Accessing Additional Information About Your Plan
Information Your Plan Administrator Must Provide
Your plan administrator has a duty to provide you with this information in a timely manner and must provide:
- a written explanation of the pension plan to employees within 60 days of the date they become eligible for plan membership, or within 60 days of their hiring (if plan membership begins immediately);
- an annual statement to members within six months of the plan's year-end;
- a retirement statement to members within 30 days of retirement (and a description of their retirement options at least 60 days before retirement);
- a termination statement to members within 30 days of their employment or membership termination (note it should include the amount of any refunds the member is entitled to receive, any options that are available, and the time period in which the options must be exercised); and
- a death benefit statement to the surviving spouse, designated beneficiary or estate within 30 days of notice of death.
The administrator may also be required to provide you with other information in special situations, such as notice that the plan will be wound up.
Requesting Information from Your Plan Administrator
In addition to the information that your plan administrator must provide, your plan administrator must allow you to access certain records within 30 days of receiving your written request. A written request may be made by letter or e-mail (if permitted by your plan administrator).
These documents include:
- the pension plan text (this includes any plan amendments);
- any documents that must be filed in support of an application for plan registration and any amendments (e.g., trust agreements or other funding agreements);
- annual information returns, actuarial information summaries and other information summaries;
- financial statements regarding the pension plan or pension fund;
- actuarial funding reports;
- documents that delegate the administration of the pension plan or fund;
- correspondence between the plan administrator and FSCO for the five years before the request was made (note that personal information for a member, former member or retired member cannot be provided unless prior written consent has been given);
- the sections of collective agreements that set out the employer's responsibilities with respect to the plan;
- statements of investment policies and procedures; and
- the sections of any agreement concerning the purchase or sale of a business, or the assets of a business that relate to the plan.
If requested, these documents must be made available to:
- member, former member or retired member of the pension plan;
- the spouse of a member, former member or retired member;
- any other person who is entitled to benefits under the plan;
- a representative of a trade union that represents members of the plan;
- an employer that participates in the plan;
- a person that is required to make contributions on behalf of an employer; and
- the former spouse of a member, former member or retired member (in limited circumstances); and
- an agent of any of the above, if authorized in writing (note that the agent will have the same access to plan records as those individuals listed above).
To inspect the records that are listed above, you must provide your plan administrator with a written request. (If you need to determine the name of your plan administrator, visit Pension Plan Information Access.)
Note that you may only inspect the administrator's records once every calendar year. In addition, the records must be made available to you at the place you are or were employed, or at a mutually agreed upon place.
You may make a written request for a copy of a particular record not more than once each calendar year. If you request copies of plan records, the plan administrator can charge a reasonable fee. However, the plan administrator cannot charge you for inspecting the plan records, or for making your own copies of the records at the place of inspection.
If the plan administrator does not respond to your written request within 30 days of receipt, contact FSCO for assistance.
Requesting Documents Electronically
Effective July 1, 2012, you may be able to access the following pension plan documents electronically:
- the current pension plan provisions;
- the most recent actuarial reports, financial statements, Actuarial Information Summary (AIS), Annual Information Return (AIR) and Investment Information Summary (IIS) that were filed for the pension plan; and
- the most current Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIP&P) for the plan.
To get electronic copies of these documents, you need to submit a written request to your plan administrator. For more information, see How to Make a Request.
Requesting Plan Records from FSCO
Plan records that are filed with FSCO can be inspected by the plan administrator and other parties who have access rights. This includes:
- a member (active, former or retired);
- the spouse of a member, retired member or former member;
- any other person that is entitled to benefits under the plan;
- a representative of a trade union that represents members of the plan;
- an employer that participates in the plan;
- a person who is required to make contributions on behalf of an employer;
- the former spouse of a member, former member or retired member (in limited cirucumstances); and
- an agent of any of the above, if authorized in writing (note that the authorized agent will have the same access to plan records as those individuals listed above).
Note that FSCO does not keep personal data about individual plan members, former members, retired members or plan beneficiaries.
You can request to view plan records that are filed with FSCO by making an appointment to view them at FSCO's offices in Toronto, or by having FSCO send you copies of the records electronically or by mail for a fee.
How to Make an Appointment with FSCO
If you would like to make an appointment to inspect the plan records, you must send a written request (by letter or e-mail) to FSCO that includes the following information:
- your name and telephone number;
- your relationship to the plan member (i.e., identify if you are the plan member, the plan member’s spouse, an agent representing any of the parties who have access to the plan records as listed above, etc.);
- the name and registration number of the pension plan;
- a list of plan records that you would like to inspect, along with the specific time period for those records (e.g., plan texts and amendments from year 2000);
- proof of plan membership (see the section Proof of Plan Membership for more information); and
- any other applicable information (see the section Other Requirements for more details).
If you are a plan member, former member or retired member, you must provide proof of that person’s plan membership (e.g., a copy of a pension statement, T4 or T4A slip).
If you are the spouse or authorized agent of the plan member, former member or retired member, you must provide proof of that person's plan membership.
If you are the spouse of the plan member, former member or retired member, you also need to provide proof of your spousal relationship. For example, this may include:
- a copy of a marriage certificate;
- a beneficiary designation statement; or
- a written statement from your member-spouse identifying you as his or her spouse.
