August 6th, 2020

Splitting with CPP a risky idea


By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on June 26, 2020.

Now that we’ve passed the summer equinox, and we’ve seen the longest day of this very challenging year, it’s clear that summer has arrived here in southern Alberta. We’ve celebrated the dads in our lives, we’ve feted the grads moving out into the world, and we’ve (mostly remotely) celebrated Pride month while reflecting on just how far we still have left to travel on the path to justice for the LGBTQ community. Many of us have also been forced to reckon once again with the continued struggle for justice that is faced by communities of colour and our Indigenous neighbours in this province and country.

Through all of this, many of us are preparing for a summer that will look very different than summers past. Whether this is the challenge of finding child care while we transition back to work or grappling with the loss of the many festivals and celebrations normally associated with summer in our city, there can be no doubt that much has changed over these last months. Some of this change has been good – rarely have I seen the spirit of this community on such wide display – while so much else has been less positive.

Unfortunately, it seems that our provincial government wants to impose more negative changes on our province.

Last week, Jason Kenney accepted the report of his Fair Deal Panel. The panel, despite the government’s assertion that it would improve Alberta’s position in confederation, was actually designed to distract from our struggling economy and thousands of lost jobs, even before the pandemic. Perhaps most concerningly, the panel endorsed the idea of pulling Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and going out on our own.

This risky ploy is an easy thought experiment for a man with a gold-plated Ottawa pension received after a career spent as a politician. For Mr. Kenney, this is all hypothetical: he’ll never have to rely on the CPP to retire.

For so many of us, though, the CPP is one of the few securities that we have as we age. The CPP, coupled with whatever savings we were able to put away when raising our kids and the equity that’s in our homes, is the backbone of retirement dignity for most Albertans who don’t have access to defined benefit pension plans through their workplaces.

Further, and to put it bluntly, that money is ours: paycheque after paycheque, month after month, Albertans have paid into the CPP in the understanding that there would be something there for them when they retire. Because it’s one of the few securities in Canadian life, I doubt many of us want that money placed on the roulette table in a dangerous game of political brinksmanship.

What’s worse is that the government’s own analysis shows that this is a risky idea that puts the future of public pensions in our country in question. In a briefing note to the Minister of Finance obtained by the NDP, department officials warned that an independent Alberta Pension Plan would face many uphill battles. Among these challenges were higher administrative costs, more volatile contribution amounts, and less ability to ride out market-based risk because of the smaller contribution base. So, what does all of this mean? In all likelihood, it means that if the Kenney government were to proceed with this short-sighted idea we would have less security in retirement, working Albertans would likely see higher contributions come off their paycheques, and the fund would get lower returns in the long run.

Higher contributions. Lower returns. Less stability. That’s what we could expect if Jason Kenney follows through with his plans for CPP.

At the end of the day, these spiteful political games could endanger our retirements. Only someone who didn’t need it would take something as serious as our retirement security as lightly so as to use it as a political distraction. We all must stand up and tell him to keep his hands off our pensions.

While this is no doubt troubling, I am encouraged by what I have seen over the past weeks and months. I know that when the chips are down Albertans will stand up for each other, and for the things that matter. We need to do that again my telling this government to stop playing political games with our retirement. You can start by visiting handsoffmycpp.ca.

Should you need to contact me or my staff, please reach out to Lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca, or call 403-329-4644.

Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.

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7 Responses to “Splitting with CPP a risky idea”

  1. Citi Zen says:

    Heaven help us all! Do not take advisement on something this important from a school teacher. Really getting weary of the rhetoric from the last standing NDPers.

    • Southern Albertan says:

      One would hope that what most Albertans want, or do not want, is not dubbed, ‘rhetoric.’ The AB NDP here, is correctly, representing the majority of Albertan’s interests. Perhaps this, would be helpful to inform what is really rhetoric:
      “Fair Deal panel report underlines challenges for Kenney when rhetoric meets reality. Recent poll shows Albertans don’t support separation or getting rid of the RCMP or CPP.”
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/fair-deal-panel-report-alberta-poll-jason-kenney-1.5616326
      And last standing NDPers? With more and more Albertans becoming aware of the populist authoritarian (dictatorial) antics of the Kenney UCP, there is the thing with the AB NDP being underestimated, which could be a good thing for the AB NDP. After all, the Notley NDP displayed some good fiscal conservative Peter Lougheed-style characteristics. The difference between the more, inclusive fiscal conservatism of yore, and the now, Kenney UCP ultra right wing, neo-liberal, authoritarian style of conservatism, has not been well understood by traditional right wing supporters. Hopefully, that will improve as more Alberta folks come to that realization.

  2. Citi Zen says:

    “Majority”, Yes, by a meager couple hundred votes. Hardly enough to represent the masses.

  3. Southern Albertan says:

    Did you read the above-suggested article on the results of the Alberta poll? I’m thinking….not.
    Oh well, again, perhaps there are those along with the Kenney UCP who are underestimating things, which is good….something like letting “sleeping dogs lie,” and, “the element of surprise.”

  4. biff says:

    the move is strictly political, and, like the coopting of other public pension funds, a pocket liner for the key players of in group now in power. it will paid for dearly by albertans. it needs to be stopped, before there is no return. whether one feels they are con, lib, soc, should have nothing to do with this serious issue. we all will lose if we let this happen. at least run an election on these major moves – for god sake, have some decency and get a mandate on these issues.

  5. johnny57 says:

    “We will all lose if we let this happen”…‚ĶTypical “fear mongering” OMG did Quebec ever lose when they got their own pension and Police force! Made them lose all the way to the bank at our expense!

  6. biff says:

    well johnny, while i know that this is most about pocket lining, let us say for the sake of the discussion there are other reasons. what are they? the cpp has been performing remarkably; the teachers and other pensions recently coopted and those about to be lassoed have also been doing very well. in fact, the teacher pension has been doing better than has the fund it is being absconded into. so, is there really a need for this move? moreover, with all the pressing issues around the alberta economy, is this not the absolute last thing that requires the precious time and energy of govt.?
    tell me johnny, do you fix your truck when it isn’t broken? (and maybe you do, but i am sure you will acknowledge that people only fix what needs fixing; pensions of albertans do not need fixing).
    and you use the quebec example – do you want to be like quebec? the qc pension plan and the qc prov’l police do not bring wealth to that province.


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