OPB News for Members

May 17, 2022
Features 7 articles

Read more
May 17, 2022

Modernized Member Portal gives you online access to your 2021 Annual Pension Statement

2 minute read

OPB’s new online member portal is waiting for you. Have you activated your new account yet? Our new e-services(opens in a new tab) features modernized tools with improved accessibility features and a new secure way to login.

Designed with feedback from members like you, the new OPB e-services includes an enhanced pension estimator to create a snapshot of your overall retirement income. Once you are ready to retire, you may be able to initiate your retirement in e-services and track the status of your application by simply logging in to your account. The new OPB member portal also allows you to choose your preferred communication preference. You have the option to choose to receive your future Annual Pension Statement (APS) online in digital format. Over time, OPB plans to expand the number of documents available for paperless delivery.

At OPB, keeping our members’ information secure is important to us. Frank Post, OPB’s Corporate Information Security Officer explains that from the beginning of our new member portal design process we knew that we wanted to add an extra layer of protection for our members.

“Security breaches can have significant implications and cost millions of dollars in damage to an organization. Likewise, a weak password can lead to serious breaches of personal information, and for this reason we moved forward with a multi-factor authentication (MFA) to protect our members,” said Post.

If you’re registering an account for the first time or activating a new account, visit OPB.ca and click on ‘e-services’ on the top-right corner of the screen and follow the drop-down menu to register online. You’ll need to have your OPB client number handy. Please note that your member portal credentials prior to November 2021 are no longer valid. The good news is you can create your own, personal username when you activate your account.

To help you register and setup MFA for added security, visit our YouTube channel to watch step-by-step instructions for registering(opens in a new tab).

If you’re having difficulty activating your account or using any of the tools in e-services, our Client Care Centre is available Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 416-364-5035 or toll free at 1-800-668-6203. You can also email us at clientservice@opb.ca.

Read more
May 17, 2022

Are you at a crossroad? OPB advisors are here to help with financial decisions

4 minute read

Important life decisions like retiring or transferring your pension credit into or out of the Public Service Pension Plan (PSPP) can leave you scratching your head. But it can be easier! Did you know that OPB has advisors ready to support you with your financial planning decisions?

We know that ending your employment, transferring your pension to another pension plan, deciding when to retire, or when to collect your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) pension can be difficult decisions to make on your own.

OPB’s Client Service Advisors are Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) who are ready to assist you in making informed decisions around your pension. Booking an appointment is as easy as logging into e-services and requesting a meeting.

There are many times during your career when financial advice would be helpful. PSPP member Jerry was starting a job with a new employer and called us to inquire about transferring his pension to another pension plan. He wanted to be sure that he was making an informed choice, supported by expert advice.

“It was a very positive experience for me,” said Jerry. “I appreciated it very much as the advisor provided advice in an area I knew little about. The expert advice was critical because the financial considerations between the two options were quite significant, and it wasn’t something I would be able to navigate on my own. All of the pros and cons were laid out for me by the advisor.”

Whether you are a new member beginning your career, looking for more information about how the PSPP fits into your financial planning, or a member in the later stages of your career, our Advisory team can assist.

Stephen, a PSPP member who recently retired, heard mixed information about whether he should start collecting his CPP pension right away or wait until he was older.

“I was turning 60 and that made me eligible for CPP. I didn’t know exactly how it worked and the difference between collecting at age 60 or 65,” said Stephen. “The advisor broke it down in dollars and cents, so I knew what the difference was between collecting at age 60 and 65. It was all about what was better for me in the long run. She did an excellent job and it helped me make my decision.”

Paul, another PSPP member in the later stage of his career, had to make decisions about retirement.

“I wanted to get a better sense on what I needed to do and how that fit into my overall life plan and decisions about retirement,” said Paul. “My one question led to them giving me more information or considerations to think about. They accelerated my thinking, giving me front-end information and alternatives.”

Advisory support isn’t just for members in the later stages of their career. For younger members who think retirement is too far out to worry about, Paul would encourage you to inform yourself early.

