Universities’ pensions move shows folly of UCP’s Bill 22 – AFL

Kenney undermined ability of Alberta’s biggest pensions to get the best deal for workers and retirees

EDMONTON – Alberta’s universities’ pensions board pulled funds from Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) on recommendation of its investment committee, a move that shows the folly of the Kenney government’s Bill 22, which disallows other public pension funds from doing the same thing: getting the best possible returns for members and retirees.

“Without consultation, the Kenney government unilaterally decided that AIMCo would be the sole monopoly provider of investment services for hundreds of thousands of Alberta public-sector workers’ pensions,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, the province’s largest labour advocacy organization. “In doing so, he undercut pension plan boards’ responsibility to run the plans in the most fair and responsible manner possible. He undermined the independence and long-term viability of the pensions that hundreds of thousands of Albertans rely on in their later years.”

“The move by the universities’ pensions board to go with a manager other than AIMCo shows how risky Jason Kenney can be to the retirement savings of hundreds of thousands of Alberta workers. The universities’ pensions board went with a different fund manager after AIMCo purportedly missed investment targets, but the boards for pensions like the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) and the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Funds (ARTF) are disallowed from doing the same.”

McGowan referred to a report by Alberta blogger Kim Siever which showed the Universities Academic Pension Plan switched fund managers for their public equity funds after AIMCO failed to meet benchmarks.

“Alberta’s public-sector pension boards should be able to shop around for the best investment management possible, especially if their confidence undermined by unprecedented losses on a risky investment strategy, like we saw with AIMCo last year when it lost $2.1 billion,” says McGowan. “That confidence might also be undermined by politicization by Premier Jason Kenney threatens to pull Albertans funds out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and reinvest them in AIMCo, a move that has more to do with Kenney’s obsession with Ottawa politics than it does with Albertans’ retirement security.”

“Alberta unions will not sit idly by while the Kenney government chips away at Albertans’ ability to retire with stability and dignity. We fought for decades to bring independence to public-sector pension boards, but with a stroke of a pen, Kenney signed that away with Bill 22. That’s why we’ll soon take the Kenney government to court to stop his pension grab.”


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL