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Pensions Conference

Toronto • November 28 - 29, 2019
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel


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HRPA Continuing Professional Development

HRPA Continuing Professional Development

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has approved Lancaster House as a Continuing Professional Development Partner, guaranteeing that participation in our conferences, workshops and audio conferences will be accepted by the HRPA for CPD credit.

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Optimize Pensions makes it easy to stay on top of changes to pensions and benefits legislation, regulations, and regulatory policies across the country. Subscribers receive timely e-mails notifying them of developments, and all updates can be accessed in an easy-to-use database.

Lancaster House subscribers are entitled to a 15% discount on their first year's subscription. To learn more or to start a free trial, please visit Optimize Pensions at: www.optimizelegal.com/products/optimize-pensions/

 

 

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 1


Scanning the Horizon: The investment landscape for 2020 and beyond

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

Panelists

Frances Donald
Managing Director, Chief Economist, and Head of Macroeconomic Strategy
Manulife Investment Management
Abdul Sheikh
Vice President, Head of Pension and Custody Services
CIBC Mellon

Panel Summary

The past year has seen a return of global economic volatility as well as continuing trade tensions, most notably in U.S. relationships with China and the European Union (EU). In the current climate of depressed business confidence and slowing growth, some commentators have raised the possibility that a recession may be on the horizon. And, while solvency levels in defined benefit (DB) plans remain high, having recovered from a dip at the end of 2018, central banks have kept interest rates low, bond yields are dropping, and commentators have warned that the tides may be turning in equities as well. In this panel, experts will discuss the current state of the global economy and what it portends for pension funds and their investment strategies in 2020 and beyond.

  • What effect have uncertainties such as the U.S.'s trade relationships with China and the EU and ongoing Brexit machinations had on the global economy and financial markets? How is the Canadian economy faring? How are current economic and political conditions likely to affect investment decisions in the near and medium term?
  • Are we nearing the end of a growth cycle? Is a recession on the horizon? What are the key short- and longer-term risks that plans are likely to face, and how can they be managed? How can funds strike a balance between generating adequate returns and avoiding unnecessary risks?
  • What are the trends in interest rates and bond yields, and what effects will these trends have on pension finances and investment decisions?
  • What does the future hold for public and private equities markets in 2020 and beyond? What are the implications for the financial health of pension plans going forward?
  • What are the key legal/risk considerations that plan managers should be taking into account with respect to private markets?
  • What are the trends in alternative assets such as real property? Are real estate markets saturated and overheated? What are the trends in infrastructure investing? Is public–private partnership still a model that pension investors should be pursuing?
  • Are public sector pension plans in a better position in terms of funding than their private sector counterparts? Is this primarily attributable to investment strategies, or are there other factors at play?
  • How will current economic and demographic trends affect pension fund cash flow, and how can cash flow challenges best be managed?
  • What are the key issues that pension fund managers should be looking out for and taking into consideration as they conduct asset mix reviews in the year ahead?

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 2


Major Caselaw and Legislative Update: The most important developments of the past year

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Panelists

Susan Nickerson
Pensions Counsel
Torys LLP
Susan Philpott
Pensions Counsel
Goldblatt Partners LLP
Lesha Van Der Bij
Chief Executive Officer
Optimize Legal

Panel Summary

In this session, seasoned experts will discuss the latest developments in caselaw, legislation, and policy and explain the implications for workplace parties and other pension industry stakeholders. Topics to be addressed include the revised and updated Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA) guidelines; legislative changes affecting funding and solvency frameworks; corporate accountability and disclosure; the use of electronic communications/designations in the pension industry; and ongoing pension-related Charter challenges. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the conference, ensuring coverage of the year's latest and most important developments.

NETWORKING LUNCH

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 3


Beyond the Bottom Line: Socially responsible investing in infrastructure and real estate

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Panelists

Randy Bauslaugh
Pensions Counsel
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Réjean Bellemare
Conseiller à la coordination régionale
Fonds immobilier de solidarité FTQ
Leilani Farha
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing

Kevin Thomas
Chief Executive Officer
Shareholder Association for Research & Education

Panel Summary

Alternative assets such as real estate and infrastructure have become attractive to investors for their capacity to yield better returns than more conventional investments. Yet in recent years pension plans have found themselves caught in the middle of controversies involving these investments, including the "Justice for Janitors" campaign that convinced the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan to use its position as controlling owner of the Cadillac Fairview property management corporation to reverse the layoffs of some 150 largely female racialized workers, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board's quiet divestment from private prison contractors in the U.S., and tenant protests over harsh rent increases and poor building maintenance at Toronto apartment towers owned by one of Canada's largest public sector pension plans. In this panel, experts discuss issues of human rights, labour and employment rights, public interest, and fiduciary duty that may arise in the context of such investments.

  • Why have alternative investments such as real estate and infrastructure become so attractive to pension investors in recent decades? What are the main benefits and risks associated with these kinds of investments?
  • Do pension administrators have a duty — fiduciary or otherwise — to be aware of and consider human rights, labour and employment rights, or public interest issues? How permissive is the law on this subject? Are they required to consider only the risk to the investment, or can/must trustees and administrators consider other factors, such as the plan's own reputational risks? How can fiduciaries design their decision-making process to consider these factors? Should they do so, and if so, why?
  • Can plan foundation documents be drafted in such a way as to provide useful guidance to fiduciaries when making investment decisions that may affect human rights, labour rights, and/or the public interest? Can a plan's Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIPP) or other plan foundation documents be modified to address these emerging issues? Are there other types of policy documents or frameworks that can help inform and guide plan decision-making? What other measures can/should plan fiduciaries take to ensure they are not investing in rights abusers in Canada and abroad?
  • What are some of the more problematic strategies used in real estate and infrastructure investment to maximize investment returns? To what extent might these strategies be fueling the affordability crisis in Canadian cities? Do unions and employers have economic, social, and/or ethical interests in curtailing this crisis? How does this square with the fiduciary duties of trustees?
  • What impact might initiatives such as the Canadian government's recognition of housing as a human right, or the United Nations special rapporteur's efforts to situate the financialization of housing within an international human rights framework, have on investment decisions in the residential real estate sector?

