Alberta NDP says UCP is 'dragging its feet' on pension reform to 'manipulate outcome'

According to the Fair Deal Panel, Alberta has among the youngest populations in Canada, making a provincial pension plan a 'multibillion-dollar net benefit.' But only 42% of residents endorsed the idea in May 2020.

Alberta NDP says UCP is 'dragging its feet' on pension reform to 'manipulate outcome'
Facebook/ Danielle Smith and Facebook/ Nate Horner
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Alberta is entering year four of deciding whether to ditch the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) after the UCP did not make it a ballot question during the recent general election. 

The Opposition NDP accuses the government of 'dragging its feet' to sway the outcome.

"We are very concerned that this UCP government is sitting on a self-interested report that they are hiding from Albertans," NDP Leader Rachel Notley told reporters in February.

Opposition house leader Christina Gray condemned the province for not releasing its long-awaited proposal analysis. 

She accused the party of pursuing a 'deeply unpopular' provincial pension plan to thumb her nose at the federal government.

In March 2021, then-premier Jason Kenney said work on the report was near completion, and his government was mere weeks away from announcing the next steps.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who took over from Kenney as UCP leader in October, asked Finance Minister Travis Toews to continue with the pension report.

She said the minister would have more to say in 2023. However, he did not seek re-election in May.

Notley responded: "If this UCP government continues to toy with this risky gamble to undermine the security of Albertans' pensions, they should come clean on that."

In December, Smith hoped a referendum would occur with the May election but ultimately did not make the CPP a ballot question.

"It's unlikely to be held in May," she said. "We want to make sure people understand the implications and the cost, and it's unlikely that we'll be able to roll that out that quickly."

The UCP promised that any move to replace the pension plan would only be made after a referendum. 

"There is no need for a referendum that the UCP manipulates after an election," countered Notley in May.

"I want to make sure people know that if we did proceed with the decision, then it would be up to the people, as the Fair Deal Panel had recommended to us," added the premier.

According to the panel, Alberta has among the youngest populations in Canada, making an APP a "multibillion-dollar net benefit." But only 42% of the respondents endorsed the idea in May 2020.

In December, the Alberta Chambers of Commerce surveyed that most business owners believe leaving CPP for an Alberta plan would disadvantage them over the next three to five years.

Smith countered that Albertans are over-contributing to the CPP and need to explore an alternative that could leave more money in the hands of Alberta seniors.

"It's Albertans' pension — it must be Albertans' choice," said a spokesperson for the premier.

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