The report estimated that Alberta should be entitled to a C$334 billion asset transfer from the CPP in 2027 — reflecting how much Albertans have contributed to the CPP minus how much they have received in benefits since the start of the CPP in 1966, plus investment earnings on that amount.
However, in a letter dated Oct. 18, Trudeau wrote to Smith: "With all the uncertainty they face, Canadians should not have to worry whether or not the Canada Pension Plan will continue to be there for them in their retirement."
The prime minister said he is "deeply concerned" by the proposal to pull Albertans out of CPP, citing that such a withdrawal "would weaken the pensions of millions of seniors and hardworking people in Alberta and right across the country. The harm it would cause is undeniable."
Noting that "Canadians have trust in the CPP," Trudeau added that withdrawing Albertans from the CPP "would expose millions of Canadians to greater volatility and would deny them the certainty and stability that has benefited generations."
Trudeau then vowed to prevent the withdrawal.
"I have instructed my Cabinet and officials to take all necessary steps to ensure Albertans — and Canadians — are fully aware of the risks of your plan, and to do everything possible to ensure CPP remains intact," he wrote. "We will not stand by as anyone seeks to weaken pensions and reduce the retirement income of Canadians."
As of June 30, CPP totaled C$575 billion ($433.6 billion) in net assets.
In response, Smith wrote to Trudeau that she was concerned by the "tone" of the prime minister's letter.
"It is disingenuous and inappropriate for you to stoke fear in the hearts and minds of Canadian retirees on this issue," she wrote.
Smith also pointed out that the province of Quebec "chose not to participate in the CPP from its inception and the CPP was designed to allow provinces to make that same choice in the future without penalty."
If Alberta were to withdraw from CPP, Smith added, "I expect that (the prime minister) will respect their choice."
On Oct. 17, Michel Leduc, senior managing director, global head of public affairs and communications at CPP, wrote to Jim Dinning, chair of Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel, to express his concerns about the potential withdrawal.
"Many Albertans rely on the CPP for a significant part of their retirement income," Leduc wrote. "The possibility of Alberta withdrawing from the CPP is a matter that will impact Albertans for generations."
Leduc also said that the Alberta government's advertising campaign and a survey to solicit the views of Alberta residents is "unbalanced and incomplete" and is biased in favor of a withdrawal, while failing to spell out the "long-term risks and costs" of withdrawing from the CPP.
"The survey is unfortunately formulated to direct opinions rather than seek them," Leduc wrote.
Leduc further warned that "leaving the CPP is an irreversible decision that will have lasting consequences for Albertans, as well as past and future Canadians with pensionable earnings in Alberta. It is critical that the debate concerning Alberta's future relationship with the CPP be open, honest, and unbiased."
Nate Horner, Alberta's minister of finance and president of Treasury Board, said the Alberta Pension Plan Engagement Panel "welcomes any and all debate about the merits and challenges" of a proposed Alberta Pension Plan.
"CPPIB has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, given Alberta's significant share of the assets they invest," Horner stated. "I am frustrated that while the CPPIB has not hesitated to publicly criticize the LifeWorks report, they have yet to provide any evidence refuting its findings."
Provinces like Alberta that withdraw significantly less than they contribute, Horner noted, would have a greater share of the net assets than provinces that withdraw more.