Canadian Life and Health Insurers respond to competition panel consultation paper

    OTTAWA, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - The Canadian life and health insurance industry
called for the Canadian government to redouble its efforts to negotiate and
implement bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, and to take into
account the impact of domestic policy in creating an environment that will
enhance Canada's productivity and competitiveness in a fast-changing global
economy. These key messages are reflected in the <a href="">submission made to the
Competition Policy Review Panel today</a>.
    "Life and health insurers are one of Canada's most visible and successful
players in the global arena and solid public policy to ensure that the
industry remains competitive both internationally and domestically is critical
to its ongoing success," said Frank Swedlove, President of the Canadian Life
and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). "With Canadian life and health
insurance companies operating in more than 20 countries around the globe and
deriving 56 per cent of their worldwide premiums from outside of the country,
governments must strive to ensure that Canadian companies can continue to
operate on a level playing field within an increasingly competitive global
environment," he added.
    In its submission in response to the Competition Review Panel's
Consultation Paper, Sharpening Canada's Competitive Edge, the CLHIA made
recommendations related to promoting Canadian investment abroad such as:
    -   participating actively in bilateral and multilateral trade deals that
        promote Canada's interests and priorities;
    -   providing adequate support to Canadian companies operating abroad
        through appropriate staffing of foreign missions; and
    -   ensuring that policies affecting foreign operations do not
        disadvantage Canadian firms.

    The industry's response also points out that, in addition to promoting
international competitiveness, it is important to have a domestic climate that
enhances Canadian productivity and competitiveness and that supports expansion
of trade.
    "We have a solid foundation on the domestic front in order to succeed in
the global environment. That being said, there are definitely some adjustments
and improvements within Canada's public policy environment that are called
for," noted Mr. Swedlove.
    Specifically, the industry made recommendations for changes that could be
made in the areas of:
    -   reducing regulatory burden;
    -   eliminating internal trade barriers;
    -   reducing taxation;
    -   ensuring a skilled workforce; and
    -   not granting business method patents.

    Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary association whose member
companies account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance
business. The industry provides a wide range of financial security products
such as life insurance, annuities (including RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions) and
supplementary health insurance to about 24 million Canadians. It also holds
more than $400 billion of assets in Canada and employs over 120,000 Canadians.

For further information:

For further information: Wendy Hope, Vice President, External Relations,
(613) 230-0031 or (416) 565-1853 (cell),

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