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PEBA and Apples

Hi all,

I hope you are having a great week and were able to get over the 3-legged chicken joke in my last article! 

Last week, I sat down with Dave Wild and Jeremy Phillips from the Public Employees Benefits Agency (PEBA) to talk about what was keeping them up at night.  Every time I sit down with a different organization, I’m always amazed at how different, yet how alike we are. Similar to children, pension and benefit organizations don’t fall far from the apple tree in that we are often a product of how we were put together at the beginning. 

PEBA was established in 1983 as a branch of the Department of Revenue and Financial Services to administer Government of Saskatchewan employees' pension and benefit plans. In 1987, PEBA became an agency of the Ministry of Finance. Today, PEBA is responsible for the administration of 12 pension plans for more than 95,000 members and over 900 employers. PEBA also administers 23 benefit plans for over 89,000 member accounts. The two major pension plans administered by PEBA are:

1. Public Employees’ Pension Plan (PEPP)

  • 66,370, members: 33,700 active members, 26,752 inactive members, and 5,918 pensioners in the variable pension benefit.
  • 147 employers participating in PEPP.
  • $10.4 billion in assets.
  • In 2019, PEBA staff handled approximately 26,000 phone calls and 12,800 emails on behalf of PEPP.

2. Municipal Employees’ Pension Plan (MEPP). 

  • 26,397 members: 15,940 active members, 4,142 inactive members, and 6,315 pensioners.
  • 743 employers participating in MEPP.
  • $2.8 billion in assets.
  • In 2019, PEBA staff handled approximately 12,600 phone calls and 3,700 emails on behalf of MEPP.

When asked about why PEBA came about, PEBA was quick to point out that it was based on economies of scale. Although scale is still relevant today, PEBA’s focus has shifted to one of member/stakeholder experience and efficiencies. This is evidenced by a couple of major initiatives they have or are undertaking:

  • Enterprise IT platform – For the past 6 years, PEBA has been undergoing a transformation of their IT systems, with the ultimate goal of moving all their IT platforms and processes to one centralized administration system. Prior to the transition, PEBA was supporting a number of legacy administration systems and had multiple data collection processes for employers. In some instances, employers were still remitting monthly information through paper files, with PEBA having to manually input the data into their administration system.  Wowsers! With data coming in from over 900 employers, it was no longer feasible to maintain multiple systems and processes throughout the organization.  I’m happy to report that 2020 will be a big year for PEBA, as they launch the full suite of their IT platform. It was evident in chatting with them that this was a HUGE, but necessary, undertaking.   
  • Member/Stakeholder Experience – Pension people are often blamed for guessing what members want to know, rather than asking them directly! PEBA is busily working on several initiatives to enhance the member experience, both in person and on-line. Rather than talking directly to pension and/or benefits, they are wanting to convey a more holistic approach by focusing on financial health and wellness. Although it goes against our pension and benefit DNA, we need to appreciate that members have so much going in their lives, on top of their pension and benefit programs. So finding creative ways to portray our messages is critical in our communication strategies going forward.       
  • Custodian Change – In 2020, PEBA will be switching over to a new custodian.  The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) did this a few years ago, and I can tell you it is not as easy as flicking a switch! This change comes at a time where PEBA looks to enhance their internal analytics and to leverage additional risk reporting services offered by the custodian.   

I'll be interested to see the progress on PEBA's initiatives over the next few years as they come to life.  

That's it for me this week! Looking forward to talking to you in a few weeks at the 10th Annual CPBI Saskatchewan Regional Conference!

Cool dad out.


Troy Milnthorp is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, Senior Managing Director of Corporate Fund Services at Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, and Volunteer Content Creator for CPBI Saskatchewan. 

CLICK HERE to learn more about CPBI Saskatchewan!

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