Pooled pension plan introduced for B.C. residents to save for retirement

VICTORIA – British Columbia has become the first province in Canada to create legislation for group pension plans to help into retirement the two-thirds of residents who can’t access such plans.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong introduced the Pooled Registration Pension Plans Act on Thursday, saying the plan gives the option for one more safety net for thousands in the province.

“It’s not the flashiest of subjects,” de Jong admitted at he announced the legislation to reporters.

“Yet, increasingly, people are becoming aware of the fact that we all have a personal responsibility to ensure that we have sufficient means at our disposal as we head towards our retirement years.”

The plans would be managed by licensed financial institutions and focus on workers who don’t have a pension plan, including those who are self-employed.

Workers whose employers set up the pooled plan aren’t obligated to get involved and employers aren’t required to match contributions.

It’s legislation intended to make well-regulated, low-cost pension plans available to residents, especially employees of small- and medium-sized businesses, de Jong said.

The bill is part of a national effort to make low-cost pension plans available to millions of Canadians who don’t have other plans, and follows on the heels of similar federal government legislation.

Ted Menzies, the federal minister of state for finance, congratulated B.C. for being the first to recognize such a need.

“It may seem like a dull topic to some, except when you reach the point of retirement and realize that you don’t have enough money.”

At that point, he said, people might be wishing they had an earlier option.

“It’s very important that the provinces all step forward, one at a time, to bring their legislation forward so this is harmonized across all provinces,” Menzies said.

Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan have also signalled their intention to pass similar legislation.