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Ontario Universities Launch New $10.5 Billion Pension Plan

The University Pension Plan combines the assets of three universities, with more set to join.

A new fund is joining the ranks of Canada’s legendary pension plans following a merger of three universities’ assets.  

On Wednesday, Ontario’s University Pension Plan announced the July 1 launch of its roughly $10.5 billion fund, created via a merger. According to the plan’s website, the deal has been “more than a decade” in the making. 

The new pension fund combines the pension assets at Queen’s University, University of Guelph, and the University of Toronto. Eventually, other universities will be able to join, according to the announcement, including Trent University, which is already set to join the trio in January 2022.  

“The impetus for UPP was to give members added security and peace of mind, through even the toughest times,” said Barbara Zvan, the fund’s president and chief executive officer, in the statement.  

Zvan joined UPP in July 2020 from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, where she worked for 24 years, her LinkedIn profile shows. She was most recently OTPP’s chief risk and strategy officer.  

Zvan sits on several boards, including the Global Risk Institute in Financial Services, the Responsible Investment Association, and the advisory board of the Institute of Sustainable Finance at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, according to an announcement from July 2020 on her hiring.  

A core tenant of the fund is responsible investing. Zvan said in a statement that “it is not only the right thing to do, but also the necessary thing to do to protect the fund’s sustainability for generations of members.” 

The UPP is working now to review and evaluate its external managers’ investment processes and their portfolio compositions, according to the website.  

The fund has joined or is planning to join several responsible investment groups, including the Shareholder Association for Research and Education, the University Network for Investor Engagement, and the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Finance Action Council, among others, its website shows.  

The UPP also plans to report information on its responsible investment practices to stakeholders at least annually, which includes proxy voting and climate- and diversity-related information, the website stated.  

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