2021 Annual report summary

Building a bright future

Fully funded with sustainable pension security at the core

At December 31, 2021


Fully funded


Funding surplus


Total pension benefits paid in the last half of 2021


A decade in the making

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.

Our 2022–2025 organizational strategy serves as a critical beacon in our build, defined through six key imperatives:


Serve our members

Deliver proactive, digitally enabled services that exceed member expectations

Invest for the future

Design a dynamic, purpose-driven investment program with pension security at the core

Realize sector growth

Build trust and transparency with the diverse university community and welcome new Plan participants


Build for Resilience

Future-proof operations and technology while responsibly managing costs

Lean Into ESG1

Foster a financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable future for members in all we do

Foster our culture

Build an intentional, thriving culture underpinned by our purpose-driven people

1 Environmental, social and governance factors


Our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation

Our people are the heart of our organization

Together, we are creating a purpose-driven and inclusive workplace with a culture of teamwork, collaboration, and respect — for one another and the world around us. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Reconciliation (EDIR) is the umbrella term for the programs, policies, strategies, and practices underpinning our mission to create and sustain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment – no matter anyone’s ethnicity; sexual orientation; gender identity; physical, cognitive, or mental ability; religion; age; marital status; socioeconomic status; national origin; or other identities.

EDIR is not just a core value at UPP; it’s a business imperative. Diverse teams, perspectives, and lived experiences contribute to better decisions and a better workplace. Our EDIR program and three-year roadmap are the blueprints for our inclusive, respectful working environment and our way of honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92

Learn more about our EDIR strategic objectives in our annual report

"We believe in the power of bringing our whole selves to work and will work tirelessly to create a diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization where all voices are heard and all employees are embraced with dignity and respect.”


Serving our members









A member-driven approach

UPP was founded with a promise to preserve a comfortable and secure retirement income for our members, deliver member service excellence, and give our members a voice in their plan.

We are at a pivotal stage — building our long-term foundations, defining our member experience and engagement approach, and solidifying our investment roadmap. With an exciting road of opportunity ahead at UPP, our members’ direct perspectives, expectations, and priorities are an essential compass.

Throughout 2021 and early 2022, we engaged with members to understand their general sentiment, values, and priorities regarding the core aspects of their pension journey: member experience and the investment of their assets.
"My mother worked at an Ontario university for over 30 years. I remember how proud she was to contribute to her pension, knowing she could retire with peace of mind. That stuck with me, and when given a chance to work for an organization that could help others like my mom, I jumped at it. I’m committed to serving members with excellence and care, and that begins by understanding what that means to our members."


Invest for the future

6-month investment highlights

(At December 31, 2021)


Net assets


Net return


Net investment income

UPP investment beliefs

We believe that long-term sustainable growth depends on action grounded in strong, clear values. At UPP, all investment strategies and decisions are guided by the following Investment Beliefs, as set by Management and the Board in early 2022.

UPP invests with a purpose: to fulfill the pension promise to members, now and in the future.

As a long-term investor, UPP has a responsibility to promote the health of the capital markets and the financial, social, and environmental systems on which capital markets rely.

Creating value and managing risk involve exercising UPP’s voice to influence outcomes related to material issues through active ownership, policy advocacy, and collaboration with other investors and stakeholders — all of which must be approached with the same intention and rigour as selecting investments.

All aspects of investing should be forward-looking and intentional. Successful investing requires rigorous research and analysis, alignment with UPP’s capabilities, and focused innovation.

Culture is an essential investment input. How we invest should reflect UPP’s culture of collaboration and forward vision.

UPP embraces partnership as a foundation for enhanced performance and impact.

Costs are an asset that should be treated as judiciously as any other plan asset. The goal is neither to reduce costs to the lowest possible level, nor squander a plan asset. Rather, the goal is to employ costs wisely in delivering a secure pension promise.

