February 19, 2020
EDMONTON – The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) has released a new report that outlines troubling signs that the UCP government is considering using Albertan’s pension money to invest in oil and gas projects that are having trouble finding private investors.
The report, entitled: Don’t you dare! Why working Albertans don’t trust Jason Kenney with their retirement savings, points out that banks, global investment firms and insurance companies are all becoming more cautious about investment in oil and gas and asks the question: does it make sense to ignore the caution of the experts? The report also reviews the various changes related to pensions from Bill 22, the Reform of Agencies, Boards and Commissions and Government Enterprises Act – changes that give the government more control over Alberta’s big public-sector pension plans, which are the cornerstone of retirement security for more than 350,000 working and retired Albertans.
“Overall these changes drastically undermine the independence of public sector pensions in Alberta and introduce an unprecedented level of potential political interference,” says AFL president Gil McGowan. “It is unacceptable for the government to gamble with the pension savings of hard-working Albertans and we demand the UCP repeal the applicable sections of Bill 22 that prevent these pension plans from properly managing investments through joint governance models and pension best practices.”
McGowan also says the report conveys the message union leaders have been hearing from their members: “They’re telling us to tell Jason Kenney — don’t you dare use our retirement savings to fund your political agenda!”
The Alberta Federation of Labour represents unions with nearly 100,000 members who save for their retirements through Alberta’s largest public sector pension plans, the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) and the Public Services Pension Plan (PSPP). Those unions include the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), the International Associations of Firefighters (IAFF), the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) and many others.
“As Albertans, we in the provincial labour movement recognize and appreciate the huge contribution that the oil and gas sector has made, and continues to make, to our province. We are also not opposed to our pension plans investing in oil and gas projects – as long as those projects actually make sense from both a financial and environmental point of view. However, we think it would be unwise and irresponsible to use either public dollars or the retirement savings of hundreds of thousands of Albertans to do what the markets and the global investment community are increasingly reluctant to do themselves.”
“As president of our province’s largest worker advocacy group, I firmly believe that, as citizens, we need to call the Premier out on his irresponsible and misleading characterizations of the challenges facing our province. I also firmly believe that the best way to defend the jobs, wages and livelihoods of working Albertans is to prepare the future, rather than pretend, against all evidence, that we can go back to the past.”
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour