Sun Life Financial

News & Announcements

Western's pension plans (Administrative Plan for staff members and Academic Plan for faculty members) are among the most valuable benefits offered by Western University - designed to help you save and invest for your future. The combined market value of the plans as of January 1, 2021 was approximately $1.27 billion.

Sun Life Financial provides day-to-day member services and administration of the plans. Western's Joint Pension Board, with elected faculty and staff representatives, provides governance and oversight of the plans.

Western's pension plans are called defined contribution plans - a type of capital accumulation plan in which contributions are made to the plan by both the University and the member. The account balance grows with contributions and investment income and a pension income is created from the account balance at retirement.

Login now or choose a subject below to learn more.

About your Pension Plan

Overview of Your Pension Plan and Eligibility

Regular full-time faculty and staff are eligible to join the plan when they join Western. Other employees may be eligible depending on circumstances. Brescia and Huron are participating employers in the Western Pension Plans. See the Plan Summary for full eligibility details. If you are a contract employee, there are two ways to qualify to join the plan:


  • If your employment earnings from Western or a participating employer have been at least 21% of the year's maximum pensionable earnings* in the last two consecutive calendar years, you will be offered enrolment effective January 1st of the following year. This means your Western T4 earnings in 2019 must have been a minimum of $12,054, and for 2020, a minimum of $12,327; OR,
  • If you have earned at least 21% or more of the year's maximum pensionable earnings* from employment at Western or a participating employer in the last two consecutive calendar years (minimum $12,054 in 2019 and $12,327 in 2020), and as well you have 24 months of continual service, you will be offered enrolment the first of the following month.

If you qualify using one of the above eligibility criteria, you will be contacted by Sun Life, so it is not necessary for you to track this information. If however, you believe you have met the qualification criteria, or believe you qualify based on your combined employment with participating employers, please email and we will investigate.

Participation in the plans is voluntary for faculty and staff who are not regular full-time employees, however, we encourage you to use the pension plan to support your retirement savings. Depending on the plan for which you qualify (Academic Pension Plan or Administrative Pension Plan), your contribution can range from 1.5% to 5.5% and Western's contributions start at 7.5%.

Read an FAQ on eligibility in the Western Pension Plans

* The year's maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE) is the maximum amount of earnings on which contributions to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) are based. You can get information on the CPP pensionable earnings ceiling from the Canada Revenue Agency website.

Your Responsibilities and the Investments in your Plan

Your Responsibilities

Your pension savings could be your most important financial asset. The decisions you make about your pension savings can have a big impact on your retirement income. Your decisions and responsibilities as a member include:

  • Designating and maintaining your beneficiary designations for your account with Sun Life.
  • Choose the right investments to meet your personal goals.
  • Electing whether to make additional voluntary contributions to grow your savings faster (see heading Increasing Your Savings with Voluntary Contributions below).
  • Deciding when and how to create a pension income from your savings.

Your account balance will fluctuate depending on your contributions and on the performance of the investments you have chosen.  The retirement income you will receive at retirement is not guaranteed and also depends on the investments you have chosen and the returns on those investments. Currently, there are 13 investment options for Plan members.

Sun Life Financial can provide helpful information, investment advice and assistance as you choose your investments and manage your account. You'll find detailed account information and many great resources on the member website at

The following documents and information on the Western website may also be helpful:

Increasing Your Savings with Voluntary Contributions

In addition to the required contributions (a description is available in the Plan Summary), Western allows members to make additional monthly pension contributions that can enhance your retirement income.

Voluntary Contributions are taken from "pre-tax" dollars, so income tax deducted from your pay will be lower to reflect the amount you are committing to your pension. In essence, you will receive an immediate tax benefit on every pay.

Voluntary contributions:

  • will be invested the same way as your regular member contributions;
  • may be withdrawn as cash from your account at any time by contacting Sun Life. Note: Sun Life charges active members of the plan an administration fee of $25 per withdrawal and savings are taxable in the year they are withdrawn;
  • can be started, stopped or changed at any time. Visit or contact the Sun Life Financial Customer Care Centre at 1-866-733-8612 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET on any business day. Please allow 1-2 pays for the changes to take effect.