If you are an agent of a party who has access to the plan records, you also need to include a written statement from your client that provides you authorization to inspect the records on their behalf.
FSCO staff will contact you to arrange a date and time for inspecting the requested plan records.
Appointments are generally held in the morning between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m., or in the afternoon between 1:15 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
If requests are made for large files, full day appointments are available as bookings permit.
On the Day of the Appointment
On the day of the appointment, you must bring photo identification (e.g., driver’s licence).
Plan records may be photocopied at FSCO’s offices for a fee of $0.50 per page, with a minimum charge of $5. An invoice for the photocopies will be provided after the appointment.
Payment must be made to FSCO within one month of issuance of the invoice. Acceptable forms of payment include cash (only when payment is made at FSCO’s offices), cheque or money order. Cheques and money orders are to be made payable to the Minister of Finance.
Requesting Plan Records from FSCO by Mail
If you would like to request photocopies of plan records by mail, you must send a written request (by letter or e-mail) to FSCO that includes the same information that is required above under How to Make an Appointment with FSCO.
An invoice for the cost of the photocopies will be mailed to you. The cost is $0.50 per page, with a minimum charge of $5. Acceptable forms of payment are listed under On the Day of the Appointment.
Once FSCO receives your payment, copies of the plan records will be mailed to you.
If you would like to receive electronic copies of plan records, you must send a written request (by letter or e-mail) to FSCO that includes the same information that is required under How to Make an Appointment with FSCO.
Making a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request
In addition to requesting information from your plan administrator or FSCO, you can make an FOI request to access plan records held by FSCO through the Ministry of Finance's Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator:
Ministry of Finance
Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator
Frost Building North, Room 665
6th Floor, 95 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON M7A 1Z1
Tel: (416) 325-8370
Information on the process for making an FOI request is available on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services website.
Questions to Ask Your Plan Administrator
It is important for you to have all the facts about your pension plan so that you can make informed financial decisions. If you wish to obtain information about your pension plan, as a first step you should ask your plan administrator.
The following are some sample questions you may want to ask your plan administrator.
- What is the name of the pension plan?
- What is the plan’s registration number and with which pension regulator is the plan registered?
- What type of plan do I belong to: single employer pension plan, multi-employer pension plan, jointly sponsored pension plan, individual pension plan?
- What type of benefits does my pension plan provide (e.g. defined benefit (DB), defined contribution (DC), combination DB/DC)?
- Do I have to contribute to the plan?
- How much do I have to contribute?
- Can I contribute more if I want to?
- How much does my employer contribute?
- When will my pension be vested?
- How is my pension benefit calculated?
- Can I select the investments for my defined contribution account?
- What is the financial position of the plan?
- What is the most recent transfer ratio of the plan?
- When will I receive my annual pension statement?
- Which plan records can I see?
- Where can I see the plan records?
- Will I be notified if the plan is amended? If so, how and when will this occur?
- Do I have a say in how the plan is administered?
- Are my retirement benefits offset by my Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Old Age Security (OAS) benefits?
- What are my options if I become disabled or terminally ill?
- What happens if I leave my job before I retire?
- What do I need to do about my pension if I get separated or divorced?
- What happens if I die before I retire?
- What happens if I die after I retire?
- How do I name or change a plan beneficiary?
- How do I update my spousal information?
Starting a New Job
- Am I eligible to join the pension plan? If so, when does membership start?
- How do I join the pension plan?
- Do I have to join the pension plan?
- Are there any brochures or other materials that describe the plan?
- Does the employer offer any sessions on retirement financial planning?
Planning for Retirement
- What is the normal retirement age or date under the plan?
- At what age can I retire early?
- Will my pension be reduced if I retire early?
- How is my pension calculated? Is it indexed for inflation?
- What happens to my pension if I continue to work after the normal retirement age or date?
- Will my benefits be reduced when I receive Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Old Age Security (OAS) benefits?
Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO)
5160 Yonge Street
P.O. Box 85
Toronto, Ontario, M2N 6L9
Telephone: (416) 250-7250
Toll free: 1-800-668-0128
Fax: (416) 590-7070
There are some questions that neither your plan administrator nor FSCO can answer. See Questions About Personal Matters to learn more.
Questions About Personal Matters
There are some questions that only you can answer. Neither FSCO nor your plan administrator can answer questions or offer you advice on financial, legal or personal matters.
Examples of these types of questions include:
- I terminated my employment and have been offered options for my benefits. Should I choose a deferred pension or transfer the money out of the plan?
- Which investment option(s) should I select for my defined contribution account?
- My employer has offered me an early retirement window. Should I take it?
- I’m retiring at the end of the year. Should my spouse and I choose a joint and survivor pension or a single life pension ?
- My marriage has broken down. Will this affect my pension?
- I don’t have a spouse. Who should I name as my plan beneficiary?
- My workplace pension plan is being wound up, and there’s a surplus sharing agreement. Should I sign the consent form?
For these types of questions, you are encouraged to seek expert and independent advice from various professionals (e.g., financial planning consultants, lawyers who specialize in pension law or family law, actuaries, accountants, etc.).