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This section answers a variety of questions frequently asked about the Canadian Blood Services Defined Benefit (DB) Pension Plan.

Answers to specific questions related to joining, contributing, calculating benefits, retiring, or terminating can be found in their respective sections.

Who is my spouse for the purposes of this plan?
  • The term spouse includes your legally married, common-law, or same-sex spouse. Pension legislation in each province defines spouse slightly differently and, since the plan applies across Canada, the definition will depend on where you work. See the Glossary for the definition of spouse in each province and territory.

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What happens to my pension if I separate or divorce from my spouse?
  • If your marriage or common-law relationship ends, provincial legislation may require that the pension benefits you've built up during your marriage be shared with your former spouse.

  • The actual split of the benefits will be according to a court order or separation agreement. If this situation arises, your legal counsel can advise you of the steps to follow.

  • Division of Pension Assets on Marriage Breakdown (Ontario members only)
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What will my beneficiary receive if I die before retirement? What will he receive if I die after retirement?
  • If you die during retirement, the benefits to be paid depend on the pension payment option you chose before you retired.

  • If you die while working for Canadian Blood Services, your survivors receive benefits from the plan.

  • Your eligible surviving spouse, or beneficiary if you have no eligible surviving spouse, receives the value of your pension, as well as the balance of your contributions with interest over 50% of that value, if any. There are choices to make on how the benefit is paid, whether as a pension or as a transfer, depending on the province you worked in.

  • Your spouse or beneficiary will also receive a refund of your MPF contributions, Canadian Blood Services corresponding contributions, and the interest they've accumulated.

  • Morneau Shepell Ltd will provide your survivors with details.

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Can I designate anyone other than my spouse as beneficiary for my death benefits?
  • All death benefits will be paid to your spouse (unless you are living separate and apart from your spouse), even if you have designated someone else as your beneficiary. Based on your province of legislation, you may waive this requirement by signing a prescribed form. Your spouse must consent and sign the form as well. If you have a spouse, you should still designate a contingent beneficiary in case your spouse predeceases you.

  • If you do not have a spouse, you should designate a beneficiary. If you do not designate a beneficiary, the total value of your plan entitlement will be paid in cash to your estate and probate fees will be required.

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How do I change my beneficiary?
  • To change your beneficiary, obtain the Beneficiary and Spousal Designation Form from the non-member portion of this web site, complete the form and return it to Morneau Shepell Ltd.

  • If any questions about the form, contact Morneau Shepell Ltd at 1-877-252-4442.

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I'm currently on LTD. Do I still receive pension benefits while on disability?
  • Once you're eligible for benefits from the Long-Term Disability Plan, you stop making your required contributions to the plan. Canadian Blood Services pays the contributions on your behalf, until you return to work, terminate your employment, reach age 65, or die. These contributions are based on your pay just before you became disabled.

  • You continue to build up service under the plan just as if you were at work.

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What role do my personal savings play?
  • Personal retirement savings are an important building block in your retirement income. Many people use registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to build these savings. You can make tax-deductible contributions to a personal or spousal RRSP, up to specified limits.

  • Your RRSP contribution limit is set by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The total you can contribute for the year—your “contribution room”—depends on your earned income, your Pension Adjustment, and any Pension Adjustment Reversals you may have. CRA lets you know your RRSP contribution room on the Notice of Assessment you receive when you file your income tax return. You can carry forward unused contribution room. This may allow you, for example, to contribute a larger amount to your RRSP in a future year.

  • You can turn your RRSP into income at the same time you retire, if you wish. Or, you can maintain it until the end of the year in which you reach age 71. At that time, you have to convert it into retirement income. You may wish to discuss the options available for converting your RRSP into retirement income with your personal financial advisor.

  • Another way to build your retirement income is with a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). With a TFSA, you may make annual contributions up to a specified limit. In 2009, this limit is $5,000. Here are some of the highlights of a TFSA:

    • Contributions to a TFSA are not tax-deductible.

    • The income generated in a TFSA is tax-free when withdrawn.

    • You can generally withdraw any amount from a TFSA at any time and for any reason, with no tax consequence.

    • Any unused contribution room is added to your TFSA contribution room for the next year.

    • Most withdrawals made from a TFSA will be added back to the TFSA contribution room at the beginning of the year following the withdrawal.

  • Consult your personal financial advisor for more information on TFSAs.
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Who administers the DB plan?
  • The plan is administered by a Board of Trustees, made up of trustees appointed equally by Canadian Blood Services and the Participating Unions.

  • The Board is responsible for interpreting plan rules and ensuring that the plan meets the requirements of all governing legislation.

  • For questions on day-to-day plan administration or your own pension entitlements, you should contact Morneau Shepell Ltd at 1-877-252-4442.

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What is the future of the plan?
  • Although Canadian Blood Services and the Participating Unions intend to continue the plan indefinitely, they do have the right to terminate or amend it at any time. At this time, we do not expect that any amendment will affect the benefits you have already accumulated under the plan. However, if the plan is underfunded, members' accumulated benefits may be reduced in accordance with applicable legislation.

  • Each time the plan is amended, you will receive an explanation of the amendment, once it is approved by pension authorities. In certain cases, this explanation may be included in your annual statement.

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