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Jana  Steele  - Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Toronto , ON, CA

Jana Steele Jana  Steele

Partner, Pensions & Benefits | Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Toronto , ON, CANADA

Partner at Osler in Toronto with extensive knowledge and experience with shared risk, target benefit and other innovative plan designs.


Jana has deep pension expertise and advises on shared risk and target benefit plans, deals with pension issues in transactions and helps establish new plans. Jana advises on issues such as plan structure, governance, administration, compliance, trustee obligations, surplus matters, plan conversions, plan mergers, transfers and plan wind-ups. Jana also has experience dealing with pensions and benefits issues arising in insolvencies and corporate restructurings.

Industry Expertise (1)

Legal Services

Areas of Expertise (9)

Pension and Benefits

Pension Plan Shared Risk and Target Benefit Plans

Pension Plan Structure

Pension Plan Governance

Pension Plan Administration

Pension Plan Compliance

Pension Plan Conversions

Pension Plan Mergers

Pension Plan Transfers and Wind-ups

Accomplishments (1)

Recognized as a leading Pensions and Employee Benefits lawyer in: (professional)

Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business, 2016-2017
The Best Lawyers in Canada, 2013-2017
The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2014-2016
Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Business Lawyers, 2015

Education (2)

University of Western Ontario: LL. B.

Queen's University: H.B. Comm.

Affiliations (6)

  • Ontario Bar Association (Past Chair of Pensions and Benefits Executive)
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Law (Guest Lecturer)
  • Osgoode Hall Law School (Guest Lecturer)
  • International Pensions and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association (IPEBLA - Chaired Conference in Brussels)
  • IPEBLA Steering Committee (Deputy Chair)
  • Member of FSCO Legal Advisory Committee (Since 2009)

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (11)

Commons report suggests shared risk as possible option for Canada Post pension plan

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


According to a recent article in Benefits Canada, a House of Commons committee is recommending that the federal government examine ways to deal with the solvency of Canada Post’s defined benefit pension plan, which was at the core of its contract negotiations with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers this summer. Writer Jennifer Paterson turns to Jana Steele, a partner in Osler’s Pensions and Benefits Practice Group, for insight regarding suggestions made in the committee’s recently published report, which recommends the government and Canada Post “take steps to modernize the pension plan so it can operate on a going-concern basis and is no longer subject to solvency funding requirements.”

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Federal target benefit bill denounced as 'unconscionable betrayal'

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


The Canadian Labour Congress has denounced a federal target benefit bill as a “betrayal,” but Osler partner Jana Steele argues Bill C-27 is a better option, according to an article by Sara Tatelman in Benefits Canada.

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Top 50 DC plans report: A look at the latest governance trends

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


In a recent Benefits Canada article, managing editor Jennifer Paterson explores the changing defined contribution plan landscape and the fact that governance is becoming a growing concern for plan sponsors. Jana Steele, a partner in Osler’s pensions and benefits group in Toronto, offers her insight on a number of these trends, including decumulation – a “major buzzword” since it appeared in the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities’ 2014 guidelines.

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2016 top 100 pension funds report: Solvency reform on the agenda

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


According to a recent article by freelance writer Michael McKiernan in Benefits Canada, review and reform of the solvency funding framework for defined benefit pension plans will be front and centre through the remainder of 2016. Existing solvency funding rules dictate that sponsors must keep their defined benefit plans in the black – a requirement they often find onerous. The provincial governments in Québec, British Columbia and Alberta have started revising their solvency funding rules, and it appears that Ontario is getting ready to follow suit. However, it isn’t clear what approach Ontario will take. In the article, Jana Steele, Osler partner and pensions lawyer, suggests that Ontario adopt Alberta and British Columbia’s strategy of creating solvency reserve accounts to receive deficit payments that can then be withdrawn if the money is no longer needed to fund the deficit.

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DC sponsors face bigger legal risks than they believe

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


The legal risks that come with defined contribution pension plans are often missed by plan sponsors. Anna Sharrat of Benefits Canada writes that there must be a level of diligence when overseeing these plans. Jana Steele, a partner in Osler’s Pensions and Benefits Practice Group, said at Benefits Canada’s Benefits and Pensions Summit, “Arguably, the administrator should be applying the same level of diligence in their DC investments as they would in their [defined benefit] investments. They have to provide the appropriate [investment] options for their demographic and their plan members, taking action to replace underperforming options.”

