Media Advisory - Actuaries available to comment on 2007 Federal Budget



    The Canadian Institute of Actuaries urges action to safeguard workplace
    pensions and ensure health care sustainability in next week's federal
    budget

    OTTAWA, March 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Ahead of next week's federal budget, the
Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) is urging the federal government to
adopt measures to ensure the financial sustainability of the current public
health care system, and to safeguard the future of defined benefit pension
plans, a key component of our retirement income system.
    Serious challenges exist in our current Medicare system, from both a
long-term sustainability and an access perspective.
    Canadians want to know if significant investments in health care have
yielded any improvement, and whether or not they are sustainable. They want
answers as to whether reforms are improving access and health outcomes, and
whether or not we can afford systemic changes over the longer-term.
    In its third annual report, the Health Council of Canada pointed out the
difficulty in determining if governments are making any progress in renewing
our health care system: the data necessary to measure success or failure are
not widely available. Worse, where the information is captured and reported,
there is no evidence that it is being used to guide government's
decision-making.
    "We're calling on the government to establish an Office of the Chief
Medicare Actuary, charged with reporting annually on the financial status of
the commitments made at the various levels of government to support the
development of Canadian Medicare plans. This is needed in order to determine
the degree to which the system is financially sustainable, as well as the
long-term implications of bringing reforms online to address complex issues
such as wait times," said CIA President Normand Gendron. "Adopting this
recommendation would provide governments with the professional, financial and
risk management input necessary to make prudent and financially sustainable
decisions on matters related to health care."
    The Institute also believes that a healthy retirement income system
should include both defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans.
However, prompted by unanticipated costs and uncertainties, a growing number
of companies are converting defined benefit plans to defined contribution
plans, putting the future of defined benefit plans at risk. This should be of
concern to Canadians, as a move to defined contribution plans creates more
uncertainty for individuals, and shifts much of the risk to them.
    "Canada's pension system is among the best in the world - but the
financial health of Canadians is being negatively impacted by the decline of
defined benefit pension plans" says Mr. Gendron. "A mechanism must be created
to allow the necessary reforms to be placed firmly on a national agenda.
Unless we reverse this trend, Canadians will become increasingly reliant on
the public pension system", added Mr. Gendron.
    Among the issues to be addressed are the need for new tax rules that
permit the accumulation of appropriate levels of surplus in pension plans to
safeguard benefits, and legislation to clarify ownership of any surpluses that
are generated.
    The Institute urges the government to take these positive steps in next
week's budget to address health care sustainability and workplace pensions -
both are at risk, and are becoming increasingly vulnerable.

    The Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) is the national organization of
the actuarial profession. Member driven, 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.

    Normand Gendron will be available for comment on Parliament Hill
    following the presentation of the federal budget.

    
    When:   March 19, 2007 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Where:  Railroad Room, (253-D), Centre Block, Parliament Hill
    




For further information:

For further information: Daniel Lapointe, Executive Director, Canadian
Institute of Actuaries, (613) 236-8196, executive.director@actuaries.ca; To
arrange an interview, please contact: Josée Racette, Communications Assistant,
(613) 236-8196 ext.107

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Canadian Institute of Actuaries

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