About the UPP

The Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP) Model

A multi-employer JSPP, like the UPP, is a contributory defined benefit pension plan. This means employers and employees make contributions, and pension amounts are based on a formula using earnings and service.

There are a number of key differentiators of the multi-employer JSPP model. Unlike the current university pension plans – in which a single employer bears the full risks and costs of funding shortfalls, and members have little or no say in plan decisions – in a multi-employer JSPP, plan governance, costs and risks are shared equally between employers and members. Both are also jointly responsible for oversight of the plan, including decisions about the terms and conditions of the plan, amendments, and appointing a plan administrator.

JSPPs as a model for pension plan governance are not new – some of the largest pension plans in the province are JSPPs, including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’), Ontario Municipal Employees’ Retirement System (OMERS), Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) and OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust). These plans have a long history, and are internationally respected for their ability to provide secure, high-quality pensions.


A new JSPP is designed to enhance the long-term sustainability of defined benefit pension plans in the university sector for generations to come, offering the key advantages of:

  • Joint governance, where university administrations, and the unions and faculty associations that represent plan members, have an equal say in plan design, funding and administration.
  • Greater transparency into plan operations, funding, and decision-making through joint governance and open information-sharing.
  • Clear and explicit sharing of risk between employers and plan members.
  • More stable and predictable contributions from employers and plan members.

UPP at a glance

  • January 1, 2020: The UPP formally established with the appointment of a 14-person Board of Trustees as the legal administrator. This includes six trustees selected by the Employer Sponsor, six by the Employee Sponsor, one by non-unionized members, and a Chair selected jointly by the Employee Sponsor and Employer Sponsor.
  • July 1, 2021: Anticipated date when the five single-employer plans sponsored by the founding institutions - Queen’s University, University of Guelph and University of Toronto - will transfer to the UPP, members will begin to accrue benefits under the terms of the UPP, and the Board of Trustees takes on responsibility for plan administration and investment of plan assets.
  • Membership is expected to total approximately 33,500 of which close to 18,900 will be active members.
  • The UPP is expected to manage $10 billion in assets.
  • Pension amounts are pre-defined based on a formula that uses earnings and service.
  • Pension terms and contribution levels are determined by the Joint Sponsors: the Employer Sponsor and the Employee Sponsor, each of which has one vote. The Employer Sponsor and the Employee Sponsor have each created a six-person committee to determine how that sponsor’s vote will be cast.
  • Plan administration is the responsibility of a Board of Trustees with equal representation from both plan members and employers.
  • There will also be no change in the monthly pensions of retirees already drawing pensions on July 1, 2021
  • Current retirees will continue to receive their pensions as usual, but payments will come from the new UPP.
Changes to future UPP Benefits
  • The Joint Sponsors approve benefit changes.
  • Contributions are set by the Joint Sponsors based on funding need.
  • The cost of benefits earned in the UPP is shared 50/50 between the employers and employees. After a transition period, employers and employees will share in new losses and gains for benefits transferred to the UPP.
Deficits & surpluses
  • The UPP is subject to going concern funding rules, and is expected to be exempt from solvency funding rules.
  • Existing pension deficits of the plans transferring to the UPP - Queen’s University, University of Guelph and University of Toronto are each responsible for existing going concern funding deficits at the time the plans transfer to the UPP.
  • Shared responsibility for UPP shortfalls – future contributions could be increased for active employees and/or future pension benefits could be decreased for active employees.
  • Shared ownership of surpluses.
Plan administration
  • Board of Trustees is responsible for the administration of the UPP and the investment of assets.
Plan investments
  • Guided by an Investment Policy established by the Board of Trustees, including defined long-term return objectives, with risk levels deemed appropriate.

More background information on the process leading to the establishment of the UPP may be found here.