Hands off our pensions

Our retirement security is under attack

Every day, in every corner of our province, millions of working Albertans make contributions to funds designed to provide them with some measure of security in their retirement years. For example, all workers pay 5.1 per cent of their wages into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  These contributions are matched by their employers. Most public-sector workers pay an additional 10 per cent of their salaries into their workplace pension plans. It is these huge pools of personal savings that Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government have targeted with
Bill 22.

In the case of the CPP, the UCP wants to redirect the billions of dollars that Albertans contribute to the plan every year into a new Alberta-only plan. Experts agree that it would cost millions to withdraw from CPP and set up and run a separate Alberta plan.  They also agree that an Alberta-only plan would be less portable and more vulnerable to economic downturns.

In the case of the Alberta Teachers Retirement Fund (ATRF), the UCP wants to essentially expropriate the money that teachers have been managing for themselves and put into the hands of AIMCo, the money manager owned by the provincial government. The teachers have made it clear that this is not their preference. And in the case of Alberta’s biggest public-sector pension plans – the Local Authorities Pensions Plan and the Public Services Pension Plan – the UCP wants to assert government control over the pension boards and remove the option that the plans currently have of switching fund managers in the event they lose confidence in AIMCo. The thing that all of these changes have in common is power. The UCP wants to control the billions and billions of dollars that millions of individual Albertans have been saving diligently for their own retirements.

In response to this blatant grab for money and control, we, the representatives of more than 300,000 working Albertans, have a three-part message for the Premier and members of his government.

First, this isn’t the UCP government’s money.  It belongs to the millions of Albertans who saved it month after month, year after year.  How can a party that styles itself as a champion of individual rights be so cavalier with other people’s money?

Second, the UCP government doesn’t have permission. They never mentioned sweeping changes to Alberta’s retirement system in the recent election:  they don’t have a mandate for any of this.

Third, the UCP government don’t have the confidence of the people who this money really belongs to.

Working Albertans did not ask the UCP to interfere in the administration of their pensions, nor do they have confidence that they will run those plans in a fair or responsible way. For these reasons, on behalf all working Albertans, we demand that Jason Kenney and the UCP government keep their hands off our retirement savings!