Questions & Answers

The following are the questions we often receive from our members and prospective members. Click on a question below to view its answer.

1. What is SCRG?

SCRG stands for the Store & Catalogue Retiree Group. It was formed to ensure a dedicated focus to the protection of company benefits and pensions of Sears Canada retirees and their surviving beneficiaries.

For legal reasons we were required to have a name that would not conflict with Sears Canada trademarks or legally registered business names. So officially we are called the Store & Catalogue Retiree Group. But we refer to ourselves as SCRG whenever possible.

2. What is SCRG’s relationship to Sears Canada?

SCRG is an independent organization. It is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Sears Canada. SCRG maintains a working relationship with Sears Canada senior management in order to fulfill its objectives.

3. Is there a fee to join SCRG? Why?

Currently the membership fee is $25 per annum. We also offer a three year price and a lifetime paid-up membership, and we encourage everyone who can, to provide a donation to help fund our planned activities.

While all SCRG directors and regional representatives are volunteers without remuneration of any kind, we do require funds for our administration expenses, such as outside legal and accounting costs, printing and mailing, and website hosting. We keep operating costs low by extensive use of volunteers and by communicating with our membership via the Internet wherever possible.

SCRG's only source of income is the membership fees and other voluntary donations that we receive.

4. Will I receive a tax receipt for my fee or donation?

No. While SCRG is registered as a not-for-profit organization, it is not a charitable organization.

5. How secure is my pension?

Only part of your pension is secure. Sears Canada is required to fund the pension based on a number of assumptions, and the money is held in trust by CIBC Mellon in accordance with Ontario laws. The trust fund does not have enough money to pay all of the pensions that exist. In fact, as of December 31, 2015 (the last time it was reported) the fund was 19% short of what it needed to meet its commitments. Sears is required to make payments over time, but should it become bankrupt, it would stop making those payments and your pension would be reduced to match the amount in the fund at that time.

Would you like to see how your pension would be affected if Sears became bankrupt, while our pension plan was underfunded? Try our Pension Calculator.

6. How secure are my benefits?

The Benefits Trust has been depleted, so Sears Canada is now paying for health and dental benefits from its operating funds, as expenses are incurred. Should Sears become bankrupt, we expect that the payment of benefits would cease immediately.

7. How secure is my life insurance?

Sears Canada tells us that retiree life insurance is handled by an insurance company (currently Sun Life) and that it makes annual payments for the premiums, in our names. It is those premiums which are included in your tax statements. We are unsure whether Sun Life is actually insuring us or whether it is simply an administrator making payouts from Sears operating funds. Should Sears become bankrupt, we expect that life insurance payouts would cease immediately.

8. What is the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund?

The Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund (PBGF) provides protection to Ontario members and beneficiaries of defined benefit pension plans such as ours, in the event of plan sponsor insolvency. The PBGF is governed by the Pension Benefits Act and Regulations, and is administered by the Superintendent of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

You can read all about the Fund on the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) website. But in simple terms, it exists to top up the first $1,000 of your monthly pension should your employer fail. We asked FSCO if a retiree would still be eligible for benefits if he or she had worked part of the time in Ontario but had retired outside Ontario. Their reply was "The PBGF applies to all covered benefits for all Ontario service, wherever the member lives at or after retirement."

No other province has a pension guarantee fund. It is exclusive to Ontario.

9. Will you help me resolve a problem I'm having with Sears?

SCRG is not a part of Sears Canada. You should contact Sears Canada's Human Resources Department directly with questions or problems about the administration of your individual pension or benefit plans. However, SCRG will advocate on members' behalf on those issues that affect a significant number of its members.