The decision to pull our retirement savings out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a big one. For most Albertans, the Canada Pension Plan will be their main source of retirement income. Albertans should have reliable information about the effects of moving our retirement savings from the stability of the CPP to a smaller Alberta stand-alone pension plan. Should we leave, the decision is final. There’s no going back.
We’re not getting reliable information from the Danielle Smith government. Instead of answers, we get more questions.
If something sounds too good to be true…
Questions must be asked about the centerpiece of the UCP’s big advertising campaign, the claim that Alberta is entitled to $334 billion from CPP’s pooled assets if we leave to start a smaller pension. How realistic is it that Alberta, with about 12% of Canada’s population, is entitled to more than half of the CPP’s assets?
This asset-transfer number is important here. As with any pension, the size of its assets determines its ability to weather the ups and downs of the economy, its benefit and contribution levels, and its costs. Bigger is better with pensions and with the CPP, Canadian workers have pooled their assets into one of the best public pensions in the world that gets excellent returns for workers.
The UCP government based their entire advertising campaign on the idea that Alberta could get $334 billion (more than half) of the Canada Pension Plan assets if we leave. They point to one report from a company called Lifeworks. But that report’s numbers have been called into question by experts and disputed the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, respected economists, and even the previous UCP leader.
To reiterate: no other source has verified the numbers in the UCP’s Lifeworks report, but the opposite. Experts and other reports show we’d get far less than what Danielle Smith says we will, most of them in 16% to 20% range.
Danielle Smith waffles on her own numbers
The UCP campaigned on this huge and unrealistic number for the better part of a month, but now things have changed. And with the change, more questions.
On October 25, Danielle Smith contradicted her previous statements that stood by the LifeWorks report numbers, now saying that the $334 billion number is not firm. Smith said, “We’re hearing from people. They want to know what the number will be.” Adding, “Albertans will have a hard number.”
If the UCP government does not have a “hard number” now, what is the point of their multi-million advertising campaign touting that number around and basing their “survey” and “public engagement” on it? Has the government been campaigning on made-up numbers?
Smith seems to admit that the campaign to convince Alberta workers to pull our retirement savings out of the Canada Pension Plan has been designed to mislead, rather than inform.
Albertans are speaking up. Tens of thousands have written to their government, signed petitions and demanded better answers from the premier. If this government is really listening, they will drop their expensive public persuasion campaign paid for with our tax dollars and focus on real ways to make life more affordable and retirement more secure for Albertans.