“I would highly recommend members to reach out early on in the process,” Paul added. “Don’t leave it to the last six months - start early. People need to understand their pension in a broader way early on in their career so they can understand how it works and the services that are available.”

Stephen’s experience was so beneficial he shared it with friends to assist them in their upcoming decisions about retirement and encouraged them to book an Advisory meeting.

Keep in mind that our Client Service Advisors have a much broader role than simply retirement. Jerry was moving to a new employer and his decision around transferring his pension was a huge life decision. He felt much more comfortable making a decision that was informed by expert advice.

“My experience was a great one and I would recommend it,” Jerry said. “They not only answered my questions, but questions that I didn’t ask and should have asked. It was the difference between doing customer service and being more engaged and addressing the needs of clients even if they didn’t ask all of the right questions.”

It’s this kind of financial expertise and detailed information that OPB’s team of Advisors offer members. Because Advisors are not selling a product but are simply sharing knowledge with members to assist them in making informed decisions, their advice is unbiased. Our Advisory services are available to all PSPP members at no cost. If you aren’t sure if a CFP can help you, Paul would encourage you to speak to an OPB Advisor.

“The experience was exceptional,” said Paul. “The advisor was very open and welcoming, informative and engaging.”

If you have any questions, contact our Client Care Centre. Need a more in-depth conversation? Log in to e-services(opens in a new tab) and click on ‘Book 1-on-1.’

Read more
May 17, 2022

Climate Change and its impact on pension investment

3 minute read

Climate change is one of the most important and relevant issues to our members and OPB recognizes that climate change poses a material and increasing risk to a range of assets we may invest in.

OPB and our investment manager, Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO), are committed to making meaningful progress in managing climate change risk through our investments. We believe it’s important to inform plan members on the progress we’ve made so far.

One significant step is the creation of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Policy, which was recently approved by our Board of Directors. This policy clearly sets out the mandate for OPB and IMCO when it comes to managing our investments.

In addition, in early 2021 IMCO took a key step to address climate change risk by conducting climate scenario analysis of our asset allocation strategy. That analysis informed the work IMCO undertook to establish a robust Climate Strategy and Climate Action Plan to help it reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 or sooner. This plan is based on four pillars: capital deployment, asset ownership, portfolio management, and climate guardrails (minimize exposure to investments incompatible with the transition to a net zero economy while supporting transitioning assets). Visit imcoinvest.com(opens in a new tab) to learn more. Another step that IMCO is taking on behalf of its clients include completing its emissions baseline expected to be released by mid-2022.

We know a range of activities is vital to make considerable progress to address climate change risk. IMCO have begun to address the recommendations from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure and will report against these recommendations this year. Late last year, IMCO announced that it joined the growing list of asset managers who have committed to achieve net-zero alignment by 2050 or sooner. By joining the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative on climate action, IMCO also became part of the United Nations Race to Zero(opens in a new tab) and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero(opens in a new tab). For more detail on these commitments, visit imcoinvest.com(opens in a new tab).

Consistent with these net zero targets, in October 2021, both OPB and IMCO were founding signatories of the Canadian Statement on Climate Change and there is an urgent need to accelerate toward a net-zero economy.

Moving forward, we expect IMCO to continue to make significant progress on addressing the impact of climate change, including consideration of divestment of positions in companies where there is insufficient action. And, to ensure OPB’s expectations are being met we regularly engage with and monitor IMCO on its progress on ESG issues.

See more updates on ESG initiatives in our 2021 Annual Report. If you have feedback regarding our ESG activities, please contact us at feedback@opb.ca and ensure you indicate “ESG feedback” in the subject line.

Read more
May 17, 2022

Staying physically fit is achievable at home

4 minute read

Inactivity can be so detrimental to our health that researchers have dubbed, ‘sitting as the new smoking!’ Often our type of work requires us to sit more than we stand, and we spend more time on hand-held devices. We often don’t move enough, and sitting all day long is linked to a variety of diseases and health problems.

