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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 1.800.913.0022.
Wondering what retirement under the IWA–Forest Industry Pension Plan will look like for you?
Attend this webinar to learn about your retirement options (including early retirement), who to select as your beneficiary, and how to start the application process and complete the necessary forms.
|Wednesday July 24th||Noon|
Every year, the Plan Office reviews its pension records to ensure retirees and beneficiaries are receiving the correct amount. As part of our review, we regularly contact members to verify their pension record. We recently mailed pension benefit confirmations to select members. If you received one of these forms, please complete and return it to the Plan Office using the enclosed pre-paid envelope. For your reference, you can view a sample form here.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
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 email@example.com.
We are pleased to present the latest edition of our After WorkTM newsletter!
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.