Will Alberta NDP support an expanded CPP?

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In all of the media coverage of the stunning NDP win in Alberta this week, the one item that raised more questions than answers in my mind was a press release from CARP titled “Alberta Election Results make CPP increase more likely.”

A new Nanos survey conducted for The Globe and Mail reveals Canadians still overwhelming support an expanded CPP which is strongly opposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and supported by the federal opposition NDP and Liberals.

The survey found that 88% of respondents support increasing the benefits Canadians receive through the Canada Pension Plan, with 52% saying they strongly support such a move and 36% saying they somewhat support the idea. Six percent said they are somewhat opposed and 4% are opposed.

Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for the seniors group CARP told the Globe + Mail that the Nanos numbers reflect her own organization’s polling, which shows strong support for increasing the CPP.

But I could not find any evidence that Premier-elect Rachel Notley has addressed this issue as part of her election platform. Some of the policies she did campaign on are summarized here and here. And strangely, a link to the campaign promises on the Alberta NDP website says “the page you were looking for was not found.”

Reforming the CPP requires the support of two-thirds of the provinces representing two-thirds of the national population. The federal government must also support any change. In addition to Ontario, this would definitely require a buy in from Alberta and Quebec as well as some of the smaller provinces.

Because the necessary national and provincial support for an expanded CPP has been absent, Ontario’s Premier Wynn has pushed ahead with establishment of the Ontario Registered Pension Plan and legislation creating the new program was passed at the end of April. The mandatory contributions will be phased in over two years, starting with larger companies Jan. 1, 2017 before moving to smaller operations like convenience stores and dry cleaners.

Ontario wants to mirror the Canada Pension Plan as much as possible but Associate Finance Minister Mitzie Hunter told CTV News the province still would prefer to enhance the CPP instead of creating its own plan.

If Harper’s government falls in October, national CPP enhancements may still become a reality. But in the interim, it’s important to get the incoming Alberta government’s position on record and make CPP reform part of the conversation in the upcoming Federal election.

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