CLHIA Response to the Finance Department's consultation paper, "Canada's Financial Consumer Protection Framework"Release Date: 02/25/2014 Staff Reference: Leslie Byrnes
February 25, 2014
Ms. Jane Pearse
Director, Financial Institutions Division
Financial Sector Policy Branch
Department of Finance Canada
15th floor, East Tower
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5
Dear Ms. Pearse:
The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) is pleased to respond to the Finance Department's consultation paper, "Canada's Financial Consumer Protection Framework".
Established in 1894, the CLHIA is a voluntary trade association that represents the collective interests of its member life and health insurers. Our members account for 99 per cent of the life and health insurance in force in Canada, and contribute to the financial well-being of millions of Canadians across the country by providing a wide range of financial security products, including individual and group life insurance, health and disability insurance, annuities, RRSPs, RRIFs and pensions. During 2012, life and health insurers made benefit payments of $66.4 billion -- or $1.3 billion a week -- to policyholders and beneficiaries across the country. Our products are primarily distributed through over 80,000 licensed agents who provide advice and service to Canadians.
We commend Finance for contemplating a financial consumer code, but would strongly encourage that the initiative be restricted to banking. A robust financial consumer protection framework already exists for consumers of life and health insurance, where market conduct is the responsibility of the provinces. This differs from banking, where consumer protection responsibility rests at the federal level. A financial consumer code would appropriately fill a gap regarding federal consumer protection for banking. But to extend the code to other financial products, such as life and health insurance, would create an additional regulatory layer that, in our view, is entirely unnecessary and could raise constitutional issues.
In the attached document, we outline the consumer protection regime that applies to consumers of life and health insurance products and services. We then draw upon that experience to comment on the proposals in your paper.
We would be pleased to discuss further at your convenience.
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