Pensions in Canada

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP

With offices spanning across Canada, the team at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is entrusted by an array of clients to oversee the full spectrum of pensions matters. Canadian governments often instruct the team to advise on jointly sponsored pension plans. The group also excels in its oversight of national plans, pensions and employee benefit schemes and executive compensation issues. Kathryn Bush and Jeffrey Sommers head the practice from Toronto. Bush’s specialisms include structuring pension plans and advising on benefit and executive compensation agreements and investments, whereas Sommers has over 25 years’ worth of experience handing taxation, funding, and group benefit plans. Natalie Bussière supports the team with her extensive employment and pension knowledge. Jeremy Forgie is noted for his pension fund investment expertise, while Sean Maxwell has a breadth of knowledge on deferred compensation plans. Lindsay McLeod‘s expertise extends into pension investment matters, with particular focus on related ESG issues. Mention is also given to Adam Ngan for his knowledge on employee benefit schemes in the context of corporate transactions. Philipp Knoll joined the team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Bush; Jeffrey Sommers

Key clients

Cboe Global Markets

Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP)

Jam City, Inc.

LifeWorks Inc. (formerly Morneau Shepell Ltd.)

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board

Pembina Pipeline Corporation

Penn National Gaming, Inc.

Siemens Canada Limited

The Riverside Company

TNT Crane & Rigging Canada Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised LifeWorks Inc. as Plan Administrator of the Sears Canada Pension Plan.
  • Advised the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board on its acquisition of HomeQ Corporation, the parent company of HomeEquity Bank, from Birch Hill Equity Partners Management Inc. and the other minority shareholders of HomeQ.
  • Advised Siemens on a wide variety of Canadian pension and employee benefit plan matters relating to the world-wide spin-out of Siemens’ gas and power business into Siemens Energy.

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

The team at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP operates at the forefront of pension plan design, de-risking, investment and litigation matters, also frequently supporting on the relevant considerations of M&A, insolvency and corporate restructuring affairs. The practice is chaired from Toronto by Andrea Boctor, a leading figure in administration, governance and fiduciary duty work, who is supported locally by Paul Litner, an expert in both contentious and non-contentious work who has litigated pension compliance and surplus matters before provincial and federal regulators. Jonathan Marin is distinctly well-versed in converting defined benefit plans to shared risk plans, meanwhile Montreal-based Julien Ranger is a key contact for matters such as plan mergers, the use of surplus assets, retiree benefits and administration expenses.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Boctor

Other key lawyers:

Paul Litner; Jonathan Marin; Julien Ranger; Olivia Suppa; Omar Sunderji

Key clients

Thermo Fisher Scientific Company

Honeywell Limited

Wealthsimple Financial Corp.

Microsoft Canada Inc

Suncor Energy Inc.

Stanley Black & Decker Canada Corporation

Canadian Tire Corporation

Verafin

Torys

The experienced team at Torys advises clients on the full spectrum of pension matters. In addition to pension plan governance and pension law advice, the group is also sought for counsel on related ESG matters such as investment standards, regulatory obligations and disclosure and reporting requirements. Expertise also extends to plan drafting, wind-ups, solvency funding, plan mergers, pension surplus, administration and tax issues. Pension, employment and benefits expert, Mitch Frazer, heads the practice from Toronto. Susan Nickerson has over 24 years’ worth of pension, benefits and governance experience; she also provides input to Canadian lawmakers on areas of reform in the pension and benefits community. Tom Stevenson is noted for his vast knowledge in pension governance matters in relation to corporate and commercial transactions. Ellie Kang joined the team from Foley Hoag LLP.

Practice head(s):

Mitch Frazer

Other key lawyers:

Susan Nickerson; Tom Stevenson

Testimonials

‘The Torys team has strong experience with the Pension Benefits Act and the 30% Rule, which is crucial for Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Torys is viewed as the experts in the subject and exudes much more confidence than any other firm.’

