Governance

ELCIC Group Services Inc. is the Plan Sponsor, Administator and Record Keeper for the ELCIC Pension Plan and ELCIC Group Benefits Plan. Its conduct in this capacity is governed by this policy.

Governance Objectives

The objectives for both pension and benefits plans are to:

  • administer the plans in a prudent manner;
  • ensure efficient management of resources;
  • determine an appropriate strategic direction and ongoing decision-making;
  • approve and monitor business decisions;
  • identify and reduce/mitigate risks;
  • ensure employees have appropriate education and training to complete duties;
  • maintain independence.

The objectives specific to the pension plan are to:

  • provide a reasonable income for plan members in retirement at a predictable cost to participating employers;
  • prudently invest the assets for long-term growth at a minimum level of risk.

The objectives specific to the benefits plan are to:

  • support plan members in leading healthy lives;
  • provide comprehensive and generous plan coverages;
  • share the cost burden of those with serious health concerns.

Governing Legislation

The Pension Plan is a defined contribution plan for active clergy and lay workers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (“ELCIC”), its congregations, related institutions and agencies. It is registered with Canada Revenue Agency and with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. The Pension Plan is a Registered Pension Trust as defined in Section 149(1)(o) of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA)

CAPSA is a national inter-jurisdictional association of pension regulators whose mission is to facilitate an efficient and effective pension regulatory system in Canada. It develops practical solutions to further the coordination and harmonization of pension regulation across Canada.

CAPSA Guideline No. 3 is applicable to defined contribution components of registered pension plans where members are permitted to make investment decisions among two or more options.  While the ELCIC Pension Plan does not offer choice, the guidance provided not directly related to investment choice is relevant from a best practices perspective.

CAPSA Guideline No. 6 Pension Plan Prudent Investment Practices Guideline helps administrators demonstrate the application of prudence to the investment of pension plan assets.

CAPSA Guideline No. 8 Defined Contribution Pension Plans Guideline issued provides excellent information on the definitions and responsibilities of key parties in relation to DC plans.

Structures and processes for overseeing, managing and administering the plan

There are various structures and processes in place for overseeing, managing and administering the plan. These include:

  • clearly stated objectives;
  • independence of the governing body from the plan sponsor(s);
  • separation of governance from operations, clearly defined roles and responsibilities;
  • accountability and internal controls;
  • adequate knowledge and skill sets;
  • due diligence in decisions and supervision of delegated work;
  • controls for expenses and protection from conflicts of interest; and
  • transparency and full disclosure.

Procedures for access to information

The Pension Benefits Act grants eligible individuals access rights which entitle them, if they make the request in writing and pay a fee, to access certain administrator plan records electronically or by mail.  This access right by an individual is limited to once per calendar year for a specific plan record.

A former spouse has access rights to administrator plan records but limited to family law purposes, as set out in the family law legislation.

Code of Conduct

The Board and staff of ELCIC Group Services Inc. endeavour to act with integrity, honesty, in good faith and with fairness.  Standards have been set to address:

  • conflict of interest;
  • compliance with laws;
  • confidentiality of information;
  • fair dealing with all stakeholders;
  • protection and proper use of corporate assets; and
  • reporting of illegal or unethical behavior.

Conflict of Interest

All Board members are independent in that there is no direct or indirect material relationship with ELCIC Group Services Inc. or the ELCIC Pension Plan.

Skills and education requirements for decision makers

All new directors receive a comprehensive orientation regarding both the operations of the organization and the duties of a director.  Continuing professional development is encouraged and opportunities are provided.

Performance measures for decision makers

The Board is satisfied with the integrity of the Executive Director and the staff hired to perform the administrative functions.  The Board regularly assesses its own effectiveness and the effectiveness and contribution of each board committee and individual director.

Feedback, Questions or Concerns (Dispute Resolution Procedures)

Any feedback, questions or concerns should be made directly to ELCIC Group Services Inc.  Communications can be addressed to the Executive Director or to the Chair of the Board and can be expressed by phone, e-mail or letter.  A response will be issued within 30 days of receiving the communication. Communications may be shared with Board of Directors and a further response may be received within 30 days of the next following board meeting.

