With Morton out of cabinet, Alberta must reverse position on pension reform

AFL calls on government to revive CPP proposal, as poll proves it's what Albertans want With Ted Morton no longer in cabinet, it's time for the Alberta government to listen to its own citizens on pension reform and reverse its opposition to increasing Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits.

A new poll shows that two out of three Albertans want the government to work with other provinces to increasing CPP benefits and 77 per cent believe CPP benefit increases should be the top priority for improving retirement security for all Canadians.

"It is clear that the Alberta government is not doing what Albertans want," says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), which represents 140,000 workers. "Former Finance Minister Morton led the opposition to increasing CPP benefits. He pressured Canada's other finance ministers into opting for a private pooled pension plan that will benefit banks and other finance industry professionals more than it will help Canadians," he says.

"Now that Morton is no longer Finance Minister and is no longer in cabinet, the Alberta government should revert to its earlier position, where it recognized the need for pension reform and understood that increasing CPP benefits could be part of the solution. Canada's finance ministers meet again in June. It's not too late for real pension reform. We must not miss this historic opportunity."

The poll was conducted by Environics Research Group for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. It surveyed 1,012 Albertans between January 20 and January 31, with an error margin of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. It showed that only 32 per cent of Albertans agree with their provincial government's opposition to increasing CPP benefits and that 56 per cent believe the federal and provincial governments are moving too slow in making changes to Canada's pension system. A total of 59 per cent of Albertans with an opinion are against the decision to delay CPP benefit increases in favour of the proposed private pooled pension plan.

"The Alberta government has a real opportunity to listen to its people. With Morton no longer pushing the cabinet to the extreme right, the government can withdraw its opposition to increasing CPP benefits and work with the rest of the country to improve retirement security for all Canadians," says McGowan.

"It was Morton's ideological opposition to government involvement and his unbending faith in the free market that led him to push for the private-industry option. The economic collapse on 2008, led by the poorly regulated global financial investment industry, has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the market must not be allowed to decide something as important as this."

Nanton News, Sat Feb 05 2011

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