Canadian government annuities

An annuity is an amount payable at regular intervals (i.e. monthly, quarterly, or yearly) to an annuitant beginning on a specified maturity date. The amount of annuity received after maturity is based on the contributions made (premiums paid) during the deferred period.

The Canadian Government Annuities Branch administers contracts on behalf of clients from Canada and around the world who have contributed towards the purchase of an annuity either on their own or through their employers as part of a pension plan.

The Government Annuities Act of 1908 was one of the earliest significant pieces of social legislation in Canada. Its purpose was to encourage Canadians to prepare financially for their retirement. Government annuities were purchased either by individuals or by employers as pension plans for their registered employees.

By the 1960s, other social benefit plans, such as Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan, were introduced and began gaining importance in providing Canadians with basic retirement income. The Government's recognition that retired Canadians could now be served by other social security programs as well as the private sector brought about the decision to disband the annuities sales force. In 1975, an Act of Parliament formally ended the sale of government annuities. However, employers who had purchased group contracts up to March 1975 could continue to register new employees under their existing group contracts until March 1979.

Although it is not possible to purchase a government annuity today, the Canadian Government Annuities Branch still handles the administration of annuities currently under payment as well as those to become payable at a later date.

Types of plans

The following describes the various plans administered by the Annuities Branch.

  • Ordinary life: At maturity, this annuity is payable for as long as the annuitant lives, but at death, the annuity ceases immediately and there are no death benefits. This is the least expensive plan.
  • Guaranteed: The annuity under this plan is payable for life but it is guaranteed for a minimum period of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. The object of the guaranteed period is to provide a death benefit. If the annuitant dies before the expiration of the guaranteed period, the installments of annuity remaining unpaid are continued to the named beneficiary as provided in the contract. Depending on the terms of the contract, the remaining installments may be commuted in a lump sum upon request. The commuted value may be subject to income tax in the hands of the payee.
  • Contingent survivor: This annuity is based on two lives. The annuity is payable to the principal annuitant for as long as he or she lives. At death, the annuity is payable to the survivor until his or her death.
  • Joint and last survivor: This plan differs from the contingent survivor contract in that the annuity installments are payable to both parties, so both must endorse the cheque. After the death of one partner, the annuity is made payable to the survivor as long as he or she lives. If one annuitant dies before the date of maturity, the contract is changed to single life on request of the surviving annuitant.

Reducing option: The reducing option is an arrangement whereby the annuity purchased is paid at an increased amount from age 50 (or later) to one month following the date the annuitant is eligible for Old Age Security Pension. Thereafter, is paid at a lesser amount. The annuity is payable for life, with death benefits available for the duration of the guaranteed period, if there is one.

Purchasing annuities

You can no longer buy Canadian government annuities. In 1975, an Act of Parliament formally ended the sale of government annuities. Employers could still register new employees under their existing group contracts until 1979. However, since many Canadians still have annuity contracts and certificates, the Annuities Branch continues to administer those under payment and those due to mature over the next twenty to thirty years.

Before annuity payments start

Approximately three months before the maturity date, you should receive a Certificate of Identity form. Complete it as indicated and return it along with any other documents that are requested. It is very important that the Annuities Branch always has your current address.

While receiving annuity payments

Direct deposit

To have your payments deposited directly by bank account or to change your direct deposit information, contact the Annuities Branch by phone or in writing. You will need to provide:

  • your Annuity Contract Number or your Social Insurance Number
  • the name and number of your bank or financial institution
  • the number of the branch where you have your account
  • your bank account number

Changing your mailing address

To change the mailing address for your annuity payments or for correspondence, contact the Annuities Branch as soon as possible. You will need to provide your Annuity Contract Number or your Social Insurance Number, along with your new address. If the request is made by a legal representative, a copy of the legal document authorizing them to act on behalf of the annuitant is required.

Designation and beneficiary

For your convenience, both annuitants and employers can download the Designation / Change of Beneficiary or Designation / Revocation of Beneficiary forms used by the Annuities Branch.

Tax slips

To obtain a missing tax slip, notify the Annuities Branch and you will be sent a duplicate copy, or the original if it has been returned to our office by Canada Post.

Death of an annuitant

The Annuities Branch should be notified as soon as possible. A proof of death document will be requested. The executor will be contacted in writing if any additional documentation is required. The estate should not negotiate any annuity payments after the death. These payments should be returned to be cancelled or reissued to the correct payee, if there is an entitlement.

If you do not find the information you are looking for on this website, please contact the Annuities Branch directly for personal assistance.

Note: Service Canada Centres are unable to answer your questions about individual or group annuities.

If you would like to contact us about another topic, please see the complete list of contact information.

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