NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated the Alberta Chamber of Commerce is among groups opposed to the idea of an Alberta Pension Plan. The statement is inaccurate. ACC has no formal position on the Alberta Pension Plan report, nor the idea of establishing an Alberta Pension Plan. Alberta Prime Times apologies for the error.
Voices are pushing back hard and fast following Thursday's announcement by the UCP and its commissioned report on Alberta potentially leaving the Canada Pension Plan.
The report, created by the independent consultant LifeWorks, suggests an Alberta Pension Plan (APP) could save Albertans billions each year, with lower contribution rates, higher benefits and stronger benefit security for families and retirees.
"This report shows a made-in-Alberta pension plan could put more money in the pockets of hard-working families and business owners and improve retirement security for seniors. We want to hear from you because it’s your pension, your choice," Premier Danielle Smith said at a Thursday news conference.
Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) President Gil McGowan said in response to Smith's claim the province is owed more than half the CPP's assets, “With 13% of the Canadian population, there's no way we're owed more than half.
“The UCP’s whole argument hinges on the share of CPP assets that Alberta would receive if we took our ball and left the sandbox. Premier Smith is trying to suggest that it’s a given that we’d get $334 billion. But that is far from guaranteed. In fact, it’s a fantasy number.
“After 3 years of working on this report, the premier could not say with confidence that it gives a correct picture of the costs and benefits. Every reference to benefits for Albertans started with the words ‘maybe, possibly, potentially or could’. The other provinces will fight this tooth and nail," said McGowan.
Alberta NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips said the UCP plan to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan is based on misleading figures from a "flawed and outdated formula that severely overstates the amount Alberta could withdraw from the plan. The UCP is using it for their own priorities, gambling with our retirement safety."
Polls have shown the majority of Albertans are opposed to withdrawing from CPP.
Public Interest Alberta's executive director Bradley Lafortune issued a blunt statement in response to the UCP report. "It's a fantasy--it's not worth the paper it's written on."
“At a time when Albertans are already struggling with difficult economic conditions, the UCP and Danielle Smith continue to pursue their regressive mandate and stoke separatist sentiment with their completely outrageous plan to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). "
Over the fall and into spring 2024, an engagement panel will gather feedback from Albertans on their thoughts, suggestions and concerns about a provincial pension plan. The panel will submit a report to government based on the provincewide engagement. A referendum indicating support from a majority of Albertans would be required to pursue an APP.
Jim Dinning, chair of the APP engagement panel, said, “We ask Albertans to look at the facts, participate in the discussions and then tell us what they think about an Alberta Pension Plan and the different options we must consider. We expect our conversations will be complex and, at times, fiery, but people engaged in debate reminds all of us how important sound public policy is for our security and prosperity. Albertans will figure this out.”