Canada Revenue Agency sets a maximum amount you can contribute to your pension account each year. Total contributions include those made by Western and by you (required and voluntary) and must not be more than 18 percent of pay or a specific dollar limit set annually by the government, whichever is lower.

The Western Pension Plan accepts direct transfers from RRSP and LIRA accounts, as well as certain types of transfers from other pension plans. Contact the Sun Life Financial Customer Care Centre at 1-866-733-8612 for more information.

Marriage Breakdown and Your Pension

Valuation and Division of Pension Benefits on the Breakdown of a Marriage

When a marriage or common-law relationship ends, your pension may be affected, and your ex-spouse may be entitled to part of your pension savings. Here is information that may assist you in understanding the steps to take to determine the value of your pension, and to meet your legal obligations for division of your pension assets.

Step 1 - Obtain a Statement of Family Law Value

You and your ex-spouse must complete an Application for Family Law Value. Ontario legislation has made this application mandatory for all members since January 1, 2012. The application will be submitted to Sun Life Financial for review.

Along with completing the FSCO Family Law Form 1, please:

Once completed, the forms, all necessary documents and the payment of the fee should be forwarded to:

Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada
Group Retirement Services
Attn.: Marriage Breakdown Team
P.O. Box 11001, Station Centre-Ville
Montreal QC H3C 3P3

Step 2 – Sun Life will review your forms and provide a valuation of your pension

Sun Life will review your application and will prepare a FSCO Family Law Form 4A "Statement of Family Law Value (Defined Contribution Benefit)". This will be forwarded to you and to your ex-spouse. It will indicate the amount that accrued during the period of marriage, the maximum amount that may be transferred to the former spouse and information on what steps to take to request a division of pension benefits.

Note: Additional voluntary contributions (AVC) are not included in the calculations and the parties are free to deal with that portion as they see fit in their agreement or court order. If there are no provisions for the AVCs, then no division of AVCs will be executed. AVCs are not locked-in and may be transferred to an RRSP. The remaining funds will be subject to locked-in provisions and the options for the former spouse will be a transfer to another pension plan, a LIRA, a LIF or annuity.

Step 3 - Division of the member's pension benefits

When in receipt of the Family Law Form 4A - Statement of Family Law Value (sent by Sun Life), the former spouse will be eligible to submit a request for the division of the member's pension benefits, by completing a FSCO Family Law Form 5 - Application to Transfer the Family Law Value. A copy of a court order or domestic contract/agreement must be included, along with any other required documents.

Read the User Guide for the FSCO Family Law Form 5

As well, a Canada Revenue Agency form T2151 must also be completed by the former spouse to direct the actual transfer and the financial institution receiving the funds will need to complete a Locked-in form confirming that your locked-in pension funds will be transferred to a locked-in account (LIRA, Locked-in RRSP).

The division of your pension will be executed within 60 days of Sun Life receiving all necessary requirements, provided that the amount allocated to the former spouse does not exceed the limit prescribed by law. There are no taxes withheld on the transferred funds in a marriage breakdown.

More information, a tutorial and other assistance is available on the Ontario FSCO website.

Pension Plan Protection of Privacy

Read a message from Sun Life about phishing emails.

The personal information of Western employees and retirees that is collected to ensure the administration of an employee's pension account is shared only with the providers supporting the administration of the program. All personal information is handled in accordance with Western's statement on the Protection of Privacy.

Western's has contracted with Sun Life Financial to provide specific supports and services for our members through Sun Life's Group Retirement Services division, including support from the company's licenced, salaried employees. Sun Life receives information including a member's name, home address, social insurance number, date of birth, and salary. This information is transmitted using a secure FTP process. Sun Life uses the information only for the administration of the pension account and does not sell or share information, including with other providers. As members manage their Western pension account under Sun Life, they may share further information including spousal status and the names of beneficiaries, and may give consent to receive additional material regarding optional Sun Life programs that can assist with managing their personal finances.

Local Sun Life advisors and offices are not part of the Sun Life Group Retirement Services division and do not provide services related to the Western pension plans. Neither the University nor Sun Life provides member information, including home address and Western email address to any external financial advisor, including local Sun Life advisors.

