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Canada Finance Minister Gears Up for Pension Fight With Alberta

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said she’ll ask the country’s chief actuary to estimate how much money the province of Alberta would be entitled to if it proceeds with a proposal to leave the nation’s pension fund.

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Freeland said the province’s estimate that it should receive about C$334 billion ($244 billion) from the Canada Pension Plan — more than half of its assets — isn’t realistic and the actuary will come up with a potential withdrawal “based on a reasonable interpretation” of the legislation governing the fund.

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Alberta would have to negotiate agreements with other provinces to establish the portability of pensions for people who move in and out of the province, as well as social security agreements with other countries for people who work abroad, she said. Freeland made the comments after meeting to discuss the issue with finance ministers from the nation’s provinces and territories.

“This would be a complex and multiyear process, and it would be taking place at a time of real uncertainty, geopolitical uncertainty, global economic uncertainty,” Freeland said at a news conference on Friday. “Adding to that uncertainty right now is not something that would help Albertans or any Canadian.”

Alberta’s provincial government, led by Premier Danielle Smith, hasn’t decided yet to pull out of CPP, but is holding consultations on the idea. The oil-rich province has about 4.7 million people, about 12% of Canada’s population.

The province’s finance minister, Nate Horner, said Alberta would only leave the national pension plan if residents vote in favor in a referendum. He said the province had requested an actuarial analysis from the federal government.

“To be clear, Alberta is committed to making sure that any potential creation of an Alberta Pension Plan will not leave our fellow Canadians without a stable pension and its associated benefits,” he said in a statement.

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