Electronic communications for defined benefit pension plans
Insights – January 2023
The use of electronic communication has been on the rise throughout the world and in many business segments for the last decade. Spurred by the challenges of conventional paper-based communication in our new work-from-home environment, defined benefit plan administrators are embracing electronic communication for active and retired plan members like never before and regulators have recognized this trend by amending legislation related to electronic communications.
Since our last update in April 2021 (Eckler Insights: Electronic communications for defined benefit pension plans), there have been some changes in legislation related to electronic communications. Please contact your Eckler consultant if you have questions.
Summary of current legislation by jurisdiction
Are electronic communications allowed?
Section 156.1 of the Employment Pension Plans Regulation provides clear authority that statement/notice/document may be sent to members by electronic means in accordance with Alberta’s Electronic Transactions Act, as communicated in EPPA Update 20-04. Alberta further amended the Wills and Succession Act to permit electronic beneficiary designation in December 2020, as communicated in EPPA Update 20-07.
Yes, with consent
Section 37 of the Pension Benefits Standards Act specifies that information may be sent electronically if members have consented to accept electronic delivery of the prescribed information.
Section 3.30 of the Pension Benefits Act Regulation specifies that information to members may be sent via ordinary mail, e-mail to the member or another manner approved by the superintendent.
Yes, with consent*
*Further guidance pending
In December 2021, New Brunswick amended Section 28.1 of the Pension Benefits Act to permit plan administrators to disclose some member information by electronic means, provided the intended recipient consents to receiving information electronically.
Newfoundland & Labrador
NEW: The Pension Plans Designation of Beneficiaries Act Section 4.1 allows individuals to designate beneficiaries electronically for workplace or retirement plans, RRIFs, RRSPs or TFSAs.
Yes with consent
Section 44 of the Pension Benefits Act specifies that information may be sent electronically if members have consented and the electronic in accordance with Electronic Commerce Act.
Yes, with prior notice
and deemed consent*
*Further guidance pending
Ontario amended Sections 30.1 and 112 of the Pension Benefits Act (Ontario) in December 2019 via Bill 132 to enable plan administrators to send certain documents to members by electronic means in accordance with Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 (Ontario) based on deemed consent.
A notice must be sent to members by mail prior to delivering documents through electronic means, and members are deemed to have consented to receiving documents electronically unless they instruct the plan administrator.
Ontario further amended the Succession Law Reform Act (Ontario) to permit electronic beneficiary designation in May 2020.
Information and documents may be sent electronically based on the Rules of effective communication. Plan administrators are recommended to follow the guidelines set out in CAPSA Guideline No. 2 Electronic Communication in the Pension Industry.
The requirements in The Pension Benefits Act, 1992 and Regulations to provide information to members may be complied with by providing the information in electronic form. Plan administrators should apply the recommended guidelines set out in CAPSA Guideline No. 2 Electronic Communication in the Pension Industry and should ensure that they are in compliance with The Electronic Information and Documents Act, 2000 and other relevant legislation governing electronic communication and personal information.
NEW: The Queen’s Bench Amendment Act, 2022 adds Section 75.2 to allow the designation, change or revocation of a beneficiary electronically in accordance with The Electronic Information and Documents Act, 2000.
private pension plans
Yes with consent
Subsection 31.1(1) of the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 specifies that information may be sent electronically if members have consented and an information system is designated for the receipt of the electronic documents.
This issue of Insights has been prepared for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Should you require professional advice based on the contents of this publication, please contact an Eckler consultant.