Edmonton - Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan released an open letter to Canada's provincial and federal finance ministers today, urging them to move ahead with reform to the Canada Pension Plan despite continued opposition from Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton.
"Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton does not speak for Albertans on the issue of retirement security," says McGowan, President of the AFL, which represents 140,000 Alberta workers.
Federal and provincial finance ministers will meet on December 20th in Kananaskis, Alberta. In recent months, a rare consensus in favour of CPP expansion has emerged among the provinces and the federal government, with the exception of Alberta.
"The rest of the country needs to know that two-thirds of Albertans disagree with Ted Morton, along with experts across the political spectrum, and ordinary Albertans from all walks of life," continues McGowan, adding that it appears some members of Morton's own Conservative caucus also disagree with his position.
The open letter to Canada's finance ministers argues that a recent Environics poll found that 66-per-cent of Albertans support an increase in CPP benefits and only 19-per-cent are opposed. On November 26th, Edmonton City Council passed a unanimous motion in favour of expanding CPP. The same week, the Calgary Herald editorial board endorsed CPP expansion without reservations.
McGowan adds that none of Alberta Finance Minister Ted Morton's claims about the negative effects of CPP expansion are supported by evidence. Rather, Albertans need CPP reform more than other Canadians - Albertans have lower workplace pension coverage than other Canadians and are able to save no more than other Canadians in RRSPs.
"Finance Minister Ted Morton has only suggested one alternative to CPP expansion - a voluntary scheme managed by the big banks and insurance companies. Polls show Albertans don't support those ideas, either," says McGowan, indicating that private, voluntary pension schemes come with extremely high fees and much more risk than the CPP.
"We urge Canadian finance ministers to do the right thing - and expand the Canada Pension Plan - as a way to ensure retirement security for all of us," concludes McGowan.
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour -cell 780-218-9888 or 780-483-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org