Health care battle in judge’s hands but expected to land in Canada’s top court

By Camille Bains

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ A judge ended the last day of a nearly four-year trial by hinting that no matter which side wins in the fight over the expansion of private health care in British Columbia, the case will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“We’ve had some good times and we’ve had some other times,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Steeves told lawyers for Canada, British Columbia and those representing a group of plaintiffs led by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Day, who heads Cambie Surgeries Corp.

Steeves said Friday that after he issues his ruling, which could be months away, he’ll  “join the rest of the world” in looking forward to the progress of the case.

Day opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 and launched court action against the B.C. government in 2009 over sections of the Medicare Protection Act. It prohibits doctors from billing the government for work they do in the public system while also earning money from private clinics as well as billing patients or their insurance companies.

The case landed in B.C. Supreme Court in September 2016, with Day maintaining patients have a constitutional right to private surgery or diagnostic tests if they have to wait too long in the public system.

One of his lawyers, Peter Gall, concluded the last of about 200 days of the trial by saying the threshold for when patients should get treatment in private clinics is when they’ve waited beyond wait-time benchmarks established by the province.

“We know there’s a risk when you cross that maximum acceptable wait-time limit,” Gall said, adding the government would be preventing people from protecting their health by not allowing them to seek private treatment.

Health ministers across Canada agreed to reduce wait times in 2004 in five key areas cancer treatment, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration such as cataract surgery. Benchmarks were set the following year for acceptable wait times.

Figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information show that in 2018, the benchmark of 182 days for knee replacements, for example, was met 59 per cent of the time in B.C., up from 47 per cent two years earlier.

Robert Grant, another lawyer for Day, said government lawyers failed to provide adequate evidence suggesting wait times would increase for the public system if private clinics were allowed to expand and they also didn’t provide conclusive evidence that doctors and nurses would leave for jobs in the private sector.

He said government lawyers’ assertions that Canada’s health-care system would end up like that of the United States aren’t based on reliable data but that any changes brought on by a successful court challenge may be more in line with the United Kingdom, where private surgeries are done in the public system.

However, Dr. Richard Klasa, a board member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, one of the interveners in the case, said outside court that Canada’s proximity to the U.S. would suggest an American-style system  complete with multiple insurance companies  is more likely to become a reality in this country if the current legal provisions are struck down.

“For-profit health insurers are salivating to be able to get into the Canadian market,” said Klasa, who’s a retired oncologist. “Basically, they see Canada as a place almost the size and almost the wealth of California, which from their standpoint doesn’t have any health care.”

Klasa, who was also a scientist at the BC Cancer Research Centre, said cancer patients fare much better in Canada compared with either the United States or most of Europe.

“That’s because cancer care is quite comprehensive,” he said, noting drugs are covered for cancer patients under Canada’s universal health-care system.

Day walked out of court on Friday saying he fully expects the case to land at the Supreme Court of Canada because private health care is a right that should be extended beyond B.C.

“Canada is the only country on Earth where a citizen is not allowed to purchase private insurance,” he said.  “If you were told it was going to be six weeks before you could get a biopsy you should have the right to have private insurance kick in so you could get that done right away. If there was a cancer growing in any of us, we would want to reserve that right.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2020.

Government of Canada helps grain farmers manage risk and build public trust

Grains sector backed to develop export rejection insurance

The excerpted article was written by 

The organization representing Canada’s crops sector will get public funding to develop an insurance plan against the “unpredictability” of export customers.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, speaking Wednesday at the CropConnect conference in Winnipeg, announced over $430,000 for the Canada Grains Council to develop a pilot insurance product for grain exporters.

Such an insurance plan would go to “address the risks they face of having their shipments rejected at the border of the importing country,” the government said.

Ottawa “wants to insure that grain farmers are protected against the unpredictability of the international market and the risks of regulatory trade barriers, particularly around the input residues on seeds,” the government said in a release.

The council will also get $789,558 toward developing a voluntary “code of practice for farm production of Canadian grains.”

The guidelines to be developed “will help farmers encode the best practices to follow to be considered sustainable, for both market and public trust purposes,” the government said.

The codes for crops would “cover a range of topics, including fertilizer management, pesticide use, soil management, farm workers and protection of wildlife habitat, as well as food safety and work safety.”

‘Market readiness’

The Canada Grains Council, in operation since 1969, represents the crops value chain nationwide and is tasked with spearheading efforts to boost sales and use of Canadian grain in domestic and international markets.

Public money for the CGC’s insurance project will flow through AgriRisk Initiatives (ARI), a five-year, $55 million program to support development of new risk management tools through the federal/provincial; Canadian Agricultural Partnership funding framework.

The code of practice project will be backed via the federal AgriAssurance program, budgeted for up to $74 million over five years to help ag sector groups develop “systems, standards and tools that enable them to make credible, meaningful and verifiable claims about the health and safety of Canadian agricultural and agri-food products, and the manner in which they are produced.”

Codes of practice for production aren’t new to Canada’s ag sector; similar codes for care and handling of various types and breeds of livestock are today being developed and updated by the National Farm Animal Care Council, which was set up in 2005.

