Plan Basics

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UPP members handbook


Our Member Handbook [PDF] outlines key information for each stage of your UPP pension journey. We’re there for you every step of the way.

Did your pension plan convert to UPP on July 1, 2021?

If your plan has converted to the UPP, it’s important to read both the UPP Member Handbook and your University’s Quick Guide to understand how your UPP pension fits into your overall retirement plan.

What changes under UPP?

Very little. Effective July 1, 2021, you automatically become a member of UPP and start earning pension benefits under UPP.

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 member services and support will continue as usual, through your university plan administrator. If you have any questions about your pension plan or benefits, please contact your trusted university pension administration team:

Plan Basics

If you were earning pension benefits under your university’s prior plan when it converted to UPP, you automatically become a member of UPP on the day your university joins.

New and existing employees not enrolled in a prior plan

To join UPP, you must be in an eligible employment class, which varies by participating university. Please contact your university pension administration team for questions about your eligibility or to discuss new membership.

If you are in an eligible employment class, there are two ways to join the Plan:

Full-Time Continuous Employees automatically join the Plan:

  • the first day of the month (or first full pay period if paid bi-weekly) on or following the date you join a participating employer, or
  • when you become full-time.

Other than Continuous Full-time Employees – that is, employees of a participating employer who do not qualify as a full-time employee – can choose to join UPP on the first of any month after meeting one of the following conditions:

  • you earn at least 35% of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) earnings limit, also known as the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE); or
  • you work 700 or more hours in a year.

At least one of these conditions must be met in each of the last two consecutive calendar years before applying for membership.

The YMPE is a threshold set each year by the federal government, based on the average wage in Canada. We use it to calculate your pension and determine how much you need to contribute to the Plan.

If you’ve earned pension credit in another employer’s registered pension plan just before joining a participating university, you may be able to transfer the funds from your previous employer’s plan into UPP, under certain conditions.

If eligible, transferring funds may allow you to:

  • receive additional pensionable service under UPP; and,
  • increase your eligibility service, which would help you qualify for an unreduced early retirement pension sooner.

To request a transfer, you’ll need to complete and return a Pension Transfer Application within 12 months of becoming a UPP member, or within 12 months of joining the university’s prior plan – whichever is earlier. If this is something you’re considering, it’s best to discuss it with your university pension administration team.

The Plan’s contribution rates are set by UPP’s Joint Sponsors. As a UPP member, you currently contribute:

University Pension Plan member required contribution (matched by employer)

Under UPP, your annual contribution is determined by taking 9.2% of your annual pensionable earnings up to the YMPE* plus 11.5% of your annual pensionable earnings over the YMPE. Your contribution is 100% matched by your employer * The YMPE is a threshold set each year by the federal government, based on the average wage in Canada. In 2021, YMPE is $61,600.

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.

Footnote: UPP’s founding Universities are also responsible for any pre-conversion deficit funding, addressed through amortized special payments

As a member of UPP, your pension is paid for life. The pension you receive is based on a formula that considers a few key components:

Your Best Average Earnings: average of your highest 48 months of pensionable earnings as a member, up to the maximum pension limit under the Income Tax Act.

Average YMPE[1]: average of the YMPE established by the federal government in the last 48 months before you retire.

Your years of Pensionable Service: the amount of continuous service during which you’ve contributed to UPP and your prior plan, including any service you transferred in.

For each year of pensionable service after joining UPP, you will accrue an annual pension benefit, payable at your Normal Retirement Date, based on:

[1] Please note that this will change to the Year’s Additional Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YAMPE) for service on and after January 1, 2025. Like the YMPE, the YAMPE is set to increase each year to reflect wage growth in Canada.

University Pension Plan annual pension benefit calculation

Your annual pension benefit, payable at your Normal Retirement Date, based on: your best average earnings* up to the average YMPE** multiplied by 1.6% plus your best average earnings above the average YMPE multiplied by 2%, the total of which is multiplied by your UPP pensionable service *an average of your highest 48 months of pensionable earnings as a member, limited to the amount that would produce the Income Tax Act (ITA) maximum lifetime annual pension ** average of the YMPE established by the federal government in the last 48 months before you retire.

