Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey happened to be in the Fort McMurray area of Alberta when he learned details of the province’s recent pension announcement.
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 about his reaction to the announcement. “And it’s rudimentary at this particular time, but I think what’s accepted is that it would be punitive to many different jurisdictions across the country.”
Furey said it would be premature to draw 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 that you can’t withdraw half of the CPP and not expect it to have a ripple effect across the country,” he said.
Alberta’s report says the province could be entitled to a transfer of assets worth $334 billion from the Canada Pension Plan in 2027, which would represent more than half of the fund’s income. estimated total net assets.
That figure generated skepticism among economists and Michel Leduc, senior managing director at CPP Investments, which invests on behalf of the CPP. On Thursday, Leduc called the $334 billion an “impossible number.”
Furey said he was in Alberta at a job fair aimed at attracting people from the National League east. The province of Furey, like Alberta, is an energy-producing province contemplating a transition to a green economy.
He requested a meeting with Prime Minister Danielle Smith today, which was accepted. The two had a productive meeting where they discussed a number of issues of shared interests, including the pension plan, Furey said.
“In my opinion, Canada works best 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 must make sure [that] like any area or region of the country [are] doing well, [they are] taking care of other regions that are not.”
Furey added that he supports re-evaluating the instruments within the federation that apply to the division of funds and responsibilities.
“Often we should and need to re-evaluate those instruments as an evolution, like equalization,” Furey said, adding that he did not support the proposed position for the CPP.
One of the unanswered questions remaining after the report’s release is how other Canadians might be affected (aside from Quebec, which operates its own pension plan) and how premiers outside of Alberta might react to the plan.
With that in mind, Breaking: reached out to each of Canada’s premiers and asked for comment on Alberta’s plans.
Saskatchewan Ministry of Finance officials are currently reviewing the report released by Alberta, a spokesperson said. The Saskatchewan government has not considered withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan, he added.
Other prime ministers begin to react
Asked about Alberta’s plan during a news conference related to the land swap for the province’s protected greenbelt, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had not yet had a chance to speak to the Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
“I definitely plan to do that. You know, from my point of view, 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 fighting against the smaller provinces, we are there for them. We have always been there, the territories too.
“We live in a country where everyone shares responsibilities. And we always believe in making sure we are leaders in the country on all fronts, and we will be there to always support [our] colleagues and other provinces and territories.”
When asked for additional comment Friday, a Ford spokesperson said his comments Thursday were valid today.
In British Columbia, Finance Minister Katrine Conroy expressed support for the CPP without evaluating Alberta’s proposal.
“I support a strong Canada Pension Plan for everyone, no matter where in the country they live, and continue to work with my counterparts to support it,” Conroy said in an emailed statement.
“The CPP is well-funded, well-managed and safe. Over the past 10 years, CPP investments have generated a high rate of return and the latest reviews by finance ministers across the country confirm that the CPP is sustainable for the next 75 years.
“Alberta just released its report and is in the early stages of the proposal. We will be watching and monitoring closely.”
In a statement, Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok said Nunavut recognized the importance of the CPP to Nunavummiut, and to Canadians generally, as support for people in their retirement.
“National programs like the CPP are intended to benefit all Canadians equally and work best when we work together,” Akeeagok wrote.
Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane said in an emailed statement that she does not have a position on Alberta’s announcement.
“I will note that territorial participation in the Canada Pension Plan is different from provincial participation, in that provinces can vote on amendments and choose to withdraw from the plan.”