Thu. May 23rd, 2024

President Horner Provides Update on Alberta Pension Plan Discussions

By Fatih Sahin Dec8,2023

In a press conference today, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance, Alberta, Nate Horner, alongside former Minister of Finance and Chair of the Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel, Jim Dining, provided a comprehensive update on the ongoing public engagements regarding the potential creation of a provincial pension plan.

The discussion on the Alberta Pension Plan was initiated in 2020 following the Fair Deal Panel’s recommendations, which suggested exploring the creation of a provincial pension plan and withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). An external firm, initially Morneau-Chappelle and later known as LifeWorks, was engaged to conduct a detailed analysis of the potential plan’s costs, benefits, and structure.

The results of the report were shared with the public in the fall of the previous year, serving as a foundation for further discussions. The engagement process involved tens of thousands of Albertans reviewing the report and participating in various activities designed to gather public input.

Jim Dining, Chair of the Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel, provided an overview of the panel’s activities. He highlighted that during the five telephone town hall meetings held in October and November, around 15,000 people participated in each session, contributing over 76,000 participants in total.

Dining acknowledged the passionate responses from both supporters and opponents of the Alberta Pension Plan. While some Albertans expressed concerns about leaving the CPP and its potential impact on retirement income, others favored the idea for various reasons, including increased control, potential economic benefits, and improved financial outcomes.

However, a significant number of participants emphasized the need for more information, particularly regarding the management of the investment fund, portability of pensions, and the crucial question of Alberta’s share of CPP assets in the event of withdrawal.

Dining noted that uncertainty surrounding the asset transfer is a significant barrier to moving forward with meaningful engagement discussions. Originally intending to conduct in-person sessions in December, the panel decided to postpone until greater clarity is achieved, especially concerning the asset transfer number.

The federal government has committed to seeking the Office of the Chief Actuary’s perspective on the asset transfer. While awaiting this perspective, the panel will focus on other aspects of its mandate, such as fund management, benefits administration, and portability issues.

Minister Horner reiterated the government’s commitment to transparency and acknowledged the concerns and questions raised by Albertans regarding the potential provincial pension plan. He emphasized the importance of the Alberta Pension Protection Act, introduced early in the engagement process, to provide assurances about the security of Albertans’ future retirement.

Expressing understanding of the complexities surrounding the proposed plan, Minister Horner highlighted the need for assurances and committed to sharing information with Albertans as soon as it becomes available. He expressed hope that the Chief Actuary’s work would be completed promptly to provide additional context and assist in more productive panel discussions with Albertans.

During the Q&A session, reporters sought clarification on the investment strategy, potential use of the Quebec model, and the government’s response to public feedback. Minister Horner addressed questions about the potential range of asset transfer numbers, emphasizing the government’s commitment to respecting Albertans’ choices and providing clarity once more information is available.

As the engagement process continues, the government awaits the Chief Actuary’s perspective, anticipating that it will provide valuable insights to move the conversation forward. The ongoing public engagement aims to ensure that Albertans have the necessary information to make informed decisions about the potential creation of a provincial pension plan.

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