Braid: UCP pension drive misleads Albertans to make some extent throughout the nation

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Why is the UCP’s pension reform pitch so wildly unrealistic?

Two potential causes: both they’re full idiots, or they’ve bigger targets in thoughts.

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The mass mailing to Alberta households that began touchdown Thursday provides loads of clues.

It continues to repeat the fiction of Alberta being owed greater than $300 billion from the Canada Pension Plan.

No person, not even the drivers of this steamroller, believes such a sum might be extracted from the CPP. No provincial or federal chief exterior Alberta has voiced a phrase of help, solely alarmed opposition.

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However the card within the mailbox insists that an Alberta plan would save $5 billion a 12 months. Staff and corporations would pay $1,425 much less in annual contributions to an Alberta pension.

And this technique could be so flush that Albertans may get a “giant bonus cost” after they retire.

It’s all primarily based on the imaginary $334 billion. The UCP is utilizing probably the most excessive numbers, primarily based on a number of potential interpretations of the Canada Pension Plan Act

The mailout has all of the bluster of a marketing campaign promise that can by no means be stored. This a actually a marketing campaign, however it’s not likely in regards to the pension in any respect.

The UCP is attempting to point out how a lot the province has contributed, and the way the nation would endure if the federal Liberals suppress the economic system with local weather measures and direct management of useful resource tasks.

That primary message has been always repeated for a few years by Alberta conservative governments. Canadians elsewhere are used to it. They nod and tune out.

However the pension shock therapy appears to threaten the retirement advantages for different Canadians. Actual cash from actual individuals.

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The nation has snapped awake. A nationwide assembly of finance ministers might be held to get solutions from Alberta.

Danielle Smith
Danielle Smith, Premier, Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance and Jim Dinning, chair, Alberta Pension Plan Report Engagement Panel launch an impartial report on a possible Alberta Pension Plan in Calgary on Wednesday, September 20, 2023. Picture by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

I don’t imagine there’s been been such a visceral response to something Alberta has accomplished for the reason that late Progressive Conservative Premier, Peter Lougheed, lower oil shipments to Ontario refineries within the spring of 1981.

Just like the pension drive, Lougheed’s startling transfer threatened individuals’s day by day lives. That basically will get consideration, way over any legalisms in regards to the structure or federal laws.

With its pension demand the UCP affords no sympathy to the remainder of Canada, not a phrase about how different individuals’s pensions is likely to be affected if Alberta makes off with greater than half the CPP belongings.

Many Albertans are offended by that omission, together with me. However that too appears calculated.

The message will not be meant to be light. It’s meant to ship a stark sign to the nation, in addition to please the the Free Alberta and Take Again Alberta individuals in Premier Danielle Smith’s celebration.

From each these views, it’s most likely working.

Albertans do pay extra into the nationwide pension plan – and in addition employment insurance coverage – than different Canadians. As a result of the inhabitants is youthful and extra recurrently employed, additionally they take much less out.

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However this isn’t federal oppression. It’s a direct results of increased normal prosperity and wage ranges. We pay extra as a result of we’ve extra.

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The premier and her ministers know this full nicely. In addition they notice, and by no means point out, that the CPP is a federal discount with people, not with provinces. However they declare the CPP cash as if it belonged to the provincial authorities.

Remarks in 2019 from Ben Eisen, a senior fellow on the UCP-friendly Fraser Institute, gave a prescient view of the UCP’s pondering at the moment.

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“Now, there’s nothing improper with Alberta paying extra in taxes than it receives in packages and companies—that is primarily as a result of per-capita incomes within the province are nonetheless increased than wherever else in Canada,” he wrote.

“Nonetheless, it’s essential for Canadians throughout the nation to acknowledge the magnitude of Alberta’s contribution to the well being of the nation’s funds, and to subsequently perceive how vital a affluent Alberta is to the well-being of the nation.”

That’s precisely what all this fuss is about. Sadly, the trouble to shock Canada additionally misleads Albertans.

Don Braid’s column seems recurrently within the Herald

X: @DonBraid

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