Created in 1967, alongside the Ontario college system, the CAAT Pension Plan is a Modern Defined Benefit (DB) pension plan serving 44,700 active and retired members from 38 employers across Ontario. The CAAT Plan is Ontario’s only postsecondary sector multi-employer pension plan, and the pension plan for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the ROM Foundation. As a jointly sponsored pension plan, decisions about benefits, contributions, and investment risk are shared equally by members and employers through their representatives on two governing bodies, who are appointed by the Plan sponsors: the College Employer Council, OCASA (Ontario College Administrative Staff Association), and OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union).
Our members and employers trust us to deliver secure pensions and value for contributions. Our workplace values of integrity, teamwork, and impact focus us on keeping that trust.
Celebrating 50 years of pension expertise
This year, the CAAT Pension Plan celebrates 50 years as the pension provider for the Ontario college system and other participating employers. Since its launch in 1967 alongside the newly established colleges, the CAAT Pension Plan has become recognized as a model for modern Defined Benefit pension plans in Canada and worldwide.
Join us this year as we share facts about the Plan from 1967 to today. From demographic shifts to changes in pension law, you’ll read about the informed decisions that have helped us meet the evolving needs of our membership, and the ever-changing pension landscape.
Be sure to sign up for My Pension NewsLink to receive our 50th anniversary emails and pension news, and watch for our 50th anniversary logo on our website and some of our publications as we celebrate during the coming year.
Although we’re proud of our past achievements, the CAAT Pension Plan is focused on the next 50 years and beyond. The Plan's governors – the Sponsors’ Committee and Board of Trustees – remain unequivocally committed to the stability of your pension plan, and the security of your pension.
History at a glance
When the CAAT Pension Plan was established on July 1, 1967, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) acted as Trustee. The CAAT Plan was represented by an advisory committee that provided comments on investments and administration. Since the CAAT Plan demographics were unique, Plan members and employers agreed that more control over decision-making and funding would be a benefit to all stakeholders.
In 1995, the Plan assumed its current Jointly-Sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP) governance structure. In the JSPP model, members and employers together share the responsibility for the operation of the Plan, and for any deficit or surplus that emerges. This governance model has proven to lead to stability and prudence, fostering cooperation and flexibility.
38 Employers across Ontario
Shared decision-making through the years
As a model JSPP, the members and employers make decisions that reflect the Plan’s commitment to the pension promise, and support the changing nature of the Ontario postsecondary education system and pension landscape.
Ensuring members can choose the right time to retire
- 1974 - Unreduced early retirement available for members who meet the 90 Factor
- 1991 - Unreduced early retirement expanded to people who meet the 60/20 rule
- 1998 - The 90 Factor changed to the 85 Factor
- Introduction of reduced early retirement for members between age 50-55 with 20 years of service
- 2009 - The maximum age at which a member must retire (or must start receiving pension) changed from 69 to 71
Part-time employees can earn a valuable pension
- 1988 - Membership extended to Other than Regular Full-Time (OTRFT) employees after a 24 month waiting period
- 2014 - All OTRFT employees can join the Plan immediately, with no waiting period
The CAAT Plan pension is a family benefit
- 1974 - Common-law relationships recognized for spousal pensions
- 1998 - Same sex partners recognized for spousal pensions
- 1998 - Introduction of optional 75% spousal pension
- 1998 - Introduction of a guaranteed minimum of 60 months of pension payments
- 1992 - Inflation protection divided into two parts:
- pre-1992 service remained ad hoc,
- service earned after 1992 indexed to the Consumer Price Index
- 2001 - Funding for ad hoc inflation protection (pre-1992 service) extended to 2014.
- 2001 - Funding for inflation protection on service earned after 2001 guaranteed
- 2006 - Inflation protection changed to create a new service period:
- pre-1992 service remained ad hoc,
- service earned between 1992 and 2007 guaranteed,
- service earned post-2007 conditional on Plan funding, as per the Funding Policy. (To date, inflation protection on post-2007 service has been paid in every year.)
- 2013 - As a result of a surplus, the Plan extends inflation protection on post-2007 service to 2017.
2014 - As a result of a surplus, the Plan extends inflation protection on post-2007 service to 2018.
The CAAT Plan welcomes new employers
- 2010 - The Plan welcomes its first non-college employer (Ontario Colleges Library Services, College Employer Council and Northern Centre for Advanced Technology) and formalizes employer status of Ontario College Application Service
- 2011 - the Plan welcomes OntarioLearn as a non-college employer
- 2013 - The Plan welcomes OPSEU Local 415 and OPSEU Local 562 as non-college employers
- 2013 - Plan Sponsors agree to allow universities to join the Plan
- 2014 - Colleges Ontario formalizes its distinct participation in the Plan
- 2015 - The Plan welcomes OPSEU Local 110, Mohawk College Students' Association, Fanshawe Student Union and Humber Students' Federation to the Plan.
- 2016 - The Plan welcomes the Royal Ontario Museum as its newest employer.
- 2017 - The Plan welcomes Sheridan Student Union as its newest employer.
The CAAT Plan is a model of good governance
- 2006 - Funding Policy established to provide framework for dealing with surpluses and deficits. The Funding Policy is regularly updated to reflect changing economics and changing demographics of the Plan.
- 2011 - Valuation assumptions changed to better reflect Plan experience for the 2013 valuation, specifically:
- Members are retiring later than previously assumed
- Members live longer than the national average
- Interest rates remain low
- 2012 - Plan signs JSPP agreement with the province, ensuring Plan governance remains in the hands of members and employers. The agreement:
- allows for a 4-year cycle in valuations in order to better manage volatility in interest rates and investment markets.
- further exempts the Plan from forced non-sector investment pooling.
- imposed a ‘freeze period’ from December 31, 2012 to December 30, 2017, during which the Plan would have to reduce future benefits temporarily rather than increase contributions in the event of a funding deficit.
- 2013 - Plan is fully funded with a going-concern surplus of $347 million, ensuring:
- no benefit reductions required, as a result of the JSPP agreement, and
- inflation protection on post-2007 service for pensions in payment extended to 2017.
- 2014 - Plan remains fully funded at 105% with a going-concern surplus of $525 million, ensuring inflation protection on post-2007 service for pensions in payment extended to 2018.
- 2015 - The CAAT Plan celebrates 20 years as a model JSPP, remaining fully funded at 107%, with a going-concern funding reserve of $773 million. Contributions will not change as a result of the valuation, and conditional inflation protection is guaranteed to January 1, 2018.
- 2016 – The Plan is 110.4% funded, with a going-concern funding reserve of $1.2 billion. The Plan now sits inside level 4 of the Funding Policy. Contribution rates can remain stable until at least 2020, and conditional inflation protection (on service earned after 2007) will be paid until at least 2019.
- 2017 – The Plan is 113.3% funded on a going-concern basis, with a funding reserve of $1.6 billion. The Plan remains within Level 4 of the Funding Policy. Contribution rates can remain unchanged until at least 2021. Conditional inflation protection (on service earned after 2007) will be paid on pensions in payment until at least 2020.
In 2017, the CAAT Pension Plan celebrates 50 years as the pension provider for the Ontario college sector. We’ve come a long way since 1967, when the Plan consisted of 20 employers and less than 3,000 members. Today the CAAT Pension Plan is considered a model JSPP, and we continue to manage the vital retirement income of thousands of members of within and outside of Ontario’s college community, and secure the pension promise for future retired members.