Follow-up Q&As from 2021 AGM
Read answers to extra questions received at the 2021 annual general meeting.
Following are responses to questions we were not able to address during the AGM. We have edited questions for brevity and clarity.
What happens to my pension if I work part time for a few years before retiring?
- The accrual rate (percentage) for your member group
- The average of your highest years of salary (not necessarily the last years before retirement)
- Your years of pensionable service
If your years of part-time work before retirement represent your best full-time equivalent earnings (e.g., if they’re the best hourly rate of pay of your career), they will be included in the calculation of your highest average salary.
If you are in group 1 (non–public safety members), we calculate your pension using your highest five years of salary. If you are in group 2 or 5 (public safety members) and are employed on or after January 1, 2022, we calculate your pension using your highest four years of salary.
Learn more under How we calculate your pension and understand how accrual rates for group 1 and group 5 members are changing on January 1, 2022.
To see how your pension is calculated, use the personalized pension estimator in My Account.
As the risk of sustained inflation grows worldwide due to the pandemic, will the board give higher priority to inflation threats on pensions than was required in a low-inflation environment that retired members have enjoyed in the past years?
Providing sustainable cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) remains one of the board’s top three pension security goals. Though COLAs are not guaranteed, they become part of your pension payment and other components of your pension once they are granted.
Each year, the board considers whether to grant a COLA. The plan’s rules and policies place some limits on future COLAs, including the change in the Canadian consumer price index from September to September, which is a standard measure of inflation. Another is that the COLA must not exceed the sustainable cap. Capping the COLA ensures intergenerational equity and helps to maintain the funds for the long term so they aren’t used up faster than they can be replaced.
The sustainability of the inflation adjustment account (which funds COLAs) and the level of the COLA cap are reviewed every three years as part of the plan’s actuarial valuation. The next COLA cap reset will be announced in fall 2022, after the board receives the plan’s December 31, 2021, valuation report.
I have both public safety and non–public safety service. I am no longer employed in a non–public safety job. Can my two pensions be combined?
No, you will receive two separate pension payments.
A separate pension is calculated for each of your group 2 or 5 (public safety) service and group 1 (non–public safety) service. Each pension will be based on the normal retirement age that applies and is payable when you are eligible and retire.
Separately calculated pensions entitlements apply to members like you who work in both a public safety occupation and a non–public safety occupation. The normal retirement age for each is different. As well, group 5 contribution and accrual rates are higher. These differences affect how your pension is funded, calculated and paid.
You can choose different dates to start your public safety and non–public safety pensions, and different options for how you want these two pensions to be paid. To start receiving either pension, you must stop contributing to both benefit groups. You cannot collect from one while contributing to the other.
For example, if you are eligible and apply for your public safety pension (earliest retirement age = 50), you will receive a pension payment. However, if you are still employed in your non–public safety position at that time, you will no longer be able to contribute to the plan. The earliest you may apply for your non–public safety pension is age 55.
Following is a response that was not provided in full during the Q&A session.
Has the personalized pension estimator been updated for members with special agreements?
Members with special agreements may use the personalized pension estimator in My Account. However, the estimate will include only the lifetime portion of the member’s pension. It will also include a bridge benefit or temporary annuity, if applicable.
The estimator does not include the special agreement contribution balance. You may have the option to take your balance as a lump-sum payment or convert it into a pension payment. Please contact the plan for more information about your specific situation or to request an estimate.