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March 31, 2021

ONTARIO TEACHERS' PORTFOLIO PROVES RESILIENT

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) had a total-fund net return of 8.6 per cent for the year. Net assets reached $221.2 billion as at December 31, 2020, a $13.8 billion increase from a year earlier. Ontario Teachers’ earned $18 billion in investment income in 2020. “Our portfolio proved to be very resilient during a turbulent year.  Through the headwinds of a global pandemic and volatile investment landscape, we delivered strong financial results and high service levels for our members,” says Jo Taylor, its president and chief executive officer. As of January 1, the plan was fully funded for an eighth consecutive year with a preliminary surplus of $8.5 billion using prudent assumptions, with 100 per cent inflation protection being provided on all pensions. The plan’s funding ratio was 103 per cent. As at December 31, 2020, it had an annualized total-fund net return of 9.6 per cent since inception. The five- and 10-year net returns were seven per cent and 9.3 per cent, respectively.

March 31, 2021

VIRUS IMPACT ON MENTAL HEALTH TO LAST

Half of Canadians say the coronavirus pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health and more than four-in-10 think the impact will last long after the pandemic is over, says a KPMG in Canada survey. “More than a year of worrying about getting sick, stay-home restrictions, and job and economic challenges have taken a toll on Canadians’ mental health,” says Denis Trottier, chief mental health officer at KPMG in Canada. “With vaccinations ramping up, Canadians should be seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, but many are anxious that people are getting complacent and no longer exercising needed diligence to remain safe until the bulk of the population has been inoculated.” The findings show 89 per cent worry Canadians are becoming impatient with the lockdowns and will let their guard down, 54 per cent say their mental health has suffered during the pandemic, 50 per cent say the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health, and 42 per cent believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health. The research also finds that the pandemic has affected the mental wellbeing of women more than men and the 18 to 24 age demographic more than older Canadians.

March 31, 2021

DIGITAL PRIVACY GUIDELINES CONCERN PENSION PLANS

The British Columbia Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) draft information security guideline on mitigating risks related to information security posed by digital and online services is a growing concern with information security among Canadian pension regulators, says a Morneau Shepell ‘News & Views.’ The guideline sets out principles and best practices that provincially regulated financial institutions are expected to follow. However, pension plan administrators rely heavily on third party pension administrators and consultants and some of the guidelines are a concern. The BCFSA has identified information security risks as including unauthorized, illegal, or accidental use, disclosure or destruction of data or impairment of network systems, which can cause serious harm to consumers and significant reputation damage to regulated financial institutions (PRFIs). It states that PRFI boards of directors or their equivalent are ultimately responsible for overseeing the prudent management of information security risks. The board should, among other things, identify the governing body accountable for overseeing information security, approve the information security strategy of the organization, possess current and relevant knowledge in information security or recognize when expertise or third party advice is needed, and assess the competencies, skills and experience of senior management pertaining to information security. Senior management is responsible for the development, documentation, implementation, and monitoring of information security strategies, policies, and procedures.

March 31, 2021

GROUP ANNUITIES HAVE STRONG YEAR

Last year turned out to be a strong year for the Canadian group annuity market with volumes reaching $4.4 billion – its third highest finish ever, says Brent Simmons, head of Sun Life’s Defined Benefit Solutions. Despite challenges in their core businesses, many plan sponsors made pension de-risking a priority. In fact, 2020 saw the largest single-day, single-insurer group annuity transaction in history at $1.1 billion. With the funded status of most plans at, or even slightly above, where they were a year ago, Canadian DB pension plans have some much-needed breathing room. This makes it a great time for plan sponsors to re-evaluate their pension risk and get back in the driver’s seat for 2021, he says.

March 31, 2021

NORTHWESTERN ONTARIO GETS DENTAL ACCESS

Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) and Green Shield Canada (GSC) are partnering on a dental public health program that will offer access to dental care through dental clinics and mobile dental buses throughout the region, all at no cost to eligible patients. Green Shield Canada’s Green Door Project will provide an annual gift of $120,000 for three consecutive years to allow NWHU to offer cost-free care for hundreds of eligible low-income adults in the region who are currently unable to access regular dental care. David Willows, executive vice-president, innovation at Green Shield Canada, says, “Canadians in lower income brackets are four times more likely to avoid seeing a dentist due to cost and twice as likely to have worse oral health outcomes.