Years||Contributions on a Cash Basis
The annual compounded rate of growth in contributions from both the employer and plan members over the past nine years averaged 6.4 per cent. Contributions do not include year-end accrual adjustments, as is reported in the financial statements.
Figure 3. Benefit Payments, 2001–10 (year ended March 31)
|Years||Benefit Payments ($ millions)||Per Cent Growth|
Benefit payments have increased on average 4.6 per cent annually.
Figure 4. Rate of Return on Assets Held by PSP Investments, 2001–10
(year ended March 31)
|Year||PSP Rate of Return (percentage)||Benchmark Rate of Return (percentage)|
Additional information concerning the rate of return on assets held by PSP Investments
and the benchmark is available on its website.
Figure 5. Administrative Expenses Including PSP Investments, 2001–10
(year ended March 31)
|Expenses ($ millions)||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
The increase in administrative expenses over the past few years is due in large part to the capital expenditure requirement related to the pension modernization project starting in 2007–08 and scheduled to end in 2012–13. Total expenses have also increased as a result of the growth in membership and investments under management by PSP Investments.
The objective of the PSSA and related statutes is to provide a source of lifetime retirement income for retired and disabled public service pension plan members. Upon a plan member’s death, the pension plan provides an income for eligible survivors and dependants. Pension benefits are directly related to a plan member’s salary and period of participation in the public service pension plan.
The first Act entitling certain public service employees to retirement income was passed in 1870. The public service pension plan took many forms between 1870 and 1954 until the PSSA became effective January 1, 1954. The PSSA introduced an important change in 1954 whereby pension coverage was broadened to include substantially all employees of the public service.
In 1966 with the introduction of the Canada and Québec Pension Plans (C/QPP), major amendments were made to the PSSA that included the coordination of public service pension plan contribution rates and benefits with those of the C/QPP.
Other amendments were made to the PSSA over the years, including major changes in 1999 that dealt primarily with improving plan management and introducing the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act. This Act allowed for the creation of PSP Investments in April 2000. Up until then, employer and plan member contributions under the public service pension plan had been credited to an account that formed part of the Public Accounts of Canada (Public Accounts). No amounts had ever been invested in capital markets (e.g., bonds and stocks). Starting in April 2000, the government began transferring amounts equal to net pension contributions (i.e., total employer and plan member contributions minus benefit payments and administrative expenses of the plan) to PSP Investments.
Amendments to the PSSA were made in 2006 when the reduction factor used to calculate a pension at age 65 was lowered. This change increased the benefits under the public service pension plan and resulted in a higher benefit accrual rate for members reaching age 65 in 2008 or later.
The President of the Treasury Board is responsible for the overall management of the public service pension plan; the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (the Secretariat) is responsible for strategic direction, program and policy advice, financial analysis, and the development of legislation related to the public service pension plan, as well as communications to pension plan members, including the preparation of the annual Report on the Public Service Pension Plan. The Secretariat, through the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada (OCG), also provides Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) with general accounting guidance in the preparation of the public service pension plan’s financial statements. In addition, the OCG promotes sound government spending, provides leadership across the public service to the financial management and internal audit sectors, and ensures standards are set and observed. The OCG chairs the Interdepartmental Committee on Pension Accounting, which meets once a year to evaluate and decide on actuarial assumptions to be utilized for the purposes of the Public Accounts.
PWGSC is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the public service pension plan. This includes the development and maintenance of the public service pension systems and the books of accounts, records, and internal controls, as well as the preparation of Account Transaction Statements for reporting in the Public Accounts.
In addition, PWGSC processes payment and carries out all accounting and financial administrative functions. PWGSC, along with the Secretariat, is also responsible for the preparation of the public service pension plan’s financial statements and this annual Report on the Public Service Pension Plan.
PSP Investmentsis a Crown corporation established by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act of 1999. It commenced operation on April 1, 2000. PSP Investments is governed by an 11-member board of directors accountable to Parliament through the President of the Treasury Board, who is responsible for the Act and for the tabling in Parliament of PSP Investments’ annual report. The relevant financial results of PSP Investments are included in the pension plan’s financial statements. Amounts equal to contributions in excess of benefit payments and administrative expenses are regularly transferred from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to PSP Investments and invested in capital markets. The legislative mandate of PSP Investments is to maximize returns without undue risk of loss. PSP Investments also manages the invested assets of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Forces and the Reserve Force pension plan accounts.
