Every month you receive a payment covering your Bell pension. Have you ever wondered what backs up these payments, and what steps have been taken to make sure the payments keep coming?This article covers some of the basics of the Bell Canada defined benefit pension plan.

What is a “defined benefit” Pension Plan?

First, the term “defined benefit” is self-explanatory.What your pension payments will be is known to you before you retire.In fact, well before retirement you knew that the pension payment you would get is derived from a formula that uses your age, number of service years, and earnings.That is, the pension amount, which is the benefit, has been well defined.

Not all pensions are defined benefit (DB).For instance, Bell Canada no longer enrolls new employees into its DB plan.Rather, now they offer a “defined contribution”, or DC, plan.In this type of plan, both the employee and employer contribute money into a fund over time, and the money in the fund is then invested. In good times, the fund grows well.In bad times, the fund grows more slowly, or even contracts.Whatever is in the fund at retirement, that is what the pensioner gets.Contributions have been defined, the benefit has not.

Back to DB plans.For most employees, their pensions come entirely from the Bell Canada pension plan.For others, a portion of their pensions come from this same plan, and the rest comes from Bell Canada revenues.This article is only going to address that part of the pension payment that comes from the pension plan.

What is a Pension Plan?

The pension plan can be thought of as a large investment account.Bell Canada puts money into it when necessary, and money is taken out of it to pay pensioners their pensions.The amounts in the account are invested by the plan administrator, on behalf of and accountable to Bell Canada.In good times, the investments will grow; in bad times they grow slowly, or contract.Obviously Bell's objective is to have their investments placed where the amounts will grow, but also where the risks of losses is low.

The pension plan has to be big enough to cover all of its obligations.The chief obligation is the pension amounts that are owed to pensioners, now and into the future.Ideally, the pension plan would be so big that whatever investment returns it makes in a year are enough to pay all the pension payouts in that year.For instance, if there was $1000 in the pension fund, and it made a return of 5% in a year, then it would be considered “big enough” as long as it didn't have to pay out more than $50 in the year.

This example is far simpler than the arithmetic that the pension administrator really has to work with, but the pension plan operates on the same principle – though on a very much more complicated level we need not get into here.

How Do We Know if There is Enough Money in the Plan?

Bell knows whether the plan is “big enough” by looking at the plan's assets and it liability.Basically, the plan assets are the value of everything that is in the investment account, or can be expected to be in the investment account, at a particular time.The liability of the plan is the value of everything that should be in the investment account so that it is big enough to make all the pension payments that it has to make, now and into the future.To use the example above, if Bell knows that it needs to make a $50 payment every year, and it can expect to make a return of 5% a year, then it knows its pension plan must have at least $1000 in it.The liability of the plan in this case is $1000.

If the assets match the liability, then everything is fine because there the fund is big enough to meet all of the pension obligations.If the assets are greater than the liability, then there is said to be a “surplus”.That's good too, because there is more than enough money is the fund to meet its obligations.If the assets are less than the liability, then the pension plan is not big enough and there is said to be a “deficit”.The surplus and deficit are measured as the difference between the assets and the liability.

Who Decides How Much Money is Enough?

There are many rules that determine how the assets and the liability are to be calculated.For Bell Canada's plan, the rules are laid down in federal legislation, in regulations, and by the actuarial standards body, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.It is federal legislation and regulation that is relevant to our pension plan because the Bell Canada plan falls under federal jurisdiction.Another article will discuss changes that are being contemplated for the rules, and how those changes could affect pensioners.

If assets match the liability, then that means the pension plan fund is just big enough to cover off its liability.Bell Canada as the sponsor of the fund only has to make sure that any changes in liabilities over the coming few years will be covered, and this may require them to make a payment into the fund, called the “annual service cost”.

If there is a surplus, then the liability is more than covered.In this case Bell need not make any payments into the fund, other than the amount by which the annual service cost exceeds the surplus.If the surplus is greater than the annual service cost, then Bell need make no contributions into the fund at all.This is called a “contribution holiday”.If Bell has to make a contribution because the annual service cost is bigger than the surplus, then it need only contribute the difference between the annual service cost and the surplus.This is called a “partial contribution holiday”.Even if Bell need not make a contribution to the fund, it is permitted to do so, so long as the total amount in the fund does not exceed the limit specified by the Income Tax Act.This is discussed in the next paragraph.

