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Lifetime honour for key ASOC figure

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Years of service to the financial industry in Canada have been marked with a lifetime achievement award for John Solursh, the first chair of the Actuarial Standards Oversight Council.

Mr. Solursh received the 2010 Benefits Canada Award at the fourth annual Benefits Canada Awards Gala for his work on pension law, contributing to landmark cases that have affected thousands of Canadians, and writing and speaking around the world.

The 65-year-old—the only lawyer to sit on the ASOC—said: "It’s a great personal honour. But it’s due in large part to the people I have worked with, who are so bright and pleasant to work alongside in an area of social and economic importance."

Mr. Solursh, who graduated with the gold medal from the University of Toronto and was called to the bar in 1970, has risen to become a partner emeritus at Blake, Cassels & Graydon in Toronto, but is also Chair of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and the Financial Services Tribunal. He has held numerous other key positions, including serving as Chair of the Canadian Bar Association (Ontario) Pension and Benefits Section’s executive, a member of the International Pension and Employee Benefits Lawyers Association’s executive, and an instructor in the Ontario bar admissions course. He is cited in The Best Lawyers in Canada 2010, Canadian Who’s Who and Guide to the World’s Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers, among other publications.

Although he says he is largely retired from his law practice, Mr. Solursh is still very active with the ASOC and FSCO, and he warns that the retirement area will be a challenging one for Canadian financial professionals: "It is important that the public and private sectors keep working hard on solutions in the public interest. The actuarial profession in particular has made a terrific contribution to the discussion. I enjoy participating in the process.

"The ASOC, utilizing the diverse backgrounds and areas of experience of its members, has made substantial progress since it was established to provide oversight to the ASB. We strongly support the timely and thorough review and development of actuarial standards and have been concerned that the members of the ASB, who devote considerable time and effort as volunteers, have access to adequate resources including research to fulfil their public interest mandate. We are very appreciative of the responsiveness of the CIA."

Mr. Solursh, a father of three who has been married since 1966, said he would miss working with such interesting people. He added: "Those of us involved as non-actuaries in the pension and benefits field make the occasional joke about actuaries—not to deny that there are far more lawyer jokes—but they always challenge you intellectually. This has been a fun part of the practice."


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