Canadian Life and Health Insurers respond to competition panel consultation paper

OTTAWA, Jan. 11 2008 – 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 submission made to the Competition Policy Review Panel today.

“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.