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ASBESTOS WORKERS’ PENSION PLAN OF ALBERTA
TRUSTEE SHADOWING – UPDATE
In 2015, the Trustees advised that they were reviewing the initiative of Trustee Shadowing. The concept of trustee shadowing was to identify interested and suitable individuals who might become trustees in the future and expose them to the workings of the Board and educational opportunities before taking on the role.
The key advantage of trustee shadowing is to develop experienced and knowledgeable individuals who could quickly contribute to the governance of the Plan. This undertaking started in 2016 with one individual from Edmonton (Northern Alberta) and one from Calgary (Southern Alberta).
As shadow trustees both individuals attended Trustee meetings and participated in discussions, and attended educational conferences.
The shadow trustee from Calgary was elected to serve as a Pension Trustee after long time member and Pension Trustee Tom Chapple passed away.
The Trustees believe this initiative has been successful and plan to continue with the undertaking. The individual from Edmonton will continue as a shadow trustee and the position for a Southern Alberta shadow trustee is open.
If you are interested in sitting as a shadow trustee, please confirm your interest in writing and indicate why you are interested and why you think you would make a good trustee. Please mail or drop off your letter at the Union Hall
Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan of Alberta, 9335 – 47 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 2R7
Attention: Linda Lajoie, Pension Manager
If you have any questions, please call Linda Lajoie at 780-426-2623
WITH UNITED STATES LOCALS
Recently, some Local 110 pension plan Trustees were contacted by, current and former members of United States Locals indicating that they have been given to understand from others that over the many years, the Local 110 pension plan has been unwilling to sign reciprocal agreements that would have enabled them to earn pension when working through Local 110. They contend they lost that pension because there were no reciprocal agreements and because they did not work enough hours in Alberta to become vested in the Local 110 plan.
In fact, for many years, the Trustees of the Local 110 pension plan have offered to sign reciprocal agreements with all United States Locals’ Pension Plans and it is their wish to set the record straight through this notice.
In the 1990s, this Plan proposed signing Reciprocal Agreements with all United States Locals’ Pension Plans and was able to convince ten of those plans to do so. Those initial agreements were “Money Follows the Worker” Agreements. However, those agreements had to be cancelled when the Local 110 pension plan Trustees were advised by the Plan’s actuarial consultant and legal counsel that, in accordance with pension legislation, the Plan could not legally have “Money Follows the Worker” agreements. Pension contributions could not be sent to Pension Plans outside of Canada.
There is another type of reciprocal agreement that could have been signed which would have allowed United States Travelers to earn pension when working through Local 110. It is called a Pro-Rata Reciprocal agreement. This Plan proposed signing such agreements in 2001 and again in 2002, with any United States Locals’ pension plan that had sent Travelers to work through Local 110 in that time. No Plans chose to do so.
A Pro-Rata Reciprocal Agreement recognizes service in a Traveler’s home plan, which helps them become vested and entitled to a benefit in the away plan. It allows such a member to be entitled to a pension from both their home plan and the away plan, in some cases when they had not worked as many hours in the away plan as would otherwise be needed to become vested there. That had the potential of benefiting Travelers from both sides of the border if their respective Pension Plans would have signed that kind of reciprocal agreement.
In 2005 and 2006, this Pension Plan sent every United States Local a letter and a Pro-rata Agreement for their Pension Plan to consider signing. Only one United States Local’s Pension Plan signed the Agreement. The United States Travelers working through Local 110 during that time were provided with correspondence advising them of what had been proposed and what it would take to become vested in this Pension Plan.
Again, in 2007 the Local 110 pension plan sent letters with Pro-Rata agreements to every United States Local that had members come to work through Local 110. There were no Plans that signed the agreement and again correspondence was provided to members of those Locals apprising them about all of this.
