UPDATE ON CLASS ACTION REGARDING 2017 PENSION INDEXATION

Background 

As previously advised, last year a question arose as to why the Bell pension indexation for 2017 was not rounded to 2%, rather than 1%, given that Statistics Canada had published the change in CPI for the relevant period as 1.5%. The explanation was that the change in the CPI for the relevant period, calculated to 2 decimal places, was actually 1.49% which rounds to 1%. Your BPG board sought legal advice from independent outside counsel regarding this matter and, based on that advice, decided that no further action was warranted at the time.

We also advised you that, since that time, a Bell pensioner commenced a class action on behalf of all Bell defined benefit pensioners. The claim challenges Bell’s interpretation of the indexation provisions and contends that the 2017 indexation should have been 2%. A link to this claim can be found here: https://kmlaw.ca/cases/bell-canada-indexation-pension-plan-class-action/ . 

Class actions proceed in two phases. First, the court must determine whether to certify the claim and the defined class of beneficiaries as the proper subjects of a class action. Should the action be certified by the court, the lawsuit would then proceed on the merits to determine the validity of the claim. Should the suit ultimately be successful, all members of the class (in this case, all Bell defined benefit pensioners) would be eligible to proceeds as determined by the court. 

Update

The court has scheduled a hearing for April 24-25, 2019, to determine whether to certify the action as a proper class action. In the meantime, however, Bell filed a request to “stay” (ie, suspend) this proceeding so that the matter could be dealt with instead by the pension regulator, OSFI. Bell also asked that its request for a stay be heard prior to the certification hearing. On June 29, the court denied Bell’s procedural request and determined that Bell's request for a stay should be heard together with the certification motion next April. 



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