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November Pension Newsletter

By November 21, 2023December 10th, 2023Newsletters

Welcome, New Directors to Board

We are pleased to announce that two new Directors have joined the GSI Board, effective September 2023.

Rev. Carla Blakley, Regina

Carla is the pastor at a United Lutheran Church in Regina.

She has a wealth of experience from serving on many boards throughout her career.

She also has extensive knowledge of the ELCIC through her former positions as Assistant to the ELCIC National Bishop and as a Community Relations Director for Canadian Lutheran World Relief.

We are excited for the many gifts Carla will share with the Board as she brings perspective and insight as a Plan Member.

Sabrina Buffie, Winnipeg

Sabrina is Compensation & Benefits Specialist for Princess Auto, a national retailer. This role has included group benefits plan administration, pension committee membership, member education, and total rewards strategy.

She holds Bachelors degrees in Arts and Commerce from the University of Manitoba and the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist designation from Dalhousie University.

The GSI Board is delighted to have found a new Director who has such depth of knowledge pertaining to pension and benefits and who is also a member of an ELCIC congregation (Faith Lutheran Church, Winnipeg).

Keeping Current about the Pension Industry

The eight volunteers who serve on the ELCIC Board of Directors need a wide range of expertise and knowledge to do their work well. One of the ways we sharpen our knowledge is through continuing education. This enables us to understand the advice of investment managers and consultants and to use this wisdom when setting policies. It is also helpful when working with the Executive Director Lisa Thiessen on developing strategies and providing general oversight of GSI operations.

Webinars, conferences, and publications help Directors keep abreast of trends in governance, pensions and benefits administration, and the regulatory environment — as well as matters relevant to health benefits. This past September, for example, I participated in the Association of Canadian Pension Managers (ACPM) in Ottawa, which had the theme “Better Retirement Outcomes: Issues, Outcomes, Actions.” This conference is always excellent, and this year’s was no exception. Here are some topics that were covered.

ACPM Conference Highlights

Pension regulation, in particular, is something of a moving target. As the environment changes, with Canadians living longer and budgets becoming tighter, plans are becoming more varied and complex. Many regulatory changes have been proposed and are currently being considered; some of these will be implemented and will ultimately impact Canadian pension funds.

At the ACPM conference, we also learned about regulatory changes related to diversification options of pension portfolios. Awareness of these pending changes enables boards of directors, including ours, to adopt effective practices proactively in order to remain compliant with regulations.

Several sessions looked at trends among pension plans. Most plans have employer-matching contribution rates between 4% and 6%. ELCIC plan members contribute 7% of their salary to their pension fund, and this is matched by an employer contribution of 8% of the member’s salary. This high contribution rate recognizes that many of our Plan Members begin their career later in life — in part because of the extensive education required for our rostered leaders — and may have less time to build up funds for retirement. It also helps to ensure that the funds Plan Members have available in retirement are enough to live on.

A particularly fascinating session that I attended was called “Horror Stories in Pension Plan Administration: How to Avoid Them and Learn From Others.” We heard how similar organizations have resolved member-related or operational challenges, such as Members’ failure to update spousal information, how best to locate missing Members, and breaches of regulation. Hearing these “war stories” provides guidance when we are confronted by similar issues with GSI.

Other Topics for Continuing Ed

A significant purpose for ongoing, regular director training is to keep abreast of developing trends in commonly accepted best practices for board governance. Board governance practices today deal with issues not considered in the past: ESG (Environmental, Social, and [Corporate] Governance), diversity and inclusion, risk management, etc. The conferences and meetings that GSI directors attend afford the opportunity to gauge where GSI fits in the spectrum of possibilities. Awareness raised at these and similar meetings ultimately finds its way into GSI’s policies and governance processes.

The requirement for continuous Director training is a fundamental to good governance. It is part of our fiduciary responsibility to the organization and its stakeholders, and it is not a responsibility taken lightly by the board members.

I feel thankful for the opportunity to receive this training; when we as a Board must make difficult decisions, it is reassuring to know that we have the information we need.

Financial Literacy Webinar

The topic of Humanacare’s monthly webinar for November is timely. Our current economy isn’t easy for anyone. With rising inflation, unpredictable markets, and a possible recession looming, financial literacy and understanding the tools available to you are important.

The question addressed in the webinar is:

“I’m so overwhelmed with my finances.
I’m not sure where to start with budgeting. Any tips?” 

