Government of Nova Scotia, Canada
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Use the Services Directory to quickly access information on all of the services provided by the NS Department of Finance and Treasury Board.


2023 Agreement Amending the Multilateral Agreement Respecting PRPPs and VRSPs
The 2023 Agreement Amending the Multilateral Agreement Respecting Pooled Registered Pension Plans and Voluntary Retirement Savings Plans (PDF) came into effect on 1 May 2023.

Revisions to the Form 12 Guide for Financial Institutions
Revisions have been made to the Form 12 Guide for Financial Institutions (on pages 5 and 7) to provide clarity around calculating total Gross Expected Income and clarifying requirements under the circumstances of unlocking for medical/dental expenses. The updated guide is available under the publications section of our website.

Amendments to Pension Benefits Regulations Effective July 1, 2021

The Pension Benefits Regulations are being amended effective July 1, 2021 to streamline the financial hardship unlocking program and address some administrative issues throughout the regulations.

Information for Individuals

Effective July 1, 2021 individuals applying to withdraw money from a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or life income fund (LIF) can apply directly to the financial institution that holds the funds. Approval to unlock is no longer required from the Superintendent of Pensions. The circumstances that must be met in order to withdraw money remain the same.

Effective July 1, 2021 a New Form 12 should be completed by applicants and provided to the financial institution that holds the funds.

Information for Financial Institutions

The following resources are available to assist Financial Institutions in administering financial hardship unlocking applications.

Pension Benefits Regulations
A Form 12 Guide for Financial Institutions
Form 12 – Checklist for Financial Institutions
2021 Life Income Fund Calculator (to calculate maximum LIF income and temporary income withdrawals)

Annual Information Returns and Audited Financial Statements that were due between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020 have been given a filing extension until August 31, 2020. The extension is automatic—plan administrators don’t need to apply for it.
If you have questions about another filing deadline, email Pension Regulation. We aren’t taking phone calls now but will check voice messages when we can.

New Pension Benefits Regulations coming into force effective April 1, 2020 

In September 2017, the Government of Nova Scotia launched a review of the funding for pension plans and other regulatory issues affecting pension plans. As a result of this review, a number of reforms have been developed. In the Spring 2019, legislative amendments were made to accommodate some of the proposed reforms and were published in the paper Improved Funding Framework for Nova Scotia Pension Plans: The Road Forward. Feedback from stakeholders in response to this paper helped shape the newly proclaimed Regulations.

On February 24, 2020, the legislative amendments to the Pension Benefits Act, which were made in Spring (remove comma) 2019, were proclaimed as coming into force April 1, 2020.

Effective February 24, 2020, the Pension Benefits Regulations (the “Regulations”) were amended by the Governor in Council to introduce the proposed reforms.   The Regulations balance the needs of private sector employers that offer defined benefit pension plans and the members who contribute to those plans and are available online here.

Some of the new Regulations effective April 1, 2020 include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Funding Reform: Reducing Solvency Funding to 85% – Existing and new pension plans with valuation dates on or after December 31, 2019 will be required to fund to 85% of liabilities determined on a solvency basis. No solvency payments will be required if a plan’s solvency ratio is 85% or higher. If the solvency ratio is less than 85%, the shortfall (up to 85%) will need to be funded over five years.
  • Funding Reform: Enhance Going Concern Funding – Currently, any going concern deficiencies must be funded over 15 years. Effective April 1, 2020, going concern deficiencies must be funded over 10 years and a margin/provision for adverse deviations on going concern liabilities will be introduced (i.e. a PfAD). The method for determining the size of the margin for each plan will be determined in accordance with the Regulations.
  • Incorporating Federally Permitted Investment Rules – The Regulations have been amended to reference the federal investment rules, as they exists from time-to-time.
    o Requiring less frequent valuation reports for certain solvency exempt plans – Effective April 1, 2020, solvency exempt pension plans with a solvency ratio of less than 85% will be required to file a full actuarial valuation report every three years and a cost certificate annually. However, the Superintendent may require a valuation sooner than three years if deemed warranted. Pension Plans that are not solvency exempt will still need to file a full valuation report annually if their solvency ratio is less than 85%.
  • New Restrictions on Contribution Holidays – Effective April 1, 2020, a contribution holiday may only be taken if the plan assets will be at least equal or greater than 105% of the solvency liabilities and 105% of the going concern liabilities after the holiday.
  • Exempt Individual Pension Plans (IPPs) from most of the Pension Benefits Act (the “Act”) – IPPs whose members are all ‘connected persons’ as specified in the federal Income Tax Act will be exempt from most of the requirements of the Act and the Regulations. Note that plans who include members who do not meet the criteria of a ‘connected person’ will continue to be subject to the requirements of the Act and Regulations.
  • Payments into Reserve Accounts – A reserve account is a separate account within a defined benefit pension plan established to hold payments in respect of a solvency deficiency or other prescribed contributions (contributions relating to the going-concern pfad). Legislation permits the employer to withdraw any surplus in a reserve account at wind up, if all the prescribed conditions are met. The administrator will be required to make application to, and obtain consent of, the Superintendent for the withdrawal.
  • Discharge of Liability for Annuity Buy-Outs – Regulatory amendments are proposed that will support the annuity buy-out amendments made to the Act in Spring 2019.
  • Loosening Restrictions on Benefit Improvements for Solvency Exempt Plans – Increases will be permitted to the cost of plan benefits so long as a solvency deficiency (that is, a deficiency below 85% solvency ratio) is neither created nor increased, except where the increase or new deficiency is fully funded, in the case of solvency exempt plans, or amortized over a specified period of years, in the case of other plans.

Improved Funding Framework for Nova Scotia Pension Plans: The Road Forward (PDF)

The Government of Nova Scotia released a discussion paper in fall 2017 called Pension Funding Framework Review and other issues affecting pension plans. Following the close of the consultation, a summary of feedback was released in spring 2018 called Pension Funding Framework Review: What We Heard. To promote a more stable and predictable regulatory environment for pension plans, Government is moving forward with some significant changes to the regulatory framework.

Nova Scotia’s Department of Finance and Treasury Board is seeking input from stakeholders as we determine the best road forward for regulatory provisions. A paper has been developed with an overview of the legislative and regulatory changes being made. Input is being sought on technical regulatory changes identified in the paper with the goal of determining the best road forward. To ensure that your views are considered, please submit your feedback by June 21, 2019.

Pension Funding Framework Review “What we Heard” Summary

Employer sponsored pension plans play a key role in helping individuals save for their retirement.

The Department of Finance and Treasury Board released a Pension Funding Framework Review discussion paper in the fall of 2017 seeking responses and comments on possible funding framework reforms for defined benefit plans and on regulatory issues that affect various types of pension plans.

The deadline for feedback was November 10, 2017. The Pension Funding Framework Review What We Heard document provides a high-level summary of many of the themes and comments received in response to the discussion paper. All feedback received is appreciated and is being weighed in the consideration of any changes to pension law in Nova Scotia

Orange ClockFor More Information

Mailing Address:
Finance and Treasury Board
Pension Regulation Division
PO Box 2531
Halifax, NS  B3J 3N5

Phone: 902-424-8915
Fax: 902-424-5327

Finance and Treasury Board
Pension Regulation Division
1723 Hollis St, 4th Floor
Halifax, NS  B3J 1V9