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2023 Election

Risk or Reward: The Alberta Pension Plan according to the UCP and the NDP


8 minute read

Submitted by The Free Alberta Strategy Team

A Positive Pension Plan

There’s been a lot of misinformation swirling around Alberta politics in the last few months, and with the election now underway, it’s only ramped up even further.

Perhaps no issue, though, has been as misrepresented as the idea of an Alberta Pension Plan.


As of right now, the UCP says they are still studying the issue, and that any actual implementation of an Alberta Pensions Plan would be conditional on the holding of a referendum after all the research has been done and the reports that have been commissioned have been received and publicised.

The NDP, meanwhile, has completely dismissed the idea entirely, before the research has even been finished, and has spread some pretty crazy ideas around about what a provincial pension plan would mean.

We’ve heard that the provincial government is trying to “steal” Albertans’ pensions.

We’ve heard that the government would gamble all our pensions away.

We’ve heard that they’d take the money and give it to their friends.

We’ve also heard a bizarre theory that if you had an Alberta Pension Plan, you wouldn’t then be able to go and work or retire in any other province.

And all of that is, of course, simply nonsense.

No one is suggesting doing any of those things.

No one has ever suggested doing any of those things.

And, perhaps clearest of all, none of those things happen in Quebec – who already have their own pension plan, remember!

Instead, the plan is actually quite simple.

Right now, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is administered by an arm’s-length agency of the federal government.

The idea would be to replace that arm’s-length agency of the federal government with an arm’s-length agency of the Alberta government.

But, if the idea isn’t to bring the money back to Alberta in order for the Alberta government to “steal” your pension, why exactly would we want to do it?

The main reason to switch to an Alberta Pension Plan is actually fairness for Albertans.

The fact is that the Canada Pension Plan, as it is currently structured, is essentially just another massive wealth transfer from Alberta to the rest of Canada.

Remember, the “Canada Pension Plan” isn’t actually a personalized pension with your name on it.

The federal government doesn’t keep each Canadian’s money in an individual account and then pay you back with your own money when you retire.

Rather, it’s just another tax that you pay, all the money gets lumped in together, and then when you retire you get a maximum of about $15,000 back each year.

So, Alberta’s young, talented, and hard-working population ends up subsidizing the pensions of workers in the rest of the country.

And it isn’t a small subsidy either – the total subsidy between 2008 and 2017 adds up to $27.9 billion.

As of 2017, Albertans were contributing 16.5% of all pension contributions, while our retirees only accounted for 10.8% of pension payments.

And remember, that was in the middle of Alberta’s biggest economic downturn in a generation.

When we get more updated figures, the subsidy is likely to be even more significant.

Albertans are paying not only for their own pension, but also for a large share of the pensions of everyone in the rest of the country.

Creating an Alberta Pension Plan would instantly remove this subsidy, and Albertans would only pay for their own pensions, instead of for everyone else’s.

And with the subsidy gone, the Alberta government could immediately reduce pension contributions while retaining the exact same benefits retirees receive right now.

Or, they could keep the same contribution levels, while increasing the benefit payments retirees receive, or do something in between the two.

All without the Alberta government interfering in the administration of the pension plan itself.

Certainly, the concept of an Alberta Pension Plan needs much more detailed research before it can be implemented.

A significant amount of work will need to be done to ensure proper risk management and governance practices will be implemented.

And this is all work that the UCP has committed to do before making any final decisions.

But given the significant financial benefits, the fact that the NDP is willing to completely rule out the idea before even seeing the details is incredibly short-sighted.

Their opposition seems entirely based on the idea that the Alberta government would somehow “take over” and “steal” people’s pensions – without any explanation of why that would be possible with an arm’s-length provincial organization in a way that isn’t currently possible with an arm’s-length federal organization managing the money.

It’s also incredibly ironic given that, when the NDP were in power in Alberta, their government did interfere in the administration of the various government employee pensions that are currently managed by AIMCO.

(That’s a whole other story for a whole other email, but the short version is that they took away the requirement for AIMCO directors to be experienced investors, they appointed a bunch of NDP allies to the board, and then set about forcing those directors to invest the money in a bunch of environmental projects that the NDP favoured, until the UCP reversed those changes and restored the independence of AIMCO.)

