A decade in the making

July 1, 2021, marked our day one and a significant milestone on a long journey to bring UPP’s vision to life.

Where it began

In the late 2000s, pension plans in the university sector faced existential financial and political pressures.

Employee groups and university administrations, with the support of the provincial government, began considering a multi-university jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) as a long-term pension solution for the sector. Moving to a JSPP model addressed many of the challenges facing university pension plans at the time, while offering a range of new advantages — including more member control over the future direction and outcomes of their pensions.

Introducing a sector JSPP would:

Employees and employers came together to build UPP. We would like to recognize the extraordinary efforts of this plan’s founders. It is our privilege to continue their work.


Discussions begin between university unions, faculty associations, administrators, and other staff groups about customizing a JSPP to reshape and sustain the retirement income system in the Ontario university sector.


The creation of a new JSPP does not happen often and requires legislative and regulatory amendments to allow the conversion and transfer of single-employer pension plans to a JSPP. Legislative changes to this effect are drafted in 2014 and come into place in 2015, marking a historic step forward.


Deep discussions happen among university administration, faculty associations, unions, and non-unionized staff on UPP’s organizational structure, terms, and participants. Three initial university partners and associated unions and faculty associations step forward as UPP’s founding participants, with the plan for others to join over time.


A joint Milestones Agreement was established to set out the key steps required to establish UPP.


Pension plan members at the founding universities consent to convert their existing plans to UPP, through a transfer of assets and liabilities. The Joint Sponsors adopt UPP’s Funding Policy, including an innovative risksharing arrangement for past service and future service liabilities.


January — UPP’s formal governance structure comes into effect through Joint Sponsor and Trust Agreements. Six Employer Sponsors and six Employee Sponsors (from representative unions and faculty associations) are appointed and select UPP’s inaugural 14-member Board of Trustees as UPP’s legal administrator.

July — Barbara Zvan is appointed as UPP’s inaugural President and CEO.

November — UPP receives formal solvency funding exemption as a JSPP.

July 1st, 2021

UPP becomes the official pension provider for the founding participants and their 37,000+ members.

January 1st, 2022

Trent University joins as UPP’s fourth member university, along with the staff of the University of Guelph and University of Toronto faculty associations and eligible UPP employees.

May 1st, 2024

Two new participating employers–Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) and the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)–officially joined UPP.

“UPP is fulfilling the vision that our universities spent more than a decade building: a stable, well-managed defined benefit plan that will provide guaranteed income for our communities now and for generations to come. As I prepare for my own retirement after a long career at Queen’s, I’m grateful to be a member of UPP, and to soon benefit from its secure and valuable pension income.”
Steven Millan, Employer Sponsor representative

“Having contributed to UPP’s development since its early days, I am proud to see its continued growth and maturity in its second year. Together, we have built a stable, valuable pension plan that reflects our unwavering commitment to long-term retirement security for the people who make our university communities thrive. UPP’s dedication to safeguarding the financial security of its members gives me peace of mind for my own upcoming retirement.”

Martha Harley, Employer Sponsor representative (2021-2022)

“The current economic state has reinforced how vulnerable our retirement security can be and the importance of having a sustainable defined pension plan for our members. UPP is committed to building a bright future for its members through joint governance, stable funding, and predictable retirement income. We are seeing a high degree of interest from union leadership wanting to meet with UPP so their locals can learn more about what this innovative plan offers their members.”
Kelly Sedore, Employee Sponsor representative
“UPP has made significant progress in its second year to deliver on the shared goal of pension security for our university communities. Employers and employees are equal partners in making governance decisions, which means members have an equal voice in the plan’s operations and evolution. We continue to build a robust advisory structure to promote inclusivity and transparency for all groups participating in the Plan, demonstrating our commitment to active and joint representation as additional universities join UPP.”
Lisa Kramer, Employee Sponsor representative


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