A message from the chair of the Teachers' Pension Board of Trustees: May 12, 2020
Your board of trustees wants to provide you continued reassurance about your pension plan.
Dear plan member,
In these rapidly changing times, there’s a lot we don’t know about the impacts of COVID-19. However, we want to provide you continued reassurance about your pension plan and information on how we are working to stay safe while keeping business as usual.
Your pension is safe
You can feel secure knowing your pension will be paid now and in the future. Your pension is calculated based on a formula that takes into account your years of service and highest average salary. It is not dependent on the performance of the financial markets.
The plan is well funded and has enjoyed strong performance over the past 10 years. While the severity and speed of the market decline has been unprecedented during the COVID-19 crisis, in recent weeks equity markets have been recovering. This means the value of many of the assets in the fund has also been recovering.
Your plan is protected against a market downturn through our long-term approach to investing. Your board of trustees (board) has been anticipating for some time a correction in the decade-long market growth and has been working with British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, the plan’s investment agent, to adjust the portfolio holdings to reduce risk. Plan investments are broadly diversified, which cushions the overall portfolio against lower returns in any one asset category. In other words, we don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Because your pension is paid from a large pool of assets, the plan is able to meet its commitments to members now and in the future.
Keeping you informed
We are working hard to provide you with accurate and current information through the plan website. We encourage you to visit the COVID-19 updates FAQ section, where you’ll find answers to questions you may have on topics such as the new COVID-19 leave of absence rules and how terminating your employment will affect your pension.
As part of efforts to protect staff, currently paper submissions are not being accepted. You can submit your documents and forms online using My Account Message Centre, a secure channel.
Many of our retired members are part of the plan’s retirement group benefits program, which offers extended health and dental coverage. We are aware that due to COVID-19 these members have not been able to access their full benefits. The plan’s retirement group benefits provider, Green Shield Canada, has indicated they will be temporarily applying a 75 per cent premium reduction in respect of dental benefits and an eight per cent premium reduction in respect of extended health care benefits for three months. The reduced premiums will be applied to your July, August and September pension payments.
Staying safe so we can serve you
People are at the heart of the pension business and our people have been outstanding! Their health and safety is a top priority, and precautions have been taken to limit exposure to the virus. We deeply appreciate the efforts of all staff, agents and providers who are keeping pension plan and fund operations functioning. They continue to serve plan members, employers and other stakeholders by working remotely and accommodating new ways of working together. Your trustees too are practicing physical distancing and are conducting board business through secure digital channels.
For now, physical offices remain closed and in-person consultation and workshops remain cancelled. We encourage you to use online services available through the plan website, My Account and the employer websites.
Recent weeks have been tough on everyone as we navigate the “new normal” amid this health crisis. The immediate future of this pandemic is uncertain. There will undoubtedly be further adjustments to make in the coming months, but we will learn and adapt together.
Our commitment to you
We want to thank the teaching community for working hard to serve the people of British Columbia. And thank you for doing your part to follow public health guidelines.
The board is committed to being both responsive and responsible, and you can count on your trustees to look after your pension. We hope that knowing your pension is secure provides you with some peace of mind.
Rob Taylor, Chair
Teachers’ Pension Board of Trustees