Guide for plan members

Public Service Pension Plan is committed to helping you make the most of your pension. This guide is a provincial requirement. Please use the links at right to explore the topics most relevant to you.

How does the plan work?

The Public Service Pension Plan is a defined benefit pension plan. Each time you are paid your salary, both you and your employer contribute to the plan. These contributions are pooled and invested so that you receive a lifetime monthly pension when you retire. About 75 per cent of the average pension payment is currently paid by the plan's investment returns.

Your lifetime monthly pension will be based on a specific formula that includes:

  • Your years of pensionable service
  • The average of your five highest years of salary (not necessarily the last five years)

When you retire, you will receive a monthly pension for your lifetime.

After you die, depending on the pension option you chose at retirement, the plan may continue to pay:

  • A pension to your spouse (if you have one) for their lifetime
  • Pension benefits to another beneficiary(ies)
  • A lump-sum payment to your estate or an organization you have named as your beneficiary

As a new member, once you've made your first contribution to the plan, you can receive a pension at your earliest retirement age. If you're an inactive member who joined the plan before September 30, 2015, other conditions apply.

Your pension and your job

What happens if you start a new job with the same employer

If you change jobs with the same employer, you will continue to be an active member of BC’s Public Service Pension Plan. Your contributions (and your employer’s contributions) will be adjusted to reflect any changes to your salary.

Your new job may allow you to opt out of plan enrolment. This might apply, for example, if your new job is a casual or auxiliary position. If you are eligible to opt out of the plan and choose to do so, you will need to sign a waiver.

What happens if you change jobs within the public service

Each employer participating in the plan is considered a separate employer. When your job ends with your current employer, you stop contributing to the plan. Depending on enrolment rules, you may be able to immediately re-enrol in the plan when you start your new job.

What happens if you leave your job with a public service employer

If you leave your job and are not working (or if you start working for an employer that does not participate in the plan), you will need to decide what to do with your pension.

Your options depend on:

  • Your age
  • If you are retiring
  • If your new employer’s pension plan has a transfer agreement with the Public Service Pension Plan

Your options could include:

  • Deferring your pension (leaving your money in the plan and taking a monthly pension when you retire)
  • Transferring the commuted value of your pension to a locked-in retirement vehicle
  • Applying for your pension
  • Transferring your service in the Public Service Pension Plan to your new employer’s pension plan

Depending on your age when you leave your job, we will send you either a Termination selection statement form or a pension estimate outlining your options.

What happens if you are laid off

You are no longer an active member of the plan if you:

  • Are not working
  • Have not contributed to the plan for one year

What happens if you are laid off but on a seniority or recall list

If you've been on a seniority or recall list for a year without contributing to the plan, you will no longer be enrolled in the plan. If you are recalled back to work, you will have to meet the enrolment rules to rejoin the plan.

How much do I contribute?

As an active member, you contribute to your pension through automatic deductions from each paycheque. If you have reached 35 years of pensionable service, you will no longer contribute to the plan; if you are on a long-term disability leave, you may no longer be contributing. However, you are an active plan member until you leave your job or retire.

All members’ pension contributions are now calculated using a single flat rate of 8.35 per cent.

This rate has been used to calculate pension contributions for regular plan members since April 1, 2018, and ambulance paramedics and correctional staff since August 1, 2018.

Your contribution includes a portion (1.25 per cent) that is transferred to a fund called the inflation adjustment account. This account is used to pay for annual inflation adjustments that may be added to monthly pension benefits. Inflation adjustments are not guaranteed, but once granted, they become part of your basic pension benefit.

Will my contribution rate increase?

It is possible that your contribution rate may increase.

At least once every three years, an independent actuary (a specialist in financial modelling, the laws of probability and risk management) assesses the financial position of BC's Public Service Pension Plan.

This assessment examines the plan’s ability to pay all current and future pensions. It also reviews the current contribution rates to see if they are sufficient to fund the plan.

Under the Public Service Pension Plan Joint Trust Agreement, trustees are required to adjust contribution rates when needed to meet the plan’s funding requirements.

If the actuary’s assessment determines there is a funding shortfall, both your contribution rate and your employer's contribution rate may increase to bring the plan back to full funding. This ensures the Public Service Pension Plan maintains its fully funded status. Contribution rate increases are shared equally by members and employers.

When can I retire?

For most employees participating in the plan, the normal retirement age is 65 and the earliest retirement age is 55.

For ambulance paramedics in CUPE Local 873, the normal retirement age is 65, and for certain ambulance paramedics the earliest retirement age is 50.

For correctional members, the normal retirement age is 60 and earliest retirement age is 50.

The age at which you retire can affect your pension. For example, your pension may be reduced if you retire early and do not meet the criteria for an unreduced pension (a pension—and bridge benefit, if applicable—with no reductions included in the pension formula).

According to the Income Tax Act, you must begin to receive your pension no later than the end of the year in which you turn 71. This is the age you must begin to receive your pension, even if you are still working.