The $1.2 million total funding envelope announced Wednesday for the grains council is expected to help address “two key issues facing the sector: better risk management tools and market readiness,” Bibeau said in the government’s release.

“Despite Canada’s solid reputation worldwide as a high-quality and trustworthy provider of grain and oilseed products, we cannot take this for granted,” CGC president Tyler Bjornson said in the same release.

“Exploring new ways to help producers and industry address market access risks, as well as maintain consumer confidence that we are doing the right things to produce sustainable and safe food, are an essential part of our long-term strategy as a sector.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

Source: AGCanada.com

Cost of Love in Canada 2020: Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians Admit to Financial Infidelity

Cost of Love in Canada 2020: Nearly 1 in 5 Canadians Admit to Financial Infidelity

TORONTOFeb. 5, 2020 /CNW/ – One in five Canadians are committing financial infidelity by keeping a secret around money or spending in their relationship, according to a new Cost of Love survey from Rates.ca.

Money misrepresentations are most common among millennials, with almost 30 per cent of younger Canadians admitting to financial infidelity, and men are more likely (19 per cent) than women (13 per cent) to lie about money. Canadians who are dating or engaged are more likely to have a financial secret than those that are separated or married.

Three in ten (31 per cent) Canadians are hiding purchases they make from their significant other. Almost one-third are concealing their poor credit score, 21 per cent have hidden cash, 14 per cent have hidden bank accounts, and 10 per cent have a secret line of credit or a long-term loan.

“Hiding a poor credit score or a large sum of debt can have consequences in the future. Especially for partners buying their first home or financing a car. Being transparent and taking the right steps to manage debt or correct poor credit can prevent disappointment and further financial woes,” said Sara Kesheh, Vice President, Money, Rates.ca.

The survey also revealed that nearly half (47 per cent) of those in a relationship, say the value of their financial secret is $1,000 or more. Almost one in five admitted that their financial secret is $10,000 or more.

Dealing with Financial Infidelity

Half of Canadians with a financial secret believe nothing would happen if their significant other were to discover the secret.

Another 22 per cent say the worst consequence would be to fight and find a solution, two per cent feel it would result in a break-up, and only one per cent say it would result in divorce.

Whether you’re getting married, making a major purchase together or combining finances with a partner, Kesheh offers expert advice to avoid disagreements over money.

  • Talk about debt: Working as a team to manage the debt can help pay down the principal faster and accrue less interest on the balance. That won’t be an option for everyone; however, ignoring the debt could turn a small problem into a big one.

  • Create a budget: Track your spending to form an accurate budget. Be aware of how much income is coming in versus how much money is being spent. From there, pinpoint areas where you can cut back and create a plan for paying off the debt.

  • Use financial resources: Carrying a balance on a standard credit card can run the risk of the debt growing faster than it can be paid off. Many resources can help make the debt more manageable, including low-interest credit cards or balance transfer options. The key is never to skip a minimum payment and to pay more when you can.

  • Be a team: If you are on the reverse end of the secret, try to be patient, constructive, not critical, listen to what your partner needs and, most of all, be supportive.

The survey also revealed:

  • Of the four per cent of Canadians who are engaged, 24 per cent have a financial secret. Of the 11 per cent of Canadians who are dating, 23 per cent have a financial secret. Only 14 per cent of those separated or married are hiding their finances.
  • Married or separated couples are more likely to have financial secrets below $1,000, at 46 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.
  • Couples who are dating or engaged are more likely to have secrets valued at $1,000 or more, at 59 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.
  • Among Canadians with a financial secret: eight per cent have a secret credit card, nine per cent have secret investments, seven per cent have credit rewards points they haven’t told their significant other about, and five per cent have a secret payday loan.

To review the findings, visit Rates.ca.

About the Survey
An online survey of 1600 Canadians was completed between January 3 – 6, 2020, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

About Rates.ca 

Rates.ca is Canada’s one-stop-shop for the best rates on insurance and money products. Rates.ca publishes rates from 30+ insurance providers so that shoppers can find the best rates for themselves. Use the site to find the best rates for auto, home and travel insurance, mortgages, and credit cards. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Rates.ca is located at 360 Adelaide Street West, Suite 100, Toronto, ON, M5V 1R7

SOURCE Rates.ca

Related Links

https://rates.ca/

Last week’s winter storm caused Dial-a-claim calls to ICBC to spike

More than 3,500 dial-a-claim calls came from Lower Mainland on Monday, up 22%

The excerpted was written by Rafferty Baker · CBC News

The winter weather blowing across Metro Vancouver this week has left many drivers with damaged vehicles, according to ICBC, which is reporting a big spike in the number of dial-a-claim calls.

The insurer received more than 18,000 calls from across the province in the past week — more than 12,500 of those from the Lower Mainland. Not all those calls will result in an insurance claim, but the high numbers paint a picture of trouble on the roads.

“Whenever there’s a significant weather event, we’re going to see an increase in claims,” said Paul Goodman, ICBC road safety coordinator for Vancouver. “Most of those claims are rear-end type collisions.”

