We’re working to build an even brighter future for your pension.

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July 1, 2021 marks a historic moment for pensions in Ontario’s university sector, with the launch of the new University Pension Plan (UPP). We’re drawing on the decades of experience of our predecessors to bring sustainable retirement security to Ontario universities now and for generations to come.

As our work continues in earnest, we want to hear from you.

About UPP

UPP is a new multi-employer, jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) that will serve members and retirees at Queen’s University, University of Guelph and University of Toronto – and eventually, other Ontario universities who wish to join, with the consent of their members.

Born from the tremendous collaboration and effort of so many, UPP will connect thousands of members across the province in a common goal: enhance the long-term sustainability of defined benefit pension plans in the university sector. We strive to be the preferred pension solution for Ontario universities now and for generations to come.

While UPP may be new to you, we’ve been hard at work over the past year building a plan that endures; one you can rely on and be proud of. We’re here to protect the stability of your pensions, model member service excellence, set an example in responsible investing and – most importantly – give members a voice in their plan.

UPP has some important decisions ahead: What values will guide our investment philosophy? How do we define excellence in our member services approach? Your perspective is central to defining who we are and what we will become.

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For those interested in learning more:

UPP’s origins

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What to expect on July 1, 2021

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Our investment philosophy

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UPP’s Origins

Established on January 1, 2020, UPP is Ontario’s newest jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) designed to enhance the long-term sustainability of your pension. The UPP will become responsible for the new plan’s administration and the investment of its assets on July 1, 2021, marking a watershed in the history of pensions in Ontario’s university sector.

At that time, your pension plan will transition to the UPP and will no longer be solely sponsored by your employer; it will be jointly sponsored by the unions and faculty associations representing plan members and by the three founding universities. And it will join other internationally respected Ontario pension plans that have adopted the JSPP model and become known for their investment ingenuity and ability to provide secure, high-quality pensions.

What is a JSPP? How does is differ from my current model?

The JSPP model means shared governance between the employer and employee sponsors, giving members a new level of involvement in their pension plan. Joint sponsorship ensures a high degree of accountability and transparency while keeping member interests at the heart of every decision we make.

The UPP’s Joint Sponsors are the unions and faculty associations representing the members, and the three founding universities – Queen’s University, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto. The Board of Trustees comprises six trustees selected by the Employer Sponsor, six by the Employee Sponsor, one by non-unionized members, and a Chair selected jointly by the Sponsors.

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What should I expect on July 1?

All members can expect the same smooth and familiar service and we will continue to work closely with your university to ensure a seamless transition. Despite the unprecedented change around us, our focus remains firmly on you.

You will understandably have questions about what the transition means to you and what changes to expect. While our spring engagement sessions focus on gaining your input on our day one foundations, our post-launch engagement program (this fall) focuses specifically on your plan experience under the UPP.

For now, here’s a snapshot of what you can expect come July 1, 2021:

What WILL change:

You will start earning pension benefits under the UPP as of July 1, 2021. You will hear more from us, just as we hope to hear from you!

What WILL NOT change:

Benefits earned before July 1 under your university’s prior plan will remain the same. Retirees will continue to receive the benefits they expect. Your regular member services will continue as usual through your university plan administrator, with unchanged access to your trusted point of contact at your university.

What contributions are required under UPP?

Your contributions to the UPP starting July 1, 2021

(Earnings below YMPE x 9.2%) + (Earnings Above YMPE x 11.5%) = Your UPP Contributions

Your employer will contribute an equal amount to the UPP for UPP service. Different contribution rules apply during certain types of leaves of absence and special programs.

IMPORTANT: Under the UPP, your earnings for contribution formula purposes will be capped at $181,700 (2021) increased annually in line with increases to the maximum pension rules under the Income Tax Act.

How will my pension be calculated?

The pension you receive is based on a formula that takes into account your best average earnings and pensionable service under the plan. Your contributions are based on a percentage of your pensionable earnings and your employer contributes an equal amount. As regular contributions flow into the plan, the funds are held in trust for plan members and invested by professional investors. Those investment earnings, as well as the contributions made by you and your employer, are what fund your pension.

How early can I retire?

Your Normal Retirement Date under the UPP is the last day of the month in which you reach age 65.

The earliest date that you can start receiving your pension is the first day of the month following your Early Retirement Date, which under the UPP is the last day of the month in which you reach age 55.

These retirement dates will apply as of July 1, 2021 to the benefits earned under your SEPP plan and the UPP.

What actions do I need to take on or before July 1?

You automatically become a member of UPP on July 1. No further action is needed.

I’m planning to retire soon. How will the shift to UPP impact me?

If you retire before July 1, 2021, your pension benefit will be based on the provisions of your university’s prior plan. If you retire on or after July 1, 2021, your pension will be based on the following:

  • Service earned under your university’s prior plan up to July 1, 2021 plus
  • Service you earn on or after July 1, 2021 under UPP.
Who do I talk to if I have questions about my pension plan or benefits?

Your regular member services will continue as usual through your university plan administrator, with unchanged access to your trusted point of contact at your university before and after July 1, 2021.

Note: This information is provided as a guide to how the transition to the UPP will affect you on July 1, 2021. This information is not a complete description of the benefits available under the UPP or how they may differ from your prior plan benefits. Details will be made available soon and discussed further in our fall engagement discussions.

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Our investment philosophy

Our investment philosophy is driven, first and foremost, by our mandate to deliver a secure, stable retirement income to our members.

We believe that long-term sustainable growth depends on actions grounded on clear values, and that the strong principles of our University communities will both support the UPP and serve as a signal for decision-making over time. Members can expect UPP to lead with honesty, integrity and a focus on the sustainability of our plan and our world.

Our Statement of Investing Policies & Procedures (SIPP) is the north star of our investment approach. This guiding document articulates our investment beliefs and outlines our responsible investment commitments. The SIPP is a ‘living’ document that will evolve along with our investment program. This means that our position on ‘day one’, when we inherit the portfolios of our founding universities, may look very different than in the coming years.

We know that our members care about the values underlining our investments, and your perspectives and priorities are an important input in the creation of this guiding document. In May, you are invited to share your perspectives on UPP’s investment philosophy through our virtual listening sessions. Our goal in these sessions is first and foremost to listen.

Anyone unable to attend a live session will be able to view a recording and provide their feedback online through our member feedback form. Sign up for a Listening Session or provide feedback online. Your voice matters.

Sign up to attend a Listening Session or provide feedback online

With your collective inputs, UPP Management and the Board of Trustees will deliberate our initial SIPP and submit it to our pension regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority, before July 1, 2021.

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