The Alberta government is committing to a referendum on the provincial pension plan in new legislation tabled Thursday.
If passed, Bill 2, the Alberta Pension Protection Act, would guarantee no Alberta Pension Plan unless Albertans vote in favour of it in a referendum.
According to a government news release, the legislation would guarantee lower contribution rates, and similar or better benefits for retirees. They also pledged the entire asset transferred from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) would be used solely to set up and operate the APP.
Since September, the UCP has repeatedly promised a referendum for Albertans, which they contend Bill 2 will enforce. "We promise we would keep it safe and make sure it grows to provide retirement security for generations," said Finance Minister Nate Horner.
The independent report by LifeWorks estimates an APP could be supported with lower contribution rates than the CPP, saving Alberta employees and employers up to $1,425 every year for each employee.
"This legislation protects the interests of Albertans and provides them assurance that if they move forward with an Alberta Pension Plan, their pensions and their benefits will always be there for them," said Horner. "This is their money, built up over years of hard work."
The Canada Pension Plan Act already requires a provincial pension plan to provide benefits comparable to the CPP to qualify for withdrawal, according to the government news release. "Alberta could use some of the estimated $5 billion in annual savings to further improve APP benefits," it said.
Because Albertans have paid billions more into the CPP than they have received in benefits, the LifeWorks report estimates that Alberta is owed $334 billion from the CPP, which includes compounded investment returns on the net contribution.
"The legislation provides Albertans assurance that the government would only use that large asset transfer amount to support a provincial pension plan that would be sustainable for generations to come,"
The UCP encourages residents to review the LifeWorks report on the APP and provide their feedback.
The Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel is currently hosting regional telephone town halls, including three in November, to hear from Albertans, with the public survey open until December 10.