Further details on privacy at Western can be found on the University Secretariat website.

Solicitations from External Advisors

Western's Joint Pension Board is aware that Pension Plan members and retirees may receive communications from financial advisors external to Western. Beyond the agreement in place with Sun Life, neither Western nor the Joint Pension Board endorses any external specific advisor or institution.

Members are encouraged to seek the support they need from Sun Life and from other professionals as appropriate. Members looking for further financial planning support are encouraged to review resources available from FP Canada.

What to do if you have received unwanted promotional correspondence

Keep in mind that:

  • Your name, Western title and contact information that is posted on Western websites is not considered personal information and, in most cases, is available to the general public.
  • Canada's Unsolicited Telecommunications rules may permit communication if you have an existing business relationship with an organization.

Financial institutions are required to abide by PIPEDA - the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which governs the collection and use of personal data. If you are receiving unwanted communications, there is action you can take.

If unwanted communications regarding pension/financial services are coming to your Western email or office please contact the sender to request that this stop and also let Western Human Resources know by emailing

If unwanted communications are coming to your home address:

If unwanted communications are coming to your personal phone or email please review the following websites:

Important: Local Sun Life advisors and offices are not part of the Group Retirement Services division and do not provide Western pension plan member services.

Plan Governance and Joint Pension Board Elections

Each of Western's pension plans (Academic Plan and Administrative Plan) is administered by a Pension Board consisting of up to four elected members of the respective plan and three appointed members who are common on both Boards. The Academic and Administrative Staff Pension Boards work together as the Joint Pension Board. The Boards are standing committees of the Board of Governors and have been delegated the responsibility of administering the pension plans.

Sun Life Financial has been selected by the Board to handle most of the day-to-day member services and administration of the plans. Western Human Resources also assists in administration of the plan, especially at the time of enrolment in the Plan, at termination or retirement, and in liaising with Sun Life Financial.

Pension Board Election Results - March 2021

Administrative Pension Board -  Following nominations held in early March, Katey Senese, Financial Officer in the Faculty of Education has been acclaimed to the position on the Administrative Staff Pension Board effective July 1, 2021. Congratulations Katey!

Academic Pension Board - Many thanks to all those who participated, and those who voted online in elections held March 22-24, 2021.

Saurin Patel, Assistant Professor at Ivey Business School has been elected to service a full-term position (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2025).

Shahbaz Sheikh, Associate Professor in DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies has been elected to serve a partial term position (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023).

A special thank you to Steve Kopp and Donna Kotsopoulos (Academic Board) and Elana Whelan (Administrative Board), who will finish current terms on the Board June 30, 2021.

Full results are available on the Simply Voting website.

Governance Documentation

Pension Board Mission Statement

"Our Mission is to provide members with the opportunity to accumulate adequate funds for retirement. We seek to provide sufficient choices but not onerous choices. We seek to provide services and options on a cost effective basis to accommodate members who are active in the management of their retirement savings and also for those members who look to the board for guidance. We will provide these services and options while following our principles."

Board Duties, Principles and Strategies

The Joint Pension Board:

  • A governing board, the majority represented by elected pension plan members who volunteer their service
  • A sub-committee of the Board of Governors given the responsibility of administering the pension plans with assistance from investment, actuarial, legal and communication consultants
  • Deals with policies relating to investment structure and management, communication to members and administration of accounts
  • Day-to-day operation of the pension plans is the function of Human Resource Services in collaboration with Sun Life Financial, in accordance with policies and procedures set out by the Joint Pension Board
  • Seeks to:
    • offer members broad and diversified choice of investment and retirement vehicles;
    • maintain fairness among members in plan operations;
    • provide investment alternatives which possess high liquidity;
    • assist members in making well informed decisions about investment and retirement alternatives;
    • solicit information about and be responsive to members’ preferences;
    • use prudence in assessing and reviewing plan decisions and operations;
    • assure cost effective administration of plan operation
  • The Joint Pension Board has a preference for passive management of investments.

Audited Financial Statements

Forms and Documents


Most transactions for your pension plan can be conducted through but the following forms are managed by Western.

