The Report

Understanding an Alberta Pension Plan

In response to a recommendation by the Fair Deal Panel, Alberta Treasury Board and Finance contracted LifeWorks to prepare an analysis of the costs, benefits, and structure of a potential Alberta Pension Plan.

Alberta forest with dirt path leading forward

The research provides a clearer picture of what a future APP could look like and helps answer key questions about the costs and benefits of such a move.

Can Alberta withdraw from
the Canada Pension Plan?

Yes. Under the federal Canada Pension Plan Act, Alberta can withdraw from the CPP by giving written notice it intends to set up its own provincial pension plan. That pension plan must meet three conditions:

Provide benefits which are at least as good as the benefits provided by the CPP;

Assume all obligations and liabilities for CPP members in Alberta; and

Be in place at the start of the third year after notifying the federal government.

Support from other provinces isn’t needed for Alberta to withdraw from the CPP. Legislation to create an Alberta Pension Plan must be passed at least one year before the plan commences.

Key benefits of an APP


Albertans would receive the same or better benefits they currently have under the CPP, at less cost. The security of those benefits would be dramatically improved under an APP, due to the large pool of money that is expected to be transferred from the CPP to launch an APP.

This significant asset transfer would create a large enough fund that would provide and sustain benefit payments for the next 75 years – helping Albertans now, as well as their families and children. It may also allow Alberta to improve benefits, so Albertans receive more support when they retire than they do under the CPP. Currently, a Canadian retiring at age 65 receives an average monthly pension of $760.07 from the CPP. The maximum retirement pension is $1,306.57 each month.

Contribution rates for base benefits

The report concluded that an APP could save Albertans and employers about $5 billion alone in the first year – with significant savings year after year through lower contribution rates.

  • The current contribution rate for base CPP benefits is 9.9% split between employees and employers.
  • The report shows the minimum cost to fund an APP and provide base benefits would be 5.91%. The actual contribution rate would still need to be set and could be slightly higher to give a funding buffer.
  • This rate would mean yearly contribution savings up to $1,425 for every Alberta employee and employer, or $2,850 for those self-employed.
  • Alternatively, some of those savings could be used to improve benefits.

Contribution rates for additional benefits

The CPP was expanded in 2019 to provide additional benefits and an APP would be required do the same. Because the additional contributions that fund these expanded benefits have had a much shorter time to build up, APP contribution rates for these additional benefits are expected to be similar to those for the CPP. 

APP logo navy



The report made its cost calculations based on a hypothetical start date of January 1, 2027. The actual start date has not been set.

The report uses the national economic and demographic assumptions used by the CPP to keep the analysis consistent.


The report estimates that Alberta would be entitled to a $334 billion asset transfer from the CPP in 2027. This total reflects the amount Albertans have contributed to the plan, minus benefits paid to Albertans since the CPP’s creation in 1966, minus some administrative costs, plus investment returns on that amount. This total asset transfer would be the value of an APP if it had always existed from day one.

Contributions of Albertans to the CPP historically exceed the benefits paid to Albertans because of our younger working population, higher employment rates, and higher pensionable earnings compared to the rest of Canada. An APP would keep those contributions in Alberta, for Albertans.


It would take time to implement and deliver an APP. The release of the report is only the first step of the analysis.

Many steps are still required before an APP could be established.

  1. Alberta’s government will conduct an engagement and consultation with Albertans to determine whether there is sufficient interest in holding a referendum on establishing an APP.
  2. Alberta would need to give written notice it intends to withdraw from the CPP.
  3. Alberta’s government would draft legislation to set up the APP.
  4. Alberta’s government would develop agreements to coordinate benefits with the CPP, the Quebec Pension Plan, and international social security agreements for Albertans who are working and living abroad.


Transition costs and ongoing operating expenses can vary considerably and are dependent on the approach selected. Setup costs are estimated to range between $100 million and $1 billion based on the various options. The low end assumes existing CPP providers would be used and the high end assumes a new provider would be used.

Initial ongoing annual related costs would range between $100 million to $150 million based on the different options.

In addition, costs to implement the investment management structure could be up to $1.2 billion.

Moving forward with an APP

Albertans will decide whether or not to move forward with a provincial pension plan.

Public consultations are currently paused while the province waits for more information from the chief actuary of Canada on how much Alberta would be owed should it withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan. However, in the fall of 2023, an engagement panel spoke with and collected questions and comments about a proposed provincial pension plan from more than 76,000 Albertans who participated in five telephone town hall sessions. The panel also received feedback from more than 94,000 Albertans who completed an online survey. Feedback from Albertans, employers, and stakeholders will determine if an APP should go to a referendum.

Alberta’s government also passed the Alberta Pension Protection Act in the fall 2023 legislative session. The legislation locks in government’s promise that a decision on an Alberta Pension Plan will be made by Albertans in a referendum. It also guarantees the same or lower contributions, the same or better benefits, and ensures the assets transferred can only be used for the provision of a pension.

Albertans will decide if we change plans

We are here
2020 – June
Fair Deal Panel
Recommendation made to the Province by the Fair Deal Panel to develop a comprehensive plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan (APP).
We are here
Report Development
LifeWorks, a national consultants firm recognized as a leader in actuarial and benefit analyses in Canada since 1966, is contracted to develop a report on an APP.
We are here
2023 – Sept
Report Released
The full APP report has now been shared with Albertans, who can provide input through the engagement panel’s public engagement sessions and online survey.
View Full Report
We are here
2024 – May
Panel Report Due
Feedback and recommendations from the engagement panelists will be shared with Alberta’s government.
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Possible Referendum
If a referendum were held, Albertans would vote on whether or not to change from the CPP to an APP.