Most Canadian pension funds give complete discretion for proxy-voting decisions to their investment managers, according to a survey by Shareholder Association for Research and Education. The survey found 73% of the 34 investment management firms participating "indicated that they had been given complete discretion to vote the proxies for more than 85% of the pension fund assets they manage," said a SHARE statement about the survey.
"Pension plan trustees have a duty to oversee how their plans' proxies are voted as part of their overall responsibility to oversee the assets of the plan," Laura O'Neill, director of law and policy, SHARE, said in the statement. "For trustees, the failure to manage or guide outside investment firms on how to vote proxies is a very serious matter. To not do so leaves them open to potential liability and possible charges of negligence. There is a very real danger that they could be found in violation of the Standard of Care provision found in federal and provincial pensions benefits legislation."