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Ottawa says target benefits still a priority despite budget omission

Benefits Canada Magazine  online


Although target-benefit pension plans were notably absent from the 2016 federal budget, in a recent Benefits Canada article by Yaldaz Sadakova, the Department of Finance maintains that target-benefit plans continue to be a priority for the government. The article presents experts’ views on the pros and cons of the government introducing the alternative pension plan structure and includes commentary from Jana Steele, a partner in Osler’s Pensions and Benefits Group and a proponent of target-benefit plans.

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Rhetoric shifts, but pension plans stay on course

Canadian Lawyer InHouse Magazine  online


According to Stefan Dubowski of Canadian Lawyer InHouse, one of the big questions arising from the change in government is what will happen with the Ontario Registered Pension Plan (ORPP), which arose out of concern when the federal government wouldn’t consider improving the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) even though approximately 35% of Ontario workers did not have workplace pensions.

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Tax treatment inequitable for Canada’s two primary retirement savings vehicles

The Globe & Mail  online


There are two primary retirement savings vehicles in Canada – defined-contribution (DC) pension plans (or group or individual RSP savings plans) – and defined-benefit (DB) pension plans writes Jana Steele, partner, Pensions & Benefits in this article from The Globe and Mail.

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We wanted pension changes, but OAS age wasn’t one of them

The Globe & Mail  online


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that the upcoming federal budget will reverse the previous government’s decision to gradually increase the eligibility age for Old Age Security to 67 from 65 by 2029. In our view, the eligibility age for OAS should increase beyond 65.

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Tax benefits of differing retirement plans should be equitable

The Globe & Mail  online


Part of the social contract of living in a country such as Canada involves the payment of personal income taxes – fairly high income taxes, in some cases – in exchange for health care, schools, infrastructure and social services. As we all know, the tax system is complex; it sets out, at a high level, what deductions can be made or credits taken. The credits we take and deductions ultimately reduce our overall taxes payable.

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Stay the course when it comes to public-sector pensions, Alberta

The Globe & Mail  online


Historically, governments have been reluctant to implement significant pension reforms, preferring instead to kick the pension can down the road. Because pensions have such a long life, it may have been perceived as more expedient to tackle other priorities and leave pension issues for future generations to deal with.

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Event Appearances (6)

Navigating DC legal risks (Speaker)

2016 Benefits & Pensions Summit  


Pension Innovation in Canada (Speaker)

Superannuation Committee of the Law Council of Australia – The Calm Before the Storm  


Legal and Political Issues Facing Canadian Plan Sponsors (Speaker)

2015 Retirement Innovation Summit by Franklin Templeton Investments  


Addressing Alternatives in Plan Design (Speaker)

Canadian Institute – Canadian Workplace Pensions Forum  


Pension Reform/Innovation Update (Speaker)

ISCEBS – 34th Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium  


Municipalities in Financial Distress: Pensions (Speaker)

CAIRP Annual Conference  


Articles (6)

Changing Times, Changing Benefits Canadian Labour & Employment Law Journal

Vol. 19 No. 1

The Taxation of Single-Employer Target Benefit Plans – Where We Are and Where We Ought to Be C.D. HOWE Institute


Many employers have been looking for alternatives beyond traditional pension arrangements to better manage their pension risks. Target benefit plans (TBPs) are an attractive hybrid of traditional defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans since they combine fixed contributions with targeted pension payments

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Canada’s younger generation needs a new pension tool Osler Update


Ottawa recently introduced proposed changes that would amend federal pension laws to permit federally regulated employers to provide a pension plan with a target-benefit design.

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Rethinking plan design & funding: pension innovation in Canada Osler Update


Pension plan design possibilities are evolving in various jurisdictions across the country. This is happening at a time when many plan sponsors have been considering pension risk management and recognizing plan design as a key risk management tool.

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An expanded CPP protects the adequacy and security of retirement savings for Canadians Osler Update


On June 20, 2016, Canada’s finance minister and several provincial finance ministers announced their agreement in principle to enhance the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) starting January 1, 2019.

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We wanted pension changes, but OAS age wasn’t one of them Osler Update


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that the upcoming federal budget will reverse the previous government’s decision to gradually increase the eligibility age for Old Age Security to 67 from 65 by 2029. In our view, the eligibility age for OAS should increase beyond 65.

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