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Alberta premier promises firm exit number before referendum on CPP

Premier Danielle Smith says she would not call a referendum on whether Alberta should quit the Canada Pension Plan until there is a firm number on how much the province would get should it decide to go it alone.

Smith says her government has heard from Albertans that they want the hard numbers and it is committed to getting them.

She says the federal government and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have not been helpful in providing their own estimates, and says the final figure may have to be decided in the courts.

Smith’s government has been consulting with Albertans on the merits and drawbacks of leaving the CPP and creating an Alberta pension plan.

The debate in Alberta is centred around a provincially commissioned report that states Alberta is entitled to more than half of all CPP assets if it leaves and would be able to provide Albertans with lower premiums and higher payouts.

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Click to play video: 'Pierre Poilievre urges Alberta to stay in the Canada Pension Plan'

Pierre Poilievre urges Alberta to stay in the Canada Pension Plan

Economists and the Canada Pension Plan board estimate Alberta should get at most half that amount, and likely much lower, noting Alberta represents 15 per cent of Canadians in the CPP.

Many callers on two recent telephone town hall consultations held by the province asked detailed questions on how an Alberta pension plan would be structured and said they need hard numbers to make an informed decision.

Smith says they will get those details.

“We’re hearing from people. They want to know what the number will be,” Smith told reporters in Edmonton on Wednesday after a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

“Albertans will have a hard number.

“I’m not going to go to a referendum if people don’t have the information that they need in order to make a decision.”

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She added, “It may have to be a court decision because this is legislated under the CPP Act.

“And if the federal government and the CPPIB will not come to the table and talk with us in a reasonable way to get us that number, then we’ll probably have to go to a court decision.”

Opposition NDP house leader Christina Gray said Albertans deserve to know the firm numbers before casting a ballot. She said her caucus will hold Smith to her word.

“We need to continue to hold their feet to the fire because they are continuing to push an agenda that Albertans don’t support (on the CPP),” said Gray.

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