Frequently Asked Questions

Contribution information

I work in a symphony and I am on a leave of absence. Are pension contributions paid while I’m on that leave?

Contributions to the plan are made on the basis of Collective Bargaining Agreements (which exist between the AFM/CFM and Employers) and Participation Agreements (which exist between the Trustees and Employers). If your Agreement allows for contributions to continue while you are on an “approved” leave of absence, then contributions will continue. Note that there are limits under the Income Tax Act regarding how long contributions during an “approved” leave of absence can be made.

If I work in the U.S., does my employer have to make pension contributions?

If you are temporarily working in the U.S. for a Canadian employer, your employer can continue to make pension contributions to the Canadian plan. Note that there are limits in the Income Tax Act on the period of time this can happen. Please contact the fund office if you need more information about these limits.

If, on the other hand, you are working in the U.S. for a U.S. employer, then contributions cannot be made to the Canadian pension plan. You should contact the U.S. pension plan office to determine if contributions may be made to that fund. If your service becomes “divided” in this way, between the Canadian and U.S. plans, both plans have provisions which allow the credit in one plan to be recognized in the other for eligibility and vesting purposes — so you will not be unduly disadvantaged in the event that your benefits are split between the two plans.

Can I make my own contributions?

No. The plan only permits employer contributions. In order for the plan to be considered a registered pension plan (which permits the tax-deductibility of employer contributions, and the tax-sheltering of investment income on those contributions), the Income Tax Act requires that there must be a bona fide employer-employee relationship in respect of every member who participates in the plan. If we were to accept member contributions, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that there was, in fact, an employer-employee relationship in existence in respect of every contribution received.

Can pension contributions be paid on negotiated fees?

No. The plan states clearly that contributions can only be made pursuant to a collective agreement, or pursuant to a local engagement contract in which case the employer is to contribute pursuant to AFM/CFM scales.

Can we have contributions made on our behalf in excess of 18%?

No, the plan is required to cap the rate at 18% to be in line with the Income Tax Act rule that limits total contributions to a registered pension plan such as this one to 18% of compensation.

Note, however, that even though contributions up to 18% of compensation are permitted, your employer’s contributions are limited to those made pursuant to a collective agreement, or pursuant to a local engagement contract in which case the employer must contribute pursuant to AFM/CFM scales.

I understand that the Income Tax Act prevents me from receiving any extra benefits from contributions made after the end of the year in which I turn age 71. Why do the pension contributions continue after that time?

The Plan Rules and Regulations, and the Trust Agreement, state that contributions are to be made in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreements (which exist between the AFM/CFM and Employers) and Participation Agreements (which exist between the Trustees and Employers). These agreements set out the requirements for the contributions to be made, and they do not distinguish between employees on the basis of age.

As discussed above in question 1, contributions to a defined benefit plan are not made to an account in respect of a single member (as they would be if the plan was a defined contribution plan) — they are all commingled in a single fund which is used to pay benefits to all plan members and beneficiaries. So any contributions made to the plan in respect of members who are over age 71 simply become part of the fund assets which are used to pay plan benefits to everyone.

I am already receiving a pension, but I’m still working. Are pension contributions still being paid? Are these contributions treated in the same way as pension contributions made before I started my pension?

Pension contributions do continue, and you receive extra pension based on these contributions (in respect of contributions made before the end of the year in which you turn age 71), but your extra pension is not calculated in the same way as it was before you retired.

Note that post-retirement contributions made on and after January 1, 2013 are divided into two equal amounts to be applied as follows:

  • 50% of the contributions are allocated as regular contributions to be used for calculating your benefits, and
  • 50% of the contributions are allocated as sustaining contributionsthat will help support the actual cost of your benefits and will not be used for calculating benefits.

The additional pension is effective on the January 1 following the calendar year in which the contributions are made. It then simply becomes part of your regular pension payments.