The Office of the Chief Actuary†(OCA) is a separate unit within the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada that provides a range of actuarial services and advice to the Government of Canada. The OCA is responsible for conducting an annual actuarial valuation for accounting purposes that serves as the basis for the determination of the government pension liability and expense with respect to the public service pension plan included in the Public Accounts. Economic assumptions used in this actuarial valuation represent government’s best estimate.
As required by the Public Pensions Reporting Act, the President of the Treasury Board causes the Chief Actuary to conduct an actuarial valuation of the public service pension plan for funding purposes. The actuarial valuation for funding purposes is performed by the OCA at least every three years and is tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board.
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) audits federal government operations and provides Parliament with independent information, advice and assurance to help hold the government to account for its stewardship of public funds. The OAG is responsible for performance audits and studies of federal departments and agencies. It conducts financial audits of the government’s financial statements (i.e., the Public Accounts) and performs special examinations and annual financial audits of Crown corporations including PSP Investments. With respect to the public service pension plan, the OAG acts as an independent auditor.
The Public Service Pension Advisory Committee, established under the PSSA, is composed of 13 representatives, namely, 1 pensioner, 6 members representing employees and 6 members chosen from the executive ranks of the public service. This committee provides advice to the President of the Treasury Board on matters relating to the public service pension plan’s administration, benefit design, and funding.
Through its pay and pension services, PWGSC Compensation Sectorensures that federal government employees and retired pension plan members are paid accurately and on time.
PWGSC administers payroll services for separate employers and other federal organizations, as well as the pension benefit accounts for about 238,000 retired public service pension plan members and survivors. In total, this involves payments of about $27 billion annually.
By streamlining operations through the pension transformation initiative (see the next section for further information), PWGSC expects to generate approximately $29 million annually in government-wide savings. In addition, the Compensation Web Applications, a suite of pay and pension tools provided to federal government public service pension plan members through their departmental Web infrastructure, will reduce the use of paper by approximately 155 metric tons during 2010–11.
In early 2010, the federal government obtained the results from the first survey of active and retired pension plan members. The encouraging response rate demonstrated that plan members are engaged and interested in their pension and benefits.
The survey aimed to assess the awareness, knowledge and understanding of the public service pension and insurance benefit plans, and to evaluate the effectiveness of existing communications products. The results will enable the government to better understand the impact of their efforts and products in this area, and provide key indicators in order to help improve communications with plan members. Based on these results, a strategy will be implemented in order to improve these activities.
Overall, plan members value the information they receive about their pension plan and are interested in knowing more.
The following are key 2009–10 survey results:
As part of the Government of Canada’s continuous effort to produce valued service options for active and retired federal public service pension and benefits plan members, the Secretariat and PWGSC partnered to develop the Web portal Your Public Service Pension and Benefits.
This comprehensive pension and benefits site was designed to improve accessibility to authoritative pension and insurance benefits information for active and retired plan members, survivors and dependants, as well as for prospective employees of the Government of Canada who are interested in finding out more about their potential pension and insurance benefits. The Web portal is a single entry point to information, services and tools, and is designed to assist plan members in making informed decisions at different stages of their lives and careers.
Since the launch of the Web portal in October 2006, the use and popularity of the site has grown significantly. User statistics show that page views or hits, for example, have more than doubled between 2007 and March 2010.
Figure 6. Web Portal Monthly Average Page Views
|Years||Monthly Average Page Views|
The pension administration transformation initiative, which consists of the Government of Canada Pension Modernization Project and the Centralization of Pension Services Delivery Project, was undertaken to replace outdated pension systems and to centralize the delivery of employee pension services at PWGSC.
In January 2010, the Pension Modernization Project completed its second technology release, as well as the centralization of plan enrolment and employee orientation services. Pension administration made an important step toward paperless case processing with the implementation of document imaging capabilities in the Cheque Redemption and Control Directorate in Matane, Quebec. Scanned images of mail, fax and email case documents and forms are now immediately available to staff in Matane, as well as to Public Service Pension Centre staff in Shediac, New Brunswick.