BREAK (with refreshments)

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 4


Gold-Standard Governance: Making the grade in an era of changing expectations

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Panelists

Kathryn Bush
Pensions Counsel
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Rasho Donchev
Co-Chair, Governance Committee
Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Pension Plan
Lynette Martin
Chief Executive Officer
Alberta Public Service Pension Plan Corporation
Michael Mazzuca
Pensions Counsel
Koskie Minsky LLP

Panel Summary

In a world of market volatility, increased government regulation, and heightened scrutiny of pension investments by stakeholders and the general public, the challenges of good governance are myriad and rapidly evolving. In this session, seasoned experts will provide a definitive guide to the latest trends and current issues in pension governance. Issues to be discussed include the following:

  • How has the concept and practice of "good governance" evolved in recent years? What factors have precipitated the growing legal regulation of governance? Is increased regulation necessary, or is it a burdensome duplication of fiduciary requirements?
  • What are the main sources of law and policy that inform how different types of pension plans are governed? In addition to the guidelines of the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA), are there other sources of regulatory guidance? What is the regulatory view on oversight of/intervention in plan governance?
  • What are the relative advantages and drawbacks of representative, independent, and expert boards? What challenges do non-expert board members face, and how can these challenges be met? Is it important to have lay voices at the table, or do they simply lack the requisite technical expertise to be involved in core activities such as investment decisions? What contributions can labour and management representatives make to the objective of good governance?
  • How active should the board be in authorizing and overseeing pension plan investments and other activities? Does the "nose in, fingers out" rule still accurately describe a board's role in oversight of plan activities?
  • How have stakeholder expectations around the roles and responsibilities of trustees and boards changed? How can plans ensure that they are responding to concerns raised by beneficiaries and other stakeholders? What role should a board have in managing reputational risk for a pension plan?
  • How should the interaction between plan administrators and their professional third-party service providers be managed? Given that fiduciary responsibility ultimately lies with the plan administrator, how can that responsibility be fulfilled when working with third parties? What are the main risks inherent in delegation to third parties, and how can they be mitigated?

END OF DAY ONE

4:00 PM

NETWORKING RECEPTION

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Friday, November 29, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:05 AM  


Panel 5


Bridging the DB/DC Divide: Searching for common ground

9:05 AM - 10:20 AM

Panelists

Ari Kaplan
Pensions Counsel and Mediator
Kaplan Law
Stephen Eadie
Actuary
Robertson Eadie & Associates
Chris Roberts
National Director of Social and Economic Policy
Canadian Labour Congress

Panel Summary

Debate about pension plan design and coverage issues continues to be polarized between two opposing extremes: defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC). DB plans, wherein the employer assumes all of the risk, are becoming increasingly rare, while DC plans, wherein employees bear all of the risk, are on the rise. In a recent paper prepared for the C.D. Howe Institute, pension experts Robert Brown and Stephen Eadie propose a new paradigm that moves beyond the dichotomy between the classic DB and DC models. In this session, experts will discuss whether Brown and Eadie's call to find "common ground" between DB and DC can serve as the foundation for a new era of pension policy and innovation in Canada. Points to be discussed will include the following:

  • What are the widely acknowledged strengths and weaknesses of traditional DB and DC plans? Is it possible to "bridge the divide" and find solutions outside of these conventional parameters?
  • What are the key features of the "pooled target-benefit" or "collective DC" plans proposed by Brown and Eadie? Would these plans address the limitations of traditional DB and DC plans? What are the main benefits and drawbacks of the proposed models? Are there other solutions that might be imagined? What can we learn from existing models?
  • How does generational inequity arise? Do the proposed models adequately address this issue?
  • What types of legislative or tax reforms are required to support these types of plans? What are ALDAs and VPLAs? Are they a step in the right direction?
  • What are the realistic prospects for expanding pension coverage to under-represented groups, such as young and racialized workers, and how might this objective be achieved? Is widening voluntary coverage an effective solution, or are compulsory pension plans or a further enhanced public plan better suited to this objective?

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM

Friday, November 29, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:05 AM  


Panel 6


Reflections on the Past, Lessons for the Future: Concluding insights and open-forum discussion

10:40 AM - 12:00 PM

Panelists

Laura Brownell
Senior Research Officer, Pensions
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Paul Litner
Pensions Counsel
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Panel Summary

In this session, the conference co-chairs will offer brief closing reflections on the conference as well as on the past, present, and future of the pensions industry. Following these insights, the session will be conducted as an open forum, with facilitators inviting comments and questions from the floor regarding key issues and take-aways from the conference. Attendees will deepen their understanding of the current pension landscape and what lies ahead as they exchange ideas with experts and peers from across Canada.

CONFERENCE ENDS

12:00 PM

Keynote Speakers


CPD


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Conference Sessions

  • This program has been approved by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) for 8.0 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
  • Members of the Law Society of New Brunswick may count this program for 5.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.