Albertans doubt provincial pension plan, poll shows

Survey reveals Majority in Alberta oppose shifting from CPP

Albertans doubt provincial pension plan, poll shows

A poll suggests Albertans are largely skeptical about the idea of transitioning to a provincial pension plan. 

Conducted by Viewpoint Alberta and shared with CBC News, the survey revealed that 57 percent of respondents oppose the adoption of an Alberta Pension Plan, with only 22 percent in support and 20 percent neutral.  

Additionally, 30 percent of those surveyed believe that Albertans would benefit financially from such a shift.   

The survey, a part of the Common Ground research project at the University of Alberta, gathered opinions from 1,123 residents on various pressing issues through an online questionnaire from January 22 to February 25.  

Jared Wesley, a political science professor and lead of Common Ground, noted a decline in support for the provincial pension plan compared to six months ago. He emphasized the significant influence of partisan identification on opinions regarding the pension plan.   

Despite the United Conservative Party (UCP) supporters' relatively higher approval for the provincial pension plan, only 36 percent of them believe it would be superior to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a stark contrast to four percent among NDP supporters.  

This discrepancy highlights the broad resistance to leaving the CPP, even among UCP supporters, despite the provincial government's interest in pursuing this path.   

In September 2023, the provincial government publicized a report claiming Alberta could claim over $330bn in pension contributions by withdrawing from the CPP—a figure critics have deemed exaggerated.  

The Common Ground survey found that 53 percent of Albertans disagree with the province's entitlement to half of the CPP's assets if it opts out, with 26 percent in agreement.   

Regarding student pronouns policy, the survey indicates that most of the Albertans support requiring parental consent for students aged 15 or younger to use a chosen name or pronoun at school, different from their birth-assigned ones.  

This proposed legislation, announced by Premier Danielle Smith in January, has 56 percent support among Albertans, with 85 percent of UCP supporters and nearly 25 percent of NDP supporters in favor.   

The survey also touched on Premier Smith's proposed gender policies, including banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors aged 17 and under and prohibiting puberty blockers and hormone therapies for children aged 15 and under. The legislation on these policy changes is anticipated this fall.   

Political science professor Lisa Young, from the University of Calgary and not affiliated with the Common Ground project, suggested that the provincial government's push for a provincial pension plan might not lead to a successful referendum, given the lukewarm support even among its own party members.  

She speculated that the government might aim to maintain the pension plan discussion until the party's leadership review next fall. Young also commented on the highly polarized opinions on the pronouns policy, predicting significant controversy upon its legislative proposal.