Now let's focus on the long-term public interest, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries tells Parliament

OTTAWA, May 3 /CNW/ - In the wake of an election that has changed the shape of the country's political landscape, Canada's actuaries are urging the new government to make Canadians' long-term interest their priority. We hope the sea change in Parliament's appearance will extend to its feel, especially with so many critical issues facing the country and its population.

Micheline Dionne, President of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, reminded members of the next Parliament that there are many critical issues facing the health and well-being of Canadians. "Canadians have sent a message that the status quo is not acceptable. Now is the time to turn your energies to the long-term public interest."

Canada's actuaries detailed three areas requiring immediate attention:

  1. Pension and retirement savings reform. "Serial studies on the pension system, and endless consultations and inter-governmental task forces, have led the country nowhere," said Mme Dionne. "We have not seen any game-changing reforms to the system, and no long-term fixes aimed at mitigating the impact of the coming demographic shift. As a result, we see no increase in Canadians' retirement savings, and fewer of us are enrolled in defined benefit pension plans, especially in the private sector. We have seen no effective effort to simplify pension legislation and eliminate regulation disparities between provinces and between them and the federal government. We are confident that Canada can be a world leader in retirement plans, balancing retirement plan affordability with the benefits of broader coverage and security through a progressive legislative and tax environment, but now is the time for concrete action to be taken."
  2. Healthcare. By 2030 almost a quarter of Canadians will be over 65. Canadians are living longer and more healthily. However, the aging of this large segment of the Canadian population will cause a significant increase in the use of our healthcare system. "While all parties supported increasing the federal funding of healthcare by 6 percent per year, important issues need to be addressed," said Mme Dionne. "Where will the necessary financial resources come from, both now and in the future? How will responsibilities and risks be shared among governments, business and individuals? What consistent measurement systems are being planned to make sure taxpayers get the best value? The Canadian Institute of Actuaries is offering to be a resource to government to help sort out some of these fundamental questions."
  3. Employment Insurance. The government has created a crown corporation that is nominally responsible for financing the Employment Insurance system. "Unfortunately, the country was caught up in the global economic crisis, and the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board has not been given a clear arms-length mandate, nor the tools and funding to properly manage EI premium rates," said Mme Dionne. "It's now time to implement long-term sustainable financing of this important program, and let the CEIFB do the job it was set up to do."

Canada's actuaries believe that government needs to have experts considering such long-term issues and the risks involved. A country risk officer, for example, could focus on economic, financial, demographic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks over 20, 30 and 50 years. The World Economic Forum suggests such an individual could supervise the nation's risk portfolio, collecting information from across the breadth and depth of government, analyzing risks and developing strategies to minimize, eliminate and otherwise prepare for the risks our country faces. Such work could transform Canada's future.

Mme Dionne added, "The decisions made by the next Parliament will need to have long-term focus if they are to have an impact on our future success as a country. Canadians want Members of Parliament to get back to work securing our financial and social future."

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries is the national organization of the actuarial profession. The Institute is dedicated to serving the public through the provision, by the profession, of actuarial services and advice of the highest quality. In fact, the Institute holds the duty of the profession to the public above the needs of the profession and its members. Actuaries employ their specialized knowledge of the mathematics of finance, statistics and risk theory on problems faced by pension plans, government regulators, insurance companies (both life and property/casualty), financial institutions, social programs and individuals.

actuaries.ca

SOURCE Canadian Institute of Actuaries

For further information:

Josée Racette, the CIA's project manager, communications and public affairs: (613) 236-8196 ext. 107, cell: (613) 219-1280 or e-mail josee.racette@actuaries.ca

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Canadian Institute of Actuaries

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