The Alberta Pension Plan Is Right – And Its Critics Are Wrong.


The Alberta Pension Plan Is Right – And Its Critics Are Wrong.

By Jeevan Singh Mangat

It’s not every day that the Leader of an opposition party writes to defend the government. But when the Premier is right, she is right – and she’s right on the Alberta Pension Fund. Her arguments convince me. And if I can say that, you can understand my surprise at reading an op-ed by a Canadian organization that simply ignored her views.

The op-ed in question (“Seniors groups steadfast in opposition,” Sept 27) calls the APP a “risky and untested” scheme. It appears to have been written primarily by a Canadian organization based in Toronto, and one of the signatories was a former Globe and Mail editor resident there, who we can probably presume is the actual writer. The other two signatories are a local chapter head and the leader of a local-related group. It’s worth examining the concerns raised, point by point.

Risk: The opinion piece calls the APP a “dangerous risk,” speaking in a sneering tone about “Premier Smith’s math.” The writers imply that Alberta could not recover Albertans’ investment in the CPP. However, their naked assertion does not deal with the simple and obvious fact:

The Alberta government’s calculations were done by the independent organization LifeWorks. Their calculations are extensive and well-founded. They have provided a pragmatic and meticulously researched outlook, proving the feasibility and substantial benefits of the APP. Their calculations will likely hold up in any court called upon to arbitrate the matter.

Political Interference: The article proudly notes that it advocated for an independent investment manager for the CPP, expressing concern that an Alberta fund would be subject to political interference. However, Smith has proposed using not just an independent fund manager but the same fund manager currently managing the CPP.

The writers of the opinion piece ignore this.

Stability: for the same reasons outlined in the previous section, the writers of the opinion piece imply that there is no assurance that the plan would remain well-managed or that pensions would be guaranteed. They forget that under the CPP Act, the APP must provide comparable benefits to the CPP. Here again, the fund would be well-managed and stable for the same reason as the CPP. Unlike the CPP, however, it would not be dependent upon taking money disproportionately from one province – which strikes us almost the definition of political risk.

Again, the writers of the opinion piece do not consider this.

Portability: the writers express fear that the APP will not be portable. However, Quebec has a separate pension plan already. Full portability from the Quebec plan to the Canadian program is already assured, and the same is true for the Alberta plan. Smith simply has to follow Quebec’s lead.

Curiously, the original writers ignored this point, which should be even more evident in Ontario.

Fighting Misinformation

As you can see, the opinion piece is either startlingly ill-informed or is a deliberate attempt to create fear and division among Albertans. It doesn’t matter, ultimately: what matters is that these ideas are being circulated amongst Albertans.

That being said, the fear-mongering has a point too. While Alberta’s right to withdraw from the CPP is protected under Canadian law, I see that Trudeau’s employment minister has said they will do “everything in their power” to block Alberta’s attempt to withdraw from the CPP. They’re not offering to answer Alberta’s concerns or to work with us for a more equitable solution. The federal solution is raw, naked force – which it wouldn’t need if the CPP was good for Albertans. Our takeaway from the Federal government and its fear-mongering friends is that we need out of the CPP and will have to fight for it.

So, game on, Smith – we rely on you to be as strong as your arguments.




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  • Jeevan Mangat
    published this page in Leader's Blog 2023-10-31 06:07:38 -0600