Monday saw the greatest number calls — in fact, with 5,075 from across the province, it was the busiest dial-a-claim day in more than two years, and more than 2,000 calls above average.

In Metro Vancouver alone, there were 3,539 dial-a-claim calls on Monday — a 22 per cent increase from the previous week.

Interestingly, by the time the heaviest snow day hit the region on Wednesday, the number of calls from Metro Vancouver saw a massive drop to 1,882.

Cars left at home in worst weather

Goodman said the considerable drop on the messiest day on the roads is likely because people took the advice of officials to either stay home or find alternative ways to get around, leaving their cars at home.

Drivers can also make claims online or in person at an authorized autobody shop. And claims aren’t necessarily made the day of the collision.

Vern Campbell with Busters Towing in Vancouver said his drivers noticed fewer calls for service this week than they were expecting. According to Campbell, the company had braced itself for the weather, gearing up with more crews, but the calls didn’t materialize.

“The people out on the road believe the media coverage of the problem, and the recommendation to stay home … worked,” he said.

Much of Busters’ work involves enforcement during rush hour or at private lots, so fewer cars on the road meant fewer infractions. But Campbell said even private calls from motorists with damaged vehicles were down this week.

He said many of the calls Busters did receive involved inadequate tires.

Winter tires called that for a reason

In many South Coast municipalities, drivers can legally keep summer tires on their vehicles all year.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby was asked on Thursday whether the province would consider making winter tires mandatory across the province. Eby said he was frustrated to see drivers without winter tires sliding around and getting into collisions this week.

“It’s certainly something I’ll be asking ICBC about, following some of what I saw on the road over the last couple of days, and I’m sure many British Columbians would nod along with that idea,” he said.

According to Goodman, proper winter tires are one of the best ways to avoid the type of rear-end collisions ICBC has been seeing on the slippery streets.

He said giving the vehicle in front of you more space, slowing down and making sure your view of the street isn’t obstructed are all important factors to avoiding rear-end collisions.

Source: CBC News

Investigation into tow truck drivers charging exorbitant fees leads to recovery of 31 vehicles

TORONTO — An investigation into tow truck drivers charging exorbitant fees across the Greater Toronto Area has led to more than 250 charges.

Durham police said in a news release on Thursday they launched Project Bondar in October 2019 after receiving numerous complaints from motorists who said they were charged excessive fees for towing their vehicles after collisions.

Police also investigated complaints from motorists who said their vehicles were stolen from private property, along with storage yards charging high fees to release previously towed vehicles.

Police said officers involved in the investigation executed search warrants in Brampton, Scarborough, Etobicoke, Ajax, Clarington, Pickering and Whitby.

The focus of the project was to ensure that tow truck providers were complying with legislation, police said.

While carrying out the search warrants, police said they recovered 31 vehicles, some of which were allegedly stolen or unlawfully towed. The vehicles seized by police had a combined value of approximately $900,000 and included a Ferrari 488 and BMW M4.

Police said 92 Consumer Protection Act charges were laid along with 149 various Provincial Offences Act Charges and 17 Criminal Code Charges.

The names of those charged were not released by police.

“DRPS would like to thank the numerous partners who assisted in this project, including the Insurance Bureau of Canada, major insurance companies, the Toronto Police Service, the OPP, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation,” Durham police said on Thursday.

How to protect yourself when you need a tow truck

Durham police released a number of tips for motorists who find themselves in need of a tow truck.

Police say it’s important to know what your insurance policy covers before agreeing to have your vehicle towed.

“See if you have roadside assistance coverage and what the limits are. If you’ve been in a collision, find out how your car insurance company handles towing and how much your insurer will cover,” police said.

“Don’t let a towing operator take your vehicle until you view a Government of Ontario Towing Consumer Bill of Rights. You should be shown a towing and storage rate sheet listing towing fees, daily storage fees (if any), and all other miscellaneous charges.”

Police said to always make sure the company name on the tow truck matches the documentation and never agree to a demand for cash payment to release your vehicle.

“If you suspect fraud or if the tow truck driver refuses to leave, call the police.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact the intelligence branch of the DRPS at 1-888-579-1520, ext. 5800 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

Canada’s farms reap precision data to cut lending, insurance costs

Ashley Robinson, Bloomberg News

Canadian farmers — grappling with lower crop income, adverse weather and a trade dispute with China — are using precision-agriculture technology aimed at reducing lending and insurance costs.

Collecting intricate crop data allows individual farmers to outline potentially limited risk to banks and insurers, Tristan Skolrud, an assistant professor in the agricultural and resource economics department at the University of Saskatchewan, said in a telephone interview.

In an industry facing tight margins, the savings can mean the difference between making a profit and wrestling with lower income or losses for grain and canola. Companies including Bayer AG, Deere & Co. and Cargill Inc. have expanded in precision agriculture.

Farmers Edge, a Winnipeg, Manitoba-based precision agriculture company, is debuting a platform to allow customers to use data for bank loans. The new offering, along with the firm’s InsurTech product that began in July, takes the focus away from equity and spotlighting “best-in-class farmers” with top yields, Chief Executive Officer Wade Barnes said in a phone interview.

 

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