Canada: Alberta Limitations Under The Insurance Act

On April 2, 2020, Field Law reported that the limitations periods in various statutes had been suspended due to the impact of COVID-19. We noted that certain statutes were not included in the suspension order including the Insurance Act. Field Law wishes to clarify that, pursuant to the Public Health Act, the only statutes that could be included in Ministerial Order 27/2020 are those under the authority of the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. The Insurance Act was not included in the Ministerial Order as that legislation falls outside the Justice portfolio. At present, limitations under the Insurance Act continue to run and no suspension of the limