Frequently Asked Questions – Pension

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Essential info

Policy No. 35169

Managed by Group Retirement Services (GRS), a division of Canada Life Assurance Company

GRS ACCESS LINE: 1-800-724-3402

Note: Our Registered Pension Plan (RPP) is a separate policy from the remainder of the Canada Life benefits. Therefore, you must ensure that the appropriate documentation is completed for any pension changes. Please contact your Benefit Representative for the applicable documents. All originals are forwarded directly to the Benefit Administration Office for processing & record maintenance.

Please call the GRS ACCESS LINE directly if you have lost your PIN, user Access ID and/or Password.

This site is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide you with any personalized, financial, insurance, legal, accounting or tax advice. You should not rely on this site as a substitute for independent research or for personal advice from an appropriate professional advisor.


  • The Registered Pension Plan (RPP) began in September 1980. Purpose was to encourage and assist employees to build a supplemental retirement fund that would complement the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS) programs of the federal government.
  • The following rates illustrate the gradual increase to our RPP:
Annual Reporting Period: Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 EMPLOYER MATCHED CONTRIBUTION
(Current Definitions)
New & Current Employees New & Current Employees In the 15th Year of Service In the 20th Year of Service In the 25th Year
of Service
1980-1984 1.50% 1.50%      
1984-1986 2.00% 2.00%
1986-1988 2.50% 2.50%
September 1988 – Approved CISVA (Teacher) Compensation Package Introduces the “Grandfathered” Contribution tier? Grandfathered Tier
1988-1991 3.00% 3.00%     5.00%
1991-1993 3.50% 3.50%     5.50%
1993-1999 4.00% 4.00%     6.00%
1999-2000 4.50% 4.50%     6.50%
2000-2001 5.00% 5.00%     7.00%
2001-2002 5.50% 5.50%     7.50%
2002-2003 6.00% 6.00%     8.00%
September 2003 – Approved CISVA (Teacher) Compensation Package recognizes Employee’s in the 21st year of service. New contribution tier is introduced accordingly.
2003-2005 3.00% 6.50%   7.00% 9.00%
2005-2009 3.00% 7.00%   8.00% 9.00%
September 2009 – Approved CISVA (Teacher) Compensation Package amends contribution requirement from “in the 21st year of service” to “in the 20th year of service.”
2009-2010 3.00% 7.00%   8.00% 9.00%
September 2010 – Approved CISVA (Teacher) Compensation Package dissolves “Grandfathered” tier and establishes new, “in the 25th year of service” category.
2010-2011 3.00% 7.00%   8.00% 9.00%
September 2011 – Approved CISVA (Teacher) Compensation Package recognizes Employee’s in the 15th year of service. New contribution tier is introduced accordingly.
2011-2012 3.00% 7.00% 7.50% 8.00% 9.00%
2012-2013 3.00% 7.00% 7.50% 8.00% 9.00%
September 2016 – New contribution tier is introduced accordingly
2016-2017 3.00% 7.00% 8.00% 9.00% 9.00%

NOTE: In September 1988, members of the RPP who were employed 15 years prior to September 1989 were provided with a higher contribution level (aka: “Grandfathered” Employees). This provided a higher rate of contributions to members who worked many years without a plan, and would not have time for compounding interest to increase their account to a significant level. This defined category of contribution was recognized for the period of September 1, 1988 to August 31, 2010.

Who is eligible to participate in the Registered Pension Plan?

If you are a permanent full-time or part-time employee, working a minimum 20-hour work-week, you may join the Registered Pension Plan (RPP) as of your first day of employment. For those individuals who are required to satisfy a probation period, you may join the RPP on the first day after you satisfy your probation period.

If you are a permanent part-time employee working less than 20 hours a week, you may join the RPP on the first day after you complete two years of continuous employment with your employer, provided you have earned 35% of the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE) in each of the two consecutive years.

The following eligible Benefit Classes allow for participation in the RPP:

  • Benefit Class 1: Permanent FT/PT Employees
  • Benefit Class 2: One Year – Contract
  • Benefit Class 4: Priests (Prince George and Kamloops only)
  • Benefit Class 100: Pension only


Current Contributions Levels

The following contributions are available to CISVA employees:

Contribution levels are based on the following percentages of gross annual earnings:

  • 3% – new or existing employees
  • 7% – new or existing employees
  • 8% – employees in their 15th year of service
  • 9% – employees in their 20th year of service

For all other employees participating in the pension plan, subject to benefits offered by your “Employer” in your employment contract, you would contribute to the Plan by payroll deduction of an amount as indicated in the chart above.

