Ontario: FSRA releases COVID-19 response
In light of the rapidly evolving circumstances around the COVID-19 crisis, on March 18, 2020, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) published a document responding to common stakeholder questions. FSRA notes that most of its staff are working remotely. FSRA is reviewing its work, stakeholder engagement activities and other commitments to prioritize activities, and commits to communicating with stakeholders regularly.
Filing extension requests
FSRA has confirmed that pension plan administrators and their authorized agents that are registered on FSRA’s Pension Services Portal (PSP) may submit filing extension requests for up to 60 days on the PSP. For extension requests that go beyond a period of 60 days, FSRA asks that such requests be submitted via email (preferably) or regular mail to the assigned Pension Officer. This guidance is in line with previous FSRA practices.
Delays in issuing statements
Given that COVID-19 has posed operational disruptions that may cause a delay in producing annual and biennial member statements, termination statements and retirement statements within the prescribed timelines of the Ontario Pension Benefits Act, FSRA has asked that pension administrators advise their assigned Pension Officer of such delays via email as soon as possible.
FSRA notes that they do not have immediate discretionary powers to extend the prescribed timelines. However, provided that the plan administrator has notified the Pension Officer of the challenges being experienced and a proposed plan of action, FSRA confirms that summary administrative monetary penalties will not be levied with respect to non-compliance in this area until further notice.
New and pending transactions filed with FSRA
FSRA further confirms that they expect that there will be some delay in reviewing pending transactions filed with FSRA, such as pension asset transfers or wind up applications. For questions relating to pension plans or pension benefits, the assigned Pension Officer should be contacted by visiting the Pension Plan Information Access Page or by contacting FSRA’s pension inquiries email address at PensionInquiries@fsrao.ca.
New applications or additional documents should be sent electronically via email, or where technical issues arise, via alternative arrangements agreed upon with the assigned Pension Officer.
Deterioration of transfer ratio by 10% or more
Based on the criteria set out below, an Ontario defined benefit pension plan administrator is not permitted to transfer any part of the commuted value of a pension, deferred pension or ancillary benefit to which a member or former member is entitled, without first obtaining FSRA’s approval using Form 10 - Request for Superintendent’s Approval of Commuted Value Transfers (Form 10). Form 10 should be submitted electronically to the assigned Pension Officer.
These restrictions apply when plan administrators know, or ought to know, that the transfer ratio of the pension plan has declined by 10% or more since the most recently determined transfer ratio. These restrictions also apply where the most recently determined transfer ratio was above 1 and it has fallen to 0.9 or less.