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Retraite Québec

Our publication: Administering a pension plan well

PrintHow a Pension Committee Operates

The members of a pension committee work together to ensure the management of the pension fund and the day-to-day administration of the pension plan. The Supplemental Pension Plans Actoutlines the minimum composition of the committee. Like all groups that make collective decisions, operating and governance rules are necessary for the affairs of a pension committee to run smoothly.

This part of the collection covers the main conditions for creating a pension committee.

It then looks at internal bylaws governing the operation of the pension committee, as well as the plan's governance rules.

You will see that basic rules are required to guide committee members in carrying out their duties. The rules do not have to be complicated, but they should be adapted to the characteristics of the pension plan. They are an essential tool for facilitating sound pension plan governance. Because they guide committee members in carrying out their duties, these rules prevent arbitrary decisions and foster optimal performance. They are essential to ensuring the transparency of the plan's administration and heightened confidence in the plan.

Each member of the pension committee must be familiar with the internal bylaws in order to properly participate in the pension plan's administration.

A list of the relevant sections of the Supplemental Pension Plans Act and the ensuing regulations is provided in the References section.

Pension committee

To be empowered to act, a pension committee must be composed in the manner provided for in the pension plan text. The plan text must be consulted to find the provisions for the pension committee's composition. However, the committee's makeup must comply with the minimum requirements set out in the Supplemental Pension Plans Act.

The Supplemental Pension Plans Act provides for the minimum number of members on the pension committee. The maximum number of members on the committee is specified in the plan text. Generally speaking, the number of members on the committee varies based on the size and characteristics of the pension plan.

Designation of voting members

Voting members according to the Supplemental Pension Plans Act

Pension committees must have at least three voting members, including:

  1. A member designated as a third party as provided for in the plan text. This member is usually designated for his or her expertise. He or she cannot be:
    • a plan member or beneficiary
    • a director (e.g. a member of the board of directors) or an administrator (e.g. human resources administrator)
    • a director, administrator or employee of the employees' association representing members (e.g. a union)
    • the child or spouse of a pension committee member or any person to whom it is prohibited by section 176 This link will open in a new window. of the Supplemental Pension Plans Act to grant a loan made from the assets of the pension plan.
  2. A member designated at the annual meeting by the group of activeplan members. The person designated does not have to be a plan member or beneficiary. If the group does not designate a committee member, an active or non-active plan member must be designated under the conditions provided for in the plan text.
  3. A member designated at the annual meeting by the group of non-active plan members and beneficiaries. The person designated does not have to be a plan member or beneficiary. If the group does not designate a committee member, an active or non-active plan member or a beneficiary must be designated under the conditions provided for in the plan text.
Modifications législatives

Important!

Committee members designated at the annual meeting do not have to be plan members or beneficiaries, and the plan text cannot stipulate that they must be plan members or beneficiaries. They could, for example, be union representatives or members of an association of retirees.

These members are designated based on the manner proposed by the pension committee. If the committee does not make a proposal, or if the proposal is not accepted, each of the groups determines its own procedures for designating its members.

Voting members according to the plan text

The plan text sets out the number of voting members in addition to those designated in accordance with the Supplemental Pension Plans Act. It must also specify who is to designate the voting members. Usually, the employer and the union reserve the right to designate several of the pension committee members.

Example 10

A plan may require that the pension committee be made up of 9 voting members, as follows:

  • 3 members designated in accordance with the Supplemental Pension Plans Act (see a), b) and c))
  • 4 members designated by the employer
  • 2 members designated by the union

Committee members can be designated based on various criteria: in their own right, by virtue of their position in the company (e.g. the human resources administrator) or by virtue of their plan status (plan member, beneficiary, member designated as a third party).

The Supplemental Pension Plans Act does not require any particular competencies for membership in a pension committee. However, the plan text may require that committee members other than those designated at the annual meeting have certain competencies. For example, in some plans, the member designated as a third party must have training in law, actuarial science or finance.

Modifications législatives

Important!

In plans with fewer than 26 members and beneficiaries, the plan text may specify that the plan is to be administered by the employer or a "select" pension committee.

