As of January 1, 2016, all occupational defined benefit pension plans in Ontario are required to disclose any environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors that are incorporated in the pension fund’s investment policies and procedures.
This requirement is a first for Canada and was approved by the Ontario legislature in late 2014, after first being proposed in 2011. The UK, Germany, Sweden, France and Belgium also have similar regulations.
The amendment to the Ontario Pension & Benefits Act is supported by Ontario’s largest pension funds including the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan and OMERS, both of which have actively disclosed ESG since the 2000’s.
This new regulation is not prescriptive and does not require pension plans to adopt or promote any special ESG policies, but we expect that pension trustees will consider ESG investments more closely as a result of this requirement, as has happened in other jurisdictions. Several other provinces in Canada including BC, Alberta and Nova Scotia are considering following suit.