Level Chan

Partner

Suite 900, Purdy’s Wharf Tower One
1959 Upper Water St.
Halifax, N.S.
B3J 3N2

+1.902.420.3389

+1.902.420.1417

lchan@stewartmckelvey.com

LinkedIn Profile

Language(s) spoken: English, Cantonese

Bar Admission(s): Nova Scotia, 2003

Legal Assistant(s): Angela Atkinson

Level advises pension and benefit plan sponsors and administrators, and has worked for many of the largest plans in Atlantic Canada. He works with employers and plan sponsors to help them manage risk and liability in the governance, administration, investment management and amendment of pension and employee benefits plans, as well as to defend them against claims under those plans. By analyzing the employers’ legal obligations and strategically planning how to meet them, he provides perspective, as well as timely and effective solutions to these challenges. Level is knowledgeable and experienced with regional, national and international approaches to labour and employment, pension and benefits and executive compensation issues. Examples of his work include:

1. Advice to Employers and Pension and Benefit Plan Administrators and Sponsors

  • Advising on amendment, fiduciary duties, administration and governance of many of the largest pension plans in Atlantic Canada, including plans in the public service, retail, resource, health care, utility and education sectors. Aspects reviewed include governance, statement of investment policies and procedures, trust agreements and investment management agreements. Issues covered have included solvency funding, joint sponsorship and plan conversions.
  • Advising plan sponsors on the amendment of employee benefits including restructuring of benefits pooling, administrative services only (ASO) arrangements, flex plans and post-retirement benefits.
  • Advising on plan administration issues, including spousal division, survivor benefits and plan records.
  • Advising on amendment of plan benefits including changing of benefit formula and reduction of benefits.
  • Advising on the conversion of pension plans in private and public sector to shared risk or target benefit plans.
  • Advising on consolidation of pension plans including application of special legislation.
  • Advising on consolidation and conversion of a pension plan for a Nova Scotia manufacturer including implementation of special legislation.
  • Amendment of pension plans, retirement savings plans (e.g. LIFs and LIRAs), and related documents for compliance with pension legislation.
  • Provided advice regarding pension and benefits in acquisition of a large Canadian retail business.
  • Advising educational institutions on the amendment and collective bargaining of pension and post-retirement benefits.
  • Advising lender on pension issues in a significant (approximately $80 million) credit facility for a New Brunswick forest products company.
  • Advising on restructuring of trust arrangements including conversion to a master trust.
  • Advising on pension, benefit and employment matters in mergers and acquisitions, including acquisitions of retail, manufacturing, technology, professional services and forest products companies.
  • Advising employers on the elimination of mandatory retirement in sectors including the communications, education and transportation sectors.
  • Reviewing and responding to claims regarding benefits plans, including retiree benefits.
  • Reviewing and advising on executive employment, including employment agreements and supplemental employee/executive retirement plans (SERPs) in the commercial real estate, health care, entertainment and education sectors.

2. Investment Advice and Negotiations for Pension Plans

  • Advising and negotiating investment management agreements, management services, agreements and side letters for pension plan investments including:
    • Discretionary mandates in Canadian, US and global equity, bond, private debt and fixed income.
    • Investment in pooled funds (including with master trusts) for global bonds, emerging markets equity, real estate, infrastructure, mortgages and fixed income.
  • Negotiation and revision of limited partnership agreement in establishment of real estate investment structure.
  • Review and advice on transition management and investment consulting agreements.
  • Review of investment agreements and policies, including statement of investment policies and procedures, trust agreements and investment management agreements for defined benefit, defined contribution and target benefit plans.
  • Review, advice and negotiation on annuity arrangements for defined benefit and defined contribution plans, including one of the largest defined contribution plans in Canada.

3. Pension and Benefits Litigation

  • Assisting the Province of New Brunswick in pension actions by retirees and unions, including Charter challenges, with respect to the implementation of the Public Service Shared Risk Plan.
  • Representation of a private sector benefits plan sponsor in claims with respect to misrepresentation and bad faith in administration of disability benefit and group life insurance plans.
  • Representation of a national bank on pension matters in the wrongful dismissal of a senior manager.
  • Representation of a school board in an arbitration on pension plan amendments (increase in employee contributions).
  • Representation of a health care facility in an arbitration pertaining to a group RRSP on issues including breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Assisting with the representation of a large Nova Scotia manufacturer in defending against a class action proceeding by pension plan members with respect to pension plan amendments, pension plan funding and legal costs.
  • Representation of Newfoundland municipality pension plans in response to breach of fiduciary duty action.
  • Representation of forest products companies in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in pension litigation with respect to spousal pension and plant closure matters.
  • Representation of employers in workers’ compensation hearings on issues including gradual onset injuries and environmental illness.

Projects and initiatives that Level has lead or contributed to include:

  • Various law reform submissions on pension and equality legislation at the Federal and provincial levels.
  • Advocacy for increasing the diversity of the judiciary.
  • Development of a guide for law firms to measure the diversity and inclusiveness of their workplaces.
  • Development of concrete measures to increase the diversity of CBA leadership.

