On November 18, 2019, the Government of Alberta introduced
Bill 22, Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act, 2019. It passed third and final reading in the Legislature on November 21, 2019, and received Royal Assent and became law on November 22, 2019.
The Bill's provisions regarding ATRF say:
ATRF is required to enter into an investment management agreement with Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) that would ensure AIMCo is the exclusive provider of investment management services for ATRF's Pension Funds, except for very small exceptions in limited circumstances.
This agreement must take effect no later than June 30, 2020, and the transfer of investment management services must be complete as soon as possible and no later than December 31, 2021.
In June of 2020, ATRF and AIMCo presented a proposal to modify the schedule for completing this agreement that has been accepted by the Government of Alberta. As a result of the complexity and amount of work involved in preparing an agreement of this kind, compounded by the challenges of completing this work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agreement is now scheduled for completion by October 31, 2020.
The legislation made no changes to the plan itself. ATRF will continue to be the trustee for the plan and will continue to manage the administration of the pension. The Board remains in control of determining how the pension fund is invested at a strategic level, as well as retaining ownership of the plan's assets.
Currently, plans are being developed to deal with how the fund assets will be transferred to AIMCo.
What is important now, as always, is what's in the best interest of the Alberta teachers. That is what's guiding ATRF through this process, as it has guided everything we've done to support Alberta teachers for generations.
View the Frequently Asked Questions for ATRF members.
Timeline of Events
(October 26, 2019) 2019 Provincial Budget Update
The Government of Alberta released the 2019 Provincial Budget on Thursday, October 24, 2019, which indicated that Alberta Teachers' Retirement Fund Board was "expected to transfer funds to Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) for management."
(October 30, 2019) A Letter to Minister Toews
ATRF's Board Chair, Sandra Johnston, sent a letter on behalf of the Board
to the President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, Travis Toews. The letter expressed concerns about the impacts this change could have on plan members, saying that no data had been provided showing this change would be in the best interests of ATRF pension plans or members.
(November 1, 2019) The ATRF Advantage
ATRF has always been committed to transparency, so a fact sheet, called
The ATRF Advantage, was distributed to members to help update them on the proposed change. It included information about the ATRF as a pension manager, ATRF's costs and returns, and information about the fiduciary duties of the Board.
(November 7, 2019) Next Steps – Letter to Minister Toews
The ATRF Board Chair, Sandra Johnston, sent a
follow-up letter to the President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, Travis Toews which provided information regarding net asset return comparisons between ATRF and AIMCo, and spoke to the benefits our members receive from ATRF as a pension manager.
The letter also suggested a neutral, third-party be asked to review the data and consider both options to ensure ATRF members would get the optimal management of their pension plan.
(November 16, 2019) Follow-Up Letter After Meeting with Minister Toews
Sandra Johnston, the ATRF Board Chair, issued a second request to Alberta's Minister of Finance for the Government of Alberta to have Alberta's Auditor General perform a review to determine if AIMCo is better able to perform the pension management responsibilities currently performed by ATRF.
(November 18, 2019) ATRF Request to Alberta's Auditor General for a Review of Proposed Changes to Teachers' Pension Plan
The ATRF filed a formal request under Sections 20 and 29 of the Auditor General Act for Alberta's Auditor General to assess the proposed transfer of ATRF's asset management to AIMCo.
In a letter to the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), ATRF Board Chair, Sandra Johnston, outlined the Board's fiduciary duty to the plans and their beneficiaries to ensure changes are in their best interests.
(Dec 17, 2019) Message sent from ATRF's CEO and Board Chair to Members on Bill 22
Many members had questions about the changes so ATRF's Board Chair and CEO
sent a message to members addressing some of their concerns and giving them an overview of what the change will mean to them.
(Jan 23, 2020) Response from the Auditor General
The Auditor General declined the ATRF request, saying "As Auditor General, my mandate does not include examining the merits of government policy or decision. Rather, my role is to examine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of how government decisions are implemented, evaluated, and subsequently reported to Albertans." The letter did say that as auditors of ATRF, AIMCo, and the department of Treasury Board and Finance, they will be reviewing the implementation of this change in the coming year.
ATRF is in discussions with AIMCo regarding the investment changes and will provide updates on progress when more information is available.