With the Premier Danielle Smith saying her government will continue advocating for the possible creation of an Alberta pension plan (APP) and with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying his government will fight to defend the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), the battle lines are now deeply drawn.
Whether what promises to be a very expensive fight – in terms of taxpayers’ dollars – between two bitter political foes will end up benefiting Albertans in the long run remains an open question.
What is known is that with no middle ground available, the battle over who controls funding for the retirement of millions of Canadians now and down the road promises to be down and dirty.
Premier Smith has said the provincial government-commissioned LifeWorks report indicates an APP would be “fairer and could make life affordable for all Albertans.”
In an open letter to Smith released last week, Trudeau countered that Smith pushing for a possible APP creates uncertainty and instability.
“Alberta’s withdrawal would weaken the pension of millions of seniors and hardworking people in Alberta and right across the county,” said Trudeau. “The harm it would cause is undeniable.
“I have instructed my cabinet and officials to take all necessary steps to ensure Albertans – and Canadians – are fully aware of your plan and do everything possible to ensure the CPP remains intact. We will not stand by as anyone seeks to weaken pensions and reduce the retirement income of Canadians.”
Not surprisingly, Smith’s response in an open letter back to Trudeau was pointedly adversarial, saying, in part, “It is disingenuous and inappropriate for you to stoke fear in the hearts and minds of Canadian retirees on this issue.”
Although the possibility of forming an APP was not widely discussed during the recent provincial election, it has now become the subject of a major political battle between the Smith UCP and the Trudeau Liberals.
At the same time, Alberta taxpayers have, of course, yet to be asked if they even support the creation of an APP.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.