July 21st, 2024

Albertans making clear they don’t want to leave CPP


By Lethbridge Herald on October 28, 2023.

AT THE LEGISLATURE

Shannon Phillips – NDP MLA for Lethbridge West

“You have to be careful what you wish for. It could unravel the whole thing and a lot of Canadians could be exposed quite dramatically in their pensions.” 

Those words are not mine. Instead, those words of caution came from Goldy Hyder, CEO of the Business Council of Canada, in reaction to Danielle Smith’s plan to take Albertan’s pensions out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and put them into her own piggy bank, an Alberta Pension Plan (APP). The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) similarly warned of the risk that would come from small pension plans (like an Alberta-based one) where even small economic downturns would risk “significant deficits requiring higher premiums”. 

Anytime the Business Council of Canada, the CFIB, the Alberta NDP, and three quarters of Albertans agree on something you might ask, then who is in favour of pulling us out of CPP? 

There is one Albertan who is very enthusiastic, Premier Danielle Smith. She has been an evangelist for the scheme throughout her career and has long claimed all kinds of magical outcomes were possible if only we would give her a fantastical amount of money in the form of our retirement savings. Now, as Premier, she is abandoning all advice against the scheme and is leading this parade to pension peril.

When Danielle Smith was running in the May 2023 election she refused to speak about the plan. Many of her candidates, now MLAs, bluntly dismissed any possibility of an Alberta Pension Plan. Mere weeks later, the scheme emerged again. 

This time, Smith trotted out an “independent report” that claimed Alberta would be owed 53 per cent of the CPP assets. More than a few people were stunned to hear her claim we would take $334 billion from CPP, an amount that is, in the words of Trevor Tombe from the University of Calgary, so high it is “transparently unreasonable and not going to fly anywhere else in the country.” Jason Markusoff, a Calgary journalist, said it reminded him of the Austin Powers film character Dr. Evil asking for $100 billion dollars. But Smith was demanding three times more than the comically high amount Dr Evil demanded and it is no laughing matter to other Canadians, who will not be held hostage to Premier Smith’s magical thinking.

Almost immediately after Smith announced she planned to gamble the pension security of Albertans many of us reminded her that those CPP holdings are people’s money earned throughout their careers and secured in the top performing pension fund in the world, the CPP. Canadians outside Alberta, including many provincial premiers, cautioned Smith that her scheme was not going to be taken lightly by Canadians who would stand to lose their savings in order to pay off Smith’s ransom demand. Albertans told Smith and her government that not only were they not interested in handing her the keys to their retirement security, they also saw at least a million better ways to spend the government’s time and money than a huge ad campaign meant to bamboozle Albertans. 

My inbox is stuffed with emails opposing an APP, my phone is ringing off the hook with concerned Albertans, and I cannot get more than a few steps before someone stops me to tell me what a bad idea it is and how they cannot imagine what the UCP are thinking.

 I know that if I am hearing this much blowback on the idea of an APP then it is no different for UCP MLAs. They are hearing the tens of thousands of Albertans who have categorically rejected Danielle Smith’s premise. 

The idea is bad, the report is misleading, the formula they employ in the report is deeply flawed, and the conclusions they reach are transparently unreasonable. And, as if lying to Albertans with this consultation and report was not bad enough, the UCP ad campaign, using our tax dollars, hopes to convince you that water is wine and down is up. Frankly, Albertans will not fall for it. 

There are a few things you can do if you would like to make your voice heard on this. First off is to go to Albertasfuture.ca where we are hosting a very simple survey that asks you the one thing Danielle Smith’s was too afraid to ask: Should Alberta leave the Canada Pension Plan? It then provides you space to share your thoughts about why you think that. 

 Secondly, make sure to email me and UCP MLAs to let them know your opinion. They need to hear it so often that they beg Premier Smith to withdraw the scheme.

What gives me hope is the call I got from a pensioner in Lethbridge who said she had no idea why the UCP were spending all this money on an ad campaign designed to convince Albertans that we would be entitled to half the CPP assets. 

