Flawed comparisons guised as fact regarding pension plan

Re: “Facts should guide decision on Canada Pension Plan,” Letter, Dec. 3.

In the Dec. 3 publication of The Advocate, flawed comparisons were utilized in a letter to the editor.

He stated correctly that AIMCO, the provincial body that administers the Heritage Fund and public pensions, earned a 2.3 per cent rate of return for the calendar year of 2018 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31).

He also states the CPP Investment Board achieved a rate of return of 11.6 per cent.

However, this CPP reporting period was for the fiscal year of April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, as reported in the CPP Investment Board’s 2018 annual report.

Had this 9.3 per cent difference in rate of return between the two plans been true for the same time frame, you would have heard it throughout the media, as the investment managers of AIMCO would have been fired by the AIMCO board of directors.

However, this did not happen. Why? It simply isn’t true.

Upon checking any investment chart for these two distinctly different one-year time frames, one would quickly realize that in layman’s terms, he is comparing apples to an elephant.

People with even the slightest financial acumen would never compare the rate of return of two totally different and unique one-year time frames in an investment performance analysis.

After spending 32 years in the financial management world, I have come to know that both AIMCO and the CPPIB have achieved stellar long-term investment performance above their benchmarks. (The better comparison methodology due to different year-end reporting periods.)

There is much to consider in a possible withdrawal from CPP by the province. However, long-term investment performance between these two plans is not one of them.

In the letter, he speaks of how easy it is to manipulate undiscerning citizens and that we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by misleading information, half-truths and bias. Instead, only essential facts and verifiable information should be our guide.

Yet he is the author of the very things he espouses to be scandalous. He speaks of facts, yet over half of his letter is either his own politically biased opinion or half-truths.

“This is the danger,” as he succinctly wrote, especially when they are guised as “essential facts and verifiable information.”

He asserts that the province has a revenue problem, not a spending problem. A recent Royal Bank of Canada report stated the Alberta government spends approximately $500 more per person every year on program expenses than Quebec.

How can this be, when Quebec has a costly subsidized provincial daycare program? However, Alberta taxpayers are already spending $500 more per year on other program expenses than Quebec.

The blue ribbon panel of experts that studied Alberta’s finances concluded Alberta taxpayers would save more than $10 billion every year if government brought spending in line with similar provinces.

The panel chairman summed up the report with the statement, “Alberta has a spending problem.”

All we have heard from the Opposition and union leaders is that “the report is flawed,” with no facts to support their assertions. Covering up Alberta’s spending problem with higher taxes is not the solution the majority of Albertans are looking for in this weaker economy.

Another 18,200 Alberta jobs were lost in November, increasing the number of Albertans unemployed to more than 185,000, according to Statistics Canada.

It is necessary to question and speak out. After 32 years of being unable to do so publicly because of corporate policy, I’m discovering that retirement does have advantages.

The letter witer is correct: “It’s foolish to believe just because somebody says so,” especially with today’s politicians, leaders and various questionable information sources. As my mother used to say: “Do your homework.”

Ken Hayward is a Red Deer County resident.

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