Draft Amendments to the Pension Benefits Act: Electronic Communications
Bill or Act:
Pension Benefits Act
Summary of Decision:
Bill 132, Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2019 amended the Pension Benefits Act to further facilitate electronic communication between pension administrators and plan members. Find Bill 132 here:
August 6, 2019
Summary of Proposal:
Ontario's Budget 2019 indicated that the government is considering legislative changes to the PBA to help facilitate further electronic communication between administrators and members. These changes would permit plans to use electronic communication as the default method, with appropriate safeguards, to provide pension plan information to their members.
The Ministry of Finance is seeking comments on a proposed framework that would permit pension plan administrators to use electronic communications as the default method (i.e., no consent required) for sending documents to members and former members if they meet certain conditions, including:
- Administrators have provided notice to all affected members prior to applying the default method. The notice requirement would not be satisfied if sent electronically unless a member or former member consented to accept the notice electronically.
- Affected members would be permitted to "opt-out" of receiving documents electronically at any time and request paper documents instead.
- Documents containing personal information would be required to be sent only to the intended recipient through an electronic information system which would require the recipient to identify him/herself prior to accessing the documents.
The default method would apply to the delivery of documents from administrators to members and former members only. All other requirements to deliver documents under the Act would not be sufficiently met if sent electronically unless the consent of the recipient was obtained. For example, the default method would not apply to the delivery of documents from administrators to retired members or other beneficiaries (e.g., spouses, dependent children etc.).
The proposed framework also:
- Provides rule-making authority to FSRA to add additional safeguards in the future, if necessary; and
- Proposes changes to ensure there is alignment between the electronic communications framework and rules regarding the "sufficient" service of documents.
Pension Policy Branch
Ministry of Finance
5th Floor, Frost Building South
7 Queen's Park Crescent East
December 10, 2019