The 2010 benefit plans listening tour

Consultant Nancy Swerhun presents pension information to WBP members meeting at Zion Lutheran Church and School, Surrey, B.C.

After conducting four of a planned 16 focus groups looking at LCC’s pension plan, retirement benefits and part-time employee benefits, Worker Benefit Plans (WBP) executive director Dwayne Cleave is encouraged with the level of discussion and input.

A three-member team including Mr. Cleave, plan design consultant Nancy Swerhun and LCC’s Director of Communications, Dr. Ian Adnams, is spending four weeks visiting major centres listening to employees and employers respond to proposed changes to the plans. “The January strategic planning session stressed the need for the WBP Board of Managers (BOM) to engage members and employers in active discussion before making any major plan changes,” the executive director explained. “What’s exciting about the face-to-face consultation is hearing the suggestions coming from the members and employers.”

Plan members include pastors, deacons, university professors, administrators and other staff employed by LCC congregations, schools, institutions and affiliated organizations.

The goal of the focus groups is to present alternative plans that will provide members with an adequate pension plan and retirement benefits at a cost sustainable by congregations, schools and institutions.

A number of factors placed LCC’s pension plan in an under-funded position. Most pension plans in Canada are in a similar position due to the major stock market decline in 2008. As a result, the BOM had to increase premiums charged to congregations. Realizing that constant premium increases impacted LCC’s congregations and their ability to fund ongoing church programs, the BOM began assessing options that will provide plan stability and sustainability.

Focus groups in southern Ontario, May 4 and 5, are scheduled for Waterloo and St. Catharines. The next week, May 11-13, the trio travels to Regina, Edmonton to meet with Concordia University College, and Kelowna, B.C. On May 18, the team will listen to members and employers gathering in Winnipeg and online for those who could not attend a session in person. The first four were held in Edmonton and Surrey, B.C.

When the Board of Managers meets in June it will hear the responses from the focus groups before deciding how to proceed. It will then send its recommendations to LCC’s Board of Directors for final approval. Further information sessions will likely take place in the fall to explain any changes to the pension, retirement benefits and permanent part-time employee plans.

Posted By: Matthew Block
Posted On: May 4, 2010
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