Season 2, Episode #11: Canada’s Greatest Comeback - Why Pensions Matter to Everyone

In this episode, Russell speaks with four experts in the Canadian pension space to uncover why DB plans declined, and are now making a prominent comeback.

Pamela Steer, Paul Lai Fatt, Stephen Poloz, Keith Ambachltsheer

“More than 70% of Canadians will say they will forgo a higher salary for a pension. Nearly 80% of Canadians said they're likely or very likely to change jobs for a better pension. There's lots of studies that show the impact of stress and how it has a direct impact on work and productivity and stress. Employees are nearly five times likely to say their finances have been a distraction at work. Employers should want a defined benefit pension plan, a modern defined benefit pension plan like the one we have at CAAT. And there are very tangible benefits for those employers. So, a key differentiator in trying to recruit, retain in industries, particularly where there aren't defined benefit pension plans already in place, there's value for employers.” - Paul Lai Fatt, Director, Atlantic Canada, Pension Solutions


Retirement income security is a looming issue in Canada.

In this insightful episode, we delve into the dynamic world of defined benefit (DB) pension plans in Canada, tracing their journey from prominence, through decline, to their modern resurgence.

Host Russell Evans brings a roster of leaders and experts onto the show, including: Pamela Steer, President & CEO of CPA Canada, Stephen Poloz, former Governor of Bank of Canada and Special Advisor for Osler Hoskin & Harcourt, Keith Ambachtsheer, Co-founder, KPA Advisory Services LTD., and Paul Lai Fatt, Director of Pension Solutions at CAAT Pension Plan.

Tune in to grasp the full picture of DB pension plans' past, present, and future in Canada – a critical understanding for securing a stable and prosperous retirement.

After this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why defined benefit (DB) pension coverage had declined across Canada’s private sector over the past decades.
  • Why employers are prioritizing bringing back modern DB plans in the workplace today.
  • How modern pensions can shift Canada away from a challenging economic future.

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Guest biographies

Pamela Steer

As president and CEO of CPA Canada, Pamela leads one of the largest professional accounting bodies in the world, with more than 220,000 members.

Prior to assuming this role, she was the chief financial and corporate strategy officer at Payments Canada where she oversaw the organization’s finance and corporate planning functions. Previously, she was the chief financial officer and head of finance and employer services with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Over the course of her career, Pamela has worked in the technology and financial services industries (pensions, insurance), including publicly traded, private and regulated entities in Canada and abroad.

Today, Pamela sits on the boards of Michael Garron Hospital and Quarterhill Inc. (TSX: QTRH). She is an active and founding member of the advisory board for the Institute for Sustainable Finance as well as a faculty member for the Competent Boards designation. Also, she currently sits on the University of Waterloo’s School of Accounting and Finance advisory council. She is a past Chair of the CFA Society Toronto and was a founding member of the Canadian Chapter of the Accounting for Sustainability CFO Leadership Network.

Pamela is a CPA Fellow and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Business Valuator designations. In 2019, she was selected as Canada’s CFO of the Year™.

Paul Lai Fatt

As a dedicated member of the Pension Solutions team at CAAT Pension Plan, Paul contributes his expertise to shape the retirement landscape in the Atlantic Region. With a background as a consulting actuary, he has successfully provided strategic guidance on pension reform, design, merger, and sustainability matters for both public and private sector pension plan stakeholders throughout Atlantic Canada.

With profound personal and professional connections across all four Atlantic Provinces, he is deeply committed to advancing retirement outcomes for the people in this vibrant region. Joining CAAT Pension Plan aligns seamlessly with my passion, and he is enthusiastic about bringing its cutting-edge solutions to employers and employees alike.

A recognized voice in the field, Paul has been invited to share insights at prestigious events hosted by the Society of Actuaries, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, the Ontario Bar Association, the Association of Canadian Pension Management, and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists.

Keith Ambachtsheer

Keith Ambachtsheer has been recognized as the globe’s number one knowledge broker in institutional investing and is known for his ‘out-of-the-box’ approach to pension design, governance, and investing issues. Since its 1985 inception, KPA Advisory Services has been a trusted incubator for new thinking in the field of pensions. CEM Benchmarking Inc., co-founded by Keith in 1991, has earned a reputation as the premier global benchmarking organization in the pensions and investments industry.

Keith was named "One of the 30 Most Influential People in Pensions" by Pensions and Investments in the USA and has received many honours over the course of his professional career, including the Investments & Pensions Europe (IPE) Outstanding Industry Contribution Award, and the CFA Institute's Award for Professional Excellence.

In addition to being closely connected to the business side of the pension and investments industry, Keith has strong ties to its related fields in academia. aiCIO named Keith one of the globe’s "10 Most Influential Academics in Institutional Investing", and he has helped guide the discourse in the field through a variety of academic positions. Keith is cited regularly in the world’s leading financial publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Globe & Mail. He has authored four critically acclaimed books, and his editorials and articles have been published in the Financial Analysts Journal, the Journal of Portfolio Management, the Rotman International Journal of Pension Management, and other professional journals.

Stephen Poloz

Stephen Poloz received his bachelor's degree in 1978 from Queen's University. He majored in economics. He received his master's degree in economics in 1979 from the University of Western Ontario, and then a PhD in economics in 1982 from the same institution. In 2017, Trent University Durham GTA awarded Poloz an honorary PhD.

From 1981 to 1994 Poloz worked for the Bank of Canada, before leaving as chief of the research department to become managing editor of BCA Research from 1994 to 1999. Poloz joined Export Development Canada in 1999 and became its president and CEO in 2010. In 2013, Poloz was appointed as the Governor of the Bank of Canada on a seven-year term.

After 40 years in economic and financial analysis and policy making, Stephen is now a Special Advisor for a top law firm and a corporate director. He spends much of my time delivering speeches and client-specific presentations centred on the macroeconomy. He is also the author of a book, “The Next Age of Uncertainty”.

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