The following presents a brief description of the main benefits offered under the public service pension plan. If there is a discrepancy between this information and information contained in the PSSA, the Public Service Superannuation Regulations or other applicable laws, the latter prevail at all times.
The benefits that pension plan members are entitled to when they leave the public service depend on their age and the number of years of pensionable service to their credit.
|If a member is…||And leaves the public service with a pensionable service of…||The member would be entitled to…|
|Age 60 or over||At least 2 years||An immediate annuity|
|Age 55 or over||At least 30 years||An immediate annuity|
|Age 50 to 59||At least 2 years||A deferred annuity payable at age 60; or An annual allowance payable at any time|
|Under age 50||At least 2 years||A deferred annuity payable at age 60; or An annual allowance payable as early as age 50; or A transfer value|
|Any age||Less than 2 years||A return of contributions with interest|
Pensions under the public service pension plan increase each year to take into account the cost of living, which is based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.
If a member is vested upon death, then the eligible survivor and children are entitled to the following:
If death occurs before a member becomes vested, contributions with interest are refunded to any eligible survivor or children.
The Statement of Changes in Net Assets and Other Accounts Available for Benefits shows the amount, as at March 31, 2010, available for payment of current pensions and accrued pension benefits that are payable in the future to eligible pension plan members, survivors and dependants. As at that date, $129.6 billion is available for benefits, an increase of $10.6 billion from the previous year.
This Statement shows that credits come from a number of different sources, including contributions from pension plan members and the employers subject to the PSSA, income from investments and interest credited, and transfers to the public service pension plan from other pension funds by employees of other organizations coming to work for employers subject to the PSSA. Amounts are debited from the public service pension plan to cover benefits, administrative expenses and transfers or refunds from the public service pension plan to other registered pension plans. Further details can be found in the “Financial Statements” section.
Contributions relating to service since April 1, 2000, are recorded in the Public Service Pension Fund. An amount equal to contributions in excess of benefit payments and administrative expenses is transferred regularly to PSP Investments and invested in capital markets.
PSP Investments’ statutory objectives are to manage the funds transferred to it in the best interests of the contributors and beneficiaries, and invest its assets with a view to achieving a maximum rate of return without undue risk of loss, having regard to the funding, policies and requirements of the pension plan.
Accordingly, PSP Investments’ board of directors has established an investment policy whereby the expected real rate of return is at least equal to the long-term valuation discount rate
assumption used in the most recently tabled actuarial valuation for funding purposes of the public service pension plan. That rate was set at 4.3 per cent in the Actuarial Report on the Pension
Plan for the Public Service of Canada as at
March 31, 2008.
As noted in PSP Investments’ 2010 Annual Report, the investments allocated to the public service pension plan during the year ended March 31, 2010, were in compliance with the
Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act and the statement of investment policies, standards and procedures approved by its board
The Statement of Changes in Accrued Pension Benefits shows the present value of benefits earned for service to date and payable in the future. As at March 31, 2010, the value of accrued pension benefits is $126.7 billion, an increase of $6.6 billion from the previous fiscal year.
Figure 7. Current and Past Contributions (year ended March 31, 2010)
|Contributions ($ billions)||%|
Public service pension plan benefits are financed through contributions from both the employer and plan members. The actual contributions received during 2009–10 were $4.3 billion excluding year-end accrual adjustments; employees contributed $1.5 billion, and the employer contributed $2.8 billion. The contributions presented in the “Financial Statements” section include year-end accrual adjustments.
Plan member contributions are compulsory. In the 2010 calendar year, contributions were equal to 5.5 per cent of annual salary up to the year’s maximum pensionable earnings defined by the C/QPP, which was $47,200 in 2010, and 8.4 per cent of annual salary above this amount. During the fiscal year, plan members paid approximately 35 per cent of the total cash contributions made in respect of current and past service, as shown in Figure 7.
A decision was made in 2006 to better align member contributions with the cost of plan benefits. As a result, member contribution rates are scheduled to increase up until January 2013. The decision to increase member contribution rates reflected a movement toward adopting a cost-sharing ratio of 60:40 between the government and plan members.
