'Albertans want pension reform': labour leader

Albertans want pension reform, despite what the province's finance minister might say, according to the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

On Sunday, Gil McGowan wrote a letter that ran in a Charlottetown, PEI newspaper, where Canada's finance ministers are meeting to discuss pensions.

In it, he argued that Alberta's finance minister, Ted Morton, does not speak for the majority of the province with his "anti-CPP rhetoric."
"Don't believe him," McGowan wrote. "The truth is Albertans have less retirement security than many other Canadians. While only 38% of workers in Canada are covered by workplace pension plans, that number is only 33% in Alberta."

He went on to point out that Morton's predecessor, Iris Evans, has said the government needs to play a role in addressing problems with pensions, possibly even expanding the CPP.

"Don't allow Alberta's finance minister to derail pension reform for all Canadians," McGowan said. "Please support reform that focuses on expansion of Canada's most efficient, economical and portable pension vehicle - the CPP."

Morton has argued that Albertans don't support changes to Canada's pension system because "it is not a targeted response to the issue at hand.

"Rather it is an overreaction," he said recently.

He also said CPP reform might benefit the "significant minority" who aren't saving enough for retirement, but it would give "additional and unnecessary benefits" to those who have saved.

Provincial and territorial finance ministers are slated to meet in PEI Monday to discuss pension reform and other issues.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has proposed two key changes to CPP, including increasing benefits and allowing financial institutions to offer defined contribution registered pension plans.

In a letter he urged his provincial counterparts to support his plan.

Edmonton Sun, Sun Jun 13 2010
Byline: Alyssa Noel

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