August 13, 2020
As the summer winds down, I wanted to take this opportunity to keep you up to date on how your pension plan continues to navigate through the challenges presented by the global pandemic.
We are currently in the planning phase for a gradual return to our offices when it is safe to do so. We are taking a thoughtful, deliberate and conservative approach guided by public health recommendations to prevent risks to the health and safety of our members and team.
While our doors remain closed to protect the wellbeing of everyone, our team has adapted to the evolving situation to ensure we are fully operational in this new environment. We continue to use technology to connect with members and deliver the high level of service you have come to expect from us. Similarly, we encourage you to use Online Services to send us documents safely and securely.
You can get answers to your pension questions by speaking with an OPTrust team member from the safety and comfort of your home. For your convenience you can book an individual appointment.
Those of you who have followed the stock markets this year will know that the Toronto Stock Exchange has recovered significantly from the lows caused by the pandemic, which provides some comfort during this period of uncertainty. As long-term investors, we expect to go through periods of market volatility like this. OPTrust's investment strategy is designed with changing market environments in mind so we can withstand downturns and benefit when markets rise. Our diversified, balanced portfolio delivers the returns we need to keep the Plan fully funded.
I have been inspired by your positive feedback. Your continued confidence in OPTrust is a source of inspiration for our team and we are all here for you.
Stay safe and stay well,
President and CEO
A note from Peter Lindley, our President and CEO
OPTrust is a jointly sponsored pension plan between OPSEU and the Government of Ontario. We are in contact with both sponsors regularly to provide updates on our top priorities: serving our members, paying pensions, investing with long-term sustainability in mind, and ensuring the health and safety of our OPTrust team.
As we navigate the numerous ways COVID-19 is forcing all of us to change how we live and work, it's important to feel connected and supported now more than ever. I hope you are able to stay connected with loved ones. Though I'm apart from my children and grandchildren, we're in touch by phone and video messaging.
The way we work has changed. Today, the entire OPTrust team is connected remotely working from over 300 homes. OPTrust was established 25 years ago and since then we have prided ourselves on our commitment and high level of service to our members. Every day we work to ensure you receive the pension benefits you have earned.
A heartfelt thank you
Our thoughts extend to all who have been impacted by this pandemic. To our members working on the frontlines and those staying home to help stem the spread, we thank you.
We are in unchartered territory, the likes of which many of us have not experienced in our lifetime. And yet, we continue to receive positive messages from members across the province and retirees hunkered down in different countries – a source of inspiration for the OPTrust team that we are all in this together.
Peace of mind
While many of you help to keep Ontario operational in this challenging time, we have your backs. Many people are worried about the future. Market volatility and weathering uncertain times is exactly why we focus on our Plan's funded status rather than annual investment returns. The Plan is fully funded, a position we have maintained for 11 consecutive years. A secure pension in retirement should give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.
Getting in touch
Over 96,000 members rely on OPTrust to help provide financial security in retirement with a defined benefit pension. It's a responsibility we do not take lightly, and we are here to serve you.
- Consult the Question and Answers for answers to the most common questions
- Sign in to your secure Online Services account to view your pension details or update your personal information
- Send us a secure message by signing in to your account, clicking My Secure Messages in the left menu, then clicking Compose New Message
- Book an appointment to discuss your pension with a member of our team by video conference or phone
- Call our Member Experience team at 416 681-6100 or 1 800-637-0024. Our new service hours are Monday - Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Stay safe, stay well.
We are all doing our part to slow down and contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
OPTrust has taken a number of steps to protect the health of our team and community as we continue to pay pensions today and preserve pensions for tomorrow. For example, most of our team have been working from home for the last 10 days and by the end of this week every single employee will be doing so.
Our commitment to you
We will continue administering the Plan and paying your pensions throughout this difficult period. Despite the current environment, you can rest assured you will continue to receive your pension payments.
You can find information and the most recent updates here. We are not holding any information sessions but OPTrust’s pension benefits specialists are available to answer your questions or to help you with any life event or personal information changes. Connect with us via our Online Services secure messaging feature or by telephone. You can also review your personal pension information while online.
While appointments are no longer in-person, they can take place online or over the telephone. Please also note, given the current situation, we are no longer able to collect and process paper mail so all communications should be by internet, email or telephone. If you have special needs, please let us know and we will work to find a way to meet them.
For retired members, if you receive your pension payment by cheque, we believe it would be safer for you to switch to direct deposit. Doing so will help us protect the wellbeing of our team and provides a safe, secure and timely way to receive your pension. Call us directly at 1-800-637-0024 to make the switch.
