Alberta labour group launches campaign for CPP reform

A campaign for "real" pension reform has been launched in Alberta by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and the Canadian Labour Congress, hoping to persuade the provincial government to change its mind and join the growing consensus around expanding the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

"A crisis in retirement income is looming in Canada and it will not spare Albertans, despite claims made by Finance Minister Ted Morton," said Gil McGowan, president of the AFL.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty support expanding CPP, along with nine provinces, seniors groups, student groups, economists and labour groups, said the AFL, and there's hope a ground-breaking agreement can be reached when Canada's finance ministers gather in Kananaskis, Alb., next month.

"Alberta, however, is acting as a spoiler and standing in the way of real reform," said McGowan. "The only other dissenting voices are coming from banks and insurance companies who want to keep charging outrageous fees for their under-performing retirement planning services."

Morton is out of step with Albertans when he claims they don't want or need CPP expansion and any reform should be left to private industry, said the AFL. More than three-quarter (78 per cent) of Albertans don't believe they have made adequate arrangements for their retirement and 67 per cent don't believe banks and insurance companies should be chosen over CPP to run an expanded pension system, found a recent AFL poll. In addition, 71 per cent said Morton and the Alberta government should allow changes to CPP.

The AFL also released a report by economist Hugh MacKenzie that shows Albertans need pension reform more than other Canadians. Titled It IS Broke - So Fix It!, the report finds Albertans are less likely to be covered by an employer pension plan and those with pension coverage are likely to have inferior coverage compared to other Canadians. Only 11 per cent have a defined benefit plan and 38 per cent of Albertans contributed to an registered retirement savings plan in 2008, with a median contribution of $3,200 per year.

As part of the campaign, the AFL also launched a website to focus attention on the issue.

Canadian HR Reporter, Wed Nov 17 2010

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