In 2008, Local 110 had an opportunity to put many United States Travelers to work. In September of that year, Local 110 sent a fax to every United States Local that had members come to work through Local 110 proposing the Pro-Rata Agreement. That fax mentioned that ‘Money Follows the Worker” agreements were not permitted. A few Locals responded with phone calls and/or letters asking for “Money Follows the Worker” agreements even though it had been explained why we could not enter into that type of agreement. Again, no additional United States Locals’ Pension Plans chose to sign the Pro-Rata Reciprocal agreement.
In 2010, Local 110 needed many United States Travelers again. In an effort to ensure that they would benefit from pension contributions that are part of the wage package, Local 110 amended its Collective Bargaining Agreement. Temporary Foreign Workers/United States Travelers could, while working through Local 110, choose to have either their pension contributions go into the Pension Plan and become vested if they worked enough hours in Alberta, or instead have the pension contributions paid directly as wages. Vesting at that time under Alberta pension legislation was such that a participant of the pension plan had to work at least 350 contributory hours in each of two separate calendar years without a break in service (less than a total of 350 hours reported by a signatory contractor in three consecutive years). Most of the Travelers chose to get the pension contributions paid directly as wages.
In 2014, Alberta pension legislation changed the vesting rules from 2 years of vesting service to automatic vesting. This means once an individual meets the participation rule, a total of 350 hours reported by a signatory contractor over two consecutive years; they are vested and eligible for benefits.
The Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan of Alberta is subject to both Federal and Provincial legislation and Alberta’s Pension Legislation does not allow the Board of Trustees to enter into a “money follows the worker” form of reciprocal or transfer agreement with an Insulators’ Pension Plan or Local established in the United States. A pro-rata form of reciprocal or transfer agreement can be put in place if that United States pension plan has a “pro-rata” provision in its Pension Plan Text to allow for a pro-rata pension reciprocal or transfer agreement.
Specifically, Sections 35(6)(c) and 74(1)(b) of the Employment Pension Plans Act only allow a “money follows the worker” form of reciprocal or transfer agreement between our Pension Plan and a pension plan which is established in a Canadian province or territory (with the exception of Prince Edward Island), provided the agreement meets the following conditions:
- The member for which the contributions are to be reciprocated must be a member of a collectively bargained multi-employer plan that is registered in a Canadian province or territory other than Alberta (that plan is called the “extra-provincial plan”);
- The member must work for a time with a participating employer in a collectively bargained multi-employer registered in Alberta (called the “Alberta Plan, which would include Asbestos Workers Pension Plan of Alberta”);
- There must be a written agreement in place between the extra-provincial plan and the Alberta plan that provides that contributions for the member will be forwarded from the Alberta plan to the extra-provincial plan for so long as that member works with a participating employer in the Alberta plan; and
- The pension legislation of that other jurisdiction (that is, a Canadian province or territory other than Alberta or Prince Edward Island) must be applicable to that member for whom contributions are to be reciprocated.”
The Trustees of this Pension Plan are not aware of any pending legislation that might change the above. In addition, they would like to emphasize, that while we cannot enter into “Money Follows the Worker Agreements” with United States pension plans, the Trustees of The Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan of Alberta are still willing to sign Pro-Rata Reciprocal Agreements with United States Locals’ Pension Plans.
If you have any questions in respect to the above or require further information on the Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan of Alberta, please contact our Pension Manager, Mrs. Linda Lajoie at 780-426-2623.
Pension Plan Financial Update
The 2016 calendar year turned out to be very positive for the Asbestos Workers Pension Plan of Alberta and the Trustees are pleased to provide this update of the plan’s financial position.
The Plan earned 12.9 percent on its investments, which is well ahead of the policy benchmark. This was largely due to strong equity performance, which strengthened the Plan’s overall financial position. The combination of strong investment results and over $20 million in new contributions for hours worked in 2016 resulted in the Plan’s assets surpassing the $400 million threshold.
An actuarial valuation to establish the financial position related to assets vs. liabilities of the Plan will be performed later this year and an update on the health of the Plan will be shared with plan participants at that time.