The select pension committee must be made up of at least 2 members, one of them a member designated as a third party. The other may be a plan member or beneficiary designated in accordance with the plan text or a person designated at the annual meeting by the majority of plan members and beneficiaries in attendance.

Designation of non-voting members (or "additional members")

The Supplemental Pension Plans Actstipulates that a maximum of 2 additional members may sit on the pension committee. Additional members can only be designated at the plan's annual meeting. These members have the same rights as the other members, except the right to vote.

The group of active plan members and the group of non-active plan members and beneficiaries can each name an additional pension committee member at the annual meeting. That member does not have to be a plan member or a beneficiary. If one of these groups does not designate an additional member, the other group cannot designate 2 members. Some plans have no additional members, some have 1 and some have 2.

Modifications législatives

Important!

For pension plans covered by section 64 of the Act to foster the financial health and sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans This link will open in a new window., each of these 2 groups can designate 2 non-voting members at the annual meeting (for a potential of 4 non-voting members).

The designation of an additional member allows the pension committee to prepare someone for a regular seat on the committee at a future date. An additional member is not responsible for any of the decisions made by the pension committee but can become familiar with how the pension plan operates and how it is administered so as to earn the qualifications needed to one day be designated a voting member of the committee.

Some plans prepare future pension committee candidates by allowing observers, i.e. non-committee members, to attend pension committee meetings. The pension committee can also invite non-members such as specialists to attend its meetings.

Committee members' terms

A member's term of office is limited to a maximum of 3 years. The plan text can provide for different terms depending on the position. For example, the chair of the committee could have a 3-year term, while a member designated at the annual meeting could have a 2-year term.

Members' terms can be automatically renewed upon expiry if the plan text so specifies, except for members designated at the annual meeting. In the latter case, to serve another term, the member would have to be designated again at another annual meeting.

Modifications législatives

Important!

At the annual meeting, the plan members and beneficiaries can designate a new committee member only if the term of the member previously designated has expired or if a vacancy has occurred because, for example, a member has died. Thus, where the term of office is more than 1 year, committee members will not be designated at every annual meeting.

Replacement of members

The plan text specifies the conditions for replacing a committee member (except for a member designated at the annual meeting). It indicates the following:

  • Who is empowered to designate a replacement. Generally, those who designated the outgoing member are given the power to designate the replacement.
  • The time period for designating a replacement. If there is a delay in replacing a voting member designated under the plan text, the Supplemental Pension Plans Act stipulates that the pension committee may designate the replacement.
  • The term of office for the replacement member (i.e. whether a new term begins or the balance of the existing term is completed).

These conditions are intended to ensure that a member's absence or incapacity to act will not prevent the committee from carrying out its duties.

Modifications législatives

Important!

If a voting member designated at the annual meeting is prevented from acting or is regularly absent or if his or her seat becomes vacant, the committee designates a replacement who will serve until the next annual meeting. The replacement does not have to be a plan member or beneficiary. He or she can, for example, be anyone who has pension plan administration skills.

In the following situations, members are no longer qualified to serve their term of office and may have to be replaced:

Resignation

A member's term ends on the date of his or her resignation from the committee or on a later date mentioned in the notice of resignation (a member cannot resign retroactively). The member's seat then becomes vacant.

When a committee member resigns, notice must be sent to the pension committee and Retraite Québec. The person must indicate the reason for the resignation and the date it takes effect. See articles 1357 to 1359 of the Civil Code of Québec.

Death

A member's term ends upon his or her death. The member's seat then becomes vacant.

Absence or permanent or temporary incapacity

There are other situations that may require the replacement of a member who is absent or incapable of acting, or whose seat is vacant. The member's absence may be due to illness, parental leave, a year taken to pursue studies, etc. The plan text must indicate the situations that require that a temporary or permanent replacement be named. In the case of a voting member designated at the annual meeting, the internal bylaws may provide for such situations. For example, it could be stipulated that a member on maternity leave is replaced until she returns to work.

Furthermore, in accordance with the Civil Code of Québec, a member's term ends in the event of personal bankruptcy or the institution of protective supervision (curatorship, tutorship, advisor to a person of full age).

