Legal and Consulting Advice

The regulatory terrain for pension and benefit plans is complex and becoming more so as governments introduce new legislation, governance guidelines and investment rules. Pierlot Pension Law helps retirement plan sponsors and administrators with legal, strategic and consulting advice on all aspects of retirement plan administration and compliance. Key areas on which the firm provides advice include the following:

  • Design, administration and funding of Registered Pension Plans, group Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Deferred-Profit Sharing Plans
  • Provincial and federal pension-standards legislation
  • Federal tax rules for retirement and benefit plans
  • Plan governance and fiduciary duties
  • Plan documentation and amendments
  • Pension plan restructuring: wind ups, conversions, mergers and asset transfers
  • Funding agreements and investment policies
  • Pension plan provisions in purchase-and-sale agreements
  • Payment of plan expenses
  • Employee booklets and communications
  • Employee rights on pension plan amendment, conversion or wind up
  • Employment law and labour relations relating to pensions
  • Family law matters relating to pensions
  • Spousal and survivor rights

Member Education

Good communication and education are essential to ensuring that members understand the value of a retirement plan, are realistic about what it can deliver and receive all information to which they are entitled.

James Pierlot has deep experience delivering on-site educational seminars to unionized and non-unionized pension plan members in a broad range of industries and workplaces, including correctional services, brewing, manufacturing and professional services firms.

Pierlot Pension Law can help employers develop and deliver effective member-education programs.

Board/Committee/Administrator Training

Whether a pension plan has one participating employer or many, the roles of plan sponsors (usually employers) and plan administrators are very different.

In a single-employer plan, the employer has a dual role: wearing the "sponsor hat", the employer establishes and maintains a pension plan for a business purpose, such as to attract and retain good employees or to comply with a collective-bargaining agreement; wearing the "administrator hat", the employer has a fiduciary duty to act in the interest of pension plan members and retirees. In the multi-employer environment, the sponsor and administrator roles are separate and most plans are administered by boards of trustees, which may be composed of employer and member representatives. Whether a pension plan is administered by a board of directors, a pension committee or a board of trustees, the duties of plan administrators are complex and can entail considerable fiduciary liability – particularly with respect to the management of pension assets.

Pierlot Pension Law has significant experience delivering training programs to assist pension committees, boards and support staff to discharge their fiduciary and administrative duties effectively. Training programs may address some or all of the following topics, in accordance with each administrator's requirements:

  • The role of private retirement saving in Canada’s retirement income system
  • Overview of laws, regulations and polices governing retirement saving plans
  • Retirement plan types and design considerations/options
  • Supplementary retirement saving plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Pension regulation, including federal/provincial pension standards rules
  • Federal tax rules for retirement saving and related administration issues
  • Pension governance and administrators’ fiduciary duties
  • Pension funding
  • Investing pension assets and monitoring performance
  • Pension plan financial management and actuarial valuation reports