Kenney, NDP trade barbs on pitch for Alberta to quit CPP, build own pension plan

Kenney, NDP trade barbs on pitch for Alberta to quit CPP, build own pension plan

EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition says having the province quit the Canada Pension Plan is a massive money-losing proposition and that Premier Jason Kenney is pursuing it out of spite against his nemesis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Kenney, however, says the proposal put forward by his Fair Deal panel could save billions of dollars and, in question period Thursday, he accused the NDP of being afraid to be bold.

“We’re going to do an exhaustive study on the costs, benefits and structure of a potential Alberta Pension Plan because we believe Albertans are every bit as capable as Quebecers or the federal government in managing a public pension plan,” Kenney told the house.

NDP labour critic Christina Gray accused Kenney of hiding the price of creating such a pension fund. It could cost billions to administer, insure and underwrite, she said, while shutting Albertans out of the benefits of being part of the national plan.

Gray added that comparing returns on Canada Pension Plan investments with the province’s Alberta Investment Management Corporation could potentially see Alberta miss out on more than $13 billion in the first five years.

“Are you only doing this to get back at your former political opponents in Ottawa?” Gray asked Kenney.

Kenney squared off against Trudeau as a former member of Parliament. As Alberta’s United Conservative premier he has accused Trudeau’s Liberal government of pursuing regulatory policies aimed at hamstringing the province’s oil and gas industry.

Kenney’s comments come one day after he released recommendations from his Fair Deal panel, which he created last year to gauge the mood of Albertans and determine better ways the province could assert itself in Confederation.

One recommendation is to pursue an Alberta Pension Plan, similar to one run by Quebec. The panel, in its report, said Alberta’s comparatively young population means it has a higher contribution rate, which would be money that could be kept in the province if it went its own way.

“If Alberta withdrew from the CPP and created an Alberta Pension Plan, Alberta’s hypothetical contribution rate could be reduced from the present rate of 9.9 per cent to as low as 8.5 per cent,” said the report. “That represents an opportunity for Albertans to keep the approximately $3 billion annual subsidy to the rest of Canada.”

Kenney said the government’s cost-benefit analysis will come back next year and, if the review shows an Alberta plan would be a net benefit, it will put the issue to Albertans in a referendum.

The report does not provide evidence to demonstrate a groundswell of support for a separate pension plan. In fact, it states that in its telephone poll of 1,000 Albertans, almost six in 10 want to stay with the CPP.

Kenney said his government has conducted independent polling “which has found pretty significant support for the possibility of an Alberta provincial pension plan.”

Also Thursday, the NDP accused Kenney of fanning the flames of separatism by appointing United Conservative backbencher Drew Barnes to the Fair Deal Panel.

Barnes, in a public letter to Kenney this week, urged him to take a hard line with Ottawa on a range of shared issues to ensure fairness for the province.

“If this is not possible, the majority of my constituents in Cypress-Medicine Hat and from across our land have made clear that we must seek another relationship as a sovereign people,” wrote Barnes.

Kenney reiterated that he does not view separation as a solution but respects the right of legislature members to speak their minds and reflect the concerns of their constituents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2020

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maskwacis reporting 37 active cases

Numbers current as of Oct. 19

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Photo submitted/ Millet In Bloom
Town of Millet declared Best Blooming Community

The Town of Millet is being recognized for their efforts to meet the challenges of 2020.

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

Paved path to the accessible dock at Agur Lake Camp. Photo submitted/ Debbie Schneider.
B.C. Camp extremely grateful for a Calmar Business’ generous donation

B.C.’s only fully accessible campground floored by a Calmar Business’ generosity.

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and government house leader Jason Nixon chat before the speech from the throne delivered in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature to resume Tuesday; focus to be on economic recovery

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Most Read