An Alberta Pension Plan is one of the many proposals in the Free Alberta Strategy that can be used to protect the financial future of Albertans.

But, like any policy proposal, it requires robust research to ensure it is implemented properly.

We have a small team of researchers, funded entirely by grassroots donors like yourself, and we need your help to continue developing and promoting detailed solutions.

If you’re in a position to do so, please consider making a donation:

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2023 Election

Campaign Update – Alberta Election 2023

Published on

From the Alberta Institute

Campaign Roundup – Day 25:

  • Pierre Poilieve, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, endorsed Danielle Smith. “[Notley] will help Trudeau attack the energy sector, putting you out of a job,” said Poilieve in a video message, adding that Smith would stand up for Alberta and fight the carbon tax.
  • Adriana LaGrange, UCP Candidate for Red Deer-North, noted that the NDP removed the Red Deer Hospital expansion from their capital plan in 2018 while the UCP has invested $1.8 million into the project.
  • NDP Candidates Sarah Hoffman (Edmonton-Glenora) and Jaelene Tweedle (Red Deer-North) promised to immediately increase funding by $100 million for children with complex needs. They also promised to modernize or build 125 schools.
  • Rachel Notley announced Bill 1, 2, and 3 of an NDP government. Bill 1 will be the “Save Albertans Money Act” and will include capping power bills and auto insurance, freezing tuition, and implementing $10/day childcare. Bill 2 would repeal the Sovereignty Act, and Bill 3 is designed to prevent any future government from leaving the Canada Pension Plan.
  • Shaun Fluker, the NDP Candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane, said yesterday that when he argued in favour of the No More Pipelines bill, that he was simply representing a client. More information has since come to light though, and it turns out that Fluker intentionally sought out that client.
  • The UCP promised to dedicate $80 million over four years to a fund that would build recreation facilities in growing communities.
  • UCP Candidates Brian Jean (Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche) and Rebecca Schulz (Calgary-Shaw) held a press conference in Calgary to highlight the NDP’s poor record on the economy and how the UCP will continue to move the province forward.
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2023 Election

Alberta Election Campaign 2023: Day 22

Published on

From the Alberta Institute

Campaign Roundup – Day 22:

  • It’s May long weekend, but that didn’t stop both parties from campaigning, as early voting begins tomorrow! To locate your advance polling station, you can use this tool from Elections Alberta.
  • A new Abacus Data poll suggests that province-wide, the UCP leads the NDP 51% to 47%, while in battleground Calgary, the UCP leads 51% to 46%. Those numbers still suggest a pretty tight race, but a significant improvement for the UCP since last week’s debate.
  • Leaders, candidates, and volunteers were out in swing ridings. Rachel Notley held a rally in Calgary-Acadia, where Diana Batten from the NDP is looking to take the seat from the UCP’s Tyler Shandro.
  • Nate Horner, UCP Candidate for Drumheller-Stettler, held a press conference. He spoke to the ways that his party plans to make life more affordable for Albertans, and reminded people about the NDP’s carbon tax. He said the UCP is “extremely bullish” on nuclear energy and that he never met a tax cut he didn’t like!
  • Brian Jean, UCP Candidate for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche, touted the benefits of the Film and Television Tax Credit in helping Alberta become a first-choice destination for producers.
  • A series of clever new signs had been popping up around the province, countering the NDP’s “What Will She Do Next?” attack ads, by explaining exactly what Smith will do next. The counter-signs appear to have been so effective that the NDP are now removing their original signs. There’s an old adage in politics – never ask an open-ended question, because it lets your opponent answer it!
  • Meanwhile, NDP-aligned Calgary City Councillor Kourtney Penner clearly didn’t get the memo from Rachel Notley about keeping the woke marxism quiet for another week… Councillor Penner took to twitter to call Calgarians who support holding a fireworks show on Canada Day racists. Yes, seriously! Our friends at Common Sense Calgary are running a petition to restore the fireworks show, which you can sign here.

  • Finally, in a sweet moment of putting aside differences, Danielle Smith wished a speedy recovery to Rachel Notley’s dog, who appeared to have been in a disagreement with a porcupine.

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