OPSEU/SEFPO is very concerned about OMERS’s investing strategies in light of the losses the municipal sector workers’ pension plan recorded in 2020.
The union very proudly represents some 15,000 municipal sector workers, many of whom are part of the OMERS pension plan. As a union sponsor, OPSEU/SEFPO has a vested interest in the plan’s success and sustainability to protect members and their hard-earned pensions for many years to come.
That’s why OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was disheartened to learn that OMERS had reported record losses of 2.7 per cent – or the equivalent of $3 billion – in 2020, and said that while he understands that pandemic times have been difficult, OMERS appears to be the only major pension plan with recorded losses last year.
To position itself to succeed in 2021, OMERS has made changes to its senior team. It’s also made a number of key changes to its investment portfolio to increase diversification, better tap into the new economy and real estate, and make profitable investments with lower carbon footprints. OPSEU/SEFPO hopes this will lead to a turnaround in the health of OMERS.
There is good reason to believe that 2020 was a very unfortunate exception. In 2019, the OMERS pension plan earned an exceptional 11.9 per cent profit. Over the 10-year period leading up to 2020, OMERS’s investment portfolio performed well by any measure, averaging an annual return of 8.2 per cent.
OMERS has also provided its members with extra flexibility in light of the COVID financial crisis by:
- extending the deadline to complete a leave purchase by one year for members who return from a leave of absence in 2020 or 2021;
- reducing or eliminating the 36-month employment requirement for purchases of periods of reduced pay; and
- allowing members to purchase credited service for periods of absence due to a temporary layoff that began in 2020 or 2021. The service can be purchased at two times contributions (member only).
OMERS’s funded status remains at 97 per cent, and there’s reason to believe the pension will return to its usual rates of return this year with a robust rebound from the pandemic.
One thing members can put their money on: OPSEU/SEFPO will spare no effort to ensure that our OMERS members, and in fact any OPSEU/SEFPO member who is in a pension plan, benefit from a pension throughout their well-deserved retirement.