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An initiation, a break and a Board meeting

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By Micheline Dionne, FCIA

CIA President

It’s already been three months since I’ve been President. Wow, time really does fly!

Here I was thinking that summer would be quiet; I was planning on taking some time off before the September madness swept in and dragged me in its wake. But then came the census controversy, just when—naturally—almost everyone was on vacation.

This gave rise to all sorts of questions: Should we respond? Do we have the necessary resources to do so? Strategically, is this the best time to respond? Do we have even the slightest chance of making a difference and adding a new argument to the debate?

The challenge was certainly daunting, but at least our cause was good. What’s more, I was happy my first intervention as President was going to involve something uncontroversial—at least from an actuarial perspective . . . Wrong! That’s not even considering the fact that many of you have political opinions and that in politics, even actuaries have a hard time keeping their cool. Who ever said actuaries don’t have a personality?

I think we came out pretty well, once we got past our initial hesitation, and the group that examined the issue responded with diligence and professionalism. Our press release generated interest, and brought on my first telephone interview requests, one in English and the other French. Looking back at my "on the air" initiation, I must say the interview in French was way easier than the English . . .

Returning to our objectives, did we contribute in making a difference? I highly doubt it, unfortunately, but our effort was commendable, we managed to make good use of the general listserver and part of the population is now more aware of the importance of accurately answering census questions.

We had a lovely August, and I visited the cottage for a few days. My spouse chose our cottage somewhere in wilderness as he thinks vacations are a time to rest (translation: no telephone access or electronic signal, unless you row to that one little spot in the middle of the lake or hop on a bike for 10km). So between the rowing and the cycling, I returned home with buffed-up arms and legs, but well-rested despite all.

The next storm will come from Daniel, who—excited by his new job—told me he’ll be stepping down as executive director on October 1. Why does it have to be during my term? What did I do to deserve this? Why not a year from now, when it will be Jim’s turn to take the helm? So far I haven’t managed to convince either Daniel or Jim . . .

The silver lining—and this is indeed good news—is that we now have a golden opportunity to review the strategy pertaining to the Secretariat and find someone who can offer us something new while at the same time building on Daniel’s legacy. The last six years have brought with them a raft of changes within the Institute, and as a result our needs have evolved. Six years ago we were absent from the public stage, whereas now we participate in the social discourse on retirement, health, employment insurance, and automobile insurance pricing. However, certain internal tensions are proving increasingly divisive, and we must better encourage research and update models put to the test during the recent financial crisis. We’re going to take advantage of this opportunity and keep you apprised. In the meantime, feel free to send me ideas you may have.

As of this writing, preparations are in full swing for the Board meeting. Items on the agenda include reform of retirement income plans, research projects, a new education system, changes in international standards, an updated Board governance mode and alterations to Rule 13. I’ll have an opportunity to discuss all of this in our October issue. Stay tuned . . . Talk to you soon!

If you have any questions or comments that you would like to share, please contact me at

360 Albert Street, Suite 1740, Ottawa, ON K1R 7X7
Tel.: 613.236.8196 Fax: 613.233.4552