03 April 2020 Pension Sub-Committee Update on Pension Protection

Over several years, the Pionairs through our Pension Sub-Committee has established credibility with the federal Ministry of Finance as an advocacy group for Air Canada pensioners.  For that reason, the Ministry reached out to the Pionairs Pension Sub-Committee to hear our views on how best to address the needs of all Canadian pensioners in general through these challenging times. 
This update outlines the recommendations submitted at the March 27 meeting with government on how to best protect pensions for all pensioners in Canada going forward.
We are fortunate that Air Canada’s pension plans are in a healthy surplus position at this time.

Officials from the Ministry of Finance reached out to the Pionairs Pension Sub-Committee last week, seeking input on ways the federal government could assist pension plans and retirees during this unprecedented time. The Pionairs was one of several federal pension advocacy groups who were contacted by the Ministry.

The Committee met a number of times to discuss different proposals
before meeting with the Ministry. On Friday March 27, committee members Bruce MacCoubrey, Dave Robinson and Sue Welscheid provided our proposals via conference call. Committee recommendations included:

–  Reiteration to grant ‘super priority status’ to underfunded pension plans,
   putting the plan ahead of other creditors in the event a plan sponsor
   seeks bankruptcy protection

–  Some form of interim plan sponsor relief from planned or special plan
   valuations to help companies experiencing temporary financial
   difficulties due to COVID-19

–  Immediate personal tax relief to individuals whose pensions and/or
   retirement savings are reduced

–  Extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
   automatically to all retirees

–  Including provisions to strengthen consumer agencies, their penalties
   and communications to protect retirees from financial abuse.

–  Lastly, we also gave endorsement of any federal support program for
   Air Canada being considered by the Government of Canada.

The Ministry advised us that these ideas would be shared with both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISEDC).They also extended their appreciation to the Pionairs for our ongoing efforts to help Canadian retirees protect and secure their pensions.

We will continue to keep you posted should there be any developments in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air Canada Pionairs Pension Sub-Committee