Frequently Asked Questions

We’re collecting the most-asked questions across our platforms and maintaining an up-to-date FAQ.  Check back for updates.

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About UPP
Transition to UPP
UPP’s Investment Program
ESG/Responsible Investing

About UPP

The employees and employers of UPP’s founding universities created the Plan together, with a vision to help bring enhanced retirement security to current and future university pension plan members.

In a multi-employer JSPP, plan governance, costs and risks are shared equally between employers and members. Both are also jointly responsible for oversight of the plan, including decisions about the terms and conditions of the plan, plan amendments, and appointing a plan administrator.

Several of Ontario’s large public sector pension plans are JSPPs, including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, OPSEU Pension Plan (OPTrust), HOOPP (healthcare), OMERS (municipal), and CAAT (colleges). These plans are internationally known for their investment expertise and ability to provide secure, high-quality pensions.

Want to know more?

The UPP Board of Trustees is the Plan’s legal administrator. The Trustees are collectively responsible for making decisions about the administration of the UPP, with the best interests of Plan members top of mind.

The Board includes six trustees selected by the Employer Sponsor, six by the Employee Sponsor, one by non-unionized members, and an independent Chair selected jointly by the Employee Sponsor and Employer Sponsor. These 14 individuals have deep experience and expertise in areas important to the administration of the UPP. 

The Board, in turn, delegates management authority to UPP’s President and CEO.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) regulates Ontario pension plans. It is the regulator for all of Ontario’s non-securities financial services sector, having replaced the Financial Services Commission of Ontario and the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario in 2019.

FSRA’s role is, essentially, to protect your rights and interests. It does so through mechanisms to promote sound plan administration.  For example, it requires that, like all pension plans in Ontario, UPP complete and file a formal valuation of plan funding at least once every three years. This valuation tests the plan’s financial health based on different scenarios.

We are long-term value investors and, as such, have the discipline to resist responses to short-term market swings. Our investment principles and funding concerns will not be driven by short-term market conditions.

When UPP was established, the Joint Sponsors agreed that any funding shortfall (based on going concern funding rules) in the predecessor plans at Queen’s University, University of Guelph, and University of Toronto that exist as of July 1, 2021 will be the responsibility of the respective university and will be funded through fixed payments over 15 years.

Trent University will join in January 2022 with the participation of its Faculty Association pension plan members. UPP staff will join the Plan at the same time.

What other plans join, and when, is a decision of the Joint Sponsors. UPP’s job is to be ready, create a platform that will excite plans to join and make the transition as easy as possible. We will always inform our members when new employers join.

Transition to UPP

To join UPP, you must be in an eligible employment class with a participating university. Please contact your employer’s pension services team for questions about your eligibility or to discuss new membership.

If you’ve earned pension benefits under a participating university’s prior plan, different early retirement eligibility rules and reductions may apply for that service portion. For more information on the terms of your university’s prior plan, please contact your university pension administration team.

UPP’s Joint Sponsors represent the Plan’s employees and employers and are together responsible for making all decisions about the terms and conditions of the UPP, any amendments (including benefits and contributions), and its funding policy.

The Board of Trustees is the legal administrator of the UPP. Each Sponsor Committee (employee and employer) appoints six Trustees, with the non-unionized trustee being appointed by representatives of the non-unionized employees. The Joint Sponsors together appoint the independent Chair.

UPP members, therefore, have a direct voice at the decision-making table through their representatives on the Joint Sponsors Committee and Board of Trustees.

The diverse perspectives of members are essential to building a strong plan. We are committed to maintaining an open, direct dialogue with our members through our engagement program, by sharing news and updates with our subscribers and by encouraging ongoing feedback and commentary through our online feedback form and [email protected]. These communication channels will always remain open, to both hear from you and keep you informed on the changes that impact you most.

Benefits earned under your university’s prior plan will stay the same. See Plan Basics for UPP’s benefit formula.

Yes! Each year, you will receive an annual statement providing a snapshot of your benefits, including those from your prior plan benefits (if any), and your earliest unreduced retirement date and normal retirement date.

The commuted value is the total estimated value in today’s dollars of the lifetime pension you have earned and would be payable at retirement. It is an actuarial calculation that involves many factors, including your age, your assumed retirement age, mortality rates and interest rates.

Because the commuted value is a current estimate of a future value, the lump sum you may receive based on a commuted value may be greater or less than the actual pension payments that you would have received if you had elected to receive a pension from the Plan.

All pensions earned under a current university plan would be transferred to the UPP, without any changes to pension benefit amounts already accrued.

Members who retire under UPP and have prior service in another university plan will receive a pension based on two parts: one based on the formula in their former plan and the service they accrued under that plan, and one based on the UPP formula and their service accrued under UPP.

Members who have retired under a university pension plan before conversion to the UPP will continue to be paid the same amount of pension after conversion. Their pensions will not be affected by contribution increases, if any, and they will receive the same cost-of-living increases after conversion as they would have under their previous plan.

Yes, under UPP your employee contributions are 100% matched by your employer. See Plan Basics for more.

Your privacy is important to the UPP, and we take the security of your personal information very seriously. At UPP, we:

  • Limit the collection of personal information
  • Do not sell your personal information to any organization or person
  • May share your personal information with third parties and service providers (companies operating on our behalf)
Read our full Privacy Statement

Your member services will continue as usual, through your existing university plan administrator.

If you are a member of one of the founding universities who joined UPP in July 2021, and you have any questions about your pension plan or benefits, please contact your trusted university pension services team.

