By Kalinowski, Tim on February 20, 2020.
The Alberta New Democrats intend to hold the Kenney government’s feet to the fire over pensions, says Lethbridge West MLA and Opposition finance critic Shannon Phillips.
“We have had a number of moves that Jason Kenney has already made for public-sector workers, teachers, nurses and others, who pay into a public-sector pension plan,” she says, referring to changes introduced in Bill 22 last fall which brought public pension plans under the Kenney government’s sole administrative control. “We have already seen Jason Kenney taking unilateral moves to undermine the independence of the governance of those pensions, and it’s their money.”
The UCP said at the time the move was intended to save costs, but Albertans are rightfully leery of that stated intention, says Phillips.
The NDP is warning they also feel the UCP may have plans to pull Albertans out of the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a provincially managed fund.
“That’s our CPP,” Phillips says. “That’s our money. It’s what many of us have been paying into since we were teenagers in our first jobs, and it forms the basis of our retirement security. Albertans are very worried Jason Kenney is going to take us out of CPP and use it to play political games. To have someone playing poker with our retirement security in some kind of high-stakes game of making war on Ottawa, to distract from the fact that their economic plan has failed … That causes a lot of alarm in people.”
Phillips says she has received over 1,000 letters to her constituency office alone from people worried about the Kenney government’s plans for their pensions. She says that has been echoed across the province, and is a major reason why the NDP has launched an awareness campaign around the risks to Albertans’ retirement security prior to the spring session of the legislature. They are also supporting a private member’s bill which seeks to roll back changes made through Bill 22 last year and ensure Alberta stays in the CPP.
“I think what’s wrong with experimenting with CPP when you are a province of only three million people is it becomes risky and expensive,” states Phillips. “All the studies have shown you premiums will go up. But that does not necessarily mean you will get the same benefits.”
Additionally, the NDP has introduced a petition which allows Albertans to have their say directly on the issue. Those interested in signing on can go to YourPensionIsYours.ca.
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