WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 17 (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 it adopt the ideas.
The provincial government received 25 recommendations in a report by the “Fair Deal Panel,” commissioned in 2019 by Kenney’s United Conservative Party government to improve the province’s standing in Canada.
Alberta, which depends on oil and gas revenues, has been hit hard by a crash in 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 within the federation,” said Kenney, a former federal Conservative minister.
A vocal 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 panel’s recommendations to replace the CPP with a provincial plan, as well as forming a provincial 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.
Alberta could legally start operating its pension plan on three years notice.
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.
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)