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'They're meaningless': Surveys on proposed Alberta pension plan receive mixed reactions


Alberta’s proposed provincial pension plan is creating mixed reactions as the government asks Albertans what they want to see if the province pulls out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

It asks a series of questions in a new survey on its website, including how you feel towards retirement pension benefits, disability pension benefits and survivor pension benefits.

The government also wants you to weigh in on how savings should be used if the province ditches the national plan.

But on Monday, the opposition NDP opened its own survey asking one question: “Should Alberta leave the Canada Pension Plan?”

“Danielle Smith is using your money to lie to you in order to gamble with more of your money,” said NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips.

“I have no doubt that there will be different results because the government survey doesn't ask people if they support leaving the CPP.”

Finance Minister Nate Horner blasted the NDP’s survey saying it doesn’t help Albertans get the facts.

“The NDP provides zero context for Albertans to be able to make informed decisions about switching to an APP (Alberta Pension Plan) in their survey, which is extremely disappointing. Albertans deserve the facts,” said Horner.

“We have been clear all along: Albertans will choose what happens with their pensions. Unlike the NDP who have made it clear that they would not respect the wishes of Albertans, we will put the interest of Albertans first and respect whatever choice they make.”

A third party report commissioned by LifeWorks and released last week outlined that Alberta would be entitled to more than half of the CPP fund, or $334 billion.

Some economists and political watchers say that number is much lower, closer to 20 or 25 percent.

“If you can't rely on the numbers at the very beginning of the exercise, people are going to have serious doubts about any numbers about increased payouts, decreased premiums,” said Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University.

Think HQ Public Affairs president Marc Henry said with both the government and NDP offering a chance for Albertans to weigh in on the plan, no real data can be collected on how Albertans truly feel about an APP.

“From a statistical point of view, they're meaningless,” he said.

“They haven't been done with any sort of methodological rigor that would allow you to say that this is a generalization about the entire population.”

Henry adds that a survey Think HQ conducted in March found that 30 percent of respondents were in favour of a provincial plan, with nearly 60 percent opposed.

“The government’s website maybe has some questions that seem obvious that aren’t there,” said Henry.

“A lot of times with these online, self selected surveys, you can get people who do them 100 times if they want to.”

A referendum in 2025 has been promised by the province before a decision is made in regards to implementing an APP.

If Alberta decided to leave the CPP, three years notice is needed before withdrawing, which would come after May 2027, the next provincial election.

Alberta’s NDP said it would scrap the APP, even if Albertans voted in favour of it. Top Stories

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