Loss of qualification

Members designated because of their status must cease to serve on the committee if they no longer meet an essential condition for their designation. Their seat then becomes vacant.

Members designated as plan members can no longer be committee members if they are no longer a plan member.

Example 11

A plan stipulates that the human resources administrator is a member of the pension committee. Mr. Dionne, the human resources administrator, is promoted to vice-president of the company. Since he is no longer the human resources administrator, Mr. Dionne is no longer qualified to act as a member of the committee. He will be replaced on the committee by the new human resources administrator.

Removal from office

Committee members can be removed from office for serious reasons. The people empowered to designate these members are also empowered to remove them from office. Their seat then becomes vacant.

Expiry of members' terms

Once their term has ended, committee members remain in office until their replacement takes office or until their term is renewed.

Modifications législatives

Important!

Where the provisions in the plan text for designating or replacing members are incomplete or give rise to application problems, the committee may recommend changes to the person empowered to amend the plan, usually the employer.

Compensation of committee members and administration costs

Usually, pension committee members serve without compensation. Under the Supplemental Pension Plans Act, they are not entitled to compensation from any source whatsoever, unless otherwise specified in the text plan. If so, the text plan also indicates who will pay them. When committee members are paid by the pension fund, administration costs must be proportional to the size of the pension plan.

The employer usually pays the salaries of its employees who are granted leave from work to attend committee meetings. The plan texts may stipulate that members designated as a third party are to be paid the market rate.

Other administrative expenses related to members' tasks, such as training or travel expenses, are paid by the pension fund, unless otherwise indicated in the plan text. These expenses must be reasonable and appropriate to the situation. For example, it may not be appropriate to pay for a business class airline ticket for a member attending a meeting. The committee should establish a policy on administrative expenses and keep committee members informed. This policy should specify eligible expenses and reimbursement terms (receipts, etc.).

Dissolution of the pension committee

Generally speaking, the pension committee continues to exist until the complete liquidation of the pension fund following the termination of the pension plan. Termination may result from any of the following:

  • The employer's decision terminate the plan
  • The employer's bankruptcy 
  • The sale of the company, if the new owner does not maintain the plan
  • Retraite Québec's decision to terminate the plan.

The Supplemental Pension Plans Act stipulates that a pension committee must meet certain obligations upon termination of a plan. For example, in the event of the employer's bankruptcy, the committee must take the necessary steps to recover sums owing by the employer from the bankruptcy trustee.

Therefore, the committee must adopt rules for the continuation of its operations during the termination process. Furthermore, since the responsibility of committee members for the decisions made by the committee continues after the dissolution of the committee, it is important for them to retain pension plan documents and their personal notes.

Committee members who are no longer active because of a plan merger should retain their personal notes. Rules for the transfer of pension plan documents following a merger should also be adopted to ensure the continuity of administration of the plan resulting from the merger.

Internal bylaws

The pension committee must adopt internal bylaws, also referred to as "rules of internal administration," to provide for its operations and governance. The internal bylaws must cover the following topics:

  • The respective duties and obligations of the committee members
  • The rules governing the appointment of the chair, vice-chair and secretary
  • The ethics rules to which the committee members are subject
  • The procedure for meetings and the frequency of meetings
  • The measures to be taken to provide committee members with professional development
  • Risk management measures to be taken
  • Internal controls
  • Books and registers to be kept
  • The rules to be followed when selecting, remunerating, supervising or evaluating delegates, representatives or service providers
  • The standards that apply to the services rendered by the committee, including the standards on communicating with plan members and beneficiaries.

The provisions of the internal bylaws take precedence over those set out in the plan text. However, the internal bylaws can only take precedence in the following cases if the plan text so expressly provides:

  • Rules for designating the chair, vice-chair and secretary and for determining their duties and obligations
  • Quorum and the right to cast a deciding vote at committee meetings
  • The proportion of members who must vote in order for a decision to be valid.

The internal bylaws must be adapted to the characteristics and size of the committee.

The pension committee must ensure compliance with the internal bylaws and revise them as needed. Each member must be provided with a copy of the internal bylaws. For more information about internal bylaws, see Newsletter number 22.

Assignment of roles and duties

Officers must be appointed to see to the coordination and adequate performance of the committee's activities.

