OMERS reports 67 return on investments for Ontario local public sector workers

TORONTO — The OMERS pension fund is reporting a 6.7 per cent net return last year on the investments it manages for municipal and other public-sector workers across Ontario.OMERS says its assets grew by $5 billion last year after expenses to about $77 billion, with 52 per cent in public investments and 48 per cent in private investments.Returns for its private investments — including shares of private companies, infrastructure and real estate — outperformed public investments last year.Canadian pension plans buy London City Airport, but the rich price could drive away its biggest customerOntario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Borealis said to win bidding war for London City Airport with US$2.8 billion offerOMERS says its public investments earned 0.7 per cent while the private investments gained 14.5 per cent in 2015.It also received $3.8 billion in contributions from plan members and employers, and paid out $3.4 billion in benefits.The fund administrator says the results exceeded its long-term funding requirement for a 6.5 per cent annual return. Its funded status improved to 91.5 per cent from 90.8 per cent in 2014.OMERS invests and administers pensions for Ontario municipalities, school boards, emergency services and local agencies. read more

Four workers for UN mineclearing agency first reported civilian deaths in Afghanistan

Stephanie Bunker, spokesperson for the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, told reporters in Islamabad that the four were killed when an office of the Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) was hit and destroyed. In addition, four ATC staff sustained minor injuries and were given first aid at a local hospitals.ATC is one of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working under the umbrella of the UN Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan.The UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, Mike Sackett, today appealed to the international community to meet its obligation to protect innocent civilians while military strikes were going on. “People need to distinguish between combatants and those innocent civilians who do not bear arms,” he said. “They also need to be mindful of protecting assets essential for the survival of Afghan civilians. Staff are clearly the most importance resource the aid community in Afghanistan has.”A UN official briefing reporters in New York said the four civilians killed were working as security guards for ATC, which is the oldest and largest anti-mine organization funded by the UN in Afghanistan. Employing over 1,100 Afghans, it is the organization “with which the UN has the closest possible relationship,” said Martin Barber, the Head of the UN Mine Action Service.Mr. Barber warned that with a greater number of people on the move in Afghanistan, the risk posed by mines and unexploded ordnance was rising. The UN’s anti-mine programme in the country, which has been in place for over a decade, employs over 4,000 Afghans working in nine Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and six international NGOs. The Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Caroline McAskie, stressed that the UN was making every effort to protect its local staff in Afghanistan. “We encourage them to keep in touch with all available information and to make the decisions themselves for their own safety and for the safety of their families,” she said. “We make it very clear that that’s their first priority and that’s our first priority.” read more