The Income Tax Act does not let a surplus grow any larger than 10% of the plan's liability.So, if the liability was $1000 and there was $1100 in the pension plan, because its investments performed so well or for some other reason, then Bell would have to stop its contributions to the plan.Whether this 10% cap should be increased, or removed altogether, is one of the rules that is being rethought.

Using the same example, let's assume a plan liability of $1000, and that assets are $1080.There is an $80 surplus.Who owns the $80?Does it belong to Bell, to the pension plan, to pensioners?This is a simple question, but the answer is neither unambiguous nor uncontentious.BPG has taken a stand on the issue, as have others.

Who Owns the Money in the Pension Plan?

Setting aside the question of any pension plan surplus, who owns the money in the pension plan?It belongs to the pension plan, and therefore to the beneficiaries of the pension plan – i.e. the pensioners. It does not belong to the plan sponsor, Bell.That is why when Bell reports its assets and liabilities, it does not include the pension plan assets nor the pension plan liability.

What Happens When There is a Deficit?

What happens when there is a deficit, i.e. when the plan liability is greater than its assets?The answer is that the difference has to be made up by Bell, the plan sponsor, because for a pension plan of type provided by Bell, the sponsor is responsible for making sure the pension plan has enough resources in it to meet all of its pension obligations.Bell does this by making contributions over a specified period of time that are big enough to make up the deficit.These contributions are called “special payments” in the language of the federal legislation that sets down the rules. Because they are paid over time in installments, they are said to be payments towards the amortization of the deficit, much the way a homeowner pays down his mortgage.The period of time over which the payments are made is called the “deficit amortization period”.

How Long does it Take to Pay for a Deficit?

How long is the deficit amortization period?Another simple question, with a complicated answer.The fact is there are two different ways to calculate the plan liability.One way of doing it assumes that the sponsor will operate indefinitely. The liability associated with that scenario is called the “ongoing liability”.

The other way of calculating the plan liability is to determine the amount that must be in the pension fund so that it would be capable of meeting all the pension obligations even if the sponsor were to cease business.Because this calculation simulates that the sponsor is insolvent, and would therefore have to wind-up the plan, it is called a “solvency liability”.In this scenario, each plan member is supposed to receive an amount that will match the value of what he/she would have received from the pension plan had it kept going.

Each type of plan liability calculation is performed, and compared to its assets.The plan deficit is the larger of the ongoing deficit and the solvency deficit.If the larger of the deficits is the ongoing deficit, then the sponsor has 15 years to make it up through special payments.If the larger of the deficits is the solvency deficit, then the sponsor has 5 years to make it up, according to the current regulations. However, fairly recently temporary regulations have allowed sponsors to take 10 years to make up the solvency deficit, rather than 5, as long as they meet certain conditions.Whether the amortization period should be extended to 10 years permanently, and whether conditions should apply, are otherrules that are being rethought.

Who Sets the Rules?

Bell, as a DB pension plan sponsor, has to show it is complying with the legislation and regulations.It does this by filing with the regulator certain information about the pension plan, including its ongoing and solvency liabilities, assets, whether there is a deficit or a surplus, what type of deficit if there is one, and what steps in terms of special payments it will take to amortize any deficit it may have.These reports must be filed at least every three years.If there is a deficit, and as long as there is a deficit, reports are filed annually.Once there is a surplus, reporting need only be done every three years.The frequency of filing these reports is also being rethought.There appears to be a consensus building that annual filings should be required whether there is a deficit or a surplus.It is expected that the filing requirements will be changed soon to reflect this consensus.

The regulator is the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).OSFI does not write the legislation governing pensions, rather its mandate is to ensure compliance with pension related legislation that comes from Parliament, and to institute and enforce regulations consistent with that legislation.

What is the Situation of Bell’s Pension Plan

The most recent report of the Pension Information Committee can be found at:




Become a member

    April 19th, 2023

     Bill C-228 has been passed by the Senate

    Read more ...

