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University Pension Plan launch marks historic moment for pensions in Ontario’s university sector

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UPP becomes responsible for the new plan’s administration and the investment of its assets, marking the beginning of its journey to help bring greater long-term funding sustainability to Ontario’s university sector 

TORONTO – June 29, 2021 – July 1, 2021 marks a watershed moment for pensions in Ontario’s university sector, with the new University Pension Plan (UPP) now officially the pension provider for its three inaugural university communities. As Ontario’s newest multi-employer, jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP), UPP will serve members and retirees at Queen’s University, University of Guelph, and University of Toronto – and eventually, other universities that wish to join, with the consent of their members. 

“UPP is excited to join Ontario’s world-class JSPPs in building a secure future for our members and enhancing the long-term sustainability of defined benefit pension plans for all those in the university sector who may join us in the future,” said Barbara Zvan, President and CEO of UPP. “We’re here to protect the stability of our members’ pensions, provide excellence in member service, demonstrate a commitment to responsible investing, and – importantly – as a JSPP, give members a voice in their plan.” 

Zvan stressed that: “July 1 is UPP’s Day One. Our Year One is about learning and building, all with an eye to delivering continuity and stability to our members.” 

After a decade of collaboration between UPP’s Joint Sponsors, this launch is a significant milestone for the employees and employers who created UPP together. On the first of July, UPP will bring together over 35,000 members, three universities and five pension plans into a single administration with total assets of approximately $10.5 billion. 

Delivering a seamless transition 

Over the past year, UPP has worked closely with its Joint Sponsors and university partners to deliver a seamless transition for its members. On a transition basis, the founding universities will administer the plan as agents of UPP, to ensure members continue to have the smooth, familiar service and benefits they expect while UPP builds its own infrastructure and systems. 

UPP will draw on the decades of experience of its predecessor plans, as well as its expert board and leadership team who represent Canada’s top voices in the pension sector, led by Zvan – one of Canada’s foremost authorities on risk management and an internationally-recognized leader on sustainable finance. 

“UPP was born from the extraordinary efforts of the employees, administrators and governors of our founding universities, all committed to strengthening defined benefit pensions not just for this generation of university employees, but for many generations to come,” said Gale Rubenstein, Chair of the UPP Board of Trustees. “We’re starting from a strong foundation with an outstanding board and leadership team that are guided by our members’ values and needs. We have an exciting road of opportunities ahead.” 

After working to deliver a smooth transition for members on July 1, UPP will turn its focus to exploring the investment assets it is inheriting, building its operational foundations, and defining its long-term strategy. Alongside her leadership team, Zvan plans to merge her decades of pension and sustainable finance experience to chart a path forward for UPP that has responsible investment and risk mitigation at its core. 

“The impetus for UPP was to give members added security and peace of mind, through even the toughest times,” said Zvan. “This past year has reinforced the importance of that decision. Investing responsibly is central to delivering on that commitment – it is not only the right thing to do, but also the necessary thing to do to protect the fund’s sustainability for generations of members.” 

UPP’s fourth member institution, Trent University, is scheduled to join the inaugural universities in January 2022, with the participation of its Faculty Association pension plan members. 

Media Contact: 

Kelly Conlon
[email protected] 

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