With the aim of educating the public about the benefits of the Canada Pension Plan versus the proposed Alberta Pension Plan, Public Interest Alberta (PIA) held a Town Hall on the CPP at the Eleanor Pickup Arts Centre.

Carolyn Schoepp, one of the organizers of the event, explained to attendees that Bradley Lafortune, a director for PIA, had been invited to offer more information about issues related to Alberta.

The PIA website describes their organization as a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that focuses on getting information about key issues out to as many Albertans as they can. Lafortune says it was started by a couple of different organizations, one of which was the Alberta Teachers Association, and has been supported by public sector unions, non-profits, and other individuals across the province.

“We liked that Public Interest Alberta is not tied to any political party or corporation,” said Schoepp. “They’ve been advocating for the public interest for 20 years.”

The subject of the Town Hall was to educate those in attendance about “the facts on the Canada Pension Plan and why the proposed APP will hurt Albertans’ retirement security.”

Lafortune spoke for a half-an-hour, giving information about the CPP. He made it clear that the group is indeed non-partisan, but that the group has a certain perspective on the issue that others may or may not agree with.

“I’m not here to set the record straight, per se, but I am here to maybe give an alternative point of view,” said Lafortune.

He explained the CPP as a “pay as you go plan,” one that is paid into until retirement, and then received back from the plan. 

“The beauty of the plan is that it has been secured sustainable for a long, long time,” he says.

Lafortune says that the Canadian Government has increased contribution rates for the CPP as part of their Canada Pension Plan Enhancement, which they started in 2019.

The government website, www.canada.ca, says that prior to 2019, retirees received 25 percent of their average work earnings as their pension. They are working toward raising that number to 33 percent. 

The website states, “Up until 2019, the CPP retirement pension replaced one quarter (25 percent) of your average work earnings. We determine this average on your earnings from employment or self-employment up to the maximum earnings limit in each year. Other sources of income, such as the Old Age Security program, workplace pensions and private savings, make up the rest of your retirement income.

“The enhancement means that the CPP will begin to grow to replace one third (33.33 percent) of the average work earnings you receive after 2019. The maximum limit of earnings protected by the CPP will also increase by 14 percent between 2024 and 2025.”

As such, higher income earners will have a new limit on their contributions known as the “year’s additional maximum pensionable earnings.”

Lafortune says there were concerns about the sustainability of the CPP in the 90s because essentially the contribution rates weren’t enough to keep the plan sustainable for the number of Canadians paying into it.

He says in 1997, the government started addressing the issue by adjusting the contribution rates.

“But the most recent tri-annual report shows that CPP is sustainable for a 75 year projection period,” says Lafortune.

He says the program is rated as one of the world’s top performing pension plans. He says there are members from the CPP Investment Board, who are asked to speak to other governments about the plan.

Lafortune says the plan started in 1965 and Quebec wasn’t included because at that time, they weren’t certain if they would be remaining as part of Canada. Instead, Lafortune says, they created their own plan.

He says PIA would like to see more information from the Alberta Government regarding the proposed Alberta Plan as there are a lot of questions surrounding implementation, its comparative benefits, and whether it was feasible.

Lafortune says he has heard complaints about the lack of information from the premier at the time of her election. He also says the Lifeworks Report, which he says the UCP are basing much of their information off of, has been panned by critics across the province.

According to Lafortune, one of the perks of the CPP is that it follows Canadians as they move from province to province. However, if Alberta had their own plan, he says they would need to have something in place to address Alberta’s emigrants. He says in his opinion, he doesn’t see that working out well, especially if other provinces opt out of the CPP.

After his presentation, Lafortune fielded questions from attendees who were pro-APP and others who were pro-CPP. There was some complaint that there weren’t any positives mentioned about the APP or drawbacks about the CPP. 

Lafortune says PIA believes staying with the CPP is the optimal choice for Albertans, but says there isn’t enough information released about the APP to know whether or not there are benefits to that program.

Anyone looking for more information on the CPP can visit www.canada.ca for an overview or https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/ and find the Act in their database. For the APP visit https://www.albertapensionplan.ca/ or https://www.alberta.ca/pensions. Information on PIA can be found at https://www.pialberta.org/.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 15, 2024 at 09:48

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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