  • Travel Insurance is coming!

    April 11th, 2023

    Exclusively for BPG members….

    Read more ...

  • BCE reports 2022 Q4 and full-year results, announces 2023 financial targets

    February 7th, 2023

    5.2% annual dividend increase to $3.87 per share

    Read more ...

  • A Message from the BPG

    Read more ...

  • Good news!

    December 15th, 2022

    C-228 passed 2nd reading in Senate

    Read more ...

  • Your Urgent Action Is Needed!

    December 7th, 2022

    Bill C-228 is now before the Senate. We need your help to ensure it passes the Senate and receives Royal Assent.

    Read more ...

  • Bell Let's Talk starts the new year

    January 13th, 2023

    by committing an additional $10 million for mental health programs

    Read more ...

  • PIC Report

    December 5th, 2022

    The PIC report has been posted online at PIC.

    In addition, BPG has provided highlights on the 2021 Bell Canada pension plan along with a 2022 update will be provided in your Holiday newsletters. Another value add offered by BPG.  If you're not a member, sign up now. 

    Read more ...

  • Cost Of Living Adjustment for 2023 for Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, BCE and Telebec

    November 16th, 2022

    Read more ...

  • Amendments to insolvency legislation would secure DB pensions, say retiree organizations

    October 25th, 2022

    Read more ...

  • Two new reports prepared for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum

    September 9th, 2022

    We are pleased to let you know that two new reports prepared for the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum are now available online

    Read more ...

  • Do you know the BPG Board of Directors

    June 22nd, 2022

    BPG Board – 2022-2023

    Read more ...

  • Volunteering is so rewarding

    May 30th, 2022

    Share your stories !

    Read more ...

  • Preliminary Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for BCE

    October 20th, 2022

    To be confirmed by Bell

    Read more ...


    May 5th, 2022


    Read more ...

  • BPG Members! Help Us Out...

    March 24th, 2022

    Read more ...

  • Update on Pension Protection Legislation

    March 17th, 2022

    The Canadian Federation of Pensioners has developed a strategy to pressure the government to act

    Read more ...

  • BPG is looking for individuals to serve on the Board of Directors

    March 8th, 2022

    to help protect your pension and to support our members.

    Read more ...

  • Bell Canada Pension Plan 1998 Indexation Update

    February 28th, 2022

    BPG continues to investigate the Bell Canada pension plan 1998 indexation matter and whether any redress is available to pensioners.

    Read more ...

  • Class Action Tax Deductibility Clarification

    February 18th, 2022

    BPG has now obtained professional advice regarding the deductibility of legal expenses incurred by the affected pensioners for the indexation class action pertaining to the year 2017.

    Read more ...

  • Bell ranked once again as Canada's fastest 5G mobile network

    February 3rd, 2022

    Read more ...

  • Bell Let's Talk Day 2022 sets a new record for Canadian mental health with 164,298,820 messages of support

    January 27th, 2022

    Read more ...

  • Bell Let's Talk announces $1M in funding for post-secondary student mental health programs

    January 14th, 2022

    Read more ...


    December 17th, 2021

    The Cost of Living Adjustment on Bell Canada pensions should be 2% in 2022 for pensioners under 65 years of age and 2.82% for pensioners 65 years and over - Updated for BCE, Bell Aliant and Télébec

    Read more ...

  • Bell Let's Talk Day

    January 7th, 2022

    The world's biggest conversation about mental health is January 26 

    Read more ...

  • 2022 Pay dates

    January 21st, 2022

    Bell will be sending that information out by the end of January

    Read more ...

  • Just another example of the value of BPG

    November 18th, 2021

    BPG's response to our members' questions on Pension Indexation court approved deductions
    being deductible as expenses

    Read more ...

  • 1998 Indexation Issue

    November 3rd, 2021

    BPG is already aware about the 1998 indexation issue on the Bell Pension Plan 

    Read more ...

  • Bell and The Personal: A partnership that delivers tangible benefits

    October 27th, 2021

    This year, The Personal will be distributing a total of $6.8 million to participants of the Bell home and auto insurance plan

    Read more ...

