Muncipal Pensions, VESP and Remembering Cam

I sit on the CUPE BC Pensions Committee and attend meetings with Municipal Employees Pension Advisory Committee (MEPAC) three times a year. The chief topics of discussion are the health the Municipal Pension Plan (MPP) and the policies which govern it. This advisory committee brings guest speakers to educate us on a variety of subjects, e.g. the structure and governance of the MPP, the Joint Trusteeship (Unions and Employers).
Members News: Pensions are secure See excerpt
“It is important to remember that the basic pension benefit for plan members is guaranteed. This means that even when there is short term volatility in the financial markets, basic pension benefits will not be affected. The Board would like to reassure plan members that their pensions are secure.”

As a member of the Municipal Pension Plan, your defined benefit pension guarantees you an income for life after you retire. The amount of that pension payment will depend on your years of service and earnings while you worked, not the state of the markets at any time before or after your retirement.

When you retire, we will confirm the exact amount of the pension you will receive and when the payment will arrive, and you can be assured the payment will continue, unaffected by the markets.

The Municipal Pension Board of Trustees works with the Plan’s investment agent, the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), in making prudent investment decisions about the Plan’s assets of over $25-billion. Those investment decisions are made within the investment policy framework set by the Municipal Pension Plan trustees.

I have asked the presenter from bcMIC for permission to showcase his powerpoint presentation which examines the following areas of the Municipal Pension Plan’s investments and governance.


  • Governance of Plan’s Investments
  • Plan’s Investment Performance
  • Investing in Volatile Markets
  • New Avenues of Investment
  • Capital Market and Economic Overview


The Union will ask the Employer if we can out the bcMIC powerpoint presentation on the VPL Bulletin Board. A few slides have had material blacked out as the information is sensitive. Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIPP) portion of the slide show delivers how our money is invested. Our pension plan information should not be on a blog which gives access to anyone doing a search on pensions. Information will be posted accordingly.

The Union strongly encourages members to attend the November 21-22 Introduction to Pensions workshopat the CUPE BC Regional Office Mountainview Boardroom. 500-4940 Canada Way, Burnaby. Phone or e-mail CUPE 391 Education Chair at 604-665-2339 for further information. Full bookoff and per diem is provided.

VESP (Vancouver Employee Savings Plan)

The Vancouver Employees’ Savings Plan (VESP), which also includes similar plans for certain City of Vancouver and other Vancouver area public sector employee groups, was administered by VanCity for a number of years. A new trustee (Canadian Western Trust) and administrator (Morneau Sobeco) were appointed in 2007 as VanCity did not believe that they were receiving enough return for their investment in the administration of the plan. Employees now receive their VESP quarterly statements from Morneau Sobeco. The March 31, 2008 statements included a letter and Frequently Asked Questions explaining the transition and recent changes in the administration of the plan.

CUPE 15 and CUPE 391 will be holding a joint information session at Central library to allow an opportunity for Plan members to obtain more information with respect to the Plan:

These information sessions will be conducted by Morneau Sobeco,
administrator of the Plan. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers. The date and room location will be posted on the blog as we mutually agree on the aforesaid information. Clause 10.7 of the 2003-2006 Collective Agreement provides the terms of the Employer-Union agreement regarding VESP. see for VESP clause

Remembrance Day

I am booking off now to visit the grave site of my Uncle Cameron. Cameron George Macfarlane was a rear gunner in Royal Canadian Air Force. His aircrafts were shot down in the North Sea four times. Cam decided a change of venue would benefit his health, so he signed up to be an ambulance driver. His vehicle was the first ambulance on Juno Beach, D-Day.

Uncle Cam suffered from untreated post traumatic stress syndrome. For a period of time he was inclined to swing at people walking behind him. This gentle man was a noted musician and had received his electrical engineering papers before volunteering to serve in WWII. After the war he became a tramp miner and was renown for prodigious feats of mining and drinking. His sobriquet was “Bull-eyes Macfarlane”.

Cam occasionally stayed in the hotels frequented by the mining community on Granville street. A woman rejoicing in the name of “Poison Ivy” remembered him fondly. “He was the most generous guy, funny as hell.” The miners remember his strength; sinking shafts, driving tunnels. He died at the age of fifty-four. His family still weeps for the son, brother, uncle and cousin that they lost.

When you see an old, homeless person begging on the street today, think of my Uncle Cameron and your lost loved ones. They often end up here, due to terrible, personal experiences. Their addictions keep them there. We don’t celebrate war in my family. We remember.