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Teachers’ pension fund loses $2.5B

Despite a $2.5-billion shortfall that will likely grow over the nextfour years, contributors to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan won’thave to worry about paying more or getting less out of the fund untilat least 2011.

Despite a $2.5-billion shortfall that will likely grow over the next four years, contributors to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan won’t have to worry about paying more or getting less out of the fund until at least 2011.

The plan, which administers the pensions of 284,000 active and retired teachers in Ontario, reported its largest loss ever Thursday, but the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government said members’ benefits are safe.

“The benefits that have been earned by plan members are secure. The plan has more than $87 billion in assets,” a spokeswoman for Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in an email.

Teachers’ only has to file valuations with the government every three years, and it isn’t due to file again until 2011, said Jeff Holmes, director of pension and economic affairs for the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.

This means “there will be no changes to the plan” before then, he added.

The plan said its assets declined by $21.1 billion or 18 per cent in 2008. This was in line with other big Canadian pension plans, but underperformed the 9.6 per cent loss of the fund’s investment benchmark.

“It hurts to fall off a horse but you’ve got to pick yourself up and say ‘OK, what did we learn?”‘ said Teachers’ president and CEO Jim Leech.

 
 
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