On April 11, 2019, the Ontario government tabled the 2019 Ontario Budget (2019 Budget). The 2019 Budget announced that the government is considering future changes to the Pension Benefits Act to permit pension plans to communicate with plan members electronically as the default method. The 2019 Budget also amends the Insurance Act to clarify the ability of insurers to accept electronic beneficiary designations for insurance.

ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS

The 2019 Budget states that the government is considering making future legislative changes to the Pension Benefits Act to permit administrators to use electronic communication as the default method of communicating with plan members, with appropriate safeguards. Plan members who prefer to receive paper documents would be given the option to continue to do so.

Currently, pension plan administrators may only use electronic means to send out notices, statements and other records to members, former members, retired members and other plan beneficiaries, if the administrator has the person’s consent to do so.

ELECTRONIC BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS

The 2019 Budget and related budget bill amend the Insurance Act to clarify that insurers may accept electronic beneficiary designations, subject to any specific requirements set out in the Insurance Act, regulations, and other applicable laws—including the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000—or that may be prescribed by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario. The 2019 Budget provides that these amendments are consistent with the amendments made to the Pension Benefits Act in the fall of 2018, which allow plan administrators to permit the electronic designations of beneficiaries in accordance with prescribed requirements.

We will be discussing the 2019 Budget in further detail at our seminar on April 30, 2019.

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