Human Resources

Retirement Income Fund

Important Notice - November 2014

Western Human Resources is pleased to let you know that on November 20th, the Western Board of Governors approved a recommendation to allow the establishment of a relationship with Sun Life Financial that will provide an outstanding opportunity for Western retirees.  With the goal to provide a more optimal RIF program, the Western RIF has been under review, and external options considered.  With this decision, we are confident that our current Western RIF members and future retirees will experience improved investment choices, a high level of client service, and access to financial planning advice. 

Visit the page Getting Ready to Move your Western RIF to learn more.

Overview of the current Western RIF

Western will continue to offer access to the Western Retirement Income Funds (Western RIF) program until a transition has been completed to a preferred external provider - Sun Life Financial.  Retirement Income Funds represent one option for converting accumulated retirement savings in your pension plan into a pension income following retirement. 

The Western RIF program, which is still in place but will be ending in late 2015 with the transiton to a preferred provider - Sun Life Financial - includes access to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) for your non-locked-in registered savings and access to a New Life Income Fund (New LIF) for your locked-in registered savings. Members who started a retirement income fund prior to 2009 may have their locked-in funds in an Old LIF or an LRIF instead.

When you were an active member of the pension plan, accumulating pension savings, you had responsibility for managing the investment allocation of your funds.  The Western RIF works the same way.  You allocate your funds, choosing from the options available.  Additionally, you will be asked to decide the amount of income you wish to receive from your accounts and whether you want to receive this income on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

Please note that the Western RIF Program is only available to residents of Canada. The Sun Life Retirement & Savings Plan for Western Retirees will welcome non-residents.

Investing your Western RIF

The investment options available within the Western RIF program include some of the same options available to active members of the pension plans.  These options allow you to maintain a diversified portfolio.  They include the:

View the Western RIF Investment Options as a picture showing the relationships between funds.  

Changes to your investment mix can be made as often as monthly.  Investment changes are due by the 25th to take effect at month-end.  Changes can be made online directly in your account.

See step by step instructions for Changing Investments Online.  Alternatively you may download and print the Western RIF Investment Election Form.

Payment Options

Once you have established a retirement income fund you will be required to withdraw and receive a minimum amount of income each year from each retirement income fund account.  For a locked-in retirement income fund (New LIF, Old LIF, LRIF) there is also a maximum or upper limit on how much can be withdrawn annually from the account.  Pension regulators produce a schedule each year advising of these payment criteria. 

View the current year’s RIF Payment Levels – a schedule of minimum and maximum percentages.

The maximum payment which can be taken from the locked-in account (Old LIF, New LIF, LRIF) is the greater of the schedule and the actual investment gain from the prior calendar year.

Each year members of the Western RIF program will receive correspondence by mail in February indicating the annual minimum and maximum (if applicable) amounts for each account.  Even if you wish your payment to remain the same we require you to make a formal election to ensure that your payment remains within the criteria.

You can conveniently elect your payment online directly in your account.  Payment changes made by the 15th of the month will take effect for the first of the following month.

See step by step Instructions for Changing your RIF Payment Online.

Instructions on how to view your past RIF elections.

Income Tax

Payments from a retirement income fund are considered taxable income and you will be required to pay taxes based on your total income from all sources.  Canada Revenue Agency mandates that tax be withheld on payments which exceed the minimum (see above) required payment each year.  However, most members elect a tax withholding rate corresponding with their expected tax obligation so they don’t receive a large tax bill. 

For members aged 65 or over, the income received from the Western RIF will be considered pension income and is therefore eligible for pension income splitting with your spouse.

It is best to discuss the most appropriate strategy for your Western RIF with your accountant or financial advisor.

New LIF Unlocking

When a New LIF is created the member will have a one-time option to “unlock” up to 50% of the assets transferred to the New LIF account within 60 days of the transfer.  Note that if assets already in an Old LIF, New LIF or LRIF are subsequently transferred to a New LIF there will not be another “unlocking” opportunity.

Read more about the unlocking option.