Documents & Presentations

Sun Life Financial - Get Help with Your Pension

Access Your Account and Get 1:1 Help at Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial offers a variety of ways to access your account, and get the help you need with your Western Pension. Whether you are a new member with questions, or getting set to retire, the help you need is available.  Learn more about how to get the assistance you need.

Registration is now open for November 1:1 (online) meetings with a Sun Life Financial Senior Education Consultant to address your questions and plan your financial future.  Visit the webpage Sun Life Financial - Get Help with Your Pension

Retiring or Leaving Western

You have Options

When you are retiring from Western or when you leave Western before retirement, you have options when it comes to the savings in your Western Pension Plan account.

Visit the webpage Retiring or Leaving Western for more details.

Sun Life Financial will provide you with further details, and with information and support.

Workshops and Planning Tools

Winter Wellness - Feb. 9-18, 2021 - COMPLETE!

Financial wellness is an integral part of our overall wellness. As part of a broader offering of activities and fun to boost your physical and mental well-being, Western Human Resources partnered with our expert providers to offer a great selection of webinars and other opportunities to boost your investing confidence and knowledge.  Thanks for attending!

Live Webinars

The following webinars were offered:

1/ The Western Pension Plan Investment Structure: An overview - Presented by Western and Sun Life - COMPLETE

This webinar will review the fund options available for your Western Pension Plan. Whether you are a “help me do it” or “leave me to it” investor, understanding the structure will help you with your decisions. 

View the Investment Funds Overview slide presentation

2/ 5 Steps to Boost your Financial Health – Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 1 p.m. - COMPLETE

Millions of Canadians are saddled with money and debt problems. Close to 40% of working Canadians say they feel overwhelmed by their level of debt. This webinar will focus on five steps to boost your financial health, including assessing your current situation, creating goals, making a budget on your plan and keeping your finances healthy.  Presented by Sun Life.

View the presentation slides from 5 Steps to Boost your Financial Health.

3/ Investing: The Essentials - COMPLETE
Do you want to have a better sense of how the investments in your retirement and savings plan work? Build your confidence when it comes to the money you’re saving. This webinar will introduce you to the basics of investing. It’s focus on fund types and investing styles will help you build a mix of funds that’s right for you. Presented by Sun Life.

Recorded and Other Webinars for Western Pension Plan Members

There's more! Check out Sun Life’s full Wellness Webinar series at  Or watch one of these on-demand webinars any time on

  • Understanding the Value of your Western Pension Plan
  • Choosing your Investments in the Western Pension Plan
  • Investing the Essentials
  • Becoming Retirement Ready – parts 1-3 (under the RIF/LIF tab).

Financial Literacy Month - November 2020 - Complete

Each year in November, Western Human Resources celebrates Financial Literacy Week by presenting free financial workshops (virtual) and the opportunity to meet 1:1 (online) with a Sun Life Consultant.

November Workshops and Information Sessions

Here are the sessions presented in November 2020

Balancing your finances: Understanding credit and debt 

Sun Life helps you understand the types of debt, the cost of borrowing, understanding your credit rating as well as tips for getting out of debt.

Staying the course: retirement planning through market volatility 

Facilitated by Morneau Shepell, this seminar discussed market volatility and its potential impact on your retirement plan. Participants learned how to evaluate their financial retirement plan, and options for course correction.

Managing your savings 

This Sun Life webinar focused on defining your priorities, identifying your investment options, managing risk and protecting your investments.

Government Benefits: CPP and OAS 

Presented by Morneau Shepell this webinar provided participants who are mid-late career with information on the benefits they may be entitled to from Government sources, including benefit amounts and eligibility requirements. Participants discussed the factors to consider when deciding when to start receiving benefits.

Recorded Webinars for Western Pension Plan Members

If you are looking for information on the Western Pension Plans, the following NEW webinars are available on-demand at  

  • Becoming Retirement Ready (3 part series)
  • Understanding the value of your Western plan (part 1 and 2)

Special Presentations - April/May 2020 - Complete

Each spring, Western offers special opportunities including our annual Pension Plan member updates (see Annual Pension Plan Member Updates section below), presentations/webinars and the opportunity to meet with a Sun Life Educational Consultant.  