Education & Career

Education

Dalhousie University, LLB, 2002
Dalhousie University, BA (honours), 1999

Activities

Secretary and Executive Member, CBA National Pension & Benefits Section
Co-chair, Advocacy and Government Relations Committee and past co-chair, Communications Committee of the CBA’s National Pension & Benefits Law Section
Member of the Racial Equity Committee of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
Member, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Stewart McKelvey
Past co-chair, Students Committee, Stewart McKelvey
Past Vice-Chair of FUSION Halifax
Past President of the Dalhousie Alumni Association
Past Member of Dalhousie University Board of Governors
Past Member of the National Board of Directors of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA)
Past Chair of the CBA’s National Equality Committee
Past Chair of the Atlantic Regional Council of the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute
Past Member, Board of Directors of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce
Past Chair, Membership Committee of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Memberships

Association of Canadian Pension Management
Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
International Pension & Employee Benefits Lawyers Association
Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers

Accolades

Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute Atlantic Region Volunteer of the Year Award, 2015
CBA Nova Scotia Zöe Odei Young Lawyers Award, 2010
Lexpert rating: Pensions and Employee Benefits
Lexpert® Rising Star: Leading Lawyer Under 40, 2016

Thought Leadership

Publications

“Amendments to the Canada Pension Plan: Bill C-26”, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, November 2016

“Discipline and Mental Health Issues – Understanding the Impact”, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, November 2015

“Policy Development: 5 Policies You Need”, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, October 2014

“New Brunswick MLAs to join the “Shared Risk Pension Plan””, April 2014

“April 2014: Federal Target Benefit Plan Consultation”, April 2014

Benefit of the Doubt: Litigating Pension and Benefits, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, 2013

Everything You Say and Do… Another Lesson for Employers Changing Employee Benefits – Benefits Canada website, July 2013

“Actions Speak Louder than Words – Past Decisions May Affect Future Pension Plan Changes”, July 2013

Set “For Life” – Communications put employer “On the Hook” for retiree benefits costs – Mercer in the Mercer/CCH Guide for Employers, June 2013

“Invest in real estate? Pension plans in Newfoundland and Labrador (and elsewhere) do”, March 2013

“Atlantic Canada Solvency Relief Update”, February 2013

“Shared Risk Pension Plan Legislation Introduced”, December, 2012

“PEI Pension Benefits Act Introduced (Yet Again)”, November, 2012

“Amending and Restructuring Pension and Benefits Plan”, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, October 2012

“Mandatory retirement and working past 65. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t”, August, 2012

“PRPPs not Risk-Free for Employers”, July 2012

“Pension 351”, Universities Seminar, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, October 2011

“Changing Employee Benefits – Retiree, Disability + Drugs”, Stewart McKelvey’s HR Law blog, October 2011

“A sign of claims to come? Pension plan administrator commences claim against investment manager in aftermath of collapse of Lehman Brothers” – Journal of the International Pension & Employee Benefits Lawyers Association, May 2009

Presentations

CPBI Atlantic Regional Conference, “Diversity in Health and Benefits Plans”

October 04, 2018

LSPEI/CBA – PEI Branch, “Penchant for Pensions: An Afternoon on Pension Law”

September 20, 2018

CBA/ABA/IPEBLA Global Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyer Conference, Moderator – “Workshop IV: Discrimination and Pension & Benefits Plans”, June 10 – 12, 2018

Benefits Breakfast Club, “Protecting the Integrity of a Benefits Plan – Legal Risks”

April 25, 2018

CBA Administrative Law, Labour and Employment Law Conference, “The Aging Workforce – Accommodation & Benefits”, November 2017

CBA Pensions and Benefits Webinar, “What’s New in Pensions and Benefits: Case Law and Regulatory Update”, June 2016 & June 2017

“Amendments to the Canada Pension Plan: Bill C-26”, November 2016

“Discipline and Mental Health Issues – Understanding the Impact”, November 2015

Conference Board of Canada, “Navigating the Legal Landscape to Change Pensions and Benefits”, October 2015

Insight, “Updates on Developments and Changes in the Landscape of Benefit Plans, Compensation and Pensions”, September 2015

ISCEBS Halifax Chapter Meeting, “Pension Legislative and Legal Update”, June 2015

“Policy Development: 5 Policies You Need”, October 2014

CBA Women’s Conference, “A Summary Discussion of the Trinity Western Storm of 2013-2014”, May 2014

Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia (HRANS) Annual Law Seminar, “10 Things HR Professionals Need to Know about Pensions”, March 2014

Benefit of the Doubt: Litigating Pension and Benefits, 2013

Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute – Co-Chair of 2011 and 2012 Atlantic Regional Conferences and moderator on panel sessions “What is the Best Solution for Canada’s Pension System” (2011) and “Legal Panel on Pension and Benefit Plan Changes and Conversions” (2013)

CBA Canadian Legal Conference – Moderator – The More the Better: Practicing Inclusive Leadership, August 2013

“Amending and Restructuring Pension and Benefits Plan”, October 2012

Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, “Diversity in Action: Creating and Implementing a Diversity Plan in Your Organization”, August 2012

CBA Canadian Legal Conference – Panel Discussion, “Envisioning Justice: Access, Practice and Inclusion”, August 2012

“Pension 351”, Universities Seminar, October 2011

“Changing Employee Benefits – Retiree, Disability + Drugs”, October 2011

Federated Press, Essential Skills for Pension Committee Members, “Developing the Right Governance Structure”, March 2010