Like all registered pension plans, UPP’s pension benefit is subject to the maximum pension limits under the Income Tax Act.

Under UPP, pension payments are on the first day of the month.

Under UPP, you decide when to start collecting your pension.

The normal retirement date is the end of the month in which you reach age 65.

You can retire with an early unreduced pension as early as age 60 if your age plus your eligibility service equal at least 80 points.

You can retire with an early reduced pension as early as the end of the month in which you turn 55. Your pension will be reduced by 5% for each year (prorated for partial years) that you are under age 65.

You can postpone your retirement until November 30th of the year in which you reach age 71.

If you’ve earned a pension under a participating university’s prior plan, different early retirement eligibility rules and reductions might apply to your prior service. For more information and to get a personalized retirement projection, please contact your university pension administration team.

There may be times when your career or life choices alter your earnings or hours worked, which could affect your pension benefits. UPP offers many ways to ensure you continue building benefits and maximize your pension along the way.

During an employer-approved leave of absence, you will remain a member of UPP, but you will only earn pensionable service for that period if contributions are made. The chart below shows the most common type of leaves and how contributions can be maintained.

Please contact your university pension administration team to learn about other leaves of absence and how they might impact your pension.

If you leave for another UPP employer (within 12 months) and you didn’t transfer any of your pension assets, your two membership periods will simply combine, and your pension will be recalculated when you retire or leave for a non-UPP employer.

If you leave your job with a UPP employer, you will need to decide what to do with your UPP pension. You have the following options:

For members under age 55, you can:

  • leave your benefits in the Plan until you become eligible to retire or,
  • transfer the commuted value of your UPP pension to a registered retirement vehicle (such as an RRSP) or another pension plan or purchase an annuity through an insurance company.

For members age 55 or older, you can:

  • leave your benefits in the Plan until age 65 or,
  • take an immediate pension.

You should seek independent professional financial advice when making decisions about your UPP pension.

If you’ve earned a pension under a participating university’s prior plan, different rules for taking your commuted value out of the Plan may apply to both your UPP pension and your prior plan pension. Contact your university pension administration team to learn more.

There may be impacts on your pension if you return to work for a participating UPP employer after you start collecting a pension.

If you return to work for a participating UPP employer (in an eligible employment class) on a continuous full-time basis, your pension payments will stop and you will become a contributing member of UPP. You’ll build additional benefits and your pension will be recalculated when you retire again.

If you return to work for a participating UPP employer (in an eligible employment class) on a basis other than continuous full-time, you will have the option to continue receiving a pension, or to stop your pension payments and become a contributing member of UPP.

If you decide to start contributing to UPP again, you will build additional benefits and your pension will be recalculated when you retire again. If not, you will continue collecting your pension and working, but will not accrue any further service under UPP.

If you return to work for a non-UPP employer, there is no impact to your pension.

Survivor benefits are an important feature of the Plan, to help provide for your loved ones when you pass away, whether before or after retirement. Completing the Beneficiary Designation Form when you join the Plan helps ensure the right benefits are provided to the right people. The form is available from your university pension administration team.

If you have a spouse, as defined by the Plan, that person is automatically entitled to your death benefits unless they sign a waiver.

If you do not have a spouse or your spouse waived their rights to survivor benefits, you can designate a beneficiary to be next in line for death benefits. If you do not have a spouse or a beneficiary, this money will be paid to your estate.

Please see UPP’s Member Handbook for more information, or speak to your trusted university pension administration team.

Want to know more? See our up-to-date frequently asked questions.

We hope you’ll get to know your UPP – a pension plan whose time has come, and one that will make you proud. For more information about UPP, contact us.

What changes under UPP?

Very little. Effective July 1, 2021, you automatically become a member of UPP and start earning pension benefits under UPP.

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 member services and support will continue as usual, through your university plan administrator. If you have any questions about your pension plan or benefits, please contact your trusted university pension administration team:

Queen’s University Pension Services

Pension Self Service

Bob Weisnagel

Email [email protected]

Tel (613) 533-6000 ext. 74184

University of Guelph Human Resources

Employee Self Service

Email [email protected]

Tel (519) 824-4120 ext. 52142

University of Toronto

Alight Self-Service

Email [email protected]

Tel 1 (888) 852-2559