Pension benefits improved for B.C. residents

Instances on West Shore have prompted frustration over current set-up, financial planner says

New standards governing workplace pension plans took effect last month and are meant to improve pension coverage options and security for more than 900,000 British Columbians covered by employer sponsored pension plans.

The new Pension Benefits Standards Act accommodates alternative plan designs such as target benefit plans and plans that are jointly-sponsored by employers and employees. It is meant to also improve plan governance by strengthening disclosure requirements and requires all plans to be covered by a governance policy.

It also provides former plan members with greater access to locked-in retirement accounts or locked-in life income funds. These funds may now be accessed for reasons of financial hardship in certain circumstances and an annual limit on withdrawn funds will be applied.

Dale Collins, owner of Prosperity Planning in Langford, said she’s had several occasions where a client has become ill and cannot access their locked-in RRSP, which can be very frustrating and limiting.

She said anytime there are more options for West Shore employers to offer pension plans, it’s a benefit, adding that hardworking families need help saving for retirement.

This new act applies to all employment pension plans registered in B.C. as well as plans registered elsewhere that have members employed in the province.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com