The “Employer” means the policyholder (Archdiocese of Vancouver) or any affiliated, associated or subsidiary companies listed below:

  • Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Catholic Independent Schools of Vancouver Archdiocese
  • Catholic Independent Schools of Kamloops Diocese
  • Catholic Independent Schools of Prince George
  • Diocese of Kamloops
  • Diocese of Prince George

What is the maximum that someone can contribute to the Registered Pension Plan?

The total of all employer and employee contributions (including Voluntary RPP contributions) to an RPP are limited to the lesser of the current year’s contribution limit (as set by Revenue Canada) and 18% of the employee’s pensionable earnings for the year.

Note:  for 2023, Revenue Canada has set the pensionable contribution limits to $30,780.


  • Employee earns $71,407 per calendar year
  • Employee contributes to the RPP at 7% which is matched by the Employer
    • Therefore, total contributions to the RPP are 14% = $9,996.98 ($71,407 x 14% = $9,996.98)
  • Employee is allowed to contribute 18% of their annual gross earnings
    • $71,407 x 18% = $12,853.26
  • $12,853.26 is the maximum the employee can contribute to the RPP for the tax year 2017
    • $2,856.28 ($12,853.26 – $9,996.98 = $2,856.28) is the most that the employee could contribute to their Voluntary RPP to maximize their pensionable contributions.

As illustrated, the employee’s contributions are less than the annual contribution limit set by Revenue Canada. 18% of the employee’s pensionable earnings for the year is the most that the employee may contribute.

Defined Contribution Plan

The Archdiocese of Vancouver, in association with Canada Life, provides a Defined Contribution Plan for our employees. A Defined Contribution Plan (also known as a money purchase plan) is similar to a Group RRSP. The employer and employee contribute to an account in the employee’s name (based on a percentage of the employee’s income) and the employee is responsible for making investment decisions with respect to their own portion of the contributions, choosing from the investment funds available within the Archdiocese of Vancouver, RPP plan.

While the value or percent of income going into a plan is known; the final benefit is not known. Retirement income from the plan is based on the total value of the accumulated employee/employer contributions and the investment income earned by the time the employee retires. The value of the plan will vary, depending on years of investment, market performance and the selected investments.

When an employee leaves the company or retires, the benefit from the plan is the balance in the employee’s account, providing that funds are fully vested.

Is it beneficial to join the Registered Pension Plan?

Saving for retirement is always a good goal, and being part of a pension plan helps you achieve that goal. Even if you don’t intend to work within the Archdiocese of Vancouver until you retire, you will never receive less than twice your contributions as a benefit while employed within our organization.

Joining your Group RPP is a great way to start and offers you advantages such as:

  • Easy, convenient and disciplined with direct contributions from your paycheque. Plus, these contributions are deposited before income tax is calculated, so you get immediate tax savings.
  • Very favourable investment management fees
  • No fees for annual service, set-up, transfers between funds, or redemption
  • A wide variety of world-class investment managers
  • Flexible guaranteed compound interest accounts
  • Customized member statements with personalized rate of return and Smart messages
  • Freedom to change your investment instructions at any time at no cost
  • Access to excellent retirement planning software
  • 100% immediate return on investment due to Employer matched contributions

Is membership in the pension plan automatic?

No. It is not a condition of employment by the Archdiocese of Vancouver that an employee joins our RPP. However, you cannot opt-out once you join the pension plan. Please make an informed decision.

How can I get information about a pension plan so that I can decide whether or not I would like to join?

As a prospective employee and/or an existing employee wanting to join our RPP, the CISVA provides some tools to assist you with your decision. Within the CISVA Benefit Plan portion of our website, please refer to the following sections for an overview of our pension plan:

Registered Pension Plan

Can my pension plan have different requirements for plan membership, contributions, or plan options for men and women?

No! Sex discrimination by any RPP is prohibited by the Pension Benefits Standards Act (PBSA).

Are part-time or on-call/casual employees eligible to join the pension plan?

Permanent or part-time employees who meet the minimum eligibility requirements of working 20 hours per week may join the plan.

Casual, on-call or seasonal employees are not entitled to the pension plan.

Employees who work less than 20 hours a week may be eligible to join the RPP providing that the following criteria is met:

  • An employee for whom a pension plan is maintained is, on application, eligible to become a member of the pension plan after completing 2 years of continuous employment with the employer, with earnings of not less than 35% of the Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (dollar amount set by Revenue Canada) in each of 2 consecutive calendar years.
  • Employees who meet this legislated criterion are placed in Benefit Class 100.

Your Rights and Obligations

Pension plans are closely regulated by federal and provincial legislation. As a member of a pension plan, you have certain legislated rights including the right to receive an annual statement from the plan and a right to examine official plan documents. Please note that under our pension plan, bi-annual statements are issued: one in September, the other in March.

