Level Chan

Partner

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
- John Wooden

Commitment to service.

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. In addition to his law practice, Level is an active and keen supporter of the Atlantic Region and is involved in such community organizations as the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, FUSION Halifax and the Dalhousie Alumni Association. 

Representative matters

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 on and/or negotiating pension investment matters on behalf of public sector and utility pension plans.
  • Advising on plan administration issues, including spousal benefits and records, for plans, including many of the largest pension plan in Atlantic Canada.
  • 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.
  • Amendment of pension plans, retirement savings plans (e.g. LIFs and LIRAs), and related documents for compliance with new 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 ina 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 labour, employment and pension matters in mergers and acquisitions, including acquisitions of retail stores, a large Nova Scotia paper mill and building supplies retailer.
  • 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. 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 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.

Areas of practice

  • Pensions & Employee Benefits
  • Labour and Employment
  • Employment Law
  • Labour Relations
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Workplace Human Rights

BAR ADMISSION(S)

Nova Scotia, 2003

LAW SOCIETY(IES)

Nova Scotia Barristers' Society

EDUCATION

Dalhousie University, LL.B., 2002
Dalhousie University, B.A. (honours), 1999

ACTIVITIES

Awards and Recognition

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

LANGUAGE(S)

English, Cantonese

LEXPERT RATINGS

Pensions and Employee Benefits

EXTERNAL RATINGS

  • Lexpert® Rising Star: Leading Lawyer Under 40, 2016

Publications

  • Everything You Say and Do… Another Lesson for Employers Changing Employee Benefits – Benefits Canada website – 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
  • “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

Regular contributor, updates, Atlantic Employers’ Counsel and HR Law blog including:

  • Pension update: "Countdown to Nova Scotia Pooled Registered Pension Plans" (with Dante Manna), May 2016
  • Pension primer: "Pooled Registered Pension Plans in Nova Scotia" (with Dante Manna), April 2016
  • Client Update: "Nova Scotia Consultation on Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) Regulations", September 2015
  • "April 2014: Federal Target Benefit Plan Consultation", April 2014
  • "New Brunswick MLAs to join the "Shared Risk Pension Plan"" (with Scott Campbell), April 2014
  • "Actions Speak Louder than Words – Past Decisions May Affect Future Pension Plan Changes" (with Dante Manna), July 2013
  • "Invest in real estate?  Pension plans in Newfoundland and Labrador (and elsewhere) do" (with Ian Breneman), March 2013 
  • "Atlantic Canada Solvency Relief Update" (with Ian Breneman), February 2013
  • "Shared Risk Pension Plan Legislation Introduced", December, 2012
  • "PEI Pension Benefits Act Introduced (Yet Again)", November, 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

Presentations

  • CBA Administrative Law, Labour and Employment Law Conference, "Labour & Employment Law (Joint with Pensions and Benefits Section)" - November 2017
  • CBA Pensions and Benefits Webinar, "What's New in Pensions and Benefits: Case Law and Regulatory Update" - June 2016
  • 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
  • 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
  • CBA Canadian Legal Conference – Moderator – The More the Better:  Practicing Inclusive Leadership – August 2013
  • CBA Canadian Legal Conference – Panel Discussion, "Envisioning Justice: Access, Practice and Inclusion" – August 2012
  • Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, "Diversity in Action: Creating and Implementing a Diversity Plan in Your Organization" – August 2012
  • 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)
  • Federated Press, Essential Skills for Pension Committee Members, “Developing the Right Governance Structure” – March 2010

Regular presenter, Stewart McKelvey Labour and Employment Law Seminars including:

  • "Amendments to the Canada Pension Plan: Bill C-26", November 2016
  • "Discipline and Mental Health Issues - Understanding the Impact", November 2015
  • "Policy Development: 5 Policies You Need", October 2014
  • Benefit of the Doubt: Litigating Pension and Benefits, 2013.
  • "Amending and Restructuring Pension and Benefits Plan", October 2012
  • “Changing Employee Benefits – Retiree, Disability + Drugs”, October 2011
  • “Pension 351”, Universities Seminar, October 2011

Suite 900
Purdy's Wharf Tower One
1959 Upper Water Street
Halifax, NS, Canada
B3J 3N2

P 902.420.3389
F 902.420.1417

Email Level

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LEGAL ASSISTANT(S)

Meagan Burke

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