Alberta Premier pushes for new pension plan and tax collection agency

Economist calls move 'bad economics but good politics'

Alberta Premier pushes for new pension plan and tax collection agency

ALBERTA— Premier Danielle Smith has issued a mandate letter to Finance Minister Nate Horner,  instructing him to explore the establishment of a pension plan and a tax collection agency. This action closely mirrors the directives given to the former finance minister, Travis Toews, in late 2022.

The letter requests Horner release the Alberta Pension Plan report, which aims to "increase pension benefits for seniors, reduce premiums for workers and protect the pension interests and benefits of all Albertans.” The letter also seeks a report on the feasibility of establishing "an Alberta Revenue Agency to collect all provincial tax revenues and developing a detailed strategy for its implementation should the government choose to pursue it.”

Horner said in an interview with Global News, "I think all that work is positive. If it can be an opportunity for the province, we should look at it." Economist Moshe Lander from Concordia University called the move "bad economics but good politics."

“It’s good politics, it’s always good politics, especially when you’re a party that’s running on anger with Ottawa and you’re trying to tap into this deep-seated hostility that some have towards Ottawa. These schemes are showing if Ottawa doesn’t give us what we want, then we’ll go do it on our own. Great, but it’s going to cost more,” said Lander, noting "good politics always beats good economics, that’s the unfortunate truth.”

Lander also believes an average Albertan would not vote in favour of a pension plan that is Alberta-specific.

Peter Salomon, a retired accountant, originally came from Quebec and now lives in Alberta. He liked neither the Quebec-specific pension plan nor the idea of Alberta having a similar plan. "It would be a step backward. It would involve more risk—financial risk—for me and my family. So, I’d resist it if there was an option to resist it,” he said.

Global News reported the Alberta NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips finds this mandate letter "a disaster for the retirement savings of Albertans." In a statement, he described this plan to “cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars while simultaneously jeopardizing every Canadian’s retirement.”