Actuaries’ expertise at home and abroad

One of the CIA’s main roles is to promote the expertise of actuaries to the public, as their contribution to social issues influences the lives of people both at home and abroad.


During the past year, one of the CIA’s major projects that relied heavily on the unique expertise of its members was Pharmacare: Is there a there a pill for that?. With this statement, the CIA and its members spoke out as experts on a major issue for Canadians: Should Canada implement a nation-wide drug coverage framework, and what form should it take? Given the significance of this topic, the statement was accompanied by a press release, a Seeing Beyond Risk podcast episode, and a Seeing Beyond Risk blog article by the statement’s authors. The statement was also picked up in several news articles including an open letter in La Presse (in French) by Bruno Gagnon, member of the Single Topic Task Force.

Why dedicate so much time and energy to this issue? The CIA and its members are committed to upholding the public interest by providing expert advice to governments to help them make informed decisions. The CIA not only published the statement on pharmacare, but also met with various federal and provincial government players to discuss the impacts of such a framework on Canadians and their needs. The Institute also spoke to pharmaceutical and medical entities about pricing and affordability, as well as with insurers, unions, and employers concerning existing frameworks and current group plans.

This is why the Institute devoted more than a year to drafting this public statement and worked hard to have it published before a House of Commons vote on the subject in February 2021. As the debate is not over, the Institute has a goal, in the interest of Canadians, to have a place at the discussion table when governments and stakeholders delve further into the subject.


In December, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted Bill 68 to allow the establishment of target benefit pension plans. Ahead of time, the Quebec Committee on Public Finance held consultations and invited the CIA to present on the issue. Bernard Morency, FCIA, Chair of the CIA Public Affairs Council, and Krystel Lessard, FCIA, who helped draft of the CIA’s comments on this matter, represented the Institute during hearings in October (in French).

“Target benefit plans are an important step in this development. Since risk management is a key element of their success and their perpetuity, actuaries have a key role to play. It’s exciting to bring our expertise to the fore and help innovate.”

Krystal Lessard, FCIA

According to Lessard, it was important to address this issue, “Despite major changes to funding rules for defined benefit pension plans, several promoters of such plans have turned to capital accumulation plans, resulting in a transfer of risks to participants who are often ill-equipped to manage these risks. The decline of defined benefit pension plans therefore requires a move towards plans that provide retirement income by allowing risk pooling. Target benefit plans are an important step in this development. Since risk management is a key element of their success and their perpetuity, actuaries have a key role to play. It’s exciting to bring our expertise to the fore and help innovate.”

Also relating to retirement, the CIA provided comments to the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions regarding the Pension Benefits Standards Act in December.


Research projects are in the CIA’s very DNA. Numerous reports, each more relevant than the last, were published this year.

A major project over the past year was the Report on the Survey of Post-Level Premium Period Lapse and Mortality Assumptions for Level Premium Term Plans. Phase 1 was released in April 2020 and was the year’s second-most downloaded report. Phase 2 was released in December. Both papers were carried out in partnership with the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

Moreover, the Casualty Actuarial Society joined the CIA and SOA to look into long-term care. Together, we released Future Long-Term Care in Canada – An ERM Framework to Identify and Quantify Major Concerns in May 2020.

A few months later, the CIA and SOA also collaborated on another topic that will affect the future of many Canadians or, more specifically, their retirement. In July 2020, we jointly released The CPP Take-Up Decision – Risks and Opportunities. The topic was clearly of great public interest and was mentioned in several publications, including Investment Executive.

The Institute and its research projects have not escaped the issue of the time (and the year!): COVID-19. The report released in October 2020 was not only the Institute’s first on the topic, but also the first of its kind worldwide. While the project was not conducted in conjunction with another actuarial entity, it was useful to them in these uncertain times. A second report was released in February 2021 on this topic, with more to come.

Another project also gained attention and was the most downloaded over the year – Mortality Study: Canadian Standard Ordinary Life Experience, published in July 2020.


CIA members also make a valuable contribution on the international scene through our involvement in the International Actuarial Association (IAA). Those volunteers and staff who are close to the international portfolio care deeply and actively participate in the IAA to help ensure the profession has a collective voice globally. Through the IAA, we speak with one voice on issues affecting the profession around the world to other supranational organizations (such as the International Accounting Standards Board, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Association of Insurance Supervisors, International Social Security Association, and others).

The CIA voice is carried through a dedicated team of volunteers who work on IAA committees to develop and maintain strong standards for the profession internationally. These volunteers care deeply about the future of the profession, specifically as it relates to international standards, professionalism, and education. We contribute to the development of other countries, and we gain from the wealth of knowledge we learn from them. Participation in the IAA leads to diversity in our thinking, and new ways of looking at the challenges facing the profession.

Our guiding principle of putting the interests of the public ahead of the interests of the Institute and its members is consistently projected on the international scene. Therefore, as the CIA strives to uphold its guiding principle to serve the public, it is natural that we should project our national reputation internationally – which can do great things for the global public.

The influence of actuaries and their expertise continues to grow, and their impacts are felt both at home in Canada and abroad. The CIA is making a name for itself around the world for its members’ hard work and the constant contributions of its volunteers.

This is the third of five articles from Together, Apart: the 2020-2021 CIA Annual Report. Read the second article, Evolving education for an evolving profession, now. Watch for the next article, Broadening and building up professional practice, coming soon.

Follow us

Contact Us

Canadian Institute of Actuaries
360 Albert Street, Suite 1740
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

Subscribe to our emails