Pensions Overview

a seated older man with a young woman standing behind him

The Superintendent of Pensions in our Pensions Division regulates pension plans registered in British Columbia under the Pension Benefits Standards Act (“PBSA”).

Information describing the PBSA in plain language is available online in Information for Pension Plan Members, and resources linked below.

British Columbia members of pension plans registered in other provinces in Canada are also protected by the PBSA. The Superintendent´s role is to administer the Pension Benefits Standards Act in a manner consistent with the intent of the statute, balancing the security of the benefits promised with the limitations of plan sponsors.

Financial Hardship Unlocking

The new PBSA provides an opportunity for members who are facing financial hardships to access their pension funds through a Locked in Retirement Account (“LIRA”) or Life Income Fund (“LIF”), here is the Application to Unlock and Withdraw British Columbia Funds Due to Financial Hardship.

Financial Hardship Unlocking: Low Income

Do you have pension funds that are locked-in under B.C. law? Are you hoping to unlock your funds due to financial hardship because of low income? The following video illustrates how the process works.

If you believe you qualify to unlock your pension on low income grounds, download the Application to Unlock and Withdraw British Columbia Funds Due to Financial Hardship form. Then contact the financial institution holding your locked-in retirement account (“LIRA”) or life income fund (“LIF”) for more information.

Risk-Based Regulation

BCFSA released a Risk-Based Regulatory Framework for Pension Plans registered in British Columbia in May 2014. Staff of the Superintendent developed the Risk-Based Regulatory Framework for identifying inappropriate or unsafe business practices and, as required, intervening with plan administrators to address the identified risks. The focus is on early identification of risk and the allocation of resources to plans with the highest risk profile.

The Framework can be found here: Risk Based Regulatory Framework

Things We Do Not Do:

The PBSA does not provide the authority for the Superintendent of Pensions to unlock pension funds.

BCFSA does not have jurisdiction over pension plans covering federal public sector employees, or private sector employees working in federally regulated industries such as banks, airlines, broadcasting and telecommunications or jurisdictions such as Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Pensions are not guaranteed by the PBSA. The PBSA requires plan sponsors to adequately fund all benefits earned by members, and to make special payments to make up any funding shortfalls.

The Superintendent makes no decisions concerning the reduction of benefits. That responsibility lies with the board of trustees.

Before the trustees may reduce benefits, other than for plans including a target benefit provision, they must receive consent for the reduction from the Superintendent.

The Superintendent of Pensions is not responsible for programs administered by the federal government such as the Canada Pension Plan (“CPP”)Old Age Security (“OAS”), or Guaranteed Income Supplement (“GIS”). For enquiries related to these programs contact the CPP or OAS on (800) 277-9914 or (800) 343-8282 from outside Canada.