UPP’s Investment Program

Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures, or SIPP, is a regulatory document required under the Ontario Pension Benefits Act for all registered pension plans.

As its names suggests, a pension plan’s SIPP contains information about the investment policies and procedures that it follows in administering its investment portfolios. It covers information such as the categories of investments and credit vehicles used by the pension fund, the diversification of the portfolio, the asset mix, and rate-of-return expectations, as well as the liquidity of the investments (i.e., how easily they can be sold).

The SIPP also covers fund governance, funding valuations and how environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are incorporated. The ESG requirement came into effect in 2016.

UPP’s Board of Trustees, as the Plan’s legal administrator, must file the SIPP with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) within 60 days of plan registration, which occurred on July 1, 2021. FSRA is Ontario’s pension regulator.

UPP’s SIPP replaces the SIPPs of any participating pension funds. It reflects our investment and asset position at the Plan’s inception. It will be revisited at least annually and adapted as necessary. Amended versions will be posted accordingly.

Read our Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures [PDF].

We can’t speculate on what investment conditions will be. Suffice it to say that UPP is a long-term value investor and that our investment risk programs are designed to buttress our fund from short term market shocks.

It’s too early to speak to portfolio changes. However, CDPQ’s mandate is different than ours in that it is required to invest in Quebec-owned enterprises.

ESG/Responsible Investing

Our leadership team recognizes ESG is a critical lens for its decision-making over time. It not only aligns with our core values, but with our mission to secure sustainable pensions for the long-term.

We also understand that investors have a responsibility to not only respond to evolving environmental, social and governance issues, but also to promote a just, sustainable economy and society. We do not, and will not, take that responsibility lightly.

Since our launch this past July, UPP has been building our responsible investment foundation, for example by developing our inaugural Responsible Investing Policy, becoming a founding participant in Climate Engagement Canada, and signing the Canadian Investor Statement on Climate Change. The latter includes a commitment to develop a climate action plan to support the global goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner, which aligns with the commitment in our Responsible Investing Policy to set climate science-aligned targets to reduce our portfolio emissions profile.

In early 2022, we will host a series of member-focused discussions on the questions and issues that UPP should address on our responsible investment journey. We will also launch Part Two of our member survey, specifically focused on responsible investment. In advance of those discussions, we will share an outline of our drafted commitments with members and are keen to gather their perspectives on the scope of those commitments and their translation to tangible and transparent action. We hope our members will join us for these important conversations.

Yes, it will. Social and governance issues can also pose significant investment risks and investments can cause adverse impacts on people and communities. We will be taking these into consideration in developing our core investment approach.

Our first Responsible Investing Policy (RI Policy) is available on our Investment Policies page along with our initial Statement of Investment Policies & Procedures (SIPP). The RI Policy is our mechanism for implementing the high-level commitments and beliefs summarized in our SIPP. It provides a starting framework for how we will practically, consistently and comprehensively incorporate ESG considerations in our investment management and stewardship activities.

As we continue to build out our approach, we are committed to ensuring our goals are backed by clear plans and timelines and measurable targets. This is what our members expect of us, and it is one of the important tasks in front of us now, led by our Managing Director of Responsible Investing and sector veteran, Brian Minns. We are committed to investing in a manner that is transparent and can be assessed by you, our members.

We are beginning the work to define our longer-term strategic commitments and plans – this is one of our key decisions. While we have strong ambitions in this area, we’re taking the necessary time to gain a full line of sight to all the Plan assets before making specific commitments. Those commitments will be translated into targets, metrics and timelines, including to reduce the carbon intensity of our investment portfolio. In doing so, we are investigating initiatives like the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance and the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative Net Zero Asset Owner Commitment.

Meanwhile, we are actively partnering with several networks and initiatives to strengthen our approach to responsible investment and build partnerships with like-minded organizations. Many of these organizations are working toward global climate goals (including net-zero).

We will be fully transparent with members as we develop our investment strategy and the embedded responsible investing commitments.

We believe that investors have a responsibility to not only respond to evolving environmental, social and governance issues, but also to promote a just, sustainable economy and society. We do not, and will not, take that responsibility lightly.

These important questions will be addressed over the next year, as we develop our initial investment strategy. That work is beginning in earnest now. We are in the process of examining the assets that we’re inheriting from our founding universities and our combined investment profile. That process will continue into next Spring, when we assume direct management of University of Toronto’s assets (representing 60% of the consolidated portfolio).

This is not a simple process, as many of our investments are currently pooled with other investors in agreed-upon investment mandates. Our ability to implement fossil fuel-related restrictions now, even if we wanted to, is limited by the nature of our current relationships with our external managers. That will change over time, and we will keep these considerations in mind as we develop, implement and adapt our strategy.

Our strategy work in the coming months will be guided by our founding “Responsible Investing Beliefs” and supported by research and evidence. Part of that research is to explore our exposure to climate solutions and carbon-intensive companies across our total portfolio, as well as the ESG capabilities and commitments of our investment managers. Over the long-term, we want to invest in those who are driving solutions to climate change and transitioning their business models and reduce our exposure to those who are not.

The Fall member engagement will focus primarily on the member service experience. However, we plan to engage members in further dialogue prior to sharing our initial investment strategy in 2022. We will also be including investment-related questions in our all-member survey to be undertaken later this year.

In the meantime, members can submit comments or questions any time through MyUPP.ca.

FAQ