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National Pensions Conference

Conference Co-Chairs

Cynthia Crysler

Pensions Counsel
Cavalluzzo LLP

Michael Wolpert

Pensions Counsel
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Conference Advisory Committee

Mary Kate Archibald

Eckler Ltd.

James Harnum

Pensions Counsel
Koskie Minsky LLP

Evan Howard

Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs Officer
CAAT Pension Plan

Jonathan Marin

Pensions Counsel
Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Introductory remarks: 12:30 pm – 12:40 pm ET

Faisal Siddiqi

Managing Director, Actuarial
University Pension Plan Ontario

Josh Ingram

Eckler Ltd.

Kelleher Lynch

Pensions Counsel
McCarthy Tétrault LLP

James Harnum

Pensions Counsel
Koskie Minsky LLP

Mixed outlooks for inflation, interest rates, and economic growth have differing implications for the financial health of pension plans and their sponsoring employers in 2024. In this session, leading experts explore the risks and opportunities associated with the current and predicted economic climate, and address the following:

  • What does the latest data indicate about the financial health of Canadian defined benefit pension plans?
  • How do the current economic conditions affect different types of pension plans (e.g. defined benefit vs. defined contribution; public sector vs. private sector) and their members? What are the implications of any divergence in these effects?
  • What are the latest economic forecasts, including the outlook for inflation, interest rates, unemployment, and growth?
  • How would a sustained fall in inflation and/or interest rates affect pension plans and their members?
  • What strategies can pension plan administrators take to manage pension plans and pension plan investments in an economic downturn? What role do administrators’ statutory and fiduciary obligations play in this regard?
  • What implications do the current economic climate and related forecasts have for workplace parties negotiating retirement security plans? Are there pension structures that should be favoured or avoided?
  • Should workplaces with pension plans already in place consider altering those arrangements in light of current economic data? Do pension plan administrators and sponsoring employers have an obligation to consult the union before making such changes? Is union consent required for these changes?
  • What are governments and regulators doing to assist pension plans and their members in coping with current economic conditions? What more can be done?

Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald

Director of Financial Security Research
National Institute on Aging
Toronto Metropolitan University
Resident Scholar

Financial security in retirement is a growing concern for many Canadians, with a recent National Institute on Ageing survey showing that 77% of older adults are worried about their financial well-being. With retirement expected to last several decades for many—combined with unpredictable financial markets and changing personal circumstances—older Canadians face a tremendous challenge in turning accumulated savings into income that will last the rest of their lives. An emerging solution, called Dynamic Pension pools, could give Canadians access to affordable retirement income for life. Join the lead author of the report as she discusses the challenges and the legislative successes they have made to make Dynamic Pensions a reality in Canada – the missing piece in our retirement income system.

Break: 2:40 pm – 2:55 pm ET

Laura Brownell

Staff Representative – Pensions
Society of United Professionals

Level Chan

Pensions Counsel
Stewart McKelvey

Ross Gascho

Pensions Counsel

Anthony Guindon

Pensions Counsel
Koskie Minsky LLP

This panel explores significant court and tribunal decisions related to pensions. Topics to be addressed include plan amendments, class action cases, fiduciary duties, negligence, contribution rates, pensionable earnings, the obligations of successor employers, and constitutional issues arising out of public sector pension plan reforms. The panel will also review recent legislative and regulatory developments including, Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and provincial legislative developments. Experts will also explore draft guidelines released by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions. Final selection of topics will take place in the weeks leading up to the conference, ensuring coverage of the latest and most important legislative and regulatory developments.

Closing remarks: 4:10 pm – 4:12 pm ET

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Introductory remarks: 12:30 pm – 12:40 pm ET

Randy Bauslaugh

Pensions Counsel
Randy Bauslaugh Professional Corporation

Murray Gold

Pensions Counsel
Koskie Minsky LLP

Marie-Josée Privyk

ESG Advisor
FinComm Services

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations continue to engage investors, and those charged with administering pension funds. This panel will address related issues including:

  • To what extent do common law fiduciary duties require pension plan administrators to factor ESG considerations into their investment-related decision making? Does this answer depend on plan terms or type of plan?
  • Do pension plan administrators have any obligations to unions regarding their investment choices?
  • In what ways can unionized plan members have a say in how their pensions are invested? Can ESG considerations be addressed at the bargaining table?
  • What do current legislative and regulatory requirements mandate regarding ESG disclosure across Canadian jurisdictions? What changes are in prospect?
  • What level of familiarity should pension plan board members have regarding ESG-related issues?

Break: 1:55 pm – 2:10 pm ET

Derek Dobson

Chief Executive Officer and Plan Manager
CAAT Pension Plan

Workplace pension plans exist and evolve at the intersection of several dynamic forces: demographic changes, business needs of employers, behavioural economics of members, labour trends, investment markets, workforce migration, regulatory priorities, and more. What is needed to design sustainable, valuable pensions that provide the best outcome – lifetime retirement income security for all – under these complex conditions and interests? Innovation happens when bold ideas are turned into practical solutions. CAAT Pension Plan CEO and Plan Manager Derek Dobson will cover how innovating defined benefit pensions can provide sustainable value and meet the demands of a changing workplace.

Break: 2:55 pm – 3:00 pm ET

Elizabeth Boyd

Pensions Counsel
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

Cheri Hearty

Supervisor, Worker Safety and Pension & Benefits Units
Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU)

Barbara Sanders

Associate Professor
Statistics & Actuarial Science
Simon Fraser University

Laura Strachan

Director, Pension & Group Benefits
Eckler Ltd.

Even well-funded pension plans must adapt in the face of economic and demographic challenges, as evolving conceptions of the meaning of retirement require a re-think of what constitutes retirement income adequacy. This panel will shed light on the hazards that lie ahead for the Canadian pension system and address the following:

  • To what extent do political factors, notably the Alberta government’s proposal to establish its own public pension plan, threaten the future sustainability of the CPP?
  • How are current pension structures changing to account for existing economic and sociopolitical realities? For example, how are defined benefit plans insulating themselves against demographic and economic pressures? What new, or previously less utilized, pension models are growing in popularity in light of these pressures?
  • What are governments doing to support enhanced retirement income security for the increasing proportion of the Canadian workforce that is not covered by a defined benefit pension plan?
  • How are views on the meaning of retirement changing, and what does this mean for pensions and other sources of retirement income?
  • Do pension plans remain an important factor in recruitment and retention? As many employees now work for multiple employers across the course of their careers, are traditional employer-sponsored pension plans still viable and/or a desirable benefit?
  • How is pension plan administration changing to account for evolving family structures? What steps should employers and unions take to ensure that negotiated pension plans are not discriminatory?
  • Workers in the gig economy, including those engaged in app-based service delivery, are excluded from traditional retirement savings avenues such as workplace pension plans because of their employment status. What policy options could extend retirement security to this group?
  • What role, if any, will artificial intelligence play in the administration of pension plans and pension funds?

Closing remarks: 4:15 pm ET


CPD Alberta
This program has been approved for Continuing Professional Development 6.5 hours under Category A of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Log of the Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA).
CPD BC and Yukon
This program has been approved by CPHR BC & Yukon for 6.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
CPD Alberta
This program has been approved by CPHR Alberta for 6.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.


  • This program has been approved by the Law Society of British Columbia for 6.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Members of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society may count this program for 6.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Members of the Law Society of New Brunswick may count this program for 6.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Ontario: 6.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism Hours.
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