Message from the SFPP Board Chair

March 16, 2015

Roger Rosychuck
In my last message to you, in the January member newsletter, I talked about how the SFPP Board continues to meet with your representatives and discuss the best way to protect your pension benefits while keeping costs affordable for all. In recent meetings with the province, we have heard the Minister of Finance talk about his "vision" for public sector plans in Alberta. He said they should be "well-governed, sustainable and well-understood." In the context of those objectives, all three of which the SFPP Board supports, I want to update you on some things that your Board is doing:

Well-governed

  • •  SFPP is a jointly-funded Plan that should be governed by the people who pay into it: the police members and their employers (sponsors). We are working with your representatives to talk about what a new governance structure should look like, how it would be balanced and fair, and how it would empower sponsors to make changes to the Plan should the need for change arise.
  • •  Currently the Minister of Finance is Trustee of the Plan and pension legislation gives government the power to make decisions about the future of public sector plans. The province will transition public sector plans to independence once sponsors have agreed on the kind of governance structure that will ensure important decisions can be made in a timely fashion that ensures the financial sustainability of the Plan over time.

Sustainable

  • The Minister defines sustainable as a plan that meets the needs of current plan members without compromising the needs of future plan members and doing it at a cost that everyone can afford. Over the past several years the cost of providing pensions has increased considerably and your contribution rates have continued to increase to pay for them. Your representatives are meeting to discuss options for protecting pension benefits while finding ways to keep costs down and contribution rates affordable. Read a summary of those discussions in our Plan Sponsor Update.
  • While the current Minister has agreed Plan sponsors should make their own decisions on benefits and costs, he has asked for assurances that, in the meantime, current "risks" to the Plan are being assessed and managed appropriately. The Board provided a written report to the Minister in February identifying risks and sharing the Board's plan for managing them. A summary of that report is available here. We hope to hear back from the Minister soon.

Well-understood

  • The last objective in the Minister's vision is to ensure public sector pension plans are well-understood. For the most part, pensions are quite complicated and boring. For that reason, people usually pay little attention to their pensions until they are ready to retire and even then, they are only interested in how much they will make and when they will get it. That's pretty normal everywhere. But we are working on strategies to get you more interested in learning more.
  • At SFPP we see value in our members understanding their pensions before they reach retirement. The more you know, they better you can plan for the kind of retirement you want. We also want you to understand how your Plan is funded and why it is so valuable to you so we are working to develop more communications that build member and stakeholder knowledge of pensions to share in our newsletters and on our website.
  • To this end we have developed a survey to find out what you think of our communications, our newsletters, websites and other tools and hear from you on how you would prefer to receive information on your Plan. Take our online survey and you can enter a draw for a chance to win one of two iPads that we will be giving away.

We continue to meet with a representative group of employer and employee stakeholders, known as our sponsor group, to talk about all of the objectives above. We will keep you posted on those discussions. These are very dedicated people and we are very lucky to have them working with us. It doesn't matter whether they come to the table on behalf of the police association or the municipality: it is you they care about. Together, they are focused on keeping your pension strong and sustainable for many, many years to come.

Roger Rosychuk,
Chair, SFPP Board