OTTAWA — An Alberta Pension Plan would cause “great uncertainty” among Albertans and Canadians at a time of an already-strained economy, according to Canada’s minister of finance.
Provincial and federal finance ministers met for an hour on Friday to discuss Alberta’s proposed withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in favour of a provincial plan.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has long called for Alberta to leave the CPP and said an Alberta pension plan would be more fair and could “make life more affordable for all Albertans.”
But numbers from a recent Abacus Data survey suggest more than half of Albertans think withdrawing from the CPP is a bad or very bad idea.
The Alberta Pension Protection Act, tabled on Thursday by provincial finance minister Nate Horner, states the province won’t establish a provincial pension plan unless Albertans vote for it in a referendum. It also proposes the same or better benefits than the CPP.
If passed, the province could leave the CPP in as little as three years.
Horner told reporters before Friday’s meeting he’s ready to listen to all sides of the debate.
“We want to hear everyone out,” he said on Thursday.
Also prior to Friday’s meeting, Freeland wrote a letter to Smith, saying Alberta, Freeland’s home province, would be making a “historic, costly and irreversible mistake” if it were to leave the CPP.
In a Friday post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, she said the Liberal government would stand up for the CPP, calling it the “bedrock of a secure and dignified retirement” for Canadians — including Albertans.
Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, which lasted roughly an hour, Freeland said Alberta has the right to withdraw from the CPP, and that it plays an essential role in Canada’s economy.
But if it were to leave the CPP, she said the province would need to negotiate national and international social security agreements that levels up to Canada’s existing pension plan.
The proposal, she said, comes at a time when the economy faces “great uncertainty.”
“Adding to that uncertainty right now is not something that would help Albertans or any Canadians,” said Freeland.
She said it’s the beginning of a longer national conversation, which is expected to happen in person within a few weeks.