The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in the day-to-day lives of Albertans over the past months, including in education, employment, healthcare and a myriad of other things.
What it hasn’t done is bring the UCP government and its opponents any closer to agreement on many of the critical issues facing the province.
For example, news that the Kenney government is considering the creation of an Alberta Pension Plan (APP) has set off a political firestorm both in and outside the legislature.
Whether Albertans will have their own provincial pension plan sometime in the future remains to be seen.
What is known is that this major proposal has already sparked a down-and-dirty political fight that is sure to rage over the next many months.
The Fair Deal Panel report released last week recommended the creation of a provincial plan. For his part, Premier Kenney says there is a ‘compelling case’ for such a move.
“Albertans told us what a fair deal looks like for our province – it consists of more autonomy, better representation and a renewed respect for all provinces and territories,” said Kenney. “We are eager to take further action on the panel’s recommendations to ensure Albertans have a strong voice and a fair deal when we need it most.”
Treasury Board and Finance will develop a detailed analysis of the costs, benefits and structure of an APP, with the work to be completed by 2021, followed by a possible referendum.
Not surprisingly the NDP has reacted to the proposal with strong and heated opposition.
“Is this premier really so intent on settling the score with Ottawa that he is prepared to gamble the retirement plans and future of millions of Albertans?”' NDP leader Rachel Notley said in the legislature.
“There are tens of thousands of Alberta who are desperately worried about the future of their retirement funds in the hands of Jason Kenney,” added NDP labour critic Christina Grey.
Welcome to the great Alberta Pension Plan battle.
- Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan