What’s New in Public Affairs at the CIA


By Les Dandridge and Pascale Belleau

For several years, the CIA Board has set a priority to put more effort into government relations/public affairs initiatives. It backed up its commitment by authorizing the hiring of a specialist in the field (Elliot Hughes, manager, public affairs) in 2014. When he left to take a role as policy advisor in Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s office in 2015, Pascale Belleau was hired to move the work to the next level as associate director, public affairs.

Over the last two months, this file has been very active. Not only has there been plenty of legislative activity in areas of actuarial interest, but there are a number of submissions that are underway or completed.

Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Policy

Members have been informed of and consulted about the Board’s work on the strategic plan. One of the cornerstone strategic objectives is to influence public policy. The Board created the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Public Policy, chaired by Jacques Tremblay, to help develop an enhanced approval process for the development and dissemination of the usual public positions and to figure out how to generate two bold public policy documents each year and fit these into the CIA structure.

The task force has been working very hard on several fronts and will present several documents to the Board in June. There are a lot of moving parts to this objective, and once approved, the task force will share its thinking with members and the processes will start to be put in place to enable the CIA to move forward with this important work. Stay tuned!

Bill S-201, An Act to Prohibit and Prevent Genetic Discrimination

In December 2015, Senator James Cowan introduced this private member’s bill into the Senate with the first reading. On January 27, 2016, it received second reading and was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. (A short flashback: Senator Cowan had introduced similar legislation twice before. In 2014, his bill was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights where a number of flaws surfaced and the bill died. Jacques Boudreau, chair of the CIA’s Genetic Testing Task Force (now a committee), Bob Howard, and Michel Simard appeared before the committee presenting evidence against the bill, based on the work of the task force and Bob Howard’s July 2014 report to the CIA Research Committee, Genetic Testing Model: If Underwriters Had No Access to Known Results.)


This time, Jacques Boudreau and Bernard Naumann appeared at the committee hearing on February 17. The bill was unanimously approved with amendments by the Senate committee on March 10, and moved back to the Senate where it was approved with amendments on April 14.

On May 3, the bill passed first reading in the House of Commons, where Member of Parliament Robert Oliphant from Don Valley West is the sponsor. On May 12, Bernard Naumann, Bob Howard, and Pascale Belleau met with Mr. Oliphant in Ottawa, with Jacques Boudreau attending by conference call. It was a solid meeting with a good exchange of views and a commitment to communicate further as the legislative process moves along.

Federal Pension Initiative

In December 2015, Finance Minister Morneau met with the nation’s finance ministers to discuss a number of topics, pension reform being high on the list. No decisions emerged from that meeting aside from a commitment to meet again in June to have a focused discussion on expanding the Canada and Québec Pension Plans (C/QPP), with a view to reaching agreement at the December 2016 meeting of finance ministers.

The Pension Advisory Committee (PAC) decided to build on the public position released last November, A Call to Timely Action – Meeting the Needs of Canada's Future Retirees, and develop a new position focused on an expansion of C/QPP. The PAC was committed to having it in the hands of federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers, ministers responsible for pensions, government officials, and a number of associations in mid-May, so that the document could help these people focus their thinking on the critical issues. The document went through the process for approval of public positions, with extra scrutiny by the Public Positions Committee (PPC) and an additional review by a group of seasoned, experienced pension experts.


The document, Expansion of Public Pension Plans, was distributed on May 19 to CIA members and to the pool of ministers and officials. The PAC is already briefing officials and others on the principles and design elements in the position.

Bill 186, Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act (Strengthening Retirement Security for Ontarians), 2016

Introduced by the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan) and given first reading on April 14, 2016, the bill passed second reading on May 9 and was referred to Ontario’s Standing Committee on Social Policy. Michel St-Germain, Chair of the PAC and Ian Edelist, member of the PAC, testified before the committee, presenting the CIA’s perspective on the conditions and considerations for expanding public pension plans as set out in the CIA’s public positions released in November and May.


Recently we learned of an unannounced consultation being conducted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health. The committee is studying the development of a national pharmacare program. The committee has conducted several hearings already and the CIA will prepare a brief based on its recent document, Public Position on a National Pharmacare Plan. We have been told that more hearings are being scheduled on the topic and we have expressed our interest in appearing. Actuaries have something to contribute to the discussion on this subject.


Submissions and Public Positions

The CIA regularly responds to consultations from governments and various associations, including some international opportunities. These are openings for the profession to express itself on a variety of topics in the public interest where it has experience and knowledge.

The PPC, under Chair Mike Hale, reviews and authorizes these documents, and is also responsible for approving CIA public positions. In the last few months, the PPC has approved submissions dealing with Ontario pension regulations, Québec pension provisions, the Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test for the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board – Employee Benefits, and Ontario payday loans (to be published soon). As well, it approved the new position on C/QPP expansion.

Les Dandridge is CIA director, communications and public affairs.
Pascale Belleau is CIA associate director, public affairs.

Canadian Institute of Actuaries/Institut canadien des actuaires