Should you have any questions concerning the Pension Plan, please contact Linda Lajoie at (780) 426-2623.
TRUSTEE SHADOWING – UPDATE
Earlier this year the Trustees advised that they were reviewing the initiative of Trustee Shadowing. The concept of trustee shadowing is to identify individuals who would likely become trustees in the future and expose them to the workings of the Board and educational opportunities before taking on the role.
The key advantage of trustee shadowing is to develop experienced and knowledgeable individuals who could quickly contribute to the governance of the Plan. To date six (6) individuals have expressed interest.
There are a number of issues that the Board needs to address and the Trustees are currently working with the Consultant and Legal Counsel to determine how best to proceed.
While in this planning stage, the Trustees ask that anyone who is interested to please confirm their interest in writing and to indicate why they are interested and why they would make a good trustee.
Please mail or drop off your letter at the Union Hall
Asbestos Workers’ Pension Plan of Alberta
9335 – 47 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 2R7
Attention: Linda Lajoie, Pension Manager
If you have any questions, please call Linda Lajoie at 780-426-2623
Following another year of solid investment results, the Trustees of the pension plan would like to provide you with an update of the pension plan’s financial position. The last actuarial valuation of the pension plan was completed as at December 31, 2013. At that time, the plan was 113% funded on a going concern basis and 100% funded on a solvency basis. The plan’s improved financial position is mostly attributable to strong investment performance over the last few years. Specifically, over 2013 and 2014 the plan earned 18.6% and 10.0% respectively on its investments.
Due to uncertainty around the introduction of new pension legislation this spring because of an expected provincial election, the Trustees have deferred any decisions regarding potential benefit enhancements until later this year. At that time, the December 31, 2014 actuarial valuation results will be available. It is anticipated that the pension plan’s going concern financial position improved over 2014, while the solvency position deteriorated somewhat due to declining interest rates.
As active members of the pension plan, journeymen insulators currently earn $65 of monthly pension for every 1,000 hours of work. It is the hope and expectation of the Board that an increase in the $65 rate will be possible sometime in 2015.
Should you have any questions about the pension plan, please call Linda Lajoie at (780) 426-2623.
As part of the Board’s ongoing efforts to enhance the pension plan governance, the Board is considering the implementation of a “trustee shadowing” initiative. In simple terms, the Board is looking to identify individuals who would be interested in being pension plan trustees in the future. These individuals would be given the opportunity to sit in on Board meetings and learn more about the role of a Trustee and the pension plan itself. The Board’s objective is to have individuals ready to step into the role of a Trustee, if and when any of the current long-serving trustees retire in the future.
The Board’s exact approach for Trustee shadowing has not yet been decided as it will depend on the number of individuals who express an interest.
If you believe you would make a good Trustee and have an interest in learning more, please advise Linda Lajoie (the Pension Manager) of your interest.
July 1st, 2014
Pension Plan Financial Update
The 2013 calendar year turned out to be very positive for the Asbestos Workers Pension Plan of Alberta. The Plan earned 18.6% on its investments, which strengthened the Plan’s overall financial position. The combination of strong investment results and over $19 million in new contributions for hours worked in 2013 resulted in the Plan’s assets surpassing the $300 million threshold. As of December 31, 2013, the Plan was more than 100% funded on both going concern and solvency bases. The only disappointments over 2013 were the on-going delays in getting the new pension legislation in place. The Board of Trustees is continuing to monitor both the development of the legislation and the Plan’s financial condition to determine if any changes to the Plan will be required. Should you want additional information concerning the status of the pension plan, please forward your inquiry to Linda Lajoie at (780) 426-2623
October 16, 2013
As you know, Motley Rice LLC serves as U.S. legal counsel for Workers’ Compensation Board – Alberta for asbestos-related claims. In order to help qualify claims with the U.S. bankruptcy trusts, they are continually working to obtain information about where specific asbestos-containing products were used – both in Alberta and throughout Canada.
