Frequently asked questions in the Staff Pension Plan

I am now a member of the Combination or Money Purchase Plans.  Can I transfer my Staff Pension Plan Service into those plans?

No.  Your Staff Pension will be separate from your Combination or Money Purchase Pension Plan. 


I have recently terminated my employment with the University of Victoria.  How long will it take for me to receive my Statement of Termination Benefit Options?

 The following must occur before we can calculate your termination benefit and send you a statement of termination options:

  • Notification from Payroll and Human Resources that you have terminated employment.
  • Posting of your final salary and any final adjustments

The process normally takes 6 – 8 weeks after your final paid date.

Please keep the Pension Office informed of any changes in your address or marital status.


I am considering retirement from the University of Victoria.  What steps do I need to take to find out what my pension will be?

If you would like a pension calculation prepared, please contact our office directly, either by email to or by phone at 250 721-7030 and provide the following information:

    • Whether you are definitely retiring or would just like an estimate for a future date.  That way we’ll know whether we need to send you just the pension estimate or the entire retirement forms package
    • Retirement dates (we will calculate options for a maximum of 2 dates only)
    • Your current address and phone number
    • Whether you have a spouse and, if so, their name and birth date (we must quote joint-life options if you have a spouse).  See the definition of spouse as it applies to pensions in British Columbia
    • Your pension may be affected if you are, or become, divorced or separated.  See Pension Divison for more information.

Also see Retirement for details about your pension entitlement


May I receive my pension before age 65?

You can start receiving your pension any time after you turn age 55 and have terminated employment but your pension may be reduced if you are under age 65, depending on whether you had reached age 55 prior to leaving employment.  Refer to the section on reduction factors in Retirement.


Can I take my pension out in a lump sum before retirement?

If you terminate employment prior to age 55, you will have the option of receiving the lump-sum commuted value of your deferred pension.  See Benefit Options available if you terminate employment prior to age 55 for details.


Can I make extra contributions to increase my pension?

The Staff Plan provisions do not allow members to increase the amount of credited service in their account through the transfer of cash, RRSP , etc, into the pension plan (for example, you cannot ‘purchase’ a period of employment in which you didn’t contribute, such as a probationary period, or pay afterwards for a leave of absence during which you did not maintain contributions).  However, subject to Income Tax Act maximums, you may elect to make additional contributions to a voluntary contribution account through payroll deduction or by transfer from other registered vehicles.  These contributions are invested with the plan’s other assets and investment returns match the rates earned by the other assets of the plan.  At retirement or termination, these funds must be transferred to another financial institution, registered pension plan or be taken as a lump-sum cash refund. Contact the Pension Office if you wish to participate in the voluntary account.


Are benefits adjusted to the Cost-of-living?

At the end of each calendar year, pensions are adjusted in response to movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  There is a limit on adjustments of 3% upwards or downwards in any one year, and your pension will not be reduced below its initial amount.  CPI is calculated separately for partial years (year of retirement) and the amount depends on the month of retirement

While funds permit, the Supplemental Retirement Benefit account is used to bridge any gap between the automatic adjustment and the actual CPI increase.  It is available to pensioners who have reached age 66 prior to January 1st of the year in which the supplemental becomes effective.


Are there any health or dental benefits associated with the pension plan?

No, there are no health or dental benefits available under the Staff Plan


What happens to my pension if I die before I reach retirement age?

Refer to Survivor benefits for information.


How is the lump-sum value of my pension determined?

The commuted value of a pension benefit refers to the lump sum amount of money that needs to be set aside today, at current market interest rates, to provide enough funds to pay for a pension when a plan member retires.  The lower the current interest rates, the higher the commuted value will be, because it is assumed that the amount today will earn less from now until retirement; and, conversely, the higher the current interest rates, the lower the commuted value.  The calculation also takes into account your age, your years of credited service and amount of your deferred pension.  The assumptions used for the calculation, including the interest rates are set “in accordance with the recommendations for the computation of transfer values of pensions issued by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries”{Pension Benefits Standards Act (BC) Regulation 21(1)(a)}


How much notice do I need to give the Pension Office when I retire?

Please provide the Pension Office with at least 6 weeks notice if you are retiring.  This will allow us to prepare your estimate and notify you of any documents you need to submit prior to receiving your pension.


Is my pension payment taxable?

Yes, your pension payments are considered taxable income.


Do investment returns affect my pension?

No - in a defined benefit plan, benefits are determined by a formula that indicates the amount you will receive upon retirement - contributions and investment returns do not determine the pension benefit.


If I leave the university, can I receive a refund of my contributions?

You are entitled to a pension benefit (vested) immediately upon joining the pension plan.  Therefore, your refund would represent the amount of ‘commuted value’ of your pension and not your or the employers contributions.  Refer to Termination of employment for more information.