You also have obligations – most importantly to inform yourself about your pension plan and the decisions you need to make as a member.

What if I go on a maternity/parental leave of absence?

To maintain your pension benefits you will be responsible for making your required contributions for each month you are on this specific type of leave. You will receive an invoice for your benefits from your immediate employer (school or Parish). If you do not receive an invoice, please contact your immediate employer to address this issue.

If you want to opt-out of the RPP while on maternity/parental leave, please ensure that a copy of your Maternity Contract is forwarded to the Benefit Administration Office. For audit purposes, you will need to complete the Pension waiver on Page 2 of this contract. Please note that contributions will be reinstated once you return to active employment.

What if I’m absent from work as a result of a disability (STD, LTD or WCB)?

If you are temporarily away from work as a result of a disability (Short-term disability, Long-term disability or Worker’s Compensation), you are unable to participate in the employer-matched portion of the pension plan. Contributions will cease as of the first day following the month of disability. Voluntary pension contributions may continue during the period of your disability.

Contributions will be reinstated once you return to your pre-disability employment status.

What happens when I return from a leave of absence or lay-off?

Upon return to active employment, please advise your Benefit Representative accordingly and your benefits will be automatically reinstated and deductions will resume as normal. It is imperative that you check your pay stub to ensure your required pension contributions have been deducted. If the contributions have not been deducted, please advise your employer immediately.

Can I retire before age 65?

Yes. You are entitled to start receiving early retirement benefits as soon as the age of 55 and have been a member of the plan for at least two years. The amount you receive each month, however, may be reduced to compensate for the fact you will likely receive pension payments for a longer period.

Can I keep working and contributing past normal retirement age?

Yes, you may continue working if your employer permits you to do so. If you continue working, you will continue to earn pension benefits. Your pension payments must commence no later than the end of the calendar year in which you turn 71.

What does "locked-in" mean?

Vested pension benefits, resulting from contributions made to the pension plan after 1992, may not be withdrawn as a lump sum, and must be used to provide retirement income.

When are my pension benefits vested?

Legislation requires that pension benefits become vested once the member has completed two years of continuous plan membership. Once vested, the member is vested for all periods of plan membership without regard to whether the contributions or periods of employment were before or after January 1, 1993.

Automatic vesting after September 30, 2015.

What are my options if my membership in the plan terminates?

You may leave the benefits in your employer’s pension plan, and start receiving the pension once you get to the age at which you are eligible to commence receiving payments. This option is valuable as it may allow you to participate in future benefit improvements under the plan.

If you quit or lose your job before your pension is vested, you can get back any money you paid into the plan, with interest. You may not be entitled to money your employer has paid into the plan on your behalf.

If, however, you quit or lose your job after your pension is vested you have the option to transfer the value of your vested entitlement out of the pension plan. If you opt to transfer your benefits out of the plan, you can transfer them to your new employer’s plan, as long as your new employer’s plan will accept the transfer. You also have the option to transfer the value of your benefits to a locked-in RRSP, to a life income fund (a “LIF”), or to an insurance company to buy an annuity.

The portion of the benefits resulting from employment before 1993 may be received in a lump sum, by a terminating plan member, if the pension plan does not require that these be locked-in.

If I transfer my benefits out of the pension plan how long do they remain locked-in?

Your benefits will always be locked-in, meaning that the money must only be used for the purposes of providing a stream of retirement income.

If I transfer benefits out of the pension plan, when can I start receiving monthly payments?

If you transfer the money to a locked-in RRSP, in order to start receiving payments it must be further transferred to a life income fund (a “LIF”), used to purchase an annuity, or transferred to another pension plan. In the case of a LIF and an annuity, the payments can start when you reach the age at which you could have started receiving payments under the pension plan the money was transferred out of (age 55 under most plans). If you transfer the money to another pension plan the money becomes subject to the provisions of the new plan.

Management Fees

The Investment Management Fee (IMF) that Canada Life charges the Pension Plan for the default Continuum TDF (current default) and Continuum Target Risk Fund (previous default, but still on our list of offerings) is 0.45%.  In addition, there is a small amount for expenses, bringing up the total IMFOE (Investment Management Fee & Operating Expense) to 0.49%, still way below the management fees of retail providers like banks, credit unions, and finance companies, etc.

My spouse and I are separated. Is he/she entitled to any of my pension benefits?

Pensions are a “family asset” under the province’s Family Relations Act. The division of family assets, including pension credits, comes under that legislation. Part 6 of the Family Relations Act provides detailed procedures for valuing and dividing a pension after a marriage breakdown.