The number of officers and their duties generally depend on the size of the committee and the characteristics of the pension plan. Most committees have at least 3 officers: a chair, a vice-chair and a secretary. Usually, there is a provision that the officers are chosen by the members of the committee. If the rules for designating the committee's officers or their duties are not described in the plan text, they should be described in the internal bylaws.

The internal bylaws must also specify the rules for designating the other committee officers and describing their duties. The Code Morin (which is similar to Robert's Rules of Order, the guide in English to parliamentary procedure) gives examples of the main duties carried out by officers.

Usually, the chair presides over the committee's meetings and keeps order. The chair receives motions for discussion by the committee as a whole, puts matters to a vote and declares the results of the votes. He or she signs official documents and certifies the minutes of committee meetings. The vice-chair replaces the chair when the latter is absent.

The secretary prepares the agenda for each meeting and drafts the minutes of each meeting for approval by the members of the committee as a whole. The secretary must send documents and other information useful for administering the plan to the committee members, unless the committee has entrusted that duty to someone else.

Distribution of tasks among committee members

Plan administration involves a number of tasks. Generally, the committee assigns some of them to members, who act on behalf of the committee and who are accountable to the committee for their work.

For example, a committee member may be made responsible for:

  • signing contracts with various service providers
  • approving administrative expenses
  • certifying the conformity of documents and issuing copies of them.

Another committee member may be made responsible for:

  • making sure that the procedure for signing up eligible workers complies with the plan and the Supplemental Pension Plans Act
  • making sure that contributions are paid into the pension fund on time, in the correct amount and, if applicable, into the appropriate accounts.

The internal bylaws must specify the tasks that the pension committee entrusts to its members. This will make it easier to manage the situation if the person to whom a task is entrusted is absent.

Subcommittees

In large plans, subcommittees are frequently formed to advise the pension committee. Subcommittees are usually made up of pension committee members and experts. For example, an investments subcommittee could be made up of an investment consultant and committee members with financial knowledge.

Generally speaking, subcommittees play an advisory role and have no decision-making power. Their mandate is mainly to conduct studies and make recommendations to the pension committee. The internal bylaws should describe the duties and obligations of the subcommittees.

Ethics rules

Ethics rules must be provided for in the internal bylaws. Such rules are necessary to ensure that the members of a pension committee act responsibly and with integrity in carrying out their duties. Generally, such rules remind members of their obligations and cover the following areas:

  • Relations of committee members with their colleagues, service providers and plan members and beneficiaries.
    Example 12

    Members must act with integrity. They cannot be involved in any way with illegal activities (fraud, secret commissions, etc.).

  • Members' duty to carry out their functions in compliance with the law and with competence, diligence and prudence.
    Example 13

    Members must use their knowledge and skills in the exercise of their duties. They must make informed decisions, using any required expert knowledge, and participate actively in the meetings and work of the pension committee.

  • Obligation to respect the confidentiality of some types of information related to the plan, its members and beneficiaries and service providers. Service providers share the same obligations.
    Example 14

    Members should not speak indiscreetly about any of the information they learn while carrying out their duties. They should not use any of the information they learn to obtain an advantage for themselves or for any other person (spouse, child, a particular group, etc.).

  • Conflicts of interest and their declaration. These rules could include the following:
    • Members should not carry out their duties for their own personal interests or for those of any other person (spouse, child, a particular group, etc.).
    • Members should not accept any present or future advantage whatsoever if they know that the advantage is given to influence their decisions.
    • Members who have interests in a business that could place them in a situation of conflict of interest on a personal level or with regard to their duties must inform the committee's secretary in writing; the secretary keeps a register for this purpose.
    • The nature of such conflict must be indicated in sufficient detail to allow the other committee members and plan members and beneficiaries to understand the implications of the situation.
    • The secretary must send each new committee member a form on which to declare potential conflicts of interest, and send the same form annually to all committee members.
  • Obligation for members in a situation of conflict of interest to withdraw from a meeting and allow the other members to deliberate and vote.
  • Rights of members related to accepting or refusing an advantage or gift. Any advantages or gifts received must not influence committee members' judgment, objectivity or arm's length relationship with service providers.

