In these extraordinary times, the safety of Plan Office staff and the protection of members and their plans are of utmost concern. Following the BC Ministry of Health’s recommended precautions, our Burnaby office is currently limited to essential services only. We are doing our best to minimize service disruptions, and we will continue to update this space should any of the following change in this rapidly evolving environment.
Members receiving payment from the pension or LTD plan
Members undergoing rehabilitation
Communication with the Plan Office
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all navigate this difficult time together. Stay safe.
Watch this short explainer video to learn what it means to be an IWA—Forest Industry Pension Plan member, as well as who the Plan Office is.
The spring/summer issue of AFTER WORK is now available for download, and will be mailed to all members this June. AFTER WORK is a newsletter is for members and participating employers of the IWA–Forest Industry Pension & LTD Plans. It includes important plan updates, and news and tips from the Plan Office.
The BC government has updated the Employment Standards Act (ESA) to allow employees to take unpaid leave relating to COVID-19. Full details can be found on the BC government’s website.
Like other unpaid leaves of absence (maternity, compassionate care, bereavement etc.) members must continue to pay contributions in order to remain covered by the pension and/or LTD plans during their absence. If members continue to make employee contributions, their employers are also required to continue to pay employer contributions.
We have replaced our maternity/parental leave waivers and other leave consent waivers with a new form called contributions during an unpaid leave. This leave form includes the new COVID-19 provision. This form is available on the Plan Office website at iwafibp.ca/employer-forms. Members and their employers must complete this form to notify the Plan Office of their contribution decision during any unpaid leave of absence as outlined in the ESA.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Starting January 1, 2020, if you are receiving LTD benefits you will have to deal directly with MSP when it comes to keeping your account up to date or if you have any changes. Please see the attached MSP notice for details:
The BC government recently announced a retirement bridging program to financially help forest industry workers in the BC interior affected by mill closures and curtailments.
Eligible workers can now apply for the government retirement bridging program through the government website, or in person at a Service BC office.
This bridging program IS NOT related in any way to the IWA–Forest Industry Pension Plan. If you have any questions about the bridging program, please visit this government website or your local Service BC office, or call 1.844.901.0970.
In late spring, forest industry companies Tolko, Canfor, Conifex and West Fraser announced the curtailment and/or closure of five USW mills in BC. As a result, 450 active pension plan members lost their jobs in Quesnel, Kelowna, Vavenby, Chasm and 100 Mile House. Other non-USW mills have also announced closures and curtailments throughout the province.
While members have expressed concern about their future and the security of the pension plan, we would like to reassure all members that the pension plan remains stable. The pension plan is designed to accommodate “shocks” such as reduced contributory hours and market downturns.
Just like you, we do not know how many more members will be affected or how quickly the industry with recover, but we do test for it. Every year plan actuaries perform stress-tests on the plan to determine the health of the plan under a variety of factors. A decline in contributory hours has been anticipated and factored into the pension plan’s valuation. In one scenario, the plan remained fully funded on a going concern basis even when contributory hours decrease by two million hours (all else equal).
At its most recent valuation, the pension plan was fully funded (107.8%) on a going concern basis (which assumes the plan will continue indefinitely into the future) and 84.5% funded on a solvency basis (assumes the plan is wound-up immediately). Additionally, the current negotiated contribution rate is more than sufficient to meet the minimum funding requirements of the PBSA. We would need to see a combination of negative factors (mill closures plus negative investment returns plus a significant decrease to the discount rate) before we need to look at decreasing benefit levels.
The pension plan is a mature pension plan, with an aging demographic. This means it relies more on investment returns rather than contributions. Total plan assets are cresting—this is expected for a mature plan. The pension plan faced many mill closures in 2010, and we’ve been supporting members for many years since then.
We know this is a difficult time for many of our members. The trustees of the pension plan have a duty to act in the best interest of all plan members. The Plan Office has been traveling around the province to meet with affected members to discuss their options. If you have any questions about your pension, please contact us at email@example.com or 1.800.913.0022.
We are pleased to present the pension plan annual report for the year ending December 31, 2018.
We're excited to announce the launch of EmployerConnect, an online portal for all participating plan employers of the IWA–Forest Industry Pension & LTD Plan Office. Employers can use EmployerConnect to securely and conveniently share their contribution reports and billing statements and communicate privately with the Plan Office. Employers, lookout for more details and log-in information in the mail in the coming weeks.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FICOM recently approved a rule change to article 15.08(a) of the IWA–Forest Industry Pension Plan text. What changed? Qualifying deferred members can now choose to withdraw the lump-sum value of their pension out of the plan, provided they meet the following conditions:
Unsure whether this applies to you? Lookout for your annual statement, (to be mailed in early June 2019) or contact the pension department of the Plan Office.