While the presentations are complete for 2020, you can view a selection of upcoming webinars at

The presentations offered in April/May 2020 were:

1. Connect with your money (complete)

Learn how easy it is to manage your workplace retirement and savings program with the tools and services available online through The Retirement Planner and the Sun Life Mobile app are just two of the financial tools that we will explore. This webinar is suitable for plan members wanting to learn how to navigate their account and make the most out of their workplace savings plan - offered the last Monday of every month.

2. Creating your Financial Roadmap (complete)

Having a goal without a plan is like embarking on a journey without a map. Creating your Financial Roadmap teaches you about the important steps and considerations in building a plan. Learn how to build a solid financial roadmap and avoid some of the common pitfalls of money management.

3. Investing: The Essentials (complete)

When it comes to investments, there is a lot to think about! Having a good understanding of investment funds and approaches is essential to investing with confidence. This webinar is an introduction to the fundamentals of investing and focuses on showing employees how to build a diversified portfolio to help meet their personal savings and retirement goals. Helpful for anyone wanting to learn about investing.

Annual Pension Plan Member Updates

Each spring Western reports to members on the status of the Pension Plan and the work of the Joint Pension Board. Please watch this space and your email for information about the 2020 update which will be held in the spring of 2021.

The recorded presentations from the spring of 2020 member updates are available for viewing:

  • Member Decisions and Pension Board Initiatives: This is a recorded presentation by Senior Human Resources Consultant Cara Bourdeau.
  • Market Update: A recorded update by Western's Director of Investments, Martin Bélanger.
  • Featured Guest Lecture: Professor Steve Foerster Lessons from History: Stock Market Crashes, Recoveries, Pandemics and Wars (recorded by The Ivey Academy)
    • Steve Foerster is a Professor of Finance at Ivey Business School, where he has taught since 1987. He has also been a member of Western’s Academic Pension Board since 2008 and is currently Chair of the Academic Pension Board and the Joint Pension Board. For The Ivey Academy, Prof. Foerster investigated historical stock market performance to try to provide clarity on what impact we can expect COVID-19 to have on financial markets. We are pleased to share this, with permission.

Full-day Financial and Pre-retirement Planning Workshop

Western's full-day Financial and Pre-retirement Planning Workshops are normally delivered in person. Because of COVID-19, this program is currently being redesigned to allow for virtual delivery of the content. Please check back for updates.  The description below is provided for information purposes only until the new program is ready for registration.

Plan your journey to retirement! The sessions are facilitated by an external consultant who will lead an unbiased discussion of the role of the Western pension, government pensions and private savings in retirement income planning. Additional topics may include preparing for the transition into retirement, investing in retirement, and tax planning.

NOTE: Participation in the full-day workshop is intended only once in your career. Please contact Human Resources if you wish to discuss the timing of your attendance. As well, Human Resources recommends that employees be supported in attending this session by being granted paid time off to attend where the session occurs during an employee's normal work hours. Approval for time away from work is at the discretion of the leader and subject to the needs of the unit.

Who should attend: Faculty and Staff members aged 45 plus who are considering retirement within the next 10 years. The sessions are open to all members of the Academic and Administrative Staff pension plans. Spouses are welcome and are encouraged to attend with the plan member.

Retirement Income Planning

Retirement income can be paid in many forms, each with its own rules, advantages and restrictions. This three-hour seminar will provide participants with detailed information about the various sources of retirement income – government and employer-provided, as well as individual savings.

We will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different options available to Western retirees at retirement. Using an example, we illustrate how to piece together various sources of income to form a complete retirement income picture. If you have previously attended the Full-day Financial & Pre-retirement Planning Workshop you will find the content is based on the Sources of Retirement Income and Investing for Retirement modules.

Note: Human Resources recommends that employees be supported in attending this session by being granted paid time off to attend where the session occurs during an employee's normal work hours. Approval for time away from work is at the discretion of the leader and subject to the needs of the unit.

2021 Workshop Dates

Watch this space for updates!

