Posted on Jul 3, 2020
UCP ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDS CRITICAL FINANCIAL REPORT ON EVE OF PENSION BILL DEBATE
EDMONTON - The UCP government is withholding the annual report of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, violating a legal requirement to have provided this information by now. This information would have been highly relevant to Monday’s committee meeting to discuss Bill 203, the Pension Protection Act.
The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund Act requires that the Annual Report be reviewed by a Standing Committee, and then be released to both the Legislature and the public no later than June 30  . The report is expected to reveal the extent of AIMCo’s drastic financial losses over the past year including how much the volatility based investment strategy loss reported in March cost Albertans.
The annual report contains details on some of AIMCo’s recent and very troubling investment management failures. Albertans are being kept in the dark about AIMCo’s latest losses, while legislation that could help to protect Albertans retirement savings from this same troubled investment manager hangs in the balance.
The Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund was set to meet on Friday, June 26, to consider the annual report in question, but the meeting was abruptly cancelled by Committee Chair and UCP MLA Ronald Orr, on Thursday afternoon, June 25.
On Monday, a separate committee of the Legislature will consider arguments for and against Bill 203, the Pension Protection Act, which was proposed by NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. Bill 203 seeks to undo the damage done to pension plan laws by this UCP government, and also seeks to prevent the Premier from taking Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan.
NDP Members on the Standing Committee have been provided with a copy of the annual report but are barred from making it public until the meeting that was cancelled occurs.
“The contempt that this UCP government has for the public knows no bounds,” Gray said. “They break the law like it’s going out of style. Albertans deserve to have the facts on AIMCo’s recent performance before MLAs vote on the Pension Protect Act on Monday. Instead MLAs will be voting blind, with no assessment of AIMCo’s performance, because of this government’s deliberate strategy to withhold vital information from the public.”
In an email circulated on behalf of UCP Chair Ron Orr to members of the Standing Committee, it was claimed that the “financial statements in the 2019-20 Annual Report of the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund will not be finalized by Treasury Board and Finance until July 13, [and therefore] the Committee will not be able to consider a motion to approve the annual report until after this date.”
“That’s not true,” said David Eggen, NDP Advanced Education Critic and a member of the Standing Committee. “A final copy of the report, approved by the Auditor General on June 22, was provided by the Ministry on June 23 and uploaded for confidential review prior to the now cancelled meeting. I’ve got the report. It was meant to be released publicly by June 30. And I can’t share specifics of what I know, because doing so would be illegal, until the Committee meets.”
The NDP Opposition is calling on the Standing Committee to reconvene over the weekend and vote to release this damning report to all Albertans before debate on the Pension Protection Act occurs Monday.