Alberta’s UCP government is openly considering an end to our membership in the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Premier Danielle Smith refused to run on this during the election this year, despite floating the idea before the writ dropped, but has now launched her government into a scheme to leave the plan.
AUPE’s Pension Committee has opposed the idea from day one. The committee even began a campaign to stay in the CPP before the election this spring.
“Almost all of us have to work for a living, and we reasonably expect to retire comfortably at the end of our careers,” says AUPE Vice-President Darren Graham. “The Canada Pension Plan is a reliable safety net for all Canadians who reach retirement. We can’t risk losing that.”
You can help by joining our letter campaign. Send Premier Smith and Official Opposition Leader Notley a message so they know you want to stay in the CPP!
“This moment demands our attention. AUPE members and our allies must fight for our retirement security and the rights of all Albertans, just as we have in the past.”
It may seem obvious to those who are preparing for retirement, but why is the CPP so important? And why is Premier Smith’s plan so controversial?
The CPP is, perhaps obviously, important for more than just Albertans. It is a piece of retirement security that Canadians depend on from coast to coast to coast. The only exception is Quebec, which manages its own plan which has higher contribution rates. We all contribute to the plan, which has over $570 billion in assets which we can access when we retire or become unable to work.
Leaving the CPP could also affect other pension plans, including the Local Authorities Pension Plan and Public Service Pension Plan, which many AUPE members belong to as well. These pensions are calculated using several factors, including the CPP's Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings. Basically, this means big changes to the CPP, or leaving it completely, could have major impacts on our other pension plans.
“There are a lot of downsides to leaving the CPP,” says Graham. “The government is even suggesting that a private entity take control of their proposed Alberta Pension Plan. You can see it by the way they talk about private administration of the plan in their shoddy survey.”
The supposed benefits of creating an Alberta Pension Plan are uncertain at best, and uncertainty is not the foundation on which to radically reshape the entire province’s retirement security. Regardless, Albertans cannot afford to lose their pensions as collateral damage in a struggle between the provincial and federal governments.
Our union is one of many organizations raising alarms over the government’s pension schemes. One such organization is Public Interest Alberta, or PIA. AUPE and PIA have supported each other for several years. Most recently, PIA’s Executive Director, Bradley Lafortune, spoke at our 2023 Convention.
PIA’s new campaign, Save Our CPP, is similar to our own Pension Committee’s initiative, including a petition Albertans can sign to show support for keeping Alberta in the CPP.
PIA also held a public town hall on Nov. 23 where participants discussed what they fear leaving the CPP would mean for them. Participants were able to speak freely and ask questions of the panel PIA assembled to speak on the issue, including union organizer Deanna Ogle, economist Bob Ascah, and journalist Sheila Pratt.
Organizers of all kinds, including AUPE activists, know that conversations about the issues that matter with the people we care about are the foundation of any successful campaign. This is the kind of community engagement we need to help us fight for our pensions. AUPE members know this more than anyone, as we held several town halls a decade ago when former Premier Alison Redford threatened the Public Service Pension Plan and Local Authorities Pension Plan.
“This moment demands our attention,” says Graham. “AUPE members and our allies must fight for our retirement security and the rights of all Albertans, just as we have in the past.”
Send a message to the politicians
Send Premier Smith and Official Opposition Leader Notley a message so they know you want to stay in the CPP!