2019 year in review for the Pension Division Review Project
December 12, 2019
BY Kevin Zakreski
Part 6 of the Family Law Act and the Division of Pensions Regulation set out the legal framework for dividing pension benefits after the breakdown of a spousal relationship. This legal framework first came into force in the 1990s and, like much of British Columbia’s family-law legislation, saw some significant revisions when the Family Law Act came into force in March 2013. Having passed the fifth anniversary of those revisions, the time appeared to BCLI to be ripe to launch a law-reform project examining how the new legal framework for pension division is faring in practice.
BCLI began the Pension Division Review Project in early 2019. The project’s first year has been an active one.
A 12-person expert project committee was formed, consisting of members from the legal, actuarial, and pension-administration fields, as well as representatives from government ministries and regulators. The committee began meeting in February. Its first two meetings were largely concerned with organizational matters and the creation of a project work plan. The work plan included such subjects as transitional provisions, disability benefits, commuted-value transfer, private annuities, locked-in retirement accounts, and a general review of the regulation and its prescribed forms.
With the work plan in place, the committee began meeting monthly to consider specific legal issues and formulate tentative recommendations for reform of the law. The committee completed its review of the issues on its work plan at the December 2019 committee meeting.
The project’s immediate goal for 2020 is the development and publication of a consultation paper, which will give the public the opportunity to have its say on the committee’s tentative recommendations. Later in that year, the committee will reflect on the responses it receives to the consultation paper and will form its recommendations for the project’s final report.
Public engagement is a significant component of the Pension Division Review Project. Here are 2019’s statistics, documenting project activities and engagement:
- number of documents published: 3 (media release no. 1, backgrounder no. 1, and backgrounder no. 2);
- number of committee meetings held: 10
- number of tentative recommendations made: 25
- number of blog posts on the project and pension division generally: 11
- number of pageviews of the project webpage: 793