Exercise isn’t always a top priority for people who are juggling work, family, and household commitments. Going to a gym can be a three-hour trek leaving us exhausted and almost resenting working out due to the time commitment. Yet studies show that keeping your mind and body active has important benefits including reducing many health risks and improving your mood and cognition.

In Canada, physical activity guidelines(opens in a new tab) for adults 18-64 recommend accumulating at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week. The good news is that standards have changed thanks to research. Instead of spending an hour-and-a-half in the gym, the latest recommendation is to perform small snippets of movement throughout your day.

Think of fitness as being intertwined in your lifestyle and try to reach a new goal of getting some movement throughout the day.

Tips to get movement into your day:

  • Climb the stairs five times
  • Get a standing desk
  • Walk around your home
  • Do calf raises, ankle circles or point and flex your toes
  • Take a shoulder roll break, reach overhead or gently twist from side to side
  • Stand while on the phone – move around while you talk
  • Have walking meetings
  • Perform 10 get ups (simply standing up and sitting back down in your chair)
  • Exercise while you are doing something else – do balance work while brushing your teeth
  • Walk every day after lunch
  • Go for a short bike ride, skip on the spot
  • Go outside for five minutes and play with your dog if you have one
  • If you have kids – throw a squishy ball back and forth or play hide and seek
  • Have scheduled and impromptu dance parties
  • Stretch – keep your yoga mat nearby to encourage you get down and try a gentle pose for tight hips or back. Try a cat and cow or a half pigeon pose
  • When you watch TV, take a 30 second break and perform a plank

It’s the little steps you take to include movement into your day that make a difference.

Schedule movement into your day

Here are a few tangibles to try. Set a recurring alarm on your smart phone to sound every hour on the hour. This will remind you to get up walk around your home or outside. Try knee lifts, hip circles, jumping jacks and maybe even a burpee using a chair then progressing to a full burpee. These are simple steps you can add to ensure you stay fit and mobile, prevent tightness in your neck and upper back, and get your heart pumping.

Movement can come in many different forms. Take a break from work to make a cup of tea. While you wait for the kettle, do some pushups on a counter and triceps dips on a dining room chair. Every movement counts - that’s the mindset to have.

More structured fitness at home

Once you get used to adding movement into your day, you may want to add a more structured program to tackle the main components of fitness – cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility. There are many resources available online today. You can access virtual classes online in anything from dance and high intensity interval training to yoga and Pilates. There is something for everybody and you can do it in your own home on your own time.

You don’t need expensive equipment to work out from home. Invest in exercise tubing, an exercise ball, a set of dumbbells and a yoga mat and your options are endless. When you need a break from your home, head to your local park and use park benches to perform lunges, triceps dips, pushups, step ups and planks interspersed with walking.

Your home has endless possibilities to stay fit and safe while doing so. Consult with your physician before beginning a fitness program to ensure you are ready to safely exercise. Today is your day! Get moving!

Read more
May 17, 2022

Travelling to and from Canada during COVID

3 minute read

Many of us still have the travel bug that has been dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic. As restrictions lift, if you are planning a trip for work or leisure, there is lots to consider to feel safe and comfortable before you hit the tarmac or roll up to the border.

COVID-19 has resulted in many changes to travelling within and outside of Canada. Some changes may be in place for years to come. Take time to thoroughly research everything about your travel plans before taking the step of paying for your trip.

One of the best resources for Canadians planning a trip is the Government of Canada’s travel.gc.ca(opens in a new tab) website. The site is full of useful resources for travellers, including tips on how to travel safely during the pandemic. You can review information on COVID-19 testing, vaccination requirements to board planes and some trains, the accepted vaccines, and travelling only when you are symptom free.

