Canada begins review of private pension plans

Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:30pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government said on Monday it will begin public consultations next month on ways to reform the country's private pension framework amid widespread concern of funding shortfalls due to the financial crisis.

The finance ministry will hold a series of eight public consultation sessions starting on March 13 in Ottawa and finishing on April 17 in Winnipeg.

"Many Canadians are concerned about the long-term viability of their pension plans," said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in a statement.

The review applies to federally regulated plans in sectors including banking, telecommunications and transportation. These represent 7 percent of all private pension plans in Canada and 12 percent of all pension assets.

The consultation process, chaired by legislator Ted Menzies, was first announced in January and is expected to lead to permanent changes this year to the regulations for defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans.

Last November, Flaherty took a first step and gave federally regulated pension plans more breathing room to make up funding shortfalls, boosting the time period for doing so to 10 years from five.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Editing by Peter Galloway)