Who should attend: Faculty and Staff members aged 50 plus who are formalizing their retirement income plan. The sessions are open to all members of the Academic and Administrative Staff pension plans. Spouses are welcome and are encouraged to attend with the plan member.

If your spouse will be joining you and is also an employee they should register themselves as outlined below. 

If your spouse is not an employee please register yourself as outlined in the instructions below and email indicating your spouse will be joining you. Please include the first and last name of your spouse.

To RegisterLog in to My Human Resources, choose Training, then Enroll in Internal Training Courses. Search by Course Name Retirement or by Course Number RETINC.  Note: If a session date listed above does not appear, it means the session is already full. You may check back later, as an opening may be created by a cancellation. There is no waiting list for this session.

Read detailed registration instructions.

Free Online Webinars

Throughout the year Sun Life Financial hosts live online webinars on a variety of interesting and informative topics to help you manage your money, invest with confidence and plan your retirement. Registration opens eight to ten weeks before each scheduled webinar.

Visit the Sun Life webinar webpage to browse the full list of topics and dates for upcoming live webinars, and to register.

If you are new to look on the login page for a link to a helpful, short video that will help you get to know 

Planning Tools

  • - as our primary provider of member services for the Western Pension Plan, Sun Life Financial offers an extensive suite of tools and resources to help you make the most of your Western Pension Plan including calculators, webinars, articles and financial planning tips for all stages of your life.
  • Investment Advice - For investment advice on your Western Pension Plan, you can speak with a licensed Investment Advice Specialist at Sun Life Financial who can provide you with personal, unbiased, one-on-one investment advice on your Western Pension Plan, and discuss what makes sense for you. Call 1-866-733-8612 any business day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET to speak with an Investment Advice Specialist today!
  • – The official site for the federal government with access to information and services on pensions and benefits you may be eligible for upon retirement. Information on pensions and retirement is located in the Money and Finances section and includes a step-by-step Retirement Income Calculator to help you estimate your retirement income including OAS, CPP, employer pensions and other sources of income.
  • Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) – The FCAC is an independent body working to protect and inform consumers of financial products and services. Topics on planning your retirement can be found under Life Events for Consumers and include how much will you need to retire, understanding Canada's retirement income system, when you should start saving for retirement and sources of retirement income.

Other Pension Information

Supplemental Pension Arrangement

Sometimes, a Pension Plan member's Required Contributions to their regular Western pension account, combined with the University's contribution to the member’s account, exceed the total contributions permitted under the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) contribution limit for the year. The Supplemental Pension Arrangement (SPA) is a plan that provides a notional account for Western's contributions that are in excess of the CRA limit.

This occurs for higher earners; if a member expects to make more than $187,000 in 2018, they may be impacted. This is based on a 5.5% required contribution rate and a 9% employer contribution rate. A member's contribution rates may be lower than that, in which case the threshold to exceed the CRA limit would be higher. In determining whether there is a SPA amount, voluntary contributions are not considered - only the member's required contributions and the employer's contributions.

The SPA is a plan that provides a notional account. A SPA account holder does not direct the investment options for this account. The SPA accounts are credited with the same return realized by The University of Western Ontario’s Operating and Endowment investment funds.

Members receive an annual SPA statement outlining the amounts added to and deducted from their notional contribution accounts and the gross value of their notional account under the SPA at December 31st of the prior year.

Sun Life Financial provides recordkeeping services for the SPA. The University is solely responsible for the payment of benefits under the SPA.

Beneficiary Designation

Beneficiary designations for your notional benefits under the SPA are maintained on file in Western Human Resources. You may make changes to your designated beneficiaries at any time by completing the Supplemental Pension Arrangement Beneficiary Designation Form.

Retiring or Leaving Western

A member leaving Western may elect to receive the balance in the notional SPA account in equal annual installments over a number of years designated by the member (not more than fifteen). A one-time lump sum payment option may also be available.

If the account balance of a terminating member is less than 20% of the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) then the University will settle the account as a lump sum payment to be made at the end of the month following the end of employment. For example, the YMPE in 2019 was $57,400. If a terminating member’s SPA account balance is less than $11,480 the account will be settled in a lump sum.

