Albertans divided on proposed pension plan: engagement panel
Albertans divided on proposed pension plan: engagement panel

Following a series of telephone town hall meetings, the Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel, led by former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning, reports that approximately half of the participants oppose the proposed Alberta Pension Plan.

Initially planned for December, the panel postponed in-person engagements until the release of the federal report. This decision aims to ensure that further public engagement is grounded on comprehensive and precise information.

In a recent update by Dinning alongside Finance Minister Nate Horner, the panel revealed that over 76,000 Albertans participated in the telephone town halls and more than 94,000 completed an online survey.  

Dinning summarized the public response, stating, “It’s fair to say that we heard from many Albertans who oppose the idea of exiting the Canadian Pension Plan and moving to an Alberta plan, many of them passionate.”

Some Albertans were mailing back their APP flyers, with “no to the APP” and “hands off my CPP” written across some of them, with several containing personal notes, as previously reported by The Edmonton Journal. 

However, Dinning noted that others were “entirely in favour” of a provincial pension plan.

During the provincial update, Dinning indicated that about 50% of participants from the telephone town halls currently oppose the APP. Meanwhile, 20-25% were in favour and 25-30% felt they needed more information to decide. He clarified that some opposing the APP could change their viewpoint in the future.

Dinning and Horner indicated that the future of the APP hinges on the awaited report of the federal government’s chief actuary.  

The federal report is pivotal to the future of the APP as it’s expected to provide critical data on Alberta’s share of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) assets.

Horner said he had sent a letter to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland asking for the chief actuary’s report. He added that the chief actuary has better data than the publicly available data that LifeWorks had to use, where they determined that Alberta’s share of the CPP is $344 billion, as previously reported by True North. Horner hopes to gain clarity next week when he sees Freeland in person.

Amidst the ongoing discussions, Horner reassured Albertans about the security of their pensions, irrespective of the APP’s outcome. He referenced the Alberta Pension Protection Act, which promises that Alberta’s government will not move forward with a provincial pension plan unless it is approved by Albertans in a referendum. 

When questioned on whether the eventual referendum would be binding, Horner said that only constitutional referendums are binding; however, he said that the government should be prepared to follow through on the wills and wishes of Albertans. 

“We’re focused on the engagement and the consultation, and we’ll see if this initiative has enough support to take to a referendum,” he said. Horner added that the number received from the chief actuary could determine whether an APP should be pursued or not.

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