The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has released and published its 2020 provincial budget submission to the government of Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips.

The comments made to the minister, in the lead up to the release of Ontario’s fall 2020 budget, advocate for the government to address the high cost of prescription drugs and reduce taxes on life and health insurance products. The submission also calls on the government to recognize the Harmonized Life License Qualification Program (HLLQP) when setting standards for titling financial professionals.

“While we support how the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act, 2019 fills certain gaps, we are concerned that it adds an unnecessary regulatory burden on those who hold life licenses. These licensees are already subject to regulatory educational requirements and oversight,” the CLHIA writes in its submission. “Completing the HLLQP and maintaining a life license indicates a level of knowledge that meets or exceeds the baseline competency of someone who calls themselves and financial advisor,” they add. “We would encourage continued collaboration with key stakeholders to ensure that changes protect Ontarians while not leading to unnecessary regulatory burden.”

Other initiatives the submission addresses includes the federal Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) reforms which were to be implemented on July 1, 2020 but which have been delayed until January 2021 due to COVID-19. “It is crucial that the federal government move ahead with these reforms to achieve affordability for consumers,” they write.

In taxes, meanwhile, they point out that Ontario is one of only three jurisdictions in North America which applies a retail sales tax to life and health insurance premiums. “This is problematic given (that) an aging population and escalating health care costs increase Ontarians’ need for income security and supplementary health care. We believe that discouraging individual responsibility for these benefits by taxing the purchase of insurance coverage is not sound public policy. We recommend that Ontario develop a tangible plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the retail sales and premium taxes on life and health insurance premiums.”