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OMERS reports: Research confirms OMERS value extends meaningful economic and social value to Ontario

February 23, 2022
  • OMERS supports more than 118, 000 jobs and $11.9 billion in economic activity in Ontario

  • People with a pension plan are almost 50% more likely to report higher satisfaction with life than people who do not participate in one

  • 90% of OMERS retired members attribute higher life satisfaction with being part of a defined benefit pension plan

Two new reports released today highlight the economic contribution and social value generated across Ontario by pension plans. The reports, conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) on behalf of OMERS, reflect OMERS belief that jointly sponsored public sector pension plans in Canada bring value to the lives of members and confirm that this value extends beyond the individual member and into their communities.

The first report examines the 2020 economic contribution of OMERS activities to Ontario based on member spending of their retirement benefits payments and the Plan’s investments and operations in Ontario.

“OMERS is creating value in Ontario by delivering on our commitment to our members,” said Jonathan Simmons, OMERS Chief Financial and Strategy Officer. "The high-quality investments we make across the province and the billions of dollars in pension benefits we pay every year produce meaningful direct and indirect economic benefits that extend into communities. Our members also report higher levels of good health and less reliance on public income supports, freeing up resources to be used elsewhere.

"As we prepare to mark our 60th anniversary later this spring, the results of these studies underscore the importance of defined benefit pensions as part of a strong pension sector and reinforce the value of access to retirement savings opportunities,” he concluded.

Leveraging the survey responses of Ontario-based OMERS members and the general public, the second report explores the social value generated by pension plans. This study found that providing a secure and stable source of income in retirement delivers value beyond pure monetary benefits. It underlined the role a pension income plays in improving the lives of OMERS members, strengthening communities in Ontario and generating stronger bonds between employees and employers, supporting retention and productivity.

The research affirmed a strong association between pension plan participation and an enhanced sense of well-being, with higher life satisfaction for both active and retired OMERS members. Among OMERS retired members, their higher life satisfaction is associated with the secure and stable income they receive from OMERS. Specifically, value is attributed to increased financial security, better health, and less stress as well as providing the opportunity to take an active role in their community through volunteering and charitable giving.

“Our members come to work every day to serve the people and communities around them. They manage our cities, towns and villages, keep transit moving, water safe to drive, schools running, and answer emergency calls. We are proud to serve them and have long believed that the value of a pension reaches far beyond the members who receive it. The CANCEA research findings confirm our beliefs,” says Celine Chiovitti, Executive Vice President and Head of Pensions. “The findings also reinforce a clear connection between employees and the employers who provide access to retirement benefits, demonstrating the importance of a strong pension offering on employee retention.”

Find more information on the studies, including the full research reports on our website.

Backgrounder: Research highlights and findings

Economic Contribution Study

Based on 2020 OMERS data

  • OMERS contributes approximately $11.9 billion to Ontario’s GDP

  • OMERS supports 1 in every 64 jobs in Ontario, or 118,000

    • A quarter of these jobs (28,700) are held by people under the age of 30

    • Almost one-third, or 39,000, of the 118,000 jobs are in rural communities

  • OMERS activity generates more than $3.3 billion in provincial and federal income tax on pensions and wages, consumption taxes on spending, and corporate tax. This tax revenue helps to pay for programs and services that benefit all Ontarians

  • OMERS commercial real estate investment footprint in Ontario covers more than 25 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space, hosting 65,000 employees and 1,700 firms

  • OMERS invests in Bruce Power, which supplies over 30% of Ontario’s electricity

Social Value Benefits study

CANCEA considered responses of more than 4,000 OMERS members and over 1,000 respondents from the general Ontario population to a 2021 online survey. The study found a statistically significant association between pension plan participation and an enhanced sense of well-being with higher satisfaction with life, compared to people who do not participate in a pension plan, for both active and retired members in the OMERS Plan. This was driven by a feeling of financial security and better health and reduced stress, plus more community engagement and leisure time.

  • People with a pension plan were almost 50% more likely to report higher satisfaction with life than people who do not participate in a pension plan

  • 90% of OMERS retired members attributed higher life satisfaction with being part of a defined benefit pension plan

  • OMERS retirees are over 50% more likely to report higher satisfaction with life than people who do not participate in a pension plan

Responses from OMERS retired members indicated the following:

Financial Security:

  • 20% higher feeling of financial security

  • 48% felt that they had saved well or extremely well to meet their retirement income needs

  • 58% less likely to be dependent on the Federal Government’s Guaranteed Income Supplement

  • 50% less likely to experience a decrease in financial security due to unexpected circumstances, like the pandemic

Better Health:

  • 15% higher satisfaction level with their health

  • 42% rated their physical health as very good or excellent

Reduced Stress:

  • 22% more likely to report lower levels of stress

  • 29% less likely to attribute stress to financial concerns

Community Involvement:

  • 13% higher satisfaction level with feeling part of their community

  • 10% higher satisfaction level with their ability to spend time on things that are important to them

  • 38% more likely to volunteer their time within their community

  • 94% donated to charities and not-for-profits

The survey also highlighted key benefits to employers:

  • 90% of active OMERS members said the pension plan plays a part in their decision to remain with their employer

  • 87% of members under the age of 35 said OMERS membership is an important factor in their decision to stay with their employer

  • 79% of OMERS retirees agreed that their pension played a role in remaining in their job