Province creates new pension option for working British Columbians

Legislation is being introduced by the B.C. government that would create a new option for people to save for retirement.

Legislation introduced by the B.C. government will create a new option for people to save for retirement and provide an additional financial safety net for the approximately two-thirds of B.C. workers who do not have access to group pension plans.

Finance Minister Michael de Jong followed the federal government Thursday and introduced the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, which will make all workers in B.C. eligible to enrol in defined-contribution pension plans.

The bill is part of a national effort to make well-regulated, low-cost pension plans available to millions of Canadians who do not have occupational pension plans.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans will be managed by licensed financial institutions, reducing administrative burdens for employers and providing tax advantages to employers that are not available under alternative models such as group RRSPs.

Based on consultations with stakeholder groups, including the Vancouver Board of Trade, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, B.C. has elected to make employer enrolment in these plans optional. If an employer chooses to offer a PRPP to its employees, they will be automatically enrolled and have the right to opt out.

Employers will not be obligated to make matching contributions. Workers whose employers do not set up a PRPP will be able to deal directly with a PRPP administrator to open an account, similar to opening an RRSP.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, a federal regulatory agency, has established licensing and regulation.