Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gambling with workers’ futures

September 22, 2023

Canada’s unions are voicing strong concerns about Conservative Alberta Premier, Danielle Smith’s playing politics with the idea of withdrawing Alberta from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), in favour of creating a provincial pension program.

“Pensions and workers’ livelihoods are too important to toy with. We cannot allow workers’ financial security to be used as a bargaining chip by elected officials. Withdrawing from the CPP in favour of a provincial plan carries significant risks and uncertainty. It’s not up to the Premier to gamble with people’s futures, simply because she thinks it might win her political points,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Canada Pension Plan is tried, true and highly valued by Albertans. For a majority of workers in Alberta and across Canada, the CPP is the only workplace pension they have. In 2016, over two-thirds of Albertans indicated they supported an expanded CPP.

The CPP pays a secure, predictable, guaranteed benefit until death, and the pension is protected against inflation. At a time when fixed retirement incomes and private pensions have been eaten away by higher prices, CPP benefits rose 6.5% in January 2023. The CPP is fully sustainable and is currently being enhanced—it will be there for Albertans, for generations to come.

The CPP is fully portable, following workers wherever they work, regardless of how often they change jobs. Canada has bilateral social security agreements with over 50 countries, to ensure full eligibility for pensionable employment, coordination and
non-duplication. In addition to the retirement benefit, the CPP also includes death benefits, survivor’s benefits, and disability benefits.

“At a time with so much other economic uncertainty, we need to protect and preserve the valuable supports we currently have, like the CPP. We should be working to ensure retirement security for all Albertans and Canadians, not jeopardizing the few secure sources of retirement security workers do have,” said Bruske. “We are committed to working with the Alberta Federation of Labour and our other affiliates in Alberta to ensure workers are well informed on the advantages of remaining within the CPP, as well as the very real risks and disadvantages of withdrawing from it.”

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