Canada’s largest rail pension fund faces crisis as its assets decline
A major railroad pension fund is in crisis as the pension fund’s assets decline, its executives are considering leaving and the plan’s chief executive has resigned.
In a letter to shareholders Friday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) revealed that its pension plan’s assets have declined by more than $300 million since 2012.
The RCPP’s assets were down by $931 million in 2016, to $2.9 billion, and by $1.1 billion in 2017, to just over $2 billion.
The letter from its CEO and president, David Cote, is the first time the fund’s board has publicly announced the problems it has.
In addition to Cote’s departure, the fund also has been rocked by accusations of a cover-up by its management of an RCMP whistleblower.
Cote said in the letter to the company’s shareholders that he is stepping down, effective immediately, in order to assist his children with the costs associated with a disability.
The letter, dated Sept. 15, said he has left his position with the RCP and has been asked to remain in his current position for the duration of the investigation.
“In the coming days and weeks I will be meeting with (the RCMP) to discuss my role in the RCMP investigation,” Cote wrote in the written statement.
“In the interim, I will continue to manage the pension plan in the best interests of the pension system.”
The RCMP investigation is being led by Toronto lawyer Michael Satterfield, who has been hired by Cote to conduct the inquiry.
The RCMP released a summary of its investigation last week.
It concluded that “the RCMP has a duty to maintain its trust and confidence with the RCMP Pension Plan.”
In a written statement to the CBC News Service, Satterfords office said, “The RCMP Pension Fund and its members are committed to maintaining the highest level of trust and integrity in their operations.”
The statement added that “The Board of Directors is fully committed to ensuring that the integrity of the RCMP pension plan is maintained and that the Board maintains the highest ethical standards of conduct.”
The pension plan, which has $8.5 billion in assets, has been around since 1984.
The RRSP, the retirement savings plan for most Canadian retirees, covers a large portion of pension assets.
The plan was set up to provide a safe and secure retirement to future generations.
The fund is set to receive a $3.9-billion injection in 2018-19 to replace a $5.6-billion deficit, according to the fund.
In the letter, the RCMP said Cote and the RPP were discussing their options in light of the findings of the report, but it did not say what they might be.
“While the RCMP has no intention of giving up its position of leadership in the RSP, it is also aware of the challenges that this issue will pose to the RFP,” the letter said.
“There is also a concern that this investigation will further tarnish the reputation of the RRP, its directors and management.”
In the years leading up to the investigation, the RCRP’s board of directors was told of a number of problems and challenges it faced, including:Cote had been told in the past that the RCMP had not followed its pension plans financial statements, according the letter.
“You were told that the RTPs management had not complied with the financial statements and that Cote had failed to report to the board any of the funds assets that he had received,” the RCMP wrote.
Cot was told by the RCMP that he could expect to receive his retirement benefits in the future in the form of “an annuity.”
In addition, Cote was told that he was to be eligible for the maximum pension amount per year that he contributed, up to $16,500 a year, up from $10,000 a year.
In 2017, the maximum amount of money a person could contribute was $16.50 a week, according, according Cote.
The retirement savings fund’s balance is $5,000,000.
“The RTP has a responsibility to maintain the integrity and independence of the Retirement Plans assets and the integrity, trust and credibility of its leadership,” the fund said in a statement.
The Retirement Plans will also have the opportunity to make a contribution to the CPPB pension plan for the purposes of paying out benefits.”CBC News asked the RCMP for comment, but did not receive a response.