Kenney, keep your hands off our pensions

The question all contributors to Alberta’s four major public sector pension funds and their families should ask is why was it so imperative for Kenney to snaffle up the assets of these pension plans under Bill 22 with no consultation or debate.

The answer is money.

Even if all the pipelines were completed tomorrow, enabling current and future production to move smoothly to export markets, Kenney’s single-mindfulness on oil and gas expansion requires huge investment dollars which in today’s climate is unavailable from many international and institutional investors.

Albertans may not believe in climate warming, but many huge pots of investment money worldwide are controlled by shareholders who do not support investments in carbon intensive industries.

There are two additional factors we contend within Alberta.

After China bought up Nexen, Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced strict rules around state-owned corporations purchasing strategic industries in Canada.

Second, The USA elected a self-serving narcissist as President who cares nothing about anything except himself. His choice to neuter the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and give industry a free rein is a windfall for oil and gas corporations to invest south, but that, too, will be short-lived.

Last week, Moody’s Corporation downgraded Alberta’s financial status from AA1 to AA2.

The four reasons given were, Alberta’s reliance on the oil and gas industry and its current lack of pipeline capacity; the rising deficit; the elimination of the carbon tax; and the reduction of the corporate tax rate.

Naturally, the UCP government and most traditional media focussed only on the lack of pipelines and the rising deficit.

Yet we have third-party rating agency warning Albertans that Kenney’s road to economic glory is simply wrong.

Corporate tax cuts never trickle down to others, just create bigger deficits, and carbon tax is not a tax at all but an economic driver for the future.

Kenney’s ‘theft’ of pension dollars is clear—he needs the money to invest in Big Oil, which unfortunately is his solution to Alberta’s economic woes.

He’s also after all of our CPP contributions.

Be warned, the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) is not a pension fund, it’s an investment company where Kenney controls all director appointments and firings.

Don’t forget Sears’ pensioners.

Corporate leaders were able to bankrupt their pension plan without consequence leaving all workers, some with over 35 years of service, with nothing.

Their contributions went into the pockets of a wealthy American and turned their retirement plans upside down.

Past behaviours of former Conservative governments show they have little regard for their fiduciary responsibility to pension plans.

It took years for Alberta teachers to get the government to make up its contribution delinquency.

Without teacher contributors on the Pension board, nobody would ever have known until the pension plan went broke.

When contributors lose control of their pensions, including the CPP, the future for retirees and current contributors becomes very insecure.

Directors of pension plans have a fiduciary responsibility to their contributors— no one else.

Investment companies have no such fiduciary responsibility to contributors— they don’t guarantee any returns.

Just check out your RRSP account which fluctuates like a yo-yo.

Pension boards, who work solely for the contributors, manage those fluctuations and are able to invest and ensure there is enough money to pay every contributor when they retire.

Sometimes it requires contribution increases to keep pension plans whole and sustainable. The CPP is an example of a well-managed pension plan.

We should all fear the move of pensions into an unaccountable investment company controlled by the Premier, regardless of whether we voted UCP or not, it’s just dangerous.


B. Schimke

ECA Review

About the author