OPB News for Retired Members
For the past few months, answering the question “How are you doing?” has become more challenging, and phrases like “these unprecedented times” and “the new normal” have become, well, the new normal. The pandemic has brought about many changes to the ways we live. Here are some things to consider as we move into the new year.
How we’re keeping your pension secure
As a member of a defined benefit plan like the PSPP, it’s important to remember that although we continue to see volatility in the markets, pension plans are designed for the long-term. Pension payments will continue on schedule, and we will continue to work remotely, keeping our employees and clients safe.
Challenging markets are part of investing; what’s important is how the Plan performs over the long term. The PSPP has been paying pensions for 100 years and has a very strong long-term rate of return. We have successfully navigated through a number of challenging market periods in the past, like the 2008 global recession. We are actively managing through the current market volatility and remain focused on implementing our long-term investment strategy that is designed to protect the pension promise.
Staying cyber-safe during COVID
With COVID-19 news being top of mind for many Canadians, some cyber scammers have created malicious sites posing as COVID-19 information sites. This is why it’s important to only visit sites from known sources, such as government sites and health authorities or reputable news sites.
Beware of email and phone scams – don’t use the same password for multiple online accounts, avoid clicking links or opening attachments that seem suspicious, and let calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail.
Managing your health
It’s important that we all continue to follow the directives of your local public health officials, and remember to practice good hygiene, wear your masks, keep 2m of physical distance from others, and stay home if you feel ill. While it is safer to stay with the members of your household and not visit the homes of other people, social connection is still necessary! Connect with friends and family with phone calls, video chats, book clubs, and unique apps and websites that allow you to have physically distanced games nights and movie screenings!
If you haven’t already, consider downloading the Government of Canada’s COVID Alert app, which will let you know of any possible nearby exposures. You can learn more about the app on Canada.ca(opens in a new tab). At OPB, we want to express our gratitude to essential workers, especially all of the healthcare workers, first responders, and frontline staff who work hard to keep us safe.
We’re all in this together, and at OPB we will continue to keep you updated on any necessary information regarding the pandemic and your pension. Stay safe, and know that your pension remains secure. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.
In efforts to streamline your Retired Member Statement (RMS) delivery, we’re excited to share that you can now opt for a digital-only RMS! Currently, we provide your statement through two channels – we upload a digital copy to your e-services account, and we mail a copy to you. Digital-only delivery will start with the 2022 RMS.
This is a change our retired members have been asking for and we’re excited to be able to offer this option. Not only is it the most environmentally friendly choice, but it also means you will never need to worry about misplacing your statement.
To opt for digital-only delivery:
- Make sure we have your email address.
- Make sure you are registered for e-services. If you’re not already registered, you can access e-services by visiting our website at OPB.ca and clicking the ‘Login’ link in the upper right corner of the screen, then following the on-screen instructions.
- Log into your e-services account or contact us to change your preference. Under “My account” there is a “Communication preferences” page, where you can select the ‘electronic’ option. We will need you to make this selection by August 30, 2021 in order to process your request for next year’s RMS.
If you prefer to continue receiving your RMS by mail, not to worry! No action is required; you will continue to get your mailed and online statements unless you change your preference.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
During the pandemic, OPB staff moved to a mainly work-from-home arrangement, which has provided new opportunities to change the ways we support our members. One of those opportunities was the launch of our Secure Document Upload tool, which enables you to submit documents to us safely and securely from the comfort of your own home. You can access this tool and our troubleshooting document by selecting Secure Document Upload in your e-services account on OPB.ca.
Although our office at 200 King Street West is closed, we remain committed to providing our clients with excellent service and support. Our Client Care Associates remain available during our standard office hours: Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST). We are here to help you by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 416-364-5035 or 1-800-668-6203 (Canada & USA).
Estate planning conversations can sometimes be difficult ones, but that’s why we’re here to help. Have you considered your estate plans? We spoke with David Lee, one of our Client Service Advisors, on what to think about when making your future plans.
Why a will is important
“I usually recommend that retired members start with the basics,” says Lee. The first step is to have an open conversation with your family. “It’s one of those topics that we usually avoid with our family members, because we don’t want to talk about death and who gets what or how much, but it’s very important,” he adds.
Lee also advises retired members on the necessity of having a will in place, and recent data supports that need. An Angus Reid Institute poll(opens in a new tab) from 2017 showed that more than half of Canadians do not have a last will and testament. “The will is the key element when it comes to estate planning, because it allows [retired members] to provide orderly distribution of their assets in accordance with their wishes.” Having a will minimizes the burden on your family members after your passing, and without one, your assets will be distributed according to provincial law. “If retired members don’t have a will in place, then I usually recommend they get some professional legal help for drafting a will,” says Lee. “But if their estate needs are straightforward, then you can download a standard will that can be found online. If their estate needs are more complicated, then I definitely recommend going with professional help.”
Already have a will in place? When is the last time you reviewed it? “Make sure it’s not outdated – sometimes members have designated someone an executor and that person has since passed away, so I always tell members to keep their will up to date.” It’s also important to ensure that the person who you’ve named your executor can still fill that role – even with a will, there are a variety of steps they will have to go through with legal and financial institutions after your death, so it’s critical that you’ve named someone that you feel will be able to handle that responsibility.
What about a Power of Attorney?
Lee also advises that you draw up paperwork designating your Power of Attorney (POA)(opens in a new tab). This is a legal document that names the person or people you name who can make decisions for you if you are no longer able to do so for yourself. A Power of Attorney for Personal Care can make decisions about things like your healthcare and housing, while a Power of Attorney for Property can make decisions about your financial affairs. If you do not have a family member or close friend who could be your POA, Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee can fill that role.
Can a trust help you?
If you have a complex estate planning needs, Lee recommends consulting with an estate lawyer and possibly an accountant specializing in trusts as part of your estate planning. “If you have your own business or a large asset, there are strategies that can be used to manage the distribution of income/assets and potential tax implication,” he shares. “A trust can provide flexibility when it comes to asset distribution, so it may be worth considering.”
Other things to consider:
Lee also offers a few other quick takeaways for you to review in estate planning:
Life insurance: “Review your life insurance policy periodically and do a quick needs analysis to make sure your coverage is appropriate.”
Beneficiaries: “Check your pension, life insurance, and registered accounts to ensure your beneficiaries are accurate.”
Contacting OPB Advisors
If you have questions about your survivor or beneficiary pension entitlements or would like to discuss considerations for estate planning, our Advisors are available to help you over the phone or through a video call. To book a one-on-one session, log in to your e-services account at the top-right corner of our website and select ‘Book My 1-on-1’. You can also contact our Client Care Centre to set up an appointment Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EST) at 1-800-668-6203 or 416-364-5035.
OPB News provides general information relevant to PSPP members. This publication is not to be relied on as legal, financial or tax advice. Please note that if there is any conflict between the contents of OPB News and the legal documents governing the PSPP, the legal documents governing the PSPP will prevail. For detailed and personalized advice about the PSPP, or retirement planning more generally, please contact one of OPB's Client Service Advisors. You can do this by logging into e-services and using the Book my 1-on-1 feature.