For more than 50 years, the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) Pension Plan has been delivering secure lifetime pensions to employees of the Ontario college system. The Plan assumed its current jointly sponsored governance structure in 1995 and, more recently, has been growing its number of participating employers both related to and beyond the college sector.
The Plan is a defined benefit pension plan with equal cost sharing. Decisions about benefits, contributions, and risk are also shared equally by members and employers through their representatives on the Plan’s two governing bodies. The Plan is sponsored by the College Employer Council, on behalf of the college boards of governors, OCASA (Ontario College Administrative Staff Association), and by OPSEU (Ontario Public Service Employees Union).
The mission of the CAAT Pension Plan is to improve the financial security of members in retirement, with meaningful and secure benefits supported by stable and appropriate contribution rates.
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.
41 participating employers
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.
2016 - As a result of the Plan’s funded status, inflation protection on post-2007 service is extended to 2019.
2017 - The Plan extends inflation protection on post-2007 service to 2020.
2018 - Inflation protection on post-2007 service is extended to 2021.
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 (ROM) and the ROM Foundation as its newest employers.
- 2017 - The Plan welcomes Sheridan Student Union as its newest employer.
- 2018 - The Plan welcomes Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) as its newest employers.
The CAAT Plan is a model of good governance
- 1995 - The CAAT Plan assumed its current jointly sponsored governance structure.
- 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.
- 2018 – The CAAT Pension Plan is 118% funded on a going-concern basis with a funding reserve of $2.3 billion, and remains within Level 4 of the Funding Policy. Contribution rates can remain unchanged until at least 2022. Conditional inflation protection (on service earned after 2007) can be paid on pensions in payment until at least 2021.
Today, the CAAT Pension Plan is an industry-leading defined benefit pension plan; one of the most successful pension plans in Canada. The CAAT Plan is open for growth, offering what Canadians want in a workplace pension – lifetime pension, survivor benefits and inflation protection.
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.