Local 488 and Motley Rice invite the retirees from Local 110 to attend a meeting on Saturday, November 9th from 10:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided. The meeting will be held at UA Local 488 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union (dispatch hall), 16214 118 Avenue, Edmonton, AB (phone: 780 452-7080).
While workers from all trades are invited, they are specifically looking to speak with individuals who were exposed to asbestos-containing products prior to 1983. The attendees for this meeting do not have to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.
They have asked us to let them know how many will be attending, so if you plan on attending, please call Paige by Friday November 1st.
Change to Old Age Security (OAS) Program
As part of the last Federal Budget, the government announced changes to the OAS program. The key change affects the age at which you will be permitted to start receiving OAS. Under current rules, individuals can start receiving OAS benefits at age 65. With the Federal Budget change, that age will be slowly increased until the earliest commencement date will be age 67. The change accomplished two objectives. Firstly, the older start age reflects the improved health of Canadians and a trend towards later retirement ages. Secondly, the change will reduce the cost of the OAS program for the government and taxpayers.
The change to OAS will also have an indirect impact on our Plan. At retirement prior to age 65, the Plan currently permits individuals to select a form of pension that provides a higher pension payment prior to age 65, reducing to a lower amount after age 65. The design of this option is based on Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and OAS benefits commencing at age 65. The Plan estimates the amount of pension an individual will receive from CPP and OAS at age 65, and then structures the payments from this Plan such that the drop in payments at age 65 is equal to the sum of the CPP and OAS payments. Because the drop in the Plan’s monthly pension is exactly offset by the commencement of CPP and OAS, your total income will not change.
As an example, we will assume that you can retire at age 60 with a pension of $3,000 per month. This is the level amount of pension that would be payable for the rest of your lifetime. However, we also know that you will likely be entitled to a $1,000 CPP pension and a $500 OAS pension at age 65, for a total of $1,500 in government pension benefits after age 65. This means your total income prior to age 65 is $3,000 per month, and your total income after age 65 is $4,500 per month. Some individuals prefer to a have a level amount of total income over their entire retirement. The Plan allows them to do so by offering a level income form of pension. With this form, instead of paying $3,000 per month for the rest of your life, the Plan would pay about $3,975 per month prior to age 65, and $2,475 after age 65. In other words, the additional amount paid prior to age 65 is offset by lower payments after age 65. The adjustments are calculated such that the expected cost to the Plan is the same. When you now combine this Plan with CPP and OAS, you get a total of $3,975 prior to age 65 and $3,975 after age 65 as well ($2,495 pension plan + $1,500 CPP and OAS).
Because of the changes to OAS, it is no longer possible to coordinate both CPP and OAS properly, thus effective April 1st of this year, the Plan was changed such that the level form of income can only be applied to adjust for CPP. In other words, the largest drop in income at age 65 that will now be permitted is about $1,000 per month, equal to the maximum CPP pension payable.
Should you have any questions regarding this option, please contact the Fund Office for more details.
Working Beyond Age 60..
The working population today is generally healthier than prior generations. For that reason, and due to labour shortages, we are now seeing a general trend whereby insulators are working at older ages than we have seen in the past.
To stay current with the times, the Pension Plan now provides insulators with a choice in respect of their retirement savings. An active insulator who is 60 years of age or older can choose between the following two options:
A. Continue to work and earn additional pension – Under this option, your pension does not start until such time as you apply to have your pension commence. Every hour of work you complete prior to pension commencement will continue to earn you additional pension credit. This option is the default option. Thus, if you do nothing, you will simply continue to earn additional pension benefit in the Pension Plan.
B. Continue to work while starting to receive your pension – With this option, your pension payments commence immediately, even though you are still working. Instead of earning additional pension, your employer’s pension contributions are added to your paycheck. In order to select this option, you must apply to the Fund Office to have your pension commence on or after age 60. The Fund Office will then send a letter to your employer. The letter will direct the employer to not send further pension contributions to the Pension Plan, and instead add them to your paycheck. Note that the employer cannot add the contributions to your paycheck without first receiving the letter from the Pension Plan.