Protecting your security
Unfortunately, there has been an increase in email scams related to COVID-19 where individuals are contacted by others claiming to be from a financial institution or health organization and requesting personal information. Please be aware that OPTrust will never call or email you to ask for your personal information and caution that you be wary of those that do.
Working to serve you
We continue to monitor the latest advice from public health officials and follow their recommendations. OPTrust uses technology that makes it possible for the vast majority of our team members to fulfill their work duties from home instead of commuting to work. Like many other workplaces, we severely restricted travel and have advised those who have recently travelled to self-isolate in line with the recommendations of public health officials.
Secure retirement income you can count on
It's understandable to be concerned about how volatility in today's markets is affecting your pension. We know that market turbulence and periods of low returns are possible, which is why we implemented an investment strategy that assists us to weather times like these. As long-term investors, our horizon is measured over decades rather than weeks or even years. Present circumstances are exactly why we focus on our Plan's funded status rather than annual returns.
Defined benefit pension plans are based on a formula, not on the amount of money you have saved over your career that depends on day-to-day market fluctuations. Despite current circumstances, OPTrust is on a solid footing and positioned to provide our members with secure, predictable income in retirement for life.
President and CEO
In the interest of the health and wellbeing of us all, effective immediately, we are closing the office to all visitors until further notice.
As Canada and the world take measures to slow down and contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we are doing our utmost to ensure that we are being responsible to our members, our team and all Canadians.
We continue to monitor the situation and are taking steps to protect our members and our team. Effective immediately, we are postponing OPTrust’s March and April Pension Information Sessions and closing our office to all visitors until further notice
Paying pensions is one of our core priorities and therefore we continuously plan, prepare and test to ensure that we are prepared to pay pensions under situations outside of normal business operations. If you receive your pension payment by cheque, we advise that you switch to direct deposit as a convenient and safe way to receive your pension. Call us directly at 1-800-637-0024 to make the switch.
Questions and Answers
We are following the recommendations on how people can best protect themselves and others. Our objective is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Please feel free to call us toll free at 1-800-637-0024 or Book an Appointment from our website to schedule a video conference or phone call.
Register for a Webinar – Although you cannot attend a live presentation currently, we regularly run interactive webinars which you can watch from the comfort of your home or a previously recorded webinar.
No. Paying pensions is one of our core priorities and therefore we continuously plan, prepare and test to ensure that we are prepared to pay pensions under situations outside of normal business operations, including having staff trained to run payroll securely from an alternative work location.
If you receive your pension payment by cheque, we advise that you switch to direct deposit as a convenient and safe way to receive your pension. Call us directly at 1-800-637-0024 to make the switch.
We continue to prioritize new pension inceptions so that every new retiree is set up and paid on time - provided required documents are received.
OPTrust’s mission is to pay pensions today and preserve pensions for tomorrow, and we take that mission seriously. For our members, what matters is the funded status of the Plan, and we are fully funded. Pensions are a long-term endeavour, with success measured over decades rather than years.
We know that periods of low returns are possible, which is why we continue to work diligently to weather these events. Despite the current volatility in the markets, the Plan is on a solid footing and positioned to provide our members with secure, predictable income in retirement for life. Read more about how we’re investing for the long term in our 2019 Funded Status Report.
Our team is equipped to work remotely. OPTrust conducts regular tests to ensure we have sound plans in place to ensure that we can continue to serve our members in the event of an office shut down for a prolonged period.
Since we are all working from home, paper mail is not easily accessible for our team. What is easy and secure, are the two ways you can send information to OPTrust:
- Online Services– Log on to your secure Online Services account to update your information immediately. You can also scan the form or take a photo share by clicking My Secure Messages in the left menu, then clicking Compose New Message
- Secure Contact Us– Complete the section on our secure Contact Us page to attach your form and send to us.
Payments for members who have left the Plan and elected to take a lump sum payment continue but may take longer than normal.
* FROM CANADA LIFE:
Claims related to COVID-19 that occurred during travel to a country with travel advisory warnings will be assessed like any other claim under your plan. Plan coverages vary, so that's why every claim will be handled on a case-by-case basis. It's important to review your plan coverage details carefully.
If you have out-of-country coverage, you'll be covered for eligible expenses when you have symptoms from a medical emergency and you need to seek treatment.
How to check your plan coverage
Sign in to Canada Life's GroupNet and select Coverage & balances. You can also download our mobile app. Look for GroupNet in the App Store and Google Play.
For more information, How Canada Life is supporting you during COVID-19