She told us she wanted that ad money (already over $7 million) to go to addressing homelessness, sky high electricity rates, and the overcrowded school classrooms and ER waiting rooms. She concluded, “this Premier has not earned my trust after all these shenanigans with coal, labs, and now pensions. I won’t let her gamble away my money.” As always, contact me at lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca or 403-329-4644 with your concerns.

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Dennis Bremner

Why do you think that other premiers are opposing this? They are telling you it would cause bigger payments for those left behind, right? Why would that be Ms Phillips? Could it be that if we get the amount we are entitled too that somehow leaving the CPP will cause other provinces to make up the difference per pensioned person that Alberta was contributing, which is called OVERCONTRIBUTING?
Does that not support Smiths position? You suggest we should not trust Smith when we have no facts, but trust you when you have NO facts? We trusted you once before, you said you were going to do all kinds of things for Southern Alberta and did not fund any of the AMAZING projects you WERE going to do.
I prefer to wait for the facts, you prefer to continue to live in a famtasy land lacking facts. You poll the NDP party (30,000) voters and ask them to tell you what you want to hear. This is a democracy Phillips you should try it!

The Dude

If one is going to make the “Alberta is Being Fleeced” argument, then let’s take a longer, more comprehensive view. We could start with the millions of dollars poured into Alberta by the PFRA after the Great Depression. We should also consider John Diefenbaker’s National Oil Policy, under which consumers from The Ottawa Valley west paid 10 to 15% more for petroleum products in order to support development of Alberta’s Oil Patch. And while we’re at it, let’s calculate the cost of educating the thousands upon thousands of professionals, knowledge workers, researchers, scientists, and others who came to Alberta from other provinces.

SophieR

Good points, Dude. There’s a lot to be said about being a Canadian.

The Dude

Yes, and historical literacy has its place in such discussions. And complex questions seldom lend themselves to simple answers or superficial analyses.

buckwheat

Yep, 30000 of which 27000 indicated in your survey requiring updated voter information to do, also indicates the following: 27000 represents 1.5% of the population that voted in the last election. As polls go the added plus or minus is what you always hear at the end. Being generous in that equation it can mean that either .5% agree or 2.5% agree. Now we will have to see this on the Herald web page for let me guess, 3 weeks????? Again, this is a democracy, you should be for letting people vote. So children should be required to pay an extra 1400 year due to your disagreement with the UCP government? Ok. At least they are knocking down that 70 billion debt you left us with.

HaroldP

OMG, once again, this time on an opportune day “Halloween” Mrs. Phillips is trying her best to scare us! Nice try, but no cigar Mrs. Phillips…. for now, you best get to your telephone/emails and answer them!!! it would be a first, as you have NEVER returmed or answered any of mine or others who have told me that you are impossible to contact!

Last edited 8 months ago by HaroldP
Southern Albertan

Agreed, Shannon Phillips, and so do we and our elderly UCP voting neighbours! Even they, can see that the Smith UCP proposed APP is a bad, fantasy deal.

Last edited 8 months ago by Southern Albertan
buckwheat

Yes they do live in a fantasy land where they think that having a vote in democracy with a possible end result of more in their pockets isn’t worthwhile, That’s not fantasy, but blind ignorance and supporting a non vote referendum. Hey, it is simple seniors, vote, if it goes, live with it, if it doesn’t, live with it, and go back to crying about how the government isn’t doing enough for poor seniors. The NDP will love you/. Lol. Live the ideology.

Last edited 8 months ago by buckwheat
SophieR

For all the people here who wanted an opt-out option for garbage collection, I’m surprised that there is no talk of it for the CPP. Ideological blindness is an interesting phenomenon.

buckwheat

Big difference, may get to vote in a referendum versus garbage ideology shoved down throats without a vote b

SophieR

The ‘referendum’ was an election where waste management was raised as an issue – a courtesy not extended by the UCP only six months ago for The Firewall Doctrine.