Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Western Pension Plan. You may also wish to visit the Investment Reporting Glossary of Terms for further explanation and answers to your questions.
If the answer to your question is not found here or elsewhere on this website, you may wish to contact Human Resources (see below) to get more specific information.
Most staff members make Regular Contributions of 2.5% of earnings. Some staff members contribute under a prior arrangement (6% minus Canada Pension Plan contributions) and should contact a Western Pension and Benefits Consultant to discuss changing to the 2.5% level. You may also, of course, also make voluntary contributions beyond your Regular Contributions.
Note: Beginning November 1, 2012, all new PMA-eligible employees joining the pension plan will be required to make regular pension plan contributions of 5.5% - an increase of 3%. Those who joined the plan prior to November 1, 2012 will be asked to make a choice to either maintain their regular pension contributions at 2.5% or increase to 5.5%.
New UWOFA members joining the Academic Pension Plan are required to make regular contributions to the plan at the rate of 5.5%.
UWOFA members who were members of the Academic Pension Plan on November 16, 2010 or before, were asked to set their regular contributions rate at either 1.5% or 5.5% by June 30, 2011.
In addition to Regular/Required Contributions, members may also make Voluntary Contributions. The total amount of contributions is subject to maximums set by Canada Revenue Agency.
Western contributes are as follows:
Western contributes 8.5% of regular annual earnings.
Yes, you can make additional Voluntary Contributions up to the limit set by the Canada Revenue Agency*. This will help you increase your savings via payroll deduction. You can increase, lower or stop your voluntary contributions any month. Investment fees for the investment options offered on the Western plans are generally lower than for outside RRSPs. It is also important to note that these funds are not locked-in, so you can withdraw them at any time. A service fee will apply, and taxes will be withheld at the lump sum withdrawal rate.
*Important: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sets restrictions on the total contributions you can make. This includes your Required Contributions to Western’s pension plan, any voluntary contributions, contributions made by Western on your behalf in the year. The limit is either 18% of your earnings in the current year, or the dollar limit set by CRA, whichever is less. If you do not contribute the maximum allowed you will have corresponding RSP room in the following year.
To view your current investments and make changes, log in to your Western Pension account at sunlife.ca/western. You can continue to see your account, as at December 31, 2016 on the old Western pension system until spring 2017, but you may no longer make changes there.
Making investment decisions can be a challenge. At Sun Life Financial you can speak with a licensed Investment Advice Specialist who can provide you with personal, unbiased, one-on-one investment advice on your Western Pension Plan. Call 1-866-733-8612 any business day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET to speak with an Investment Advice Specialist. Sunlife.ca/western also offers many other tools and resources to help you learn about investing including calculators, webinars, articles and more.
The amount of RRSP room is shown on your most recent Notice of Assessment from Canada Revenue Agency. This amount will reflect any unused RRSP room from the past.
While you cannot use that RRSP room to increase your Western voluntary contributions, you can contribute to RRSPs through your bank or financial institution, and transfer them to your voluntary account in your Western Pension Plan. Although there are no tax implications to transfer the funds, you should inquire with your current RRSP provider regarding any fees or penalties which may apply. Please contact the Sun Life Financial Customer Care Centre at 1-866-733-8612 for more information.
You may change your beneficiary online at sunlife.ca/western. Sign in, go to my financial centre, select Quick Links, then Beneficiary info.
Once all contributions are reflected in your account, Human Resource Services will mail you an options package. Please be sure to log on to My Human Resources to update your address before you leave!
The money can be left in the Western Pension Plan, subject to an annual administration fee of $400. It can also be transferred to appropriate accounts at another Canadian financial institution, or possibly transferred to a new employer.
Pension laws will determine what portion of your account is designated as “locked-in” pension money, and what portion is not “locked-in”. Your options for the two types of money differ slightly.
Regular full-time faculty and staff are eligible to join the plan immediately upon employment. Part-time and contract employees may be eligible depending on your circumstance. Details are available here.
All members of Western’s Pension Plans plans pay investment fees. Overall, investment fees* at Sun Life are very close to, or lower than fees paid by members in the past, and lower than an individual would expect to pay in the market. As well, the Joint Pension Board negotiated a 10-year lock on investment management fees.
An annual fee of $400 ($200 semi-annually) is charged to pension plan members who leave Western before their normal retirement date, but leave their funds in the Western pension plan. It is also charged to members who work at affiliated university colleges and other affiliated organizations.
Other possible fees include:
*Total fees include investment management fees, custodian fees and fund operating expenses.