OMERS to Appeal Pension Payment Ruling

April 30, 2004 ( - The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) has decided to appeal an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling awarding $821,000 in additional pension payments to six of eight former Toronto police officers who claimed they were denied the enhanced pensions given to fellow retirees.

OMERS, Canada’s third-largest pension fund representing 340,000 members on behalf of 900 Ontario local government employers, decided it was prudent to get a clarification of the Madam Justice Frances Kiteley’s decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Superior Court of Justice judge made “ far-reaching statements about a plan sponsor’s and plan administrator’s duties to inform plan members about possible benefit improvements and their duty to treat all plan members equitably,” the fund said in a  statement posted to its Web site. The Toronto Star reported that Kiteley ruled that OMERS had committed negligent misrepresentation in its dealings with the plaintiffs and that it had breached its duty to tell the retired police officers about changes that would beef up their pension payments.

The individual awards ranged from $97,000 to $179,000, the Star reported. Two other retired officers were unsuccessful in their claims, the newspaper said.

The eight former Toronto police officers retired in 1998 and elected to take the value of their pension in cash, rather than collect a pension. They alleged in their suit that OMERS never told them them of ongoing discussions throughout 1998 about possible plan changes to deal with the increasing surplus in the plan at that time.

Recommendations regarding changes to the Plan were made by the OMERS Board in late 1998 and were approved by the Government of Ontario in May 1999. These changes, unspecified in the OMERS’ statement, were made retroactively effective to January 1, 1999.

According to the Star, the plaintiffs had met with an OMERS official in November 1999, but were told about their situation “well, that’s your tough luck” and “that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”