Transparency engenders trust. Our investment of members’ pension earnings has bearing on their retirement security; they have a right to know how we approach and perform that responsibility.

As a sector plan, our growth over time allows us to establish the structures and capabilities to expertly manage members’ assets in line with our liabilities while contributing to healthy capital markets. Each is an essential aspect to delivering a sustainable pension promise. Through our choices today, we prepare for tomorrow’s scale, building invaluable intellectual capital along the way.


Leading with sustainability

Promoting the health of financial, social, and environmental systems

As a long-term investor, UPP has a responsibility to promote the health of the capital markets and the financial, social, and environmental systems on which capital markets rely. This value is embedded in our core investment beliefs and approach, as a means for fulfilling our pension promise well into the future.

Creating value and managing risk

End-to-end ESG integration

Our ESG focus extends to the highest level at UPP and is embedded throughout the organization. Every investment professional is responsible for integrating ESG considerations into their investment decisions and communicating UPP’s policies and expectations to external investment managers. We do this to deliver sustainable long-term value and fulfil our pension promise to generations of members.

Our suite of investment policies provides a framework for how we will consistently and comprehensively incorporate ESG considerations in our investment management and stewardship activities. These policies will continually evolve as we grow and advance our investment program, driven by our steadfast commitment to the pension promise.

Exercising our influence and partnering for impact

By investing in companies and establishing relationships with external managers, we gain a seat on the table that we can use to promote fair, efficient, and sustainable financial markets. We engage in proactive dialogue with the companies we invest in and our external investment managers to make our expectations clear on ESG issues such as climate change, reconciliation, and human rights.

UPP participates in broader collaborative initiatives to:

  • Leverage the power of scale to amplify our impact
  • Enhance access to global tools, data, and best practices
  • Help deliver a strong, unified voice to companies about material matters

“We know that companies are more sustainably profitable, and more stable, when they prepare for and act on the issues transforming our world. We will not only invest in those organizations; we will be one of those organizations. That work begins by understanding the ESG profile of our consolidated portfolio and investment managers today, and how we can best achieve positive change.”

UPP's climate action plan

Part of being a responsible investor is advancing climate readiness across our portfolio. This is critical not only to the success of Canadian companies and communities as we move toward a net zero world, but also the long-term strength of our Fund. Recognizing climate change as a defining challenge of our time, a transparent and deliberate climate action plan is and will be a priority component of our developing investment and risk management strategy.

UPP will transition its investment portfolio to


GHG emissions by


or sooner

with interim emissions reduction targets:

16.5% by 2025

60% by 2030

Our inaugural carbon footprint also forms the baseline for our interim emission reduction targets, as shown below. We will calculate and report our carbon footprint annually to demonstrate progress toward our long-term objective of net-zero portfolio GHG emissions by 2040 and our interim 2025 and 2030 emission reduction objectives.

UPP’s 2021 carbon footprint and targets

Metric tonnes CO2-eq/$M invested

While setting a 2040 net-zero target may seem ambitious for a new fund, we see this commitment as central to delivering long-term value and an essential beacon for our evolving investment strategy.

Our Climate Action Plan outlines the steps and tools we will take to achieve our target. 

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Learn more

More details on who we are, plan funding, and  investment performance

Full 2021 Annual Report

Part of being a responsible investor is advancing climate readiness across our portfolio. UPP will transition its investment portfolio to Net-zero GHG emissions by 2040 or sooner. Our Climate Action Plan outlines the steps and tools we will take to achieve our target.

Climate Action Plan

As a jointly sponsored pension plan, the perspectives and ideas of our plan members are a crucial input into shaping UPP’s path forward. Read the results of our engagement activities to date, featuring survey results, key themes and important takeaways.

Member engagement results

2021 Annual Report

Explore our summary or download the full report

UPP by the numbers

How employees and employers came together to build UPP.
Our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation

Our member-driven approach

Our investment highlights and investment beliefs

How we’re integrating ESG and setting carbon targets


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