Why We Should Care About Alberta Pension Reforms | by Gina Wicentowich

I left my apartment Tuesday morning and grabbed the Globe and Mail, along with my 8am coffee. Now that I reside in the urban jungle of Toronto I rarely see Albertan affairs stretched across the front-page of newspapers. But this morning I was intrigued to see the featured headline:

Alberta tackles pension costs.”

Premier Alison Redford’s government is taking aggressive measures to solve $7.4-billion in unfunded liabilities. Now, many of us students may not understand or have knowledge about Alberta’s current public pensions. What we should know is that these reforms will affect us. We should care. It will have a critical impact on our parents, our futures, and our children’s futures.

What you need to know

Alberta has four public pension plans:

  • Local Authorities Pension Plan
  • Public Service Pension Plan
  • Management Employees Pension Plan
  • Special Forces Pension Plan

The dramatic proposal would:

  • Halt benefit increases until 2021
  • Decrease the rate of cost-of-living adjustment from 60 per cent to 50 per cent
  • Discourage early retirement by erasing incentives
  • Introduce a cap on contribution rates for the government and government workers

This means we will have to work longer and receive less retirement benefits.

Why?

Well, all the provinces in Canada are instigating reforms to accommodate expensive pension programs. They are running out of money for these expenses. This explains why Ontario and New Brunswick introduced innovations to their public pensions. But Alberta’s reforms will be the most dramatic.

That makes you pause for a second, doesn’t it?

We must consider that The Progressive Conservative government is legislating these changes as opposed to negotiating. Did you also know that this government is facing close to a $2-billion deficit?

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, has emerged as a vocal critic against the proposed pension reforms.

“If the government wants to make deep cuts and sweeping changes to pension plans…then we feel strongly that they have an obligation to prove that there is a crisis, and demonstrate that there’s no alternative to these kinds of cuts.”

We need to be aware of what kind of pension reforms the government is planning to legislate because it will have an impact on our future, and the future of Alberta.

 

Gina is the Lifestyle editor for The Wanderer. 

Image courtsey of Den Flo on flickr.

Related posts: