‘It would be punitive’: Alberta’s pension proposal troubles N.L. premier | CBC News

‘It would be punitive’: Alberta’s pension proposal troubles N.L. premier | CBC News

Calgary·Breaking

As Alberta released its pension report on Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey happened to be in the province in the Fort McMurray area. He thought it was a good opportunity to stop and have a conversation with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

Andrew Furey said he had meeting with Premier Danielle Smith, where he discussed pension plan

Joel Dryden · CBC News

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A man wearing a suit enters into a door.

Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, pictured in a file photo. Furey happened to be in Alberta when news of the province’s pension plan broke. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey happened to be in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta when he learned the details of the province’s recent announcement about pensions.

On Thursday, Alberta released a report focused on the possibility of establishing an Alberta-only pension plan.

“We’re still doing an analysis,” Furey said in an interview of his reaction to the announcement. “And it’s rudimentary at this particular moment in time, but I think what is accepted is it would be punitive to many different jurisdictions around the country.”

Furey said it would be premature to draw any conclusions without doing a more robust analysis from Newfoundland and Labrador’s perspective, but one thing was clear to him.

“I think it’s safe to say you can’t withdraw half of the CPP and not expect to have a ripple effect across the country,” he said.

The Alberta report stated that the province may be entitled to a $334-billion asset transfer from the Canada Pension Plan in 2027, which would represent more than half of the fund’s estimated total net assets.

That figure drew skepticism from economists and from Michel Leduc, the senior managing director at CPP Investments, which invests on behalf of the CPP. On Thursday, Leduc called the $334 billion an “impossible figure.”

A crowd is pictured in a bar.

N.L. Premier Andrew Furey was in Fort McMurray, Alta., on Thursday, where he said more than 200 people attended a Newfoundland and Labrador job fair, intended to draw people back east. (Andrew Furey)

Furey said he was in Alberta at a job fair intended to draw people from N.L. back east. Furey’s province, like Alberta, is an energy-producing province eyeing a transition to a green economy.

He requested a meeting with Premier Danielle Smith today, which was accepted. The two had a productive meeting where they discussed a number of matters of shared interests, including the pension plan, Furey said.

“It’s my opinion that Canada works better when we work together, and we need to avoid working in silos. We need to avoid the often political magnetism of territorialism,” he said. “But we need to make sure [that] as any areas or regions of the country [are] doing well, [they are] looking after other regions that aren’t.”

Furey added that he is supportive of re-evaluating instruments within federation that apply to the division of funds and responsibilities.

“We often should, and need to re-evaluate those instruments as an evolution, like equalization,” Furey said, adding he didn’t support the position being proposed for the CPP.

One of the unanswered questions remaining after the release of the report is how other Canadians might be impacted (aside from Quebec, which operates its own pension plan) — and how premiers outside of Alberta might react to the plan.

With that in mind, CBC News reached out to each of Canada’s premiers, requesting comment on Alberta’s plans.

Officials in Saskatchewan’s ministry of finance are currently reviewing the report put out by Alberta, a spokesperson said. The government of Saskatchewan has not considered withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan, he added.

Other premiers begin to react

Asked about Alberta’s plan during a press conference tied to the land swap for the province’s protected Greenbelt, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he hadn’t yet had the chance to speak with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

“I definitely plan on doing that. You know, the way I look at it, Ontario is the engine of Canada. Ontario supports other provinces and territories,” Ford said. “We always believe in, being the largest province, and other provinces may be struggling the smaller provinces, we’re there for them. We’ve always been there, the territories as well.

A man speaks at a press conference.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during a press conference held Thursday. (Tara Walton/The Canadian Press)

“We live in a country that everyone shares responsibilities. And we always believe in making sure that we’re a leader in the country on all fronts, and we’ll be there to always support [our] colleagues and other provinces and territories.”

Asked for additional comment on Friday, a spokesperson for Ford said his comments from Thursday stood today.

In a statement, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said that Nunavut recognized the importance of the CPP to Nunavummiut, and Canadians more generally, as a support for people in their retirement.

“National programs like the CPP are meant to benefit all Canadians equally, and work best when we work together,” Akeeagok wrote.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joel is a reporter/editor with CBC Calgary. In fall 2021, he spent time with CBC’s bureau in Lethbridge. He was previously the editor of the Airdrie City View and Rocky View Weekly newspapers. He hails from Swift Current, Sask. Reach him by email at joel.dryden@cbc.ca

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