A pension committee can model its ethics rules on those of the employer.

Example 15

To verify whether an action respects the rules of ethics

Committee members should ask themselves how other committee members, plan members and beneficiaries and the employer would react if they were aware of the action. If there is any doubt, the action should be discussed with the other members of the committee or with someone designated for that purpose, for example, a member of the ethics subcommittee.

If you are offered a gift of small value, it is highly unlikely that anyone will complain, and you will probably be comfortable accepting the gift. However, if a potential service provider offers you an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii for 2, will you be comfortable giving an objective opinion on whether or not to choose that provider?

Important rules for pension committee meetings

Committee meetings provide an opportunity for each committee member to discuss the questions before the committee and to participate in decision making by voting.

Frequency of meetings

The frequency of meetings must be specified in the internal bylaws, and the committee must meet often enough to allow its members to carry out their duties. Holding only one meeting just before the annual meeting is not enough to adequately monitor the plan's administration.

The committee should meet as often as necessary to properly oversee the day-to-day administration of the plan and the work of those to whom the committee has entrusted certain tasks. Some committees meet once every 3 months to discuss current business and hold special meetings as often as necessary.

A committee that delegates all of its duties will usually meet less frequently. However, it must still hold meetings to ensure that the delegates are properly carrying out the duties entrusted to them.

Meeting times and places

Committee meetings must be held in a place and at times that allow all committee members to attend. The committee can hold its meetings at the committee's office or at some other place agreed upon by the members. Where there are great distances between the places where committee members work, the committee's meetings can be held by means of video or telephone conference.

Calls to meeting

Committee members must be given advance notice of meetings so that they can prepare for and attend them. The formalities for calling a meeting generally depend on the size of the pension committee. They are simpler for smaller committees.

Calls to meeting must be accompanied by an agenda and the documents that the members should be familiar with before the meeting. These documents must be sent far enough in advance to give the members the time to study them.

The internal bylaws should specify:

  • who issues the call to meeting (usually the secretary)
  • the minimum number of days prior to the meeting for giving notice of the meeting and the matters to be considered
  • how the call to meeting is sent (by mail or email)
  • the documents to accompany the call (including reports needed to oversee current committee business).

Agenda

To ensure that the matters in question will be discussed at the meeting, the pension committee secretary usually prepares a written agenda. Its contents will depend on the particular situation of the plan. The agenda for a regular meeting lists matters related to current business. The agenda for a special meeting indicates the special matter to be discussed.

Example 16

Agenda

Meeting Convened on 3 March 2020, at 6:00 p.m.
at the Office of the Pension Committee

  1. Call to order by the chair
  2. Establishment of quorum
  3. Reading and adoption of agenda
  4. Adoption of the minutes of the pension committee's last meeting
  5. Current business related to committee duties:
    1. Follow-up on pension fund investments
    2. Report on the day-to-day administration of the plan, in particular a follow-up on the payment of contributions
  6. Training on investment policy
  7. Selection of an independent auditor to audit the pension fund's financial report or financial statements
  8. Preparation of the annual meeting
  9. Other matters

At each meeting, the committee must establish that there is a quorum and adopt the meeting's agenda.

Quorum

The quorum is the minimum number of members who must be present at meetings to carry on deliberations and make decisions. For example, the quorum specified for a pension committee with 15 members could be 10 members, including 2 members designated by the employer and 2 members designated by the union. Quorum must be ensured throughout the meeting.

The plan text may specify the quorum, but it may also stipulate that the rules in the internal bylaws shall apply.

Meeting procedure

During a pension committee meeting, the items on the agenda are discussed, in order, one after the other. At the beginning of the meeting, the members should be given the opportunity to add items to the agenda. The pension committee must include rules in its internal bylaws to ensure that meetings are productive and harmonious and that all members are able to express themselves. These rules will be more or less elaborate depending on the size of the pension committee. Usually, the committee chair applies these rules. Here are some examples:

  • Members are allotted a specified amount of time to express their point of view.
  • If there is disagreement among the members on the addition of an item to the agenda, the question is put to a vote.
  • The chair decides when the discussion period ends and puts matters to a vote of the members.

