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Albertans should want to stay in Canada Pension Plan, investment head says

The head of CPP Investments says Albertans will only benefit from staying in the Canada Pension Plan, arguing the safety and security of a national plan is “indisputable.”

CEO John Graham, who leads the professional organization that manages the Canada Pension Plan Fund, delivered his pitch to Calgary business leaders at the Alberta Energy and Growth Forum on Tuesday.

While he briefly alluded to the “noise” being created by the Alberta government exploring a potential exit from the CPP in favour of a provincial pension plan, Graham focused his remarks on how he says the national plan provides stability that can weather economic storms and changing demographics.

“In a world of constant uncertainty, Albertans need to protect their financial future,” he said. “Access to CPP is one way Canadians living in Alberta can protect themselves against an unpredictable economy.

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“The business and the public policy case to stay with an established, global investment fund with a proven track record of investment performance is indisputable.”

Click to play video: 'Chief Actuary to calculate ‘reasonable’ Alberta CPP exit cost: Freeland'

Chief Actuary to calculate ‘reasonable’ Alberta CPP exit cost: Freeland

Graham said about $6 billion of the CPP Fund’s $576 billion in assets is invested in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. The organization also invests in renewables and other energy firms within the province, benefiting the local economy.

He said the organization’s broad portfolio offers the benefit of risk pooling and diversification, giving the CPP the size necessary to provide stability for pensioners.

That stability has garnered international recognition as a “national treasure,” he added.

“The CPP is truly admired around the world as a safe and stable pension plan — a pension plan that we can be confident will provide for us in retirement,” he said.

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He added the CPP is also portable, meaning Albertans can take their pension with them if they choose to retire out-of-province, and that Canadians who move to Alberta can do the same.

Click to play video: 'Some Alberta retirees fear ‘ridiculous’ new pension plan, as province previews CPP exit strategy'

Some Alberta retirees fear ‘ridiculous’ new pension plan, as province previews CPP exit strategy

In September, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith launched work on a provincewide consultation on whether to quit the Canada Pension Plan and instead create an Alberta Pension Plan, while releasing a report that estimated the province deserves more than half of the CPP’s assets.

The third-party report says Alberta should get $334 billion, or 53 per cent of the CPP, if it leaves the program in 2027 following the required three-year notification period.

However, the plan has faced criticism, including from Alberta business groups, investors and political opponents who say it would create significant instability and uncertainty.

Federal leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, have warned that Alberta leaving the national pension plan would put millions of retirements across Canada at risk and cause “undeniable” harm.

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— with files from the Canadian Press

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