Electronic Communications

  1. In what form does OSFI accept correspondence and submissions? Can these submissions be signed electronically?

    OSFI requires correspondence and most applications requiring the Superintendent’s approval, to be submitted using the Regulatory Reporting System(RRS) (e.g.: annual filings, plan terminations, regular amendments and amendments requiring the Superintendent’s authorization). However, applications for new registrations must be submitted electronically to the following email address:pensions@osfi-bsif.gc.ca. Submissions may be signed electronically where a signature is required. 

  2. Can plan administrators communicate with plan members electronically?

    Subsection 31.1(1) of the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 permits information, including required written statements and explanations, to be communicated by way of an electronic document, provided that certain requirements are met. Requirements include that the addressee must have consented to receive information via an electronic document and have designated an information system such as an email address or website for receipt of the document. In addition, the information must be accessible to the addressee and be capable of being retained by the addressee, so as to be usable for future reference. 

    It is important to be aware that a member (or former member or employee eligible to join the plan) cannot consent to electronic communications on behalf of their spouse or common law partner. A spouse or common-law partner must provide consent to receive the information electronically and designate an information system. 

  3. Is the use of electronic signatures permitted for forms required under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 or its regulations (such as those required for financial hardship unlocking)?

    Yes. Section 31.2 of the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 provides that electronic signatures are permitted if 

    • the signature resulting from the use by the person of the technology or process is unique to them (i.e. only the individual signing is able to use this signature and it cannot be altered by anyone else); 

    • the technology or process is used by the person to incorporate, attach or associate their signature to the electronic document (i.e. the person applies their electronic signature to the document and it appears on the document); and 

    • the technology or process can be used to identify its user (i.e. the signature appears as the person’s name or a unique identifier code for that person). 

  4. Are any special accommodations available for forms that must be notarized/commissioned?

    Some forms prescribed under the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 (PBSR) must be sworn before a notary public, commissioner, or other person authorized to take affidavits. There is nothing in the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 or PBSR on the process of notarization or commissioning. As a result, OSFI expects that the standard procedures for such processes may be applied. 

    OSFI would not object to forms being sworn through virtual means, provided those means have been approved by the appropriate provincial or public regulatory bodies responsible for establishing standards for notary publics, commissioners or other persons authorized to take affidavits. If a financial institution has any reason to believe that the procedures required by such bodies were not complied with, then it should not accept the form for processing.