Clear and simple rules will make it possible to avoid procedural debates and delays. Useful examples of such rules are found in the Code Morin and the Code de procédure des assemblées.

Decision making

Generally, pension committee members express themselves during a period of debate and then vote on the motions submitted.

To allow members to follow debates that lead to a vote, rules may provide that:

  • after discussion of an item on the agenda, a member may make a motion, which may be seconded by another member and then put to a vote
  • If a new item is added to the agenda, a member can move that it first be studied before being put to a vote. The chair then decides whether or not to proceed in that way.

For committees with less formal procedures, it is important for the chair to inform the members when debate is over and call on them to vote.

Voting

Votes may be taken in several ways: by a show of hands, a secret ballot or a voice vote. The internal bylaws must include clear rules on how votes are taken and counted. For example, the chair may record the number of votes for and against each matter put to a vote.

Every committee member has the right to vote, except the 2 additional (non-voting) members.

The committee cannot make a decision based on the group voting method, where a vote is given to each group of members: those designated by the employer, by the union, by the plan members at the annual meeting, etc. Members of the pension committee must act and vote as trustees of the pension fund. They are not representatives of the persons who appointed them to the committee.

Some plans specify that the vote of the chair prevails in the event of a tie vote. In that event, the committee's decision is the decision for which the chair votes. If the plan text is silent on this matter, the internal bylaws can include a rule to cover the situation.The proportion of votes required to adopt a motion should be indicated in the plan text. If the plan text is silent on this point, the proportion is as indicated in the internal bylaws. If both the plan text and the internal bylaws are silent on the matter (particularly in the case of a new plan where no internal bylaws have yet been adopted), decisions are adopted by a majority of the members (those present and those absent), that is, by a proportion of 50% plus one. This rule is provided for in article 1332 of the Civil Code of Québec as a fall-back rule.

Information

Committee members must receive pertinent information before being asked to make a decision.

The committee secretary, or another person designated by the committee, must provide committee members with documents and information that will be useful for decision making.

The internal bylaws should include rules to ensure that committee members carry out the usual verifications, consider all options and are informed of any risks.

If the members are not fully informed, prudence requires that they abstain from making a decision.

Minutes of meetings

The minutes of a meeting are a summary of its activity. They must be sufficiently detailed to allow someone to follow the committee's deliberations.

The minutes of a pension committee's meetings are important. They show how the committee carried out its duties.

The minutes of a committee meeting should reflect the items on the meeting's agenda. They should provide an explanation of the manner in which decisions were made, the reasons supporting them and the committee's oversight activities. For example, the minutes could summarize the questions put to the portfolio manager and the answers received, with a view to ensuring that objectives have been met. They could also include confirmation by the employer and the securities depositary that the contributions were paid into the pension fund.

Often, it is the committee's secretary who prepares the minutes of each meeting. If necessary, the secretary should receive training in how to prepare minutes. In some plans, an outside person who is qualified for the task acts as the secretary.

Every meeting should have minutes containing at least the following elements:

  • The name of the person who chaired the meeting
  • The chair's declaration of quorum
  • The names of the members in attendance
  • The adoption of the minutes of the previous meeting
  • A summary of the discussions on the items on the agenda
  • The options studied by the pension committee with the reasons supporting the committee's decisions and its reasons for rejecting certain options
  • The voting results for each motion, with the proportion of votes for and against
  • The names of members who expressed their dissent, along with their reasons.

Minutes of a committee's meetings are approved by the members to confirm that the minutes accurately and completely reflect their discussions and decisions. If a committee meets frequently, the minutes of a meeting should be adopted at the next meeting. If meetings are held less frequently, the committee can adopt a rule that provides for the adoption of minutes upon expiry of a period agreed to by the members for receiving their comments.

All committee members must be sent minutes of each meeting, whether they were present at or absent from the meeting,within a reasonable time. For example, if the committee meets frequently, the minutes should be provided before the next committee meeting. That will allow members at the next meeting to make sure that the minutes of the previous meeting accurately and completely reflect the committee's discussions and decisions. This means that members should take their own notes during meetings and keep them for future reference. The minutes of a meeting allow members who were absent to be informed of the committee's decisions and, if necessary, to give written notice of their dissent.