You should be aware that all travellers, no matter what their age, are required to use ArriveCan(opens in a new tab) to enter Canada. The mobile app is available for free on Google Play or on the App Store. For more information visit ArriveCan(opens in a new tab). Before travelling abroad, check in with your employer’s Human Resources department to see if there are any policies in place around returning to work after international travel.

Check with your airline or travel provider to be aware of all travel requirements, cancellation policies, or changes that you should be aware of and recommendations on how much time you need to build into your schedule when you are checking into an airport or crossing a border by land.

If you are travelling abroad, take the time in advance to review the travel advisories, COVID-19 testing, and vaccination requirements of the host country. Every country has unique requirements and guests are expected to follow them. Taking the time upfront to review their different restrictions and requirements will be worthwhile and give you peace of mind while you are on vacation.

Since the pandemic is worldwide and contracting the virus can happen when you least expect it, take time to contact your benefit provider to make sure you are covered by travel health insurance through your employer. If not, we recommend purchasing third party travel insurance covering COVID-19 related trip interruptions. This will protect you (and your family) as you travel. Before signing on the dotted line, carefully review the policy to understand what it covers. The Government of Canada recommends purchasing travel insurance for any international travel, even for short trips such as spending one day in the United States.

The last thing you want is to be stranded in another country and be forced to quarantine in a hotel at your personal expense. You will therefore want to be sure to have funds available should an unforeseen stay occur.

If you have returned from a cruise, you can check in with the Government of Canada’s website(opens in a new tab) to see if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

For many of us, travel is one of the most pleasurable ways to spend time off. We encourage you to prepare in advance, take extra precautions and stay safe.

Read more
May 17, 2022

New Survivor Pension for children for pre-retirement death

1 minute read

Children of members who pass away before they retire may now qualify to receive a survivor pension, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements. The change is the result of a December 2021 amendment to the PSPP.

The change added the new benefit for deaths occurring on or after December 21, 2021. Previously, there was no pre-retirement death benefit specifically for children for a member’s post-1986 pension credit.

The new survivor pension is payable in scenarios where there is no benefit payable to an eligible spouse, or the eligible spouse elects a survivor pension and passes away while the children remain eligible.

Learn more about this new benefit or call our Client Care or email us at clientservice@opb.ca.

Read more
May 17, 2022

Temporary Part-Time Work Arrangements

3 minute read

You can now buy back eligible full-time pension credit if you temporarily reduced your working hours (e.g., from full-time to part-time) in the past under an arrangement agreed with your employer during a period of active PSPP membership.

This new buyback opportunity is in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Fraser vs. Canada (Attorney General). It said that members of a federal government pension plan were eligible to buy back full-time pension credit for periods of employment when they temporarily reduced their working hours.

Full-time credit can be bought back for a temporary part-time work arrangement only if the following criteria are met:

  • Your part-time working arrangement was temporary
  • You and your employer agreed to the terms of the temporary part-time work arrangement, including its duration, in advance
  • The conditions in the federal Income Tax Act are met, which include:
    • 36-month minimum service rule: A member may only accrue full-time credit for a period of reduced pay if the member has been employed with the employer (or a predecessor employer) for at least 36 months at the start of the period. Please note that the 36-month rule was suspended for periods in 2020 and 2021.
    • Five-year limit cumulative limit on eligible periods of temporary absence and/or reduced pay: The maximum amount of post-1990 credited service that a member can accrue for unpaid leaves of absence and periods of reduced pay is five years (plus an additional three years for child rearing). Any credit that is bought back as a temporary part-time work arrangement (i.e., the difference between the part-time hours worked and the hours prior to that arrangement) is included in this maximum limit.

A new two-year buyback window gives members the option of purchasing full-time credit for past periods of eligible temporary part-time work arrangements that took place during active membership, with employer-matched contributions. This window will close on July 31, 2023. Members currently working under an eligible temporary part-time work arrangement will have two years following the end of the arrangement to buy back full-time credit with employer-matched contributions. Buybacks by active members outside either of these two-year windows will be at actuarial cost.

Learn more about temporary part-time work arrangements.

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.