Members planning to leave Western should contact Western Human Resources at 519-661-2194 to discuss options and any restrictions that may apply to payout of the SPA account.

Annual Returns

The SPA is credited with the same return realized by Western’s Operating and Endowment funds. Here are some links to view returns.

News and Announcements Archive


Liquidating Trust units have matured and the fund is closed

Pension Plan members who continued to hold Liquidating Trust (LT) in their pension account as of June 2017, were advised to make an investment change, because, as anticipated, units held in the Liquidating Trust had substantially matured. Read more about Liquidating Trust.

Understanding the Language of your Pension - a Glossary

Western Human Resources provides a Pension Plan Glossary to assist you in understanding some of the terms used in connection with Western Retirement Plans. If you have further questions, please contact the Human Resources Communication Centre at 519-661-2194 or email

Frequently Asked Questions about Eligibility

Questions & Answers regarding the Pension Plan for those who are not Regular Full-time Employees

This Q & A is designed to address some of the common questions from members who are not regular full-time employees, and who are considering the university's offer to join the pension plan.

I don’t plan to be at Western for very long. Should I still join?

This is free money! Whether you are a member for a few months or many years, you own all the money in your account, including the money contributed by your employer.

Members who anticipate a short participation in the plan are more likely to invest in cash/money market investments that have a low risk of loss over the short term.

Remember to review/update your home address in My Human Resources before you leave!

I will be leaving Canada when I finish at Western. Should I still join?

Probably, as you do not want to miss out on the employer contributions!

  • You may decide to leave the money invested in a Canadian retirement account and can draw upon those funds in retirement (taxable as you withdraw it); OR...
  • You may apply to cash out the account once you have been a non-resident of Canada for at least two years (taxable as a lump sum). Your account must first be transferred to a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA) at a financial institution.
  • Remember to review/update your home address in My Human Resources before you leave!

Will I be able to cash out this account?

It depends. Pension regulations determine what portion of your account is designated as “locked-in” pension money, and what portion is not “locked-in”. Your options for the two types of savings are different. If you are eligible and elect to cash out, you will be required to pay income tax.

I don’t know anything about investing. Can you help?

Western's Joint Pension Board has organized 13 different investment options in a structure that offers broad diversification and choice. The “right” mix of investments is different for each member and may be influenced by your anticipated length of participation in the plan.

Sun Life offers a number of online tools and advice from professionals to assist you in making the right decision.

Can I make changes to my investments?

Yes. Each member is responsible for deciding how to invest their own account. You can make changes to your investments at on any business day.

What happens if I become regular full-time at Western?

If you become a regular full-time employee you will have options to join the pension plan (Academic for faculty members or Administrative Plan for staff members). Your status will change from non full-time to full-time. The contribution levels are determined by your employee group agreement. The investment options and member support remain the same.  There is no waiting period for full-time members.

Why is there a waiting period at the end?

Contributions will stop when employment terminates, but your pension funds remain in the plan for six months after termination. Your account remains invested at your direction during this time. Many non-regular full-time members have sessional employment whereby a short period of time may pass between contracts. The waiting period allows you to immediately resume pension contributions if you regain employment within six months. You won't have to wait for two years to qualify again.

Can I withdraw from the pension plan at any time?

No, once you join you will remain a member for the duration of your employment plus six months with no contributions. Regular contributions from you and Western will be made so long as you have qualifying employment income from Western. If you have elected to make additional Voluntary contributions, these may be changed or stopped at any time.

Can I discuss this with someone?

Contact Sun Life for more information about the Plan, assistance in completing enrolment and ongoing support regarding the decisions you may make on your account.

How do I know if I am eligible to join the plan?

If you become eligible to join the plan, you will be contacted and provided information.  It is not necessary for you to determine this information. If you receive an offer to join the plan and do not accept at that time, you will need to re-qualify in order to join at a later date. If however, you believe you are eligible, please email and we will investigate.

I received a letter with registration information, but missed the deadline to join.

Please contact Human Resources at to request a review of your current eligibility to join.

How do I join?

Just follow the instructions in the letter or email you received from Sun Life Financial.

If you require Human Resources forms, documents or other information in an alternative format, please contact

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