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My name is Sheryl Smolkin. I’m a pension and benefits lawyer and journalist. Today I’m continuing our series of interviews with the people behind the scene at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.
I’m pleased to be talking to Mark Stockford. Mark is an independent insurance broker with 4 employees. He offers his staff the Saskatchewan Pension Plan as part of their employee benefits package.
Hi Sheryl, thanks for having me.
Q. How long has your group been part of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan?
A. I believe we first started in March 2003.
Q. Why did you decide to get involved with SPP?
A. Well, we wanted to provide our employees with an RRSP program allowing them the opportunity to accumulate retirement funds at a faster rate. We match their contributions and hopefully it improves employee retention.
Q. So why did you select SPP as opposed to a Group RRSP from a financial institution.
A. I believe in supporting the local and provincial economy and this is a local, provincially operated pension plan.
Q. How many of your employees are enrolled?
A. We have all our employees involved. When they are first hired there is a six month waiting period and then we offer it to them. To date, everyone who has had the chance has jumped at it.
Q. You mentioned that you match contributions. Tell me a little more about that.
A. It’s an employee benefit I want to offer to my employees, so on a monthly basis we have money taken out of our account and 50% is charged back to the employee via payroll deduction.
Q. You said you contributed $50/month when the contribution limit was $600/year but you are in the process of upping that?
A. Yes. We have been advised by SPP that they can now accept annual deposits up to I believe $2,500, so to make it easy we’ve gone to $200/month. We are paying $100 of that, so each employee will have the benefit of $2,500/year.
Q. Some employers may find the amount of paperwork they have to fill out to administer a pension plan overwhelming. Does this apply to the SPP?
A. Actually it’s very simple. Originally when we signed up for it was a one page application each employee filled out, and Kindersley insurance supplied a monthly withdrawal authorization form to SPP along with a void cheque.
Since then it’s just been a matter of us sending emails to the SPP contact regarding any changes. SPP supplies the statements and income tax receipts for each employee. All I have to do is provide the information on the T4s for the employees. SPP makes it very easy for me, as the employer.
Q. What feedback have you had from employees regarding the opportunity to participate in SPP at work?
A. They’ve been very happy with it. Any time we’ve offered it to employees there has been no question that they have all wanted to participate. We don’t make it compulsory. It’s something they can do if they want.
It seems to be a good RRSP option. The returns in the past have been good. It’s been a little bit slower in the last few years with the economy but it’s been good.
Q. Have you disucced your participation with other employers, and what kind of a reaction do you get from them?
A. I’ve spoken to some people in town. Some seem interested. Some are already doing it. Of course, there are others who don’t see the benefits. But I feel the benefits to my operation are great. The employees like working here. They see the benefit and its one more reason not to leave Kindersley insurance.
Mark, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I’m sure other employers and their employees will be very interested in the reasons why you offer the Saskatchewan Pension Plan to your employees.
You are welcome, Sheryl.