If the response does not satisfy a complaint, the following process will take place:

  1. Informal meeting – representatives of GSI will meet with the complainant to discuss the issue in an effort to resolve the concern in a mutually acceptable manner. This meeting may be by telephone or other electronic means or in person. If it is determined that an in person meeting if preferable, each party will be responsible for their travel costs to meet in a mutually convenient location.
  2. Mediation – if the concern is not resolved through an informal meeting and a significant matter is in dispute and if the complainant so chooses, the parties will participate in mediation facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator. Each party will cover their own expenses to participate and cost of the mediator will be shared equally.
  3. Arbitration (optional) – if the dispute is not resolved through mediation and if complainant so chooses, the dispute will be submitted to arbitration where a neutral third party will be authorized to make a final binding decision. Each party will cover their own expenses to participate and cost of the mediator will be shared equally.

Key Parties in a DC Pension Plan

Pension Plan Administrator – GSI

Definition:

The individual, group, body or entity that is ultimately responsible for the oversight management and administration of the DC pension plan and it pension fund, as well as the investment of the pension fund.

Responsibilities:

The plan administrator is responsible for the overall administration of and investment of the pension plan.  The plan administrator also has fiduciary and other responsibilities to plan members, beneficiaries and other stakeholders.   The pension plan and fund must be administered and invested in accordance with applicable pension standards legislation, the ITA and pension plan documents.

Administrator is responsible for:

  • Setting up the plan;
  • Providing investment information;
  • Introducing the plan to members;
  • Providing on-going communication to members;
  • Maintaining the plan;
  • Ensuring that termination of the plan or the membership of an individual within the plan is done in accordance with the regulations;
  • Filing the required documents with the pension regulator
  • Ensuring employees are enrolled in the plan as required in accordance with the terms of the pension plan; and
  • Selecting and monitoring of third-party service providers.

Pension Plan Sponsor – GSI

Definition:

The individual or entity responsible for designing and establishing the DC pension plan and setting the benefit structure.  The plan sponsor may also be responsible for amending and terminating the pension plan. 

Responsibilities:

The DC pension plan sponsor should ensure that decisions about establishing and maintaining the plan, any amendments to the plan and information about how those decisions are made, are properly documented and that the documents are retained.

Employers – congregations and other approved faith-based organizations

Definition:

A business or party that employs members for remuneration and who is required to make contributions to the DC pension plan on behalf of members, collect contributions from members and remit them to the pension fund.

Responsibilities:

The employer is responsible for deducting and remitting contributions to the pension fund, within the time periods and in the amounts required by the applicable pension standards legislation, the terms of the DC pension plan and any policy of the administrator.  By fulfilling this responsibility, the employer meets its funding obligation.  The employer is also responsible for keeping accurate and up-to-date records on each member’s service and earnings, and any other information that is required by the plan administrator.  In addition, the employer must provide this information to the plan administrator in a timely manner.

Member – Rostered and non-Rostered employees meeting eligibility

Definition:

An individual who has benefits accumulated in a DC pension plan.

Responsibilities:

Plan members are responsible to keep the records received from the Plan Administrator. Plan members also responsible to review their statement and notify the Plan Administrator of any inaccuracy.

Fund holder – CIBC Mellon

Definition:

The financial institution or party that is retained by the plan administrator to hold the pension fund’s assets in accordance with the terms of the fund holder agreement, the requirements of legislation and the terms of the DC pension plan.

Responsibilities:

The fund holder is the financial institution or party that is retained by the plan administer to hold all or part of the pension fund’s asset exclusively for the DC pension plan.

Third-party service providers

Definition:

An entity or individual retained to perform some or all of the plan administrators duties.

Responsibilities:

To the extent that the responsibilities of the plan administrator or plan sponsor are delegated to a service provider, the service provider is responsible for following the guidelines and any applicable legal requirements.  Service providers should have the appropriate level of knowledge and skill to perform the tasks delegated to them and to provide any advice within their area of expertise which may be requested by the plan administrator.