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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 6, April 2006

The Teachers’ Pension Plan:
The best kept secret in employee benefits

Membership in the Teachers’ Pension Plan is one of the most valuable assets you will ever get from your employment as a teacher in public schools in BC. But if you are like most people, you probably pay very little attention to it. Income security in retirement is an important social issue. Here are some basic facts about your pension and why it is such a winner:

1. Workplace pensions have played an important role in Canada’s retirement income system. The vast majority of unionized workers in Canada (80%) have a workplace pension plan, whereas only a small minority of non-unionized workers (26%) have one. As an active member of BCTF teaching in a BC public school, you are automatically a member of the Teachers’ Pension Plan.

2. Our Teachers’ Pension Plan is known as a defined benefit plan. It provides you with a guaranteed lifetime pension based on a formula of the number of years you accrued service in the plan and the average of your highest five years of salary.

3. You can take a pension as early as age 55, but pensions are reduced for retirement prior to age 60 or factor 90 (sum of your age and years of contributory service).

4. Your pension continues to accumulate while you are on an approved sick leave or on short-term or long-term salary indemnity benefits. This ensures your pension grows during your absence from work.

5. You can enhance your future pension payments by purchasing approved leaves of absence. If the leave ended before April 1, 2002, application for such purchase must be made by March 31, 2007. If the leave ended after April 1, 2002, the application must be made within 5 years of your return from the leave and while you are still employed. The most cost-effective purchases are those where the leave was for maternity and/or parental purposes.

6. Your pension could be your biggest financial asset, exceeding the value of even your home. The average value of all pensions granted in 2004 was $440,000.

7. Your pension provides survivor benefits if you die while still an active teacher, and these pension survivor benefits may be substantial (see 6 above). Benefits owing from your years of contributing to the plan are automatically provided to an eligible spouse, or, if there’s no spouse, designated beneficiary or estate.

8. If you plan to resign from teaching to go to another career or teach in another province, you may be able to move your pension to your new job. The Teachers’ Pension Plan has a transfer agreement with other public sector pension plans in BC as well as with other teachers’ pension plans in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador. Take the time to thoroughly research your options.

9. If you leave teaching, and have two years of service or more, you can also leave your money in the plan and collect a pension when you reach age 55. By doing so, you may increase your eligibility for certain benefits or future improvements to the plan.

10. The Teachers’ Pension Plan is governed by the two plan partners—BCTF and BC government. Each partner appoints five trustees to the Teachers’ Pension Board of Trustees to oversee the administration of the plan and the investments of the assets. This joint trusteeship is a hallmark of a good pension plan.

You can access more information about the Teachers’ Pension Plan through BCTF (bctf.ca) and Teachers’ Pension Plan (tpp.pensionsbc.ca) web sites and/or through attendance at a pension seminar. Pension plans can be complicated and a seminar is a great place to learn the ropes and understand the benefits of our plan. BCTF staff members facilitate these seminars and answer questions from the participants.

You may also contact BCTF Income Security for assistance: BCTF Income Security, 100-550 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4P2, 604-871-1921, toll free 1-800-663-9163, local 1921, F: 604-871-2287, e-mail: alambert@bctf.ca, cprellwitz@bctf.ca, dscott@bctf.ca, or benefits@bctf.ca.

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