Have questions?

Find answers to our most frequently asked questions below & learn more about the details of a possible Alberta Pension Plan.

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Starting the conversation

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Introducing legislation to
protect Albertans’ pensions

This is your pension, your choice. This fall, the Minister of Finance will introduce an act that, if passed, will put that promise into law.

This will be done in four ways:

Alberta will not withdraw from the CPP without first holding a referendum,

Assets transferred from the CPP to Alberta will be used ONLY for the establishment and operation of an APP,

Benefits under an APP will be the same or better as the CPP, and

Contribution rates under an APP will be the same or lower as the CPP.

Frequently asked questions

I’m already retired. Will I lose my pension payments/CPP benefits if Alberta leaves the federal pension plan?

You will not lose any CPP benefits you have already earned. You would continue to receive your pension from the CPP until an APP is set up and then receive the same or better pension from an APP instead of the CPP.

The provincial government has introduced the Alberta Pension Protection Act. Among other things, that legislation would ensure that there cannot be a move to an APP unless it provides benefits that are the same as CPP or better. This is also legally required under the CPP Act.

What are the risks I might lose some of my pension entitlements if I need to switch between the Canada Pension Plan and Alberta Pension Plan?

You would not lose any CPP benefits you have already earned, regardless of what pension plan you would be under.

You would receive the same or better benefits under an APP as you would under the CPP, since an APP must and would provide a set of benefits at least equivalent to the CPP.

How portable would my pension be if I move away, come back to Alberta, or work or retire outside Alberta?

As is already the case in Quebec and the QPP, Alberta’s government would develop agreements which would ensure that you would eventually receive one pension when you retire and apply for benefits – a pension that recognizes the contributions you have made during your life, no matter what pension plan you paid into.

These agreements would ensure that you contribute to the correct pension plan, depending on your work and living experience. Other agreements would coordinate the payment oft he benefits between the CPP, QPP (Quebec Pension Plan), and an APP for people who move to Alberta, or for Albertans who leave Alberta to live, work, or retire.

And finally, international social security agreements would be developed for Albertans who are working and living abroad.

These agreements - often called reciprocal transfer agreements - are relatively common, particularly amongst public sector pension plans (including those in Alberta). Details of a transfer agreement between an APP and CPP would need to be negotiated.

Will other CPP-related benefits be reduced or lost?

No, the CPP Act makes clear that no province can exit without maintaining all CPP-related benefits.

How can Alberta just withdraw from this national pension program?

Pensions fall under provincial jurisdiction. When the provinces (other than Quebec) agreed to join the CPP in1966 they insisted on an exit clause with a formula for dividing assets, which is in the CPP Act.

Under the federal legislation, a referendum is not required, but Alberta’s government has introduced legislation to require one before enacting an APP. This legislation helps provide Albertans with confidence to know that they will get to have their say about an APP.

How can Alberta be entitled to 53% of the CPP Fund?

As the Lifeworks report shows on pages 48-50, Albertans have contributed roughly $60 billion more in premiums than they have taken in benefits. In recent years this has averaged $3 billion per year. This is more than any province, despite our modest size. This positive cashflow from Alberta is further supported by an amendment to the CPP Act in 1997 to include interest derived from contributions. When you take Alberta’s cashflow, and combine it with investment returns over decades, LifeWorks calculated that Albertans are entitled to $334 billion (Their range given data limitations is $262b-362b).

The federal government has now promised to do its own calculations, and the Alberta government has said there will be a firm asset transfer number before possibly moving forward with a referendum.

What are the risks to moving to an APP?

At present, and even over the next few decades, an APP would be on a very strong footing given our relatively young and well-employed population. In recent years Alberta workers and businesses have been paying roughly $3 billion more per year in premiums than we need for CPP benefits in Alberta. 

Because the LifeWorks model uses the same demographic assumptions as the CPP, the analysis assumes Alberta loses its advantages and looks like a typical province in 2052, but can still afford lower premiums.

There are a number of variables to consider, however, in looking past the next few decades.  Alberta could drop below average in terms of the workers-to-seniors ratio. Alberta’s pension fund could generate lower returns.Alberta could get a much lower asset transfer to start off with. One of these factors shouldn’t compromise an APP’s advantage but a combination of them could in the longer term. 

In that scenario the likeliest outcome would be slightly higher premiums for workers to maintain pension benefits on par with CPP, as in Quebec today where all those factors have been present for decades.

When is the referendum?

The government has not committed to holding a referendum and has only promised that a referendum must be held before a move to an APP could happen. If a referendum were to take place, the timeline on this website suggests 2025. Now that there has been a pledge to get a firm asset transfer number, the suggested date could change to be later.

What is Bill 2, the Alberta Pension Protection Act?

The Alberta Pension Protection Act was introduced by the Government of Alberta this fall, and is meant to provide Albertans with certain assurances about a potential APP. First and foremost, this Act, if passed, would require Alberta to hold a referendum on an Alberta Pension Plan before it could come into effect. That legislation also provides other protections–it would mandate that an APP would have to offer the same, or better, pension benefits, the same, or lower premiums, and mandate that all pension funds could only be used to establish and operate an APP.