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Sharon Kubicek
Alisa Carli
Christine Duggan

1 First Canadian Place
40th Floor , P.O. Box 150
Toronto, ON
M5X 1H3

Locked-In Retirement Plans


While staying with one employer for your entire career used to be common, recent trends indicate that most of us will work for four or five different employers prior to retirement. If you belong to a vested pension plan (where the employee has an absolute right to the entire amount of money in the account), each job transition may provide you with an opportunity to transfer your pension to a locked-in registered plan. At retirement, these funds would be rolled into one or more of the locked-in maturity options designed to provide you with a lifetime income.

For all provinces and territories (except Quebec) the pension legislation that will govern your locked-in plan is the legislation of the jurisdiction where you were employed while the pension benefits were being earned.

If you are employed in Quebec, regardless of where you live, your plan will be governed under Quebec legislation. Pension plans for employees in certain industries that are
"federal undertakings”, such as banking, communications and transportation industries have resulting locked-in plans that are governed by the Federal Pension Benefits Standards Act.

Depending on the applicable pension legislation, the locked-in alternative to an RRSP is referred to as a Locked-In RRSP (LRSP) or a Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA). The purpose of these plans is to ensure that locked-in funds will be used to provide you with a lifetime retirement income. At retirement or at the plan maturity, the funds must be rolled from your LRSP/LIRA into one or a combination of a life annuity, or, if available in your province, a Life Income Fund (LIF), Locked-in Retirement Income Fund (LRIF) or a Prescribed Registered Retirement Income Fund (PRIF).

If you’re a member of a provincially regulated pension plan, you may only transfer the
commuted pension entitlements to a LIRA or LRSP approved by the province where
you were employed. Subsequent transfers of these locked-in funds are subject to similar
restrictions, even if the former employee’s province of residence has changed. For
example, funds held in an Ontario LIRA may only be transferred to another LIRA, LIF,
LRIF, life annuity or registered pension plan, each of which must be governed by Ontario
pension legislation. Similarly, a federally regulated plan can only be transferred to
another federally regulated plan. There are numerous regulatory requirements surrounding locked-in plans which should be considered. We can review your personal situation to outline your options based on the governing jurisdiction.

Planning Tips & Considerations:
  • If you have one or more locked-in accounts, consider consolidating them into one
    account if they are regulated by the same provincial or federal legislation.

  • Over the years, positive changes have been made in numerous jurisdictions making it
    easier for you to access locked-in monies.
We suggest consulting us to see if your plan can be unlocked under certain conditions such as small amounts, shortened life expectancy, non residency or financial hardship among others.