Pension Points June 2023
ATRF conducted an online survey in May to gather feedback from members about their experience with ATRF services. In other words, what’s working and what could be improved. We want to say thank you to all members who took part in the survey. Over 10,000 members responded to the survey from across Canada, and even some members living internationally. As a member, your feedback is essential in helping us continue meeting your needs and enhancing our services. Stay tuned for more information about the results of the survey!
Understanding the Funded Status
Every year ATRF provides commentary on the teachers’ pension plans in the annual report. Many factors are covered including governance, contribution rates, investment results, and of course the funded statuses of the plans. When we talk about the funded status, we are referring to a measure of a plan’s financial health at a point in time. Click the link below to get more details.
The A’s Series with the Alberta Teachers’ Association
While the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) and the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF) collaborate on a number of things, they are separate organizations with different roles.
ATRF’s Role in Investment Management
It’s been about three and a half years since the Government of Alberta announced ATRF would be required to change how the plans’ investments are managed. That transition was completed in 2021, but we continue to get questions from members who aren’t sure what the changes mean for them and their pensions, so we wanted to give an update on where things are at and clarify how ATRF’s investment management is handled.
Substitute Teaching? Don't Miss These Pension Tips
Being a substitute teacher will impact your ATRF pension in a few different ways. Here are some tips, whether you’re a substitute teacher now, you were one in the past, or you are considering being one in the future (even after retirement):
- Purchasing Time to Increase Pensionable Service: Substitute teachers do not contribute to the plan, but you have the option to purchase, before your retirement, the days you worked as a substitute teacher to qualify for a pension or to increase your pension. As your pension is partly based on your total years of pensionable service, purchasing time can increase your total pension amount when you retire. This applies whether you’re a career substitute teacher, or you just did some subbing for a little while.
- Post-Retirement Substitute Teaching: After retirement, there’s a limit on how many days you can work under a teaching contract while still receiving your pension, but there’s no limit for substitute teaching.
Plan Member Statements
Every year, ATRF sends plan members an annual statement outlining their personalized pension information, their accrued service and contributions, and estimates of the benefits available from the plans.
Your statement is available online, shortly after your employer submits their finalized year-end data. To receive electronic communications, log in to MyPension and set your communication preference to paperless by selecting ‘Join Our Email List’ (JOEL) in the main menu. You will be asked to choose which communications you would like to receive digitally. If you would like to be completely paperless, ensure you have selected both options.
We will be updating our website as employer data is processed and annual statements become available online, so you can also watch this page for updates. Members who choose not to go paperless will receive a mailed annual statement.
Starting in the upcoming 2023-24 school year, all plan member statements will be mailed simultaneously (instead of multiple batches) in the spring of 2024, once all employers have submitted their finalized year-end data.
Changes to the Pension Application Form
In our quest to continually provide members with excellent service and enhanced client experience, ATRF has simplified the pension application form and process.
- We’ve combined the previously used Spousal/Pension Partner Status Declaration form with the Pension Application Form.
- We no longer require you to visit a Commissioner for Oaths or Notary Public to have them administer an oath or solemn declaration for this form.
Read more about the change, which took effect on April 1, 2023.
Another Successful Teachers’ Convention Season
We love meeting our members! Check out some statistics from this year’s conventions:
- Number of conventions we attended: 9
- Number of presentations we gave: 18
- Total members who attended a presentation: 1,328
- Total members we talked with at our information booth: 1,481
- Highest number of attendees at one presentation: 180
This was the first year ATRF had an information booth at Conventions and we provided more options for presentations targeted to the member journeys. This way, we were able to connect with many more members, twice the number we had in previous in-person Conventions.
If you missed our presentation at your convention, there is an opportunity for you to attend our webinars that are offered throughout the year. And we’re always here for one-on-one consultations – just sign in to MyPension and select MyAppointment to book a consultation with one of our Pension Counsellors. Additional dates and times are added weekly and we’re open during the summer too.
Contribution Rates are Staying the Same
After four rate reductions since 2016, the ATRF Board determined this year that the contribution rates will remain unchanged for both plans, effective September 1, 2023. The board made this decision based on the volatile financial markets and current high inflation rates.
Send Your Documents to ATRF Using MyPension
There may be times when you need to provide confidential information to ATRF. The most convenient and secure way to send us this information is through MyPension. We introduced a new secure document upload feature that allows you to share documents or images quickly and easily. You can access this feature by signing in to your MyPension account and selecting the “Upload Documents to ATRF” function.