OMERS building new pension service options for members

January 29, 2010

Responding to the needs of its membership, OMERS is developing several new features and options. These will include:

  • A new option allowing members to purchase past service originating from a private sector pension plan to increase their OMERS benefit.
  • Online access for retirees and deferred members to their OMERS information.
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (or AVCs) - a new retirement savings feature. AVCs will enable members and retirees (to age 70) to take advantage of OMERS investment returns by making additional contributions to the OMERS Fund, at a reasonable cost. Contributions can include ongoing withdrawals from a bank account (for active members) as well as lump-sum transfers from registered retirement savings accounts (for active and retired members and members who kept their pension with OMERS after leaving their OMERS employer).

"Members have clearly expressed the need for more flexibility to purchase service, greater access to personal pension information, and the ability to invest directly in the Fund," said OMERS Chief Pension Officer, Jennifer Brown.

"Our flexible, expert pension team gives us the capacity to develop these new features. We will be sure to communicate full details as they are finalized."

The private-sector purchase option and the AVC concept were approved by the OMERS Sponsors Corporation (SC) in 2009. Online access for retirees and deferred members will be the latest phase in the introduction of the myOMERS secure online tool.

Private Sector Past Service Purchase

Timeline: Effective March 1, 2010

Quick Facts

  • Members who previously had refunded service after 1991 originating from a private-sector Canadian registered pension plan (see example below) may now purchase that service in OMERS, and increase their OMERS benefit. Previously, this option was only available for public-sector service.
  • Example: Alex worked for XYZ Corporation in the mid-1990s and was a member of the company's registered pension plan for five years. When Alex left XYZ, he transferred the value of his benefit out of the plan and into a locked-in retirement account (LIRA). Alex now has the option to receive OMERS credited service for those five years by purchasing it under these new rules.
  • This new feature builds on existing OMERS provisions to purchase public sector service, to transfer in service directly from another registered pension plan, and to use the buy-back monthly payment plan introduced in 2009.
  • More information including application forms will be provided in the next Member News and online on the OMERS website.

myOMERS: retiree and deferred member functionality

Timeline: Available July 2010

Quick Facts

  • myOMERS will provide retired members with an effective, secure and environmentally friendly way to access and update their pension information.
  • Online access will also be available to deferred members - those who kept their benefit with OMERS after leaving an OMERS employer.
  • myOMERS will also provide online access to annual statements and T4A documents, allow additional tax deductions online, and provide an option to update mailing addresses.
  • More details will be provided in 2010 newsletters.
  • The new functionality follows the launch of myOMERS to active members earlier in the year. Active members are receiving sign-up instructions for myOMERS in their annual statements (Pension Reports).

Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC)

Timeline: Being developed for launch on January 1, 2011

Quick Facts

  • AVCs will provide an additional retirement savings opportunity for OMERS members (active, retired and deferred members), within Canadian income tax guidelines.
  • AVCs will be available exclusively to members of the OMERS plan.
  • OMERS active and deferred members and retirees up to age 70 will be able to participate.
  • Active members will be able to contribute to the fund through ongoing contributions (direct debit from a bank account) or lump-sum transfers from registered retirement savings accounts, within established guidelines.
  • Retired (to age 70) and deferred members will be able to make lump-sum transfers to their accounts within transfer rules.
  • A member's AVCs will be in addition to the defined benefit pension they earn with OMERS.
  • AVC features, rules and systems are being developed. Once this is completed, a Plan amendment effecting AVCs will be developed for the SC's approval later in 2010.
  • More details will be communicated throughout 2010 as this retirement savings option is finalized.