MEDICINE HAT, AB –Premier Danielle Smith has responded to a letter she received from the Prime Minister, in which, Justin Trudeau stated Canada would do all it can to prevent Alberta from leaving the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). This came one a day after the CPP board criticized Alberta’s survey on leaving the plan.
In the letter, Trudeau said the move would cause “undeniable” harm and weaken the pensions of millions of people across Canada. Trudeau criticized Smith’s timing of proposing the CPP exit amidst global challenges, accusing her of increasing uncertainty and instability.
“I have instructed my cabinet and officials to take all necessary steps to ensure Albertans — and Canadians — are fully aware of the risks of your plan, and to do everything possible to ensure CPP remains intact,” said Trudeau.
The Liberal leader added, “We will not stand by as anyone seeks to weaken pensions and reduce the retirement income of Canadians.”
“Withdrawing Albertans from the Canada Pension Plan would expose millions of Canadians to greater volatility and would deny them the certainty and stability that has benefited generations,” Trudeau said in the letter.
Smith called the letter from Trudeau was inappropriate, and believes it was made to prove a political point after losing a Supreme Court ruling on October 13, 2023.
“He’s trying to overstate it to make some kind of political point, and quite frankly, I just don’t think that that’s helpful,” explained Smith. “I think we should allow for the process to play out, let Albertans decide because we do have a constitutional right to manage our pensions, under Section 94 of the constitution if the Prime Minister would like to look that up.”
A report the province commissioned said Alberta is entitled to more than half the assets of the $575-billion fund. Smith said, because of Alberta’s younger population and higher workforce participation, the province has overpaid into the Canada Pension Plan.
“There’ll be some impact to the rest of Canada if Alberta chooses to go it’s own way with the assets we believe we’re entitled to, but it’s a matter of $175 per person,” said Smith.
Smith adds that it would be more constructive for the Prime Minister to offer an alternative calculation, rather than a letter.
“We believe that this is a decision that should be made by Albertans,” said Smith. “It’s why we’re putting forward pension legislation in the fall. [It] guarantees that benefits will be the same or higher contributions will be the same or lower. All the assets transferred would be for the purpose of supporting our seniors and the pension plan.”
The government held its first of five telephone town halls earlier this week, allowing Albertans to learn more about the proposed plan to leave the CPP and to give their input.
Some participants voiced support for the exit and for the creation of a new provincial pension plan.
Others, however, criticized the way in which the government is going about the consultations. One caller said the province’s online survey presupposes that Alberta will leave the CPP and did not give any options for people to say that they did not wish to go down that route.
At the end of the day, the Government of Alberta is required to hold a referendum on the matter before it can potentially be approved.