Premier Scott Moe said Thursday the Saskatchewan government is not considering pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan, as Alberta has threatened to do.
"From Saskatchewan's perspective, we've been happy and I think the CPP has provided a great value not only to all Canadians but to Saskatchewan residents. We have had no discussions nor are we planning to have any discussions on pulling out."
The Alberta government has launched an advertising campaign discussing the possibility of leaving the pension plan.
The potential move has prompted federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to call a meeting with provincial finance ministers on Friday.
"The CPP has been the bedrock of a secure and dignified retirement," Freeland said at a news conference. "I have heard the concerns of many Canadians, including many Albertans."
On Thursday, Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner tabled legislation that lays the groundwork for an Alberta pension plan.
"I want to make clear that we want to hear everyone out," Horner said hours before the legislation was tabled.
In question period on Thursday morning in Regina, Opposition NDP Leader Carla Beck asked Moe what the government's intentions were.
"Next door in Alberta, the UCP seems hellbent on dragging Alberta out of the CPP and this government has floated the idea before. Will the premier commit to keeping Saskatchewan in the CPP so that Saskatchewan people can count on this cost-of-living security?"
Moe did not answer multiple questions posed by Beck and finance critic Trent Wotherspoon, but Finance Minister Donna Harpauer did.
"We do understand the value of the CPP to people in our province and we will be watching very closely what Alberta is doing. Keeping in mind the process for them to apply to be removed from CPP will be years and years in the making," Harpauer said.
She said Alberta would hold a referendum first and that a division of funds would be in dispute.
Harpauer said she spoke with Horner on Wednesday evening and that Alberta's decision would affect Saskatchewan.
"We do not see this as pressing and urgent today. What we need to have a discussion with the federal government [about] is the inequity and division that they are creating with the removal of the carbon tax in one area of Canada for heating fuel and not for the rest of Canadians."
Harpauer was referring to a recent decision by Ottawa to exempt home heating oil from the carbon tax in some Atlantic Canadian provinces.
Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner said proposed legislation about a provincial pension plan should reassure Albertans. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)
Following question period, Moe spoke to reporters and said the government was not entertaining leaving the CPP.
"We haven't been looking at or even considering a discussion around Saskatchewan exiting the CPP plan that we have been quite happy with the Canada Pension Plan and how it's served the residents of Saskatchewan and would hope that would continue. That being said, there's an active discussion that's in its very or early stages in Alberta."
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has touted a report compiled by an outside firm that suggests the province could be entitled to an eye-popping 53 per cent of CPP's $570-billion fund if it were to leave the plan.
An Alberta exit could put the CPP on shaky ground, and prompt a sizeable increase to contributions paid by workers and their employers in other parts of the country, experts have said.
Moe said Saskatchewan may not see the same impact other provinces do if Alberta were to leave.
"The impact would be much larger, I think probably, to other Canadians as opposed to us in Saskatchewan."
Moe said the Alberta government gauging the public's interest in leaving the CPP and weighing pros and cons was "a fair discussion to have."
Moe said he will be asking Alberta Premier Danielle Smith what timelines she is looking at for a decision.
"If a province like Ontario or Alberta or anyone else decided to do what Quebec has already done and gone their own way when it comes to their pension plan, I don't know that we know what those impacts on Saskatchewan residents would be," Moe said.
"What we do know is that the CPP has been a solid foundation for retirement living here in Saskatchewan over the course of the last number of years. And moving forward we want to ensure that's the case in the next number of years and decades."
Moe said his priority at next week's meeting of provincial and territorial premiers in Nova Scotia will not be the pension plan but the "carbon tax crisis."
Moe and other premiers have asked for the federal government to remove the carbon tax on all home heating regardless of region or what type of fuel is used.
After question period, Beck said she wanted a clearer answer from the premier on CPP.
"I think the first concern is that the premier couldn't find his feet to say that clearly on the record this morning in the assembly," Beck said. "Over 800,000 Saskatchewan people are either contributors or beneficiaries currently of the CPP."
Beck said the amount of people in the province impacted by Alberta potentially pulling out should be "deeply concerning" to Moe.
"Other premiers have noted their concern. The federal Conservative leader has noted his concern and I understand that there is an emergency meeting. This is important. It's critical to Saskatchewan people."