Administrator Takes Over Sears Canada Pension Plan

Ontario Superintendent of Financial Services appoints Morneau Shepell to oversee pension.

The Ontario Superintendent of Financial Services has named Morneau Shepell, a Toronto-based human resources services and technology company, as the administrator to take over the Sears Canada pension plan.

Following the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s liquidation sale approval order earlier this month, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) said the superintendent determined it is inevitable that the Sears plan will need to be wound up, although the effective date and details have not yet been determined.

“Sears welcomes the appointment of Morneau Shepell, with whom the company is working closely to ensure a smooth transition of plan administration so that there is minimal impact on plan members,” said Sears Canada in a statement.

In June, Sears Canada was granted an initial order and protection under Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. But after nearly four months passed with no one bidding to maintain the company as a going-concern, Sears Canada received approval from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to liquidate all of its inventory and furniture, fixtures, and equipment located at its remaining stores beginning Oct. 19.

The commission said Morneau Shepell was selected through a competitive tendering process, and that the company will be contacting all Sears Canada pension plan members in the coming months.

The FSCO has jurisdiction over the Sears Canada pension plan because the plurality of its plan members are employed in the province.  The Pension Benefits Act in Ontario requires that the assets of the Sears plan be maintained separate from the company’s assets, which cannot be accessed by the company’s creditors.

Sears Canada operates as a separate entity from its US-based co-founder, Sears Holdings Corp.

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