  • Class Action Update

    October 22nd, 2021

    Bell will be mailing out the personalized retroactive pension indexation adjustment statements from October 22nd to October 25th

    Read more ...

  • BCE reports third quarter 2021 results

    November 3rd, 2021

    Read more ...

  • New Pensioner Representatives on the Bell Pension Information Committee (PIC)

    August 19th, 2021

    Read more ...

  • BCE Q3 2021 results to be announced November 4

    October 14th, 2021

    Read more ...

  • BCE reports second quarter 2021 results

    August 5th, 2021

    Read more ...

  • Bell 5G ranked as the fastest 5G mobile network

    July 21st, 2021

    Read more ...

  • Class Action Update

    July 21st, 2021

    After a hearing held July 9th, the Court approved the implementation plan

    Read more ...

  • Bell partners with Google Cloud

    July 16th, 2021

    to deliver next-generation network experiences for Canadians 

    Read more ...

  • Canadian Pensioners Deserve Protection

    September 3rd, 2021

    Election 2021: Urge the Federal Party Leaders and Your Local Candidates to take the 100% Pension Promise Pledge before September 20th

    Read more ...

  • National Pensioners Federation

    July 20th, 2021

    Summer 2021 Newsletter

    Read more ...

  • The winners of the AGM $100 gift certificates

    June 25th, 2021

    We would really like to thank our partner The Personal

    Read more ...

  • Class Action Update

    May 12th, 2021

    The Notice to all class members (participants to the Bell pension plan) has now been approved by the Court and is in the process of being sent to pensioners

    Read more ...


    January 18th, 2021

    We are looking for a volunteer willing to help us with our internal documents and storage on our repository. 

    Read more ...

  • BCE reports first quarter 2021 results

    April 30th, 2021

    BCE also announces election of Directors

    Read more ...

  • Go Green contest reminder!

    June 2nd, 2021

    Please note that the Go Green with Bell contest ends July 2, 2021

    Read more ...

  • Bell to advance fibre, wireless and rural network rollouts

    February 4th, 2021

    At least $1 billion in accelerated capital investment over the next 2 years.

    Read more ...

  • Update on Class Action

    April 26th, 2021

    The court has scheduled a conference of the parties on April 30th. 

    Read more ...

  • Cost of Living Adjustment for 2021

    November 18th, 2020

    The Cost of Living Adjustment on Bell Canada's pensions should be 1% in 2021.

    Read more ...

  • Update on the Bell Canada Indexation of the Pension Plan Class Action

    January 29th, 2021

    This is the latest information

    Read more ...

  • January 29th, 2021


    Now more than ever! Bell Let's Talk Day sets new records. 

    Read more ...

  • BCE reports third quarter 2020 results

    November 5th, 2020

    Click HERE for more information

    Read more ...

  • Virtual AGM held September 15th.

    September 16th, 2020

    See the minutes, all the presentations along with the new Board of Directors. Click on "Read more" below.

    Read more ...

  • Premium for Plan B of the Health Care Program for Dependents

    July 9th, 2020

    Please note that from now on, this premium will be adjusted in January of each year rather than in July. 

    Read more ...

  • Bell connecting Canadians at home for the holidays with free TV programming and no extra usage fees on residential Internet

    December 19th, 2020

    The company announced today it will be waiving residential Internet overage fees until January 4 

    Read more ...

  • Online Claims

    July 9th, 2020

    With the pandemic and its consequences (e.g. mail delay), it is recommended that you submit your Health Care Program claims to ManuLife online.

    Read more ...

  • COVID-19 and our pensions - Update

    May 15th, 2020

    In presenting its 1Q2020 results on May 7, 2020, BCE noted that the solvency ratio for the Bell DB pension plan declined from approximately 101% at the end of 2019 to approximately 100% at the end of March, 2020.

    Read more ...

  • COVID-19 and our pensions

    March 31st, 2020

    Should BPG members be worried about their Bell pensions under current circumstances?  The answer is no.

    Read more ...

  • Update on class action instituted against Bell

    April 24th, 2020

    On February 21, 2020, the appeal court rendered its decision which allowed the appeal and awarded judgment to the class action plaintiffs on behalf of all members of the class.

