About the Institute
By Morris W. Chambers,
The Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA), the national organization of the actuarial profession in Canada, was established by an Act of the federal parliament on March 18, 1965. Since its formation, the Canadian Institute has grown steadily to its present size of about 3,900 member Fellows.
Actuarial thought and practice have a long history in Canada. The beginning of the actuarial profession in Canada can be dated in 1847, when the Canada Life Insurance Company was founded in Hamilton, Ontario by Hugh Baker, who became a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in 1852. The federal Department of Insurance was established in 1875 and shortly thereafter recruited actuaries to its staff. The first actuarial organization in North America was the Actuarial Society of America, founded in 1889 in New York and included four Canadians among its 38 Charter Members.
The original organization of actuaries in Canada, the Actuaries Club, was founded in 1907 with 24 charter members, all actuaries living and working in Toronto. The Canadian Association of Actuaries was established on October 8, 1946 and included all members of the Actuaries Clubs of Toronto and Winnipeg as well as a group of Montreal actuaries. This was the organization that formed the membership basis of the CIA in 1965.
According to the federal Act that incorporated the CIA,
"The purpose and objects of the Institute shall be the following:
Following competitions, the Institute adopted the motto Nobis Cura Futuri, meaning We care about the future.
Within a few years, the need for a truly bilingual CIA was identified as a means of recognizing Canada's official languages policy, of improving service to members, and of strengthening the actuarial profession across Canada. A formal bilingualism policy, requiring that all publications of the Institute be available in both French and English and that simultaneous translation be provided at all general meetings, was adopted by the Institute's Council in 1977.
Statutory recognition of Fellowship of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries came rapidly. None of the provinces saw fit to license actuaries, but they made full use of the FCIA (FICA, en français) designation. Regulations under the Ontario and Quebec pension plan legislation required noninsured pension plans to be valued at least once every three years by an FCIA, and that a cost certificate be filed. Other provinces followed this example a few years later. Many Acts relating to public sector pension plans also require certification by an FCIA.
Even before 1965, the statements of insurance companies transacting life and health insurance in Canada had to be signed by an actuary who was a Fellow of a recognized actuarial body. With the advent of the CIA, most Canadian jurisdictions introduced the requirement that the actuary be an FCIA. A similar requirement became effective for federally registered property/casualty insurers in 1992 and also, at that time, for provincially registered property/casualty companies in Quebec and Ontario. In anticipation of these property/casualty insurer requirements, the CIA undertook a special program in the late 1980s to increase the number of qualified property/casualty practitioners.
The Institute's examination system has evolved to meet the needs of the profession and the changing social background. The early examinations are co-sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, the Society of Actuaries, and the Casualty Actuarial Society. The later examinations of the Society of Actuaries are also co-sponsored by the CIA.
The examinations of the Society of Actuaries had, during the 1990s, been modified to provide a Canadian option and a United States option in a number of the later examinations dealing with taxation, law, social security and the like. Only an actuary who had passed the Canadian options could be granted Fellowship in the Canadian Institute of Actuaries. In addition to opting for the United States or Canadian streams, a student of the Society of Actuaries could choose to concentrate on group benefits, individual life and annuity risks, pensions, or finance and investments. As co-sponsor, the CIA has an influential voice regarding examination content and methods, particularly as they affect Canadians. Examinations can be taken in various cities in Canada and, in the main, are bilingual.
In 2000, the Society of Actuaries examinations were modified and, in the process, the later examinations were changed to be less nation-specific. Consequently, in order to demonstrate knowledge of Canadian practice, FCIA candidates writing the Society of Actuaries examinations are now required, as well, to complete the CIA-administered Practice Education Course (PEC). The PEC offers separate courses in insurance, group benefits, pension, and investment/finance areas of practice and in all cases concludes with a written examination.
Similar policies are pursued with the Casualty Actuarial Society, which specializes in property/casualty risks. For the later examinations, the Casualty Actuarial Society conducts separate exams that are jointly sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and that incorporate Canadian content.
Actuaries from the United Kingdom and other countries are also required to complete the CIA's Practice Education Course to demonstrate that they have adequate knowledge of Canadian practice before they can be admitted as FCIAs.
The CIA and its members are active in the international actuarial community. The CIA was active in the 1998 restructuring of the International Actuarial Association and prides itself in being a founding member of that body. In fact, the IAA Secretariat is co-located with that of the CIA in Ottawa.
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