‘The team has breadth and depth. They are collaborative and provide practical, business-focused advice.’

‘Mitch Frazer – wealth of knowledge, years of experience, personable manner. All around great guy!’

Key clients

Investment Management Corporation of Ontario

IFM Investors

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board

George Weston Limited

Anaergia Inc.

Rogers Communications Inc.

Lifeworks Inc.

TMX Group Limited

CPP Investments

OMERS Infrastructure Management Inc.

Oxford Properties Group Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Investment Management Corporation of Ontario on its acquisition of Green Frog Power Ltd. and an investment of up to $500m over the next several years to establish a global, utility-scale platform focused on battery storage assets.
  • Advised IFM and Ontario Teachers’ in its $2.8bn acquisition of the Canadian district energy operations of Enwave Energy Corporation from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. and its institutional partners.  
  • Advised George Weston on the employment and pension aspects of its proposed $1.2bn sale of Weston Foods fresh and frozen bakery businesses to affiliated entities of FGF Brands Inc.

Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso LLP

Boutique law firm, Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso LLP fields an extensively experienced pensions, benefit and executive compensation practice. The team’s focus lies within advising employers and administrators on emerging pension and benefit issues arising from corporate restructuring and M&A transactions. The team is also well-equipped to advise on plan designs and jointly sponsored pension plans. The practice is led by Elizabeth Brown, Lisa Mills, Terra Klinck and John Prezioso, as well as Jennifer Agnew who become partner in January 2022. Brown, Mills, Klinck and Prezioso each have over 20 years’ worth of pension law experience. The team also welcomed the arrival of Ikho Shin and Pamela Odina.

Practice head(s):

Elizabeth Brown; Lisa Mills; Terra Klinck; John Prezioso; Jennifer Agnew

Key clients

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Stelco Inc.

Hydro One Networks Inc.

Vale Canada Limited

The Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada

OMA Insurance

The Province of Nova Scotia

The United Church of Canada

The University of Toronto

University of Guelph

Queen’s University

Laurentian University

McMaster University

Work highlights

    Fasken

    Fasken‘s practice is reputed for its work on both contentious and non-contentious matters. The team's breadth and depth of knowledge includes pension and benefit plan structuring and investment, funding, conversions and governance advisory, in addition to wind-ups for all registered and non-registered plans. Clients also benefit from the group's expertise in related corporate and commercial matters. Ross Gascho, who leads the practice from Vancouver, possesses vast knowledge of group benefit and profit-sharing plans spans across all aspects including its implementation, funding, governance, administration and investment. Allyson Marta‘s expertise lies within the navigation and advisory of regulatory matters related to retirement.

    Practice head(s):

    Ross Gascho

    Other key lawyers:

    Allyson Marta; Michael Wolpert; Dominique Monet

    Key clients

    Avon

    Sobeys

    TC Energy

    Work highlights

    • Obtained Larkin v. Johnson decision that sets the law concerning a pension plan administrator’s discretion to act without interference by the courts, and confirms that the administrator’s communication obligations are limited to the applicable statute.
    • Advised TC Energy on its $3bn pension plans.
    • Defended Avon in an $85m class action in respect of post-employment benefits.

    Lawson Lundell LLP

    Lawson Lundell LLP has a dedicated pension and employee benefits practice. Its Western Canadian presence attracts both corporate and union clients across the manufacturing, resources and financial services sectors. The team is geared to advise and assist clients through regulatory issues that arise in establishing, governing, litigating, investing, merging and terminating pension and employee benefit plans. The Vancouver-based practice is led by Murray Campbell who has reputable experience handling the reorganization and modernization of pension and benefit plans. In addition to advising clients on non-contentious issues, he is also known for overseeing related litigation matters.

