Pensions and Benefits
The negotiation and proper administration of employment benefits and pensions are a crucial part of ensuring social justice in the workplace and access to financial security in retirement. We provide advice and representation to individuals, administrators, unions and other organizations with respect to pension entitlements, plan governance, regulatory issues, compliance, disputes and advocacy matters.
We provide advice on both statutory and insured employment benefits. Our union representation includes advising on the benefits for injured workers provided under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, more commonly referred to as workers’ compensation benefits.
We provide advice to and about single employer pension plans, jointly sponsored pension plans and multi-employer pension plans, whether defined benefit, defined contribution or hybrid benefits. We advise on and negotiate pension issues, and litigate pension disputes before administrative tribunals and in the courts.
Our services include:
- advice and opinions on a full range of pension matters;
- assisting in developing and negotiating pension bargaining proposals;
- advising on design and redesign of pension plans and retirement compensation issues;
- assisting with discussions with regulators to avoid escalation of disputes;
- representation before provincial and federal regulatory bodies; and
- pension litigation in the courts, including class actions.
Notable pension-related representations include:
counsel to the administrators of several large private and broader public sector pension plans, in the Ontario and federal jurisdictions;
- counsel to an employee stakeholder in the development of a new Ontario jointly sponsored pension plan; and
- counsel to the union administrators of Employee Life and Health Trusts in the steel sector.
We advise union and individual employee clients on the design, negotiation, and administration of benefits plans.
Our services in the area of benefits include advice and representation on:
insured benefits, including long-term disability;
- employment Insurance Benefits;
- benefits under the Employment Standards Act;
- employee Life and Health Trusts; and
- other negotiated and statutory benefits.
We work with union clients and members navigating the complicated Workplace Safety and Insurance Act regime.
Our services in this area include:
- training and advising union representatives who are managing workers’ compensation files;
- representing union members at all levels of the WSIB system, including appeals at the ARO and WSIAT levels;
- providing public policy research and advice related to the WSIB regime; and
- assisting with systemic solutions to problems, including developing strategies to eliminate or reduce the root causes of workplace injuries.
Notable benefits-related representations include:
- Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund v Skinner, in which the Firm represented the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. The Court held that excluding coverage of medical marijuana, which was based on Health Canada's position on medical marijuana at the time, was not discriminatory and did not violate the Human Rights Act. The Court observed that Health Canada's position on medical marijuana may change over time as information in this area of treatment evolves.
- Talos v. Grand Erie District School Board, in which Wayne Talos, a high school teacher, brought an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ("HRTO") arguing that cutting off his health and dental benefits when he turned 65 was unconstitutional. The firm represented Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario ("ETFO") and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association ("OECTA") as intervenors in the proceeding, in support of Mr. Talos’s position. The HRTO agreed that the policy was unconstitutional. As a result, employers can no longer provide age-differentiated health and life insurance benefits.