A decade in the making

July 1, 2021, marked our day one and a significant milestone on a long journey to bring UPP’s vision to life.

Where it began

In the late 2000s, pension plans in the university sector faced existential financial and political pressures.

Employee groups and university administrations, with the support of the provincial government, began considering a multi-university jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) as a long-term pension solution for the sector. Moving to a JSPP model addressed many of the challenges facing university pension plans at the time, while offering a range of new advantages — including more member control over the future direction and outcomes of their pensions.

Introducing a sector JSPP would:

Employees and employers came together to build UPP. We would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of this plan’s founders. It is our privilege to continue their work.


Discussions begin between university unions, faculty associations, administrators, and other staff groups about customizing a JSPP to reshape and sustain the retirement income system in the Ontario university sector.


The creation of a new JSPP does not happen often and requires legislative and regulatory amendments to allow the conversion and transfer of single-employer pension plans to a JSPP. Legislative changes to this effect are drafted in 2014 and come into place in 2015, marking a historic step forward.


Deep discussions happen among university administration, faculty associations, unions, and non-unionized staff on UPP’s organizational structure, terms, and participants. Three initial university partners and associated unions and faculty associations step forward as UPP’s founding participants, with the plan for others to join over time.


A joint Milestones Agreement was established to set out the key steps required to establish UPP.


Pension plan members at the founding universities consent to convert their existing plans to UPP, through a transfer of assets and liabilities. The Joint Sponsors adopt UPP’s Funding Policy, including an innovative risksharing arrangement for past service and future service liabilities.


January — UPP’s formal governance structure comes into effect through Joint Sponsor and Trust Agreements. Six Employer Sponsors and six Employee Sponsors (from representative unions and faculty associations) are appointed and select UPP’s inaugural 14-member Board of Trustees as UPP’s legal administrator.

July — Barbara Zvan is appointed as UPP’s inaugural President and CEO.

November — UPP receives formal solvency funding exemption as a JSPP.

July 1st, 2021

UPP becomes the official pension provider for the founding participants and their 37,000+ members.

January 1st, 2022

Trent University joins as UPP’s fourth member university, along with the staff of the University of Guelph and University of Toronto faculty associations and eligible UPP employees.

Spending many years on the development of the UPP has shown me that, when they share a deep commitment towards a common goal, university employers and employees can work together to achieve something great. This past year, all of the hard work of so many people culminated in the successful launch of a jointly-sponsored defined benefit pension plan that will allow employees at member universities not only to look forward to a secure and indexed retirement income, but also to be certain that they will now have an equal say in how their pension plan is managed.
Herb Kunze, Employee Sponsor Co-Chair

We built the UPP to assure a dependable retirement income. We custom built the UPP for our sector, offering better value and security for contributions. For us, that means financial security, a secure defined benefit plan with indexation, and early unreduced retirement options. It also means that employers and employees cosponsor the Plan and have an equal say in its governance.

John Tartt, Employee Sponsor Co-Chair

After our successful launch last July, the UPP is poised to make its founding members proud as we move forward with a strong and sustainable defined benefit pension plan for Ontario universities. The UPP’s Joint Sponsorship will provide members a real voice in the plan’s operations and, working together, we will ensure it delivers a secure retirement future for generations to come.
Angela Hildyard, Employer Sponsor Co-Chair