    Bell had 60 days from the date of the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. We understand that Bell has sought an extension to this deadline of an additional 60 days.

    Read more ...

  • Bell Let’s Talk Day - Thank You!

    February 1st, 2020


    On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Canadians and people around the world joined in to help create positive change for people living with mental health issues.

    Read more ...

  • Cost of Living Adjustment for 2020

    November 20th, 2019

    The Cost of Living Adjustment on Bell Canada's pensions should be 2% in 2020.

    Read more ...

  • Submission to the Senate about Pension Security

    June 29th, 2019

    What is your BPG  membership fee used for? Here is another example.

    Read more ...

  • 2019 Board Elections

    June 29th, 2019

    Do you know your Board members?

    Read more ...

  • 2018 Financial Statements

    April 25th, 2019

    In readiness for our AGMs (annual general meeting) of the BPG members, please consult the 2018 Financial Statements on the website. We hope to see you at your upcoming AGM.

    Read more ...

  • Cost of Living Adjustment for 2019

    November 23rd, 2018

    The Cost of Living Adjustment on Bell Canada's pensions should be 2% in 2019.

    Read more ...

  • BPG Board Meeting

    November 11th, 2018

    The BPG Board of directors held its bi-annual meeting in Ottawa

    Read more ...

  • Pension Glossary

    September 4th, 2017

    Is there a pension-related term that you aren’t sure about?  Why not consult our Glossary?

    Read more ...

  • Update

    July 11th, 2018

    Class Action Regarding 2017 Pension Indexation

    Read more ...

  • To better understand your pension plan

    April 13th, 2018

    With pension plans so much in the news recently, we thought some of you might have additional questions, so we prepared a short Q&A document.

    Read more ...

  • The BPG Board of directors

    May 8th, 2018

    The BPG Board of directors held its bi-annual meeting in Montreal on April 26th & 27th 2018.

    Read more ...

  • CARP Proposes Federal Minister for Seniors

    June 1st, 2018

    Did you know that the Federal Government does not have a Minister dedicated to Seniors’ issues?

    Read more ...

  • Class action on Bell’s interpretation of the 2017 indexation

    January 18th, 2018

    A Bell pensioner has commenced a class action on behalf of all Bell defined benefit pensioners.

    Read more ...


    November 17th, 2017

    The Cost of Living Adjustment on Bell Canada's pensions should be 1% in 2018.

    Read more ...

  • Your Manulife contract numbers have changed

    January 20th, 2016

    January 20, 2016 - Effective January 1, 2016 your Manulife contract numbers have changed. You should have received a new card in the mail

    Read more ...

  • BPG members on the PIC

    August 14th, 2015

    August 12, 2015 - Peter Dilworth, Sue Dawes (substitute), Michel Doyon and Yvan Dutrisac (substitute) are the PIC representatives for 2016-2018.

    Read more ...


    August 13th, 2016

    Every month you receive a payment covering your Bell pension. Have you ever wondered what backs up these payments, and what steps have been taken to make sure the payments keep coming? This article covers some of the basics of the Bell Canada defined benefit pension plan.

    Read more ...


    November 27th, 2010

    Read what others have to say.

    Read more ...

  • In Touch Newsletter

    March 18th, 2014

    The In Touch newsletter is published three times a year, in March, June and October. Do you have difficulty receiving it?

    Read more ...

  • Who is Eligible to Join BPG?

    September 20th, 2014

    October 3rd, 2013 - Since June, the Bell Pensioners’ Group includes pensioners from Télébec, Télébec Mobility and BCE as well as active employees from Bell/BCE companies.

    Read more ...

  • Help us limit our postage costs

    May 9th, 2014

    May 9, 2014 - With the price of stamps going up, imagine how much it will cost to send BPG newsletters to thousands of members every year. Subscribe to our electronic distribution list to obtain your newsletters by email.

    Read more ...

  • Follow us on Facebook

    May 9th, 2014

    May 9, 2014 - BPG now has its Facebook page to increase its visibility and, foremost, to make itself known to non-members.

    Read more ...


Follow us on LinkedIn   Follow us on Facebook