Atlantic pension regulators respond to COVID-19
In light of the COVID-19 situation, pension regulators in the Atlantic provinces have made announcements relating to regulatory extensions and other matters. These announcements are summarized below.
The Nova Scotia Superintendent of Pensions has announced extensions to filing deadlines for pension plans with an Annual Information Return (AIR) and/or Actuarial Valuation Report due on March 31, 2020 and/or April 30, 2020. Plan administrators will have until May 31, 2020 to file Annual Information Returns and/or Actuarial Valuation Reports that were due on March 31, 2020 and/or on April 30, 2020. The extension is automatic and plan administrators do not need to contact the Superintendent’s office for the extension.
If plan administrators have concerns with regards to other filing deadlines under the Nova Scotia Pension Benefits Act and Regulations, they may submit an inquiry/request by email.
Regulatory deadlines extended
The New Brunswick Financial and Consumer Services Commission has extended the time limit for filing AIRs and Actuarial Valuation Reports. The filing deadline for plans whose AIRs are due to be filed prior to June 30, 2020 is extended by 90 days. The filing deadline for plans whose Actuarial Valuation Reports or Cost Certificates are due to be filed prior to September 30, 2020 is extended by 90 days as well. These extensions replace the 30-day filing extension that was announced previously.
The deadline to issue annual written statements to members has also been extended by 90 days for statements due prior to June 30, 2020.
Restrictions on commuted value transfers
The regulator has indicated that, in the present circumstances, no transfers will be permitted unless the plan’s transfer ratio or termination value funded ratio has been recalculated since the last review date or the New Brunswick Superintendent of Pensions has approved the transfer.
Given the current market volatility, the Superintendent has taken the view that all pension plan administrators have reason to believe that the transfer ratio or termination value funded ratio of their plans have been reduced by more than 10%. Therefore, a recalculation is required prior to the transfer of commuted values or transfer values from a pension plan. The Superintendent has suggested it would be reasonable for pension plan administrators to monitor and, if necessary, recalculate these ratios on a quarterly basis.
Forms requiring a commissioner of oaths or notary public
The Financial and Consumer Services Commission has provided additional guidance with respect to any form requiring a signature before a commissioner of oaths or notary. Such forms may now be commissioned via video conference by some lawyers in New Brunswick. Individuals experiencing issues with the witnessing of any Financial and Consumer Services Commission pension-related forms are asked to contact the regulator.
The minimum payment required from Life Income Funds (LIFs) under the General Regulation – Pension Benefits Act is currently higher than the reduced minimum withdrawal rate announced by the federal government for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs). The Financial and Consumer Services Commission has indicated it is currently reviewing its policy options in this regard.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The Newfoundland and Labrador Superintendent of Pensions has announced an extension of the deadline for filing AIRs. In light of the disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Superintendent has decided to extend the filing deadline for up to three months, depending on when the AIR is due.
- AIRs with a due date of March 31, 2020 may request a three-month extension (i.e. to June 30, 2020)
- AIRs with a due date of April 30, 2020 may request a two-month extension (i.e. to June 30, 2020)
- AIRs with a due date of May 31, 2020 may request a one-month extension (i.e. to June 30, 2020)
- AIRs with a due date of June 30, 2020 may request a one-month extension (i.e. to July 31, 2020)
In order to be granted an extension, a request must be made in writing. Requests should include the plan’s provincial registration number and Canada Revenue Agency registration number, and should be sent be sent by email to the Superintendent of Pensions.
In order to meet filing deadlines, the Superintendent will accept AIRs submitted by email. However, paper copies must also be sent by mail along with the required fee.
The Superintendent expects plan administrators to use their best effort to meet other regulatory deadlines. However, the Superintendent has indicated that other extensions may also be requested and further changes may be announced in a subsequent memo.