PRESS RELEASE: Poll suggests UCP could pay a heavy political price if they persist with plan to pull Alberta out of CPP


Even many UCP voters are saying “hands off our pensions!”

EDMONTON – A new poll shows that about a quarter of the Albertans who voted for the UCP in the last provincial election would be less likely to vote for the party again if Premier Danielle Smith and her cabinet persist with their plan to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

The poll also shows that 52 per cent of Albertans think the UCP is misleading them on the benefits of pulling out of CPP, compared to only 27 per cent who think the Smith government is telling the truth. A significant 28 per cent of those who voted for the UCP in the last election think Smith and the UCP are misleading Albertans on the issue.

“This poll shows that the Smith government is on very thin ice when it comes to their proposal to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan,” says Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) president Gil McGowan.

The online poll of 1,002 Albertans was commissioned by the Alberta’s largest worker advocacy organization, the Alberta Federation of Labour, and conducted by Environics Research, one of Canada’s largest and most well-respected polling firms. The survey was conducted between January 30 and February 16, 2024.

“Despite the millions of public dollars they’ve spent on ads, it’s clear that Albertans are not buying what the Smith government is selling. In fact, given the razor thin margins in many ridings in the last election, it’s pretty clear the UCP might not have won if they had actually campaigned on leaving the CPP. That should give pause to members of the UCP caucus, especially those MLAs who won by only a few hundred votes. The Premier’s continued push for this unpopular policy may be their undoing.”

Overall, the poll shows that if a referendum was held on the issue today, only 17 per cent of Albertans would vote to leave CPP and 55 per cent would vote to remain. Another 25 per cent say they’re undecided.

Other noteworthy findings from the poll include the following:

  • 79 per cent of Albertans are worried they won’t have enough to retire on.
  • 59 per cent of Albertans agree that the proposal to pull out of CPP makes them feel very anxious, including 41 per cent of UCP voters who say the plan makes them feel anxious.
  • Only 27 per cent of Albertans buy the UCP’s central argument that Albertans are “overcontributing” to CPP, while 46 percent feel this is misleading political spin.
  • Only 26 per cent of Albertans agree with the UCP argument that we should leave the CPP “to send a message to Ottawa that Albertans are done with being taken advantage of by the rest of the country.”
  • 59 per cent agree that the proposal to pull out of CPP is “all about politics, not improving retirement security of Albertans,” with only 14 per cent disagreeing.
  • An overwhelming 71 per cent of Albertans agree that they don’t want the government playing politics with their retirement security.
  • 60 per cent say they don’t trust Danielle Smith with their pension savings, versus only 17 per cent who do. Even a third of UCP voters say they don’t trust Premier Smith with their pension savings.
  • 68 per cent agree that they’re angry the Alberta government spent $8.5 million on an ad campaign to sell them on leaving the CPP, with only 12 per cent disagreeing with that statement. Even among UCP voters, 55 per cent say they’re angry about the money spent on the UCP’s ad campaign.
  • 56 per cent of Albertans agree that the Alberta government is not presenting them with objective or impartial information. Versus only 14 per cent who think they are. Even among UCP voters, 39 per cent don’t trust the information coming from the Alberta government on this topic.
  • 47 per cent of Albertans agree with the statement that the UCP’s proposal to leave the CPP is part of a long-term plan to separate from Canada. Just 17 per cent of Albertans disagreed with this statement. A significant 42 per cent of UCP voters agreed.

“The results of this poll are damning, and they show why the Smith government refused to publicly release the results of the opinion research they did themselves in conjunction with their pension virtual townhalls,” says McGowan.

“Albertans see through the UCP’s rhetoric on this issue. They know what the UCP is saying is not true. They also know what the proposal to pull out of CPP is really about: politics, not the public interest. Nobody asked for this. Nobody wants it. It was not a part of the UCP platform in the election. So why are we even considering it?

“Albertans may be divided on many issues, but they’re united on this one. They understand that the risks inherent in the UCP’s proposal are way bigger than the rewards. And they’re saying two things very clearly: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and hands off our pensions! Members of the UCP caucus should be asking themselves if they really want to follow their leader over this political cliff.”

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Link to Environics Research report can be found here.

John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL