Plan Overview

This is a great place to begin your OMERS experience. Here, we briefly cover OMERS Plan membership and benefits – from enrolment through to retirement.

Your OMERS Pension

  • provides a guaranteed stream of retirement income for life based on your earnings and years of service
  • offers protection against inflation
  • includes excellent survivor benefits
  • provides disability benefits
  • offers early retirement options
  • is portable to many public sector plans
  • is a defined benefit (DB) pension plan that pays a monthly pension based on a formula that takes into account your years of service and your earnings

What Exactly is OMERS?

  • OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) was established in 1962 as the pension plan for employees of municipal governments, school boards, libraries, police and fire departments, Children's Aid Societies and other local agencies throughout Ontario.
  • By pooling resources and focusing on long-term results, OMERS has grown into one of the largest, most competitive and cost-effective pension plans in Canada.
  • OMERS has a proven investment record. The OMERS team includes some of the best investment professionals in the industry.

Do I Have to Join OMERS?

  • If you are a permanent, full-time employee with a participating OMERS employer, membership in OMERS is generally mandatory.
  • In OMERS terms, you are known as a “continuous full-time” employee.
  • You join the plan either on your date of hire or on the date you become a continuous full-time employee.

I'm a Part-time Employee. Can I Join OMERS?

Part-time employees may include short-term, casual, temporary, seasonal, student, part-time, 10-month or contract employees. (Part-time may also be referred to as other-than-continuous full-time or OTCFT.)

  • If you are a part-time or seasonal employee with an OMERS employer, you may be required to join OMERS.
  • But if you are not required to join OMERS, you may choose to join under certain conditions.
  • As a part-time employee, your employer must offer you membership in the OMERS plan if in each of two immediately preceding calendar years:
    • you worked at least 700 hours; or
    • you earned at least 35% of the Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE).
  • Once you join the OMERS plan, you cannot opt out. You can only end your OMERS membership if you leave your employer and transfer your benefit out of the plan.

How is OMERS Regulated?

  • OMERS is a registered pension plan in Ontario. It therefore has legal obligations dictated by several government Acts and agencies:
    • Canada Income Tax Act (ITA)
    • Ontario Pension Benefits Act (PBA)
    • Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA)
    • Ontario Family Law Act (FLA)
    • Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
  • The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Finance, ensures that OMERS complies with the standards and regulations set out under the PBA.

What is Credited Service?

  • Credited service is the service with your employer that OMERS uses to calculate your pension.
  • OMERS measures credited service in years and months (to two decimal places).
  • Credited service does not include any service you have not purchased or service for which your contributions were refunded.

What is Eligible Service?

  • Eligible service is used in the calculation of the early retirement factor.
  • Eligible service includes part-time or seasonal service with an OMERS employer while you were not an OMERS member, or service you had refunded when you terminated employment.

When Can I Retire?

You can retire when you reach your "normal retirement age."

  • Normal retirement age is 65 for most OMERS members.
  • Normal retirement age is 60 for most police officers and firefighters.

You may also retire as early as age 50 (for normal retirement age 60) or age 55 (for normal retirement age 65).

  • There are two types of early retirement pensions: unreduced and reduced.
  • Under standard plan provisions, you will receive an unreduced pension if you:
    • have reached your normal retirement age
    • have reached your early retirement factor (age plus service)
      • 85 Factor if your normal retirement age is 60
      • 90 Factor if your normal retirement age is 65
    • have 30 years of credited service.
  • You may retire with a reduced pension if you do not have enough service.
  • The average retirement age of an OMERS member is 58.

How Much Do I Have to Contribute to OMERS?

  • Your contributions are based on a formula, depending on your normal retirement age.
  • You and your employer contribute equally to OMERS, paying the same percentage of your contributory earnings.
  • Contributory earnings do not include overtime pay and most lump-sum payments, so they may not be the same as your actual income for income tax purposes.
  • Each year you will receive a personalized Pension Report with up-to-date information on your contributions, earnings and service in the OMERS plan.

What Does It Mean That OMERS Benefits “Vest” Immediately?

  • The day you join OMERS, you're entitled to a benefit from the plan. This entitlement is known as vesting.

How is OMERS Integrated With CPP?

  • OMERS and CPP are two completely different pension plans. However, contributions to each plan and benefits received from each plan are integrated.
  • You pay reduced contributions on earnings for which you also contribute to CPP.

What is the OMERS Bridge Benefit?

  • The bridge benefit is approximately the amount of pension you will receive from CPP.
  • If you retire before age 65, you receive the OMERS bridge benefit as part of your total pension benefit. The bridge benefit essentially "tops up" your early retirement pension until age 65.
  • You are eligible for a reduced retirement pension from CPP at age 60. Taking a reduced CPP pension does not affect your OMERS pension or bridge benefit in any way.

What is Buying Back Service?

  • If you have employment service that doesn't count towards your OMERS pension (such as a leave of absence, work with another public sector employer, or war service), you may be able to buy it back.
  • OMERS buy-back payment options
    • You can pay for the buy-back over 12, 24 or 36 months through the monthly payment plan;
    • You can pay the full cost in one lump sum (by personal cheque, transfer from an RRSP, transfer from another registered pension plan, or retiring allowance); or
    • You can pay using a combination of a lump sum (as above) for a portion of the buy-back and the monthly payment plan for the balance.

Info on buying back service 

To request a cost to buy service use the Buy-back Calculator

Things to consider about buying back service

  • Buying back service adds to your credited service, which increases your lifetime pension; and
  • More credited service may help you retire earlier or with a smaller reduction.