Figure 8. Benefit Payments (year ended March 31, 2010)
|Benefit Payments ($ billions)||%|
In 2009–10, the pension plan paid out $5.0 billion in benefits, an increase of $278 million over the previous year. Benefits were paid to 238,245 retired members and survivors, compared with 234,341 in 2008–09. There were 9,409 new retired members in 2009–10, of whom 6,801 were entitled to immediate annuities. The remaining retired members became entitled to 1,520 annual allowances, 623 disability retirement benefits and 465 deferred annuities. New retired members received an average annual pension of $35,644 in 2009–10, compared with $34,644 in 2008–09.
Benefits paid to retired members (i.e., $4.4 billion) represented 88 per cent of the 2009–10 pension payments, and benefits paid to survivors (i.e., $615 million) represented 12 per cent. Benefits paid to retired members include those paid to plan members who retired on grounds of disability.
Furthermore, in 2009–10, 849 plan members left the public service before age 50 and withdrew approximately $88 million (i.e., the present value of their future benefits) as lump-sums. These sums were transferred to other pension plans or to locked-in retirement vehicles.
In 2009–10, the assets held by PSP Investments earned a rate of return of 21.5 per cent. In accordance with the current investment policy, the assets are invested with a long-term target weight of 62 per cent in equities, 15 per cent fixed income securities, and 23 per cent real return assets. Refer to Note 4 and Note 5 of the financial statements for additional detail. PSP Investments’ annual rate of return with the comparative benchmark rate of return for the past 10 years is as follows:
The Public Service Superannuation Account is credited quarterly with interest at rates calculated as though amounts recorded in this account were invested quarterly in a notional portfolio of Government of Canada 20-year bonds held to maturity. No formal debt instrument is issued to this account by the government in recognition of the amounts therein. The annualized interest rate credited is as follows:
|Percentage Interest on Account||8.7||8.7||8.5||8.3||8.0||7.8||7.5||7.3||7.0||6.7|
Legislation provides for the pension-related administrative expenses of government organizations to be charged to the public service pension plan, namely those of the Secretariat, PWGSC and OCA. The operating expenses of PSP Investments are also charged to the public service pension plan. The following chart shows total expenses that have been charged to the pension plan.
Pension plan administration expenses incurred by government departments totalled $129 million in 2009–10, an increase of $13 million from the previous year. The increase in administrative expenses over the past few years is due in large part to the capital expenditure requirement related to the pension modernization project starting in 2007–08. Total expenses have also increased as a result of the growth in membership and investments under management by PSP Investments.
The pension plan has transfer agreements with approximately 100 employers, including other levels of government, university and private sector employers. During 2009–10, $110 million, compared with $50 million in 2008–09, was transferred into the public service pension plan, and $36 million, compared with $62 million in 2008–09, was transferred out of the public service pension plan under these agreements.
Under the authority of the Special Retirement Arrangements Act, separate retirement compensation arrangements (RCAs) No. 1 and No. 2 have been established to provide supplementary benefits to employees. Since these arrangements are covered by separate legislation, their balance and corresponding value of accrued pension benefits are not consolidated in the public service pension plan’s financial statements, but a summary of these arrangements is provided in the accompanying notes.
RCA No. 1 provides for benefits in excess of those permitted under the Income Tax Act (ITA) for registered pension plans. In 2010, this included primarily benefits on salaries over $139,500 plus some survivor benefits. RCA No. 2 provides pension benefits to public service employees declared surplus as a result of the three-year Early Retirement Incentive Program that ended on March 31, 1998, which allowed eligible employees to retire with an unreduced pension.
Contributions and benefit payments in excess of limits permitted under the ITA for registered pension plans are recorded in the RCA Account in the Public Accounts. The balance in the RCA Account is credited with interest at the same rate as for the Public Service Superannuation Account.
The Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, which received royal assent in September 1999, amended the PSSA to enable the federal government to deal with excess amounts in the Public Service Superannuation Account and the Public Service Pension Fund. The legal validity of these provisions has been challenged in the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario. On November 20, 2007, the court rendered its decision and dismissed all the plaintiffs’ claims. The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, and on October 8, 2010, the court dismissed the appeals. The appellants have sought leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Additional information concerning the public service pension plan is available at the following sites: