ATA News

NDP pledges to open the door to pension reversal

Sarah Hoffman

If the Alberta NDP become the next government, they will allow teachers to take back their pension plan from AIMCo.

This is a promise contained in a letter posted recently to social media and signed by NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman.

The letter specifically targets teachers by promising to

  • give the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF) and other public sector pensions representation on the AIMCo board of directors;
  • remove the power of the minister of finance to direct specific investments with your pension dollars;
  • following reforms, allow the ATRF to leave AIMCo if investment performance is not satisfactory, as determined by teachers.

“This letter is our commitment to you that the Alberta NDP will support you in re-establishing your control over your pension. It never should have been taken away,” the letter states.

The issue over the teachers’ pension plan traces back to the fall of 2019 when the UCP government passed Bill 22, which required the ATRF to use AIMCo, an Alberta Crown corporation, as its sole investment manager. The bill led to a ministerial order imposing an agreement between the ATRF and AIMCo and an ATA lawsuit. Finally, the ATRF and AIMCo reached an agreement that ATRF officials felt served the plan’s interests.

Regarding the NDP’s letter, an interview request to comment on it did not garner a response from Finance Minister Travis Toews’ office.

Teachers still upset

ATA president Jason Schilling said teachers are still upset about the pension takeover and the letter is an obvious attempt to tap into that discontent by the NDP.

“They are addressing some of the concerns that teachers have been expressing about pensions over the last several years, which is good, but it’s an election promise, so you always have to keep that in mind,” Schilling said.

Transferring ATRF assets to AIMCo was extremely complicated and cost the plan $30 million, so doing the reverse would be just as complicated and at least as costly, Schilling said.

“It’s not just as simple as moving money from your chequing account to your savings account,” he said.

The NDP letter also addresses broader pension issues, pledging to keep the province in the Canada Pension Plan and expand private workplace pensions.

Schilling stressed that, as a non-partisan organization, the ATA does not endorse particular candidates or parties, but it does work to elicit commitments to public education from all parties and candidates.

The ATA’s current Stand For Education campaign is aiming to get political parties to make concrete commitments related to education, including addressing issues such as class size, complex needs of students and teachers, curriculum and funding.

“The next step is trying to get political parties on the record of where they stand on those issues,” Schilling said. “That’s why it’s important for our members and their family and friends to push those issues out there and engage in those conversations.” ❚

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