The live version of the webinar was November 8. But you can still watch the recording! You should be able to click on the button below, provide a name and email address, and instantly gain access.

New Additional CPP Contribution (CPP2)

Since 2019, the CRA has gradually been enhancing the Canada Pension Plan. From 2019 – 2023, employer and employee contributions over $3000 and up to the original contribution limits (Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings, or YMPE) were gradually increasing each year.

Step 2 will begin to take effect in 2024.

For those who earn more than the YMPE each year, a new, additional contribution limit is being introduced: the Year’s Additional Maximum Pensionable Earnings (otherwise known as YAMPE or CPP2). CRA estimates the YAMPE for 2024 to be $72,400.

Once YMPE is reached each year, employers and employees will each contribute 4% of salary towards the employee’s CPP until the YAMPE is reached.

If your salary from one employer is less than YMPE ($68,500 in 2024), this change will have no effect on you.

Investment Results & Notes

ELCIC Pension Plan

ELCIC Pension Plan Investment ReturnMedian Balanced Pension Plan as a comparisonExcess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 -3.5% -2.1% -1.4% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 1.1% 1.2% -0.1% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 3.9% 4.5% -0.6% 

This quarter saw negative investment results in all major markets. The reason is mainly that long-term interest rates continued to increase and are now quite high by the standards of the 21st century. The stock market adjusted for the impact of these high rates on all companies.

The investment managers of the ELCIC Pension Plan are continually assessing each investment for its future prospects in this complex environment to grow the fund for our plan members.

The GSI Board carefully reviewed the decisions and the results posted by the investment managers this quarter and are monitoring the financial health of the retirement assets.

The investment return, before expenses, for the ELCIC Pension Plan for January 1 to September 30, 2023 is 1.42%.

Details for each fund and for each quarter compared to a benchmark can be found below.

Growth Fund

Here is a closer look at each portfolio within the Growth Fund. 

Please note that this information is not intended to be investment advice or to be a recommendation for your personal investment portfolio. The content is intended for information purposes only and should not be disclosed to other third parties or used for the purposes of market timing or seeking to gain an unfair advantage.

PH&N Canadian Equity Value Fund

DatesPH&N Canadian Equity
Investment Return
S&P/TSX Capped
as a comparison
Excess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 -1.7% -2.2% 0.5% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 1.8% 1.1% 0.7% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 4.0% 4.6% -0.6% 

RBC Global Equity Focus Pension Trust

RBC Global Equity
Investment Return
MSCI World ($ CAD)
as a comparison
Excess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 -2.6% -1.3% -1.3% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 0.8% 4.6% -3.8% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 2.8% 7.8% -5.0% 

Baillie Gifford Global Equity Fund

Baillie Gifford Global Equity
Investment Return
MSCI World ($ CAD)
as a comparison
Excess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 -5.9% -1.3% -4.6% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 4.6% 4.6% 0.0% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 7.5% 7.8% -0.3% 

Fixed Income Fund

The Fixed Income portion of the portfolio is managed by PH&N and holds several Funds. Here is a closer look at each portfolio within the Fixed Income Fund. 

PH&N Core Plus Bond Fund

PH&N Core Plus Bond Fund
Investment Return
FTSE Canada Universe Bond
as a comparison
Excess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 -3.9% -3.9% 0.0% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 -0.3% -0.7% 0.4% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 3.4% 3.2% 0.2% 

PH&N Mortgage Pension Trust

PH&N Mortgage Pension Trust
Investment Return
FTSE Canada Short-term Bond
as a comparison
Excess return
PH&N Mortgage Pension Trust Investment Return FTSE Canada Excess return 
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 0.0% -0.1% 0.1% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 -0.2% -0.8% 0.6% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 2.9% 1.8% 1.1% 

PH&N High Yield Mortgage Fund

PH&N High Yield Mortgage
Investment Return
FTSE Canada Short-term Bond
as a comparison
Excess return
Jul 1 to Sep 30, 2023 1.4% -0.1% 1.5% 
Apr 1 to Jun 30, 2023 1.0% -0.8% 1.8% 
Jan 1 to Mar 31, 2023 1.9% 1.8% 0.1% 

Have a Question for GSI?

We welcome your questions and feedback!

Information and resources can also be found on the GSI website.
GSI Website:  elcicgsi.ca
Winnipeg Residents: 204-984-9181
Toll Free: 1-877-352-4247

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