June 17, 2020 / 8:14 PM / 16 days ago

Canadian province Alberta to study forming own pension plan, police force

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta will study replacing the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) with a provincial plan and establishing a provincial police force, Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday after a panel recommended the ideas.

FILE PHOTO: United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney details the "UCP Fight Back Strategy" against foreign anti-oil special interests, in front of the Trans Mountain Edmonton Terminal in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott

The provincial government received 25 recommendations from the “Fair Deal Panel,” commissioned by Kenney’s United Conservative Party government to increase provincial control and strengthen the economy.

Alberta has been hit hard by a crash in oil prices. The national government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unpopular there and criticized for not protecting its interests.

“The panel’s recommendations summarize what can and must be done to end these threats, ease these tensions and obtain a fair deal for Alberta,” said Kenney, a former federal Conservative minister.

A separatist movement, called Wexit, gained momentum after last year’s federal election, but Kenney prefers keeping Alberta in Canada.

The premier said his government will study the recommendations to replace the CPP with a provincial plan, as well as forming a police force to replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Replacing the CPP could mean Alberta, which has a young population, may contribute a lower percentage while maintaining similar benefits, the panel wrote.

An Alberta police force would enable local control over law enforcement, the panel wrote, although the province and municipalities would absorb extra cost.

Several provinces have provincial police forces and Quebec has its own pension plan.

Canadians expect federal and provincial governments to work together, said Katherine Cuplinskas, spokeswoman for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We agree with Premier Kenney that a strong Alberta is essential for a strong Canada.”

Other recommendations include holding a referendum on whether to continue the national equalization program, in which Ottawa transfers money to poorer provinces. Kenney said Alberta would do so next year, although changes would require support from federal legislators and two-thirds of the provinces.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman

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