Opposition demands transparency
The Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP) has called upon the United Conservative Party (UCP) to publicize its report on the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), raising concerns about potential risks to residents' retirement savings.
The issue began when Alberta initiated a third-party analysis to assess the feasibility of establishing an independent Alberta pension plan. This move stemmed from the recommendations put forth by the Fair Deal panel in May 2020, which urged the province to explore the concept of a plan separate from the CPP.
In response, former Premier Jason Kenney commissioned a report on the matter and stated in March 2021 that it was nearing completion, with plans to release it within weeks.
However, upon assuming office in October, Premier Danielle Smith instructed then-Finance Minister Travis Toews to continue working on the report and investigate the possibility of Alberta withdrawing from the CPP. Smith even suggested the potential for a referendum on the matter before the May election, although this did not materialize.
According to the NDP, the UCP's stance contradicts the majority of the province's population, as indicated by a Leger poll conducted for Postmedia, which revealed that 79% of respondents opposed the withdrawal from the CPP.
“It’s very clear that when it comes to pensions, Danielle Smith doesn’t know what she’s talking about, and it’s high time she backed down on this plan,” said Shannon Phillips, Alberta NDP finance, insurance, and pensions critic.
“Albertans know that the CPP ensures a secure retirement for Albertans, promoting social and economic stability in the province. By pooling contributions from workers across Canada, the CPP offers a strong foundation for retirement security, minimizing the risk of individuals outliving their savings.”
Smith had stated that she would not promote her controversial proposals, such as the sovereignty act and the establishment of an Alberta police force. She had also indicated her intention to revisit the CPP issue once the reports were available after the election, although no such reports have been released thus far.
“My message to Albertans today is this: your retirement is too important to gamble. The Premier should be straightforward with Albertans and tell them her plans now, this summer. She should come out, release the data, and end the speculation,” said Phillips.
“Albertans deserve a secure and predictable source of retirement income, here and across Canada.”
The office of the minister of treasury board and finance said in a statement to CityNews that the premier has affirmed that “no one is taking away Albertans' pensions”.
“We are waiting for the final report from Lifeworks, formerly known as Morneau Shepell. Once that report is final and our government has an opportunity to review it, we will release it to the public,” the statement said.
“If Albertans make it clear they would like to have a referendum on establishing an Alberta Pension, we will do so. Any decision on whether or not to establish an Alberta Pension will be for Albertans to decide in a province-wide referendum.”
Smith has argued that Albertans contribute more to the CPP than they receive and that exploring an alternative plan could potentially benefit Alberta seniors by allowing them to retain more of their funds.
A survey conducted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce in December revealed that most business owners believed that transitioning from the CPP to an Alberta plan would place them at a disadvantage over the next three to five years.