    Practice head(s):

    Murray Campbell

    Other key lawyers:

    Meghan Popp

    McCarthy Tétrault

    McCarthy Tétrault‘s team advises an array of clients such as employers, administrators, governments, sponsors, service providers and regulators. As well as advising on the establishment and management of pension, benefit and executive compensation plans, the team is also proficient in overseeing pension plan mergers and spin-offs, the designation of beneficiaries and fiduciary responsibilities. Deron Waldock  and Randy Bauslaugh co-lead the practice from Toronto. Waldock’s experience includes the handling of registered retirement savings plans and welfare benefit plans, whereas Bauslaugh’s practice focus includes regulatory compliance and executive compensation arrangements. Kelleher Lynch is another key contact. Scott Bell joined the team from Torys.

    Key clients

    Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc.

    CCMP Capital Advisors, LP

    Jamieson Laboratories Ltd.

    Score Media and Gaming Inc.

    HSBC Bank

    University of Windsor

    OMERS

    Enbridge Inc.

    Credit Suisse AG

    Brewers Retail Inc.

    Climate Change Law Initiative

    Christian Schools Pension and Benefit Plans Boards of Trustees

    Wells Fargo

    Nestlé

    Work highlights

    • Advised Crane Co on a strategy to wind up a multi-jurisdictional pension plan, share its surplus with plan participants, establish a replacement retirement savings arrangement that is not subject to pension standards legislation, and obtain all necessary minimum pension standards.
    • Represented Brewers Retail Inc. in a Class Action and Regulatory dispute relating to novel issues associated with indexing provisions, alleged regulatory misbehaviour relating to employer and plan member interests involving concurrent proceedings in the courts and the and the Ontario Financial Services Tribunal.

    Bennett Jones LLP

    The pension and benefits advice provided by the team at Bennett Jones LLP forms an essential component of its broad employment practice. Clients involved in complex M&A transactions often seek the team's expertise to handle related pension and benefits issues that consequently arise. Design, administration, establishment and investment of both registered and non-registered pension plans also forms key elements of the group's expertise. Susan Seller , John Gilmore  and Carl Cunningham  co-lead the employment services practice; all are based in Toronto.

    Practice head(s):

    Susan Seller ; John Gilmore; Carl Cunningham

    Other key lawyers:

    Jordan Fremont; Jaspreet Kaur

    Work highlights

      Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

      The pension and benefits group at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP forms an integral part of its labour and employment practice. Clients span across a vast array of sectors including education, energy, insurance, aerospace and technology. The team often advises on pension plans and pension fund governance matters, and is also highly regarded for its advice on the benefit aspects of international acquisitions. The team is headed by Andrew Harrison who is based in Toronto.

      Practice head(s):

      Andrew Harrison

      Key clients

      Hewlett Packard Enterprise Canada Co.

      Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

      The New York Times Company

      ROLLS-ROYCE CANADA LIMITÉE

      Work highlights

      • Represented Hewlett Packard Enterprise Canada Co. in an application for the Court to provide directions as to which of two competing individuals should receive a pre-retirement death benefit payable in respect of a former HPE employee’s participation in HPE’s pension plan.
      • Represented CEO of Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario in a proceeding before the Financial Services Tribunal in which a member of the OPSEU Pension Plan alleges that the transfer of his pension entitlement to another plan wrongfully deprived him of its commuted value.

      Stikeman Elliott LLP

      Employers, administrators, companies and stakeholders seek the expertise of Stikeman Elliott LLP‘s team to navigate and assist multi-jurisdictional pension and benefits matters. Expertise ranges from day-to-day administration and regulatory compliance, to plan drafting and design. Further strength lies in advising on the laws governing the investment and structuring of pension plan assets.  Natasha vandenHoven heads the practice with Patrick Essiminy overseeing the Montreal office, Nancy Ramalho taking lead in Toronto and Gary Clarke fronting the Vancouver and Calgary offices.

      Practice head(s):

      Natasha vandenHoven; Patrick Essiminy; Gary Clarke; Nancy Ramalho

      Other key lawyers:

      Mark Firman

      Work highlights