If you return to work after commencing receipt of your pension prior to age 60, you are not eligible for Option B above. Instead, you can choose between the following two options:
C. Continue to receive your monthly pension without interruption – Under this option, you do not get any credit for the additional pension contributions sent in on your behalf. In addition, the pension contributions remitted to the Pension Plan will reduce the amount of your permissible RRSP contributions. Once you attain age 60, you can then elect Option B.
D. Suspend your monthly pension and start earning additional pension again – With this option, you can request that the Pension Plan starts paying your pension again at any point in the future. At that time, the additional pension you earned after your pension was suspended is added to your original pension. The additional work may also increase the amount of your original pension. Once you attain age 60, you can then elect Option B if desired.
Should you be in a situation where you can choose between Options A and B, or Options C and D above, the Board of Trustees recommends that you first obtain financial advice to determine which option is most beneficial for you. You can also contact the Fund Office to obtain additional information.
Working Past Age 60
One new feature of the most recent collective agreement now allows individuals who are 60 years of age or older to add their pension contributions to their wages. With this feature, individuals who have yet to retire can start receiving their monthly pension while remaining on the job site. Similarly, any individual over 60 years of age who is already in receipt of a pension from the Pension Plan is eligible for this feature. Individuals who elect this option will cease to earn any benefit in the pension plan but will instead have their pension contributions added to their wages, both of which will be paid in addition to their monthly pension.
If you are over 60 years of age, the Board encourages you to review this option, as it may be financially beneficial in most circumstances. As a general rule of thumb, if your accrued pension is more than $325 per month, it may be to your benefit to take advantage of this feature. Because individual financial and tax circumstances before and after retirement vary, it is strongly recommended that you seek financial advice before deciding whether or not to make use of the feature. In evaluating the benefits of this feature, you should consider that having more money in your pocket today does not necessarily mean you will be better off financially down the road, especially if you continue to live for many years after your retirement, or if the short term financial gain you may enjoy is directed towards products or services that will not provide income in the future.
Please contact the Pension Manager (Linda Lajoie) to obtain additional information on this new feature of the collective agreement.
Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to have ONE beneficiary card/form that would apply to ALL THREE plans at the Hall. So why don’t we do that?
Each plan runs independent of each other and the law requires us to make sure you know who you are naming as beneficiary for each plan. If we don’t meet the terms of the law, your beneficiary could be denied the benefits you wanted them to have. That’s why you must fill out a separate card/form for each of:
Local 110 Mortuary Plan
Asbestos Workers Insurance Benefit Trust Fund of Alberta
Asbestos Workers Pension Plan of Alberta
It is also important to review your beneficiaries with each plan after major life events such as: start or end of a relationship or death of a loved one.
For the Pension Plan it is important to note that if there is someone who meets the definition of spouse and you die before you retire, your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension benefits from this Plan, even if you name someone else on your beneficiary card/form or in your Will, UNLESS your spouse has waived his/her entitlement to the pre-retirement death benefits in writing.
If you wish to designate someone other than your spouse and if your spouse agrees to this designation, contact the fund office so we can provide you with the appropriate Waiver form.
Commuted Value – The current lump sum value of a future monthly benefit.
Contribution Date – The date which your first contributing employer first makes contributions to the Plan on your behalf.
Contributory Hours of Work — Hours of work with a contributing employer for which he is required to make contributions to the Plan.
Former Participant — You are a “former participant” if you are vested; have not worked at least 350 contributory hours within 3 consecutive years and have left your pension in the Plan.
Normal Retirement Age – Age 60, or if later, your age when you meet the rules for participation in this Plan.
Participant — You are a participant if you work for a contributing employer who contributes to the Plan on your behalf, you meet the minimum rules to participate in the Plan and you have not incurred a permanent break in service.