In addition to the minutes, all documents related to the oversight of current business, debates and decision making must be retained. This includes reports submitted to the committee by experts and service providers.

Training for members

The pension committee should make sure that its members acquire the knowledge they need to carry out their duties. The internal bylaws must provide for measures to be taken to provide training for committee members. A reasonable budget should be allocated for training, either in-house or outside the organization.

Some committees organize training sessions during committee meetings on matters of interest to all their members. Such training, usually given by a consultant, takes into account the plan's characteristics and the committee members' needs. Various consultants (actuaries, representatives of financial institutions, etc.) can provide complete information about their training services.

Retraite Québec offers training activities and information documents for pension committee members. For more information, see the Training for plan administrators section of its website. In addition, committee members can subscribe to Info express to keep up to date with news about supplemental pension plans.

Example 17

Training policy for pension committee members

All members must acquire basic knowledge about the following subjects:

  • The role and responsibilities of pension committee members
  • How the pension plan is administered
  • The main provisions of the pension plan
  • Funding rules for defined benefit pension plans and rules for their actuarial valuation
  • Financial reports and financial statements
  • Investments
  • Establishing an investment policy
  • Legislation respecting pension plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Communication tools

The pension committee can organize training sessions to be held during its meetings. Members can also attend outside training activities as needed.

Risk management measures

See Risk management measures on Retraite Québec's website.

Internal controls

See Internal controls on Retraite Québec's website.

Bookeeping and retention of plan documents

The documents related to the administration of a pension plan include the plan text and its amendments, the internal bylaws, the investment policy, the financial reports or financial statements, the minutes of committee meetings, the register of contributions, the register of benefits, the register of administrative costs and the register of interests. Member files can contain the calculation of benefits, options, the designation of a beneficiary, the spousal benefits waiver, etc.

All the plan documents should be kept in the same place, preferably at the pension committee's office. If some of these documents are kept at the offices of a service provider, it is important to make sure that they are remitted to the committee or the new service provider, if applicable.

The committee must retain all documents (paper and electronic versions) related to the plan's administration. To this end, the committee should adopt rules for retaining and archiving documents and providing access to information. The committee can model its rules on those followed by the employer. A committee member is responsible for document retention. This member provides access to them in accordance with the rules provided for under the Supplemental Pension Plans Act.

This governance rule fosters the continuity and transparency of the pension plan's administration. It also allows the committee to answer requests for access to information made by plan members and beneficiaries. The committee can thus show that it is properly carrying out its duties.

All documents related to the plan's administration must be retained throughout the life of the pension plan. There should also be rules to ensure their retention after liquidation of the pension fund, a plan merger or a division of the plan. Files concerning plan members must be retained as long as the member or his or her heirs can assert rights under the plan.

Rules to be followed when selecting, compensating, supervising or evaluating delegates, representatives or service providers

See Rules for choosing service providers on Retraite Québec's website.

Standards for services rendered by the committee, including standards on communicating with plan members and beneficiaries

See Service standards on Retraite Québec's website.

References3

Legal references

Sections of the Supplemental Pension Plans Act This link will open in a new window. (SPPA) and the Regulation respecting supplemental pension plans This link will open in a new window. (RRSPP)

Topics SPPA This link will open in a new window. RRSPP This link will open in a new window.
Content of the pension plan14 
Consultation of pension plan documents and information by eligible workers, plan members and beneficiaries11460
Access to documents and information by pension committee members151.3 
Designation of voting members147 
Designation of non-voting members147.1 
Committee members' term148 
Replacement of members148 and 167 
Compensation of committee members and administration costs162 
Internal bylaws151.2 

Section 1 of the Regulation respecting the exemption of certain categories of pension plans from the application of provisions of the Supplemental Pension Plans Act This link will open in a new window. (CQLR, c. R-15.1, r. 7)

Section 64 of the Act to foster the financial health and sustainability of municipal defined benefit pension plans This link will open in a new window. (CQLR, c. S-2.1.1)

Article 1332 of the Civil Code of Québec This link will open in a new window. (CQLR, c. CCQ-1991)

Other references