Alberta government facing backlash after changing terms of public-sector pensions

The Alberta Investment Management Corp. is now managing investments for several pensions in the province, a move facing at least one legal challenge.

This change is part of a ministerial order that Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews enacted upon several Alberta-based pensions in late December, after 2020 deadlines for investment management agreements between the pensions and the AIMCo passed with no result.

The order affects the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund, the Local Authorities Pension Plan, Public Service Pension Plan and the Special Forces Pension Plan and allows the AIMCo to bypass a pension’s investment policy should it threaten to compromise AIMCo’s economies of scale or operational efficiencies, according to an ATRF press release.

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The release also noted such decisions are not subject to appeal or arbitration. It will remain in place until the pensions reach their respective investment agreements with the AIMCo. According to statements from the involved pensions, the order doesn’t affect individual members’ pension benefits or security.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, said in a statement that the organization will be launching “at least one legal challenge” to the order as well as to Bill 22, which allows the provincial government to decide who sits on pension boards. Meanwhile, Jason Schilling, the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, “is incensed by the ministerial order,” according to a press release from the association.

In an emailed statement to Benefits Canada, Dénes Németh, director of corporate communications for the AIMCo, said it “remains committed to collaborating with our clients to reach a mutually-satisfactory agreement that improves the terms of our partnership. [The] AIMCo is committed to always acting in a manner that best serves its clients’ interests. We work closely with all our clients to ensure that our capabilities and investment decisions are all focused on doing just that.”

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