Pension Credit – The sum of your years and complete months of past service credit and future service credit.
Permanent Break in Service – When you fail to work 350 contributory hours within 3 consecutive years, or, if you elect the portability option after you incur a Statutory Break in Service.
Spouse – A person who is married to you and is not living separate and apart from you for 3 or more consecutive years. If you are not in a qualified married relationship, a person with whom you are living in a marriage-like relationship for at least 3 years or of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship by birth or adoption.
Statutory Break in Service – When you fail to work 350 contributory hours within 2 consecutive years.
Vested Status or Vested —You will be vested after you become a participant and have at least: 2 years of vesting service, or 5 years of pension credit, or reach normal retirement age
Years of Vesting Service – Once you are a participant, you get 1 year of vesting service for each year after your contribution date in which you work 350 or more contributory hours in covered employment.
Normal Pension – You are eligible for a normal pension if you are a participant; are at least age 60; and are vested. Your pension must start by the end of the calendar year in which you reach age 71.
Early Retirement Pension – You are eligible for an early retirement pension if you: are a participant; are at least age 50 and are vested. If you start your pension early it will be reduced.
Deferred Pension – You are eligible for a deferred pension if you are a vested Former Participant and have not elected the portability option. A deferred pension can start as early as age 50 and will be reduced if you start it early.
Disability Pension – You are eligible for a disability pension if you: become totally and permanently disabled while you are a participant; are not eligible to retire on a normal pension; and have at least 3 years of pension credit.
Portability Option – You may choose the portability option if you: have a statutory break in service or a permanent break in service; you are vested and have not reached age 50. Under the portability option, you may transfer the commuted value of your pension to a locked-in RRSP, another pension plan, if that plan permits, or buy an immediate or deferred annuity. There is a time period in which to choose this option and if you fail to make an election during the required time period, you are deemed to have elected the Deferred Pension. If you chose the portability option, you will not be entitled to any further benefits from the Plan.
DEATH BENEFITS: – BEFORE RETIREMENT
If there is someone who meets the definition of spouse and you die before you retire, your spouse is automatically the beneficiary of your pension benefits from this Plan, even if you name someone else on your beneficiary card or in your Will, UNLESS your spouse has waived his/her entitlement to the pre-retirement death benefits in writing.
Where a valid waiver is in place, you may designate any beneficiary to receive the pre-retirement death benefits payable by the Plan. In order to waive his/her entitlement, your spouse must complete and deliver a written waiver to the Board. Once a valid waiver is in place, your spouse retains the right to revoke the waiver by written notice to the Board anytime while you are still alive.
If you die while you are a Participant and are vested, your spouse will receive, for his/her lifetime, a monthly benefit based on your pension credit at the date you died. The monthly pension is the greater of the monthly pension calculated as though you were age 50, or your actual age if higher, and had elected the 50% joint and survivor option or the amount of monthly pension based on 100% of the commuted value of your pension at the date of your death. Instead of a monthly benefit, your spouse may elect the portability option
If you are a Former Participant, upon your death, your spouse is entitled to a pre-retirement survivor pension. Your spouse will receive a monthly benefit based on 100% of the commuted value of your accrued pension at your date of death. Instead of a monthly benefit, your spouse may elect the portability option.
Death Benefit – Beneficiary
If you die after you are vested and you do not have an eligible spouse to receive the spouse’s pension or the pre-retirement survivor pension, your beneficiary or estate will receive a lump-sum cash payment equal to 100% of the commuted value of your normal pension earned to the date of your death.
If you die before becoming a participant or before your benefits are vested, your beneficiary will receive a lump-sum cash payment of your self-payments, if any, with interest.
Death Benefits After Retirement
If you die after retirement, your spouse or beneficiary may be eligible for a benefit depending on the pension option that you have chosen.
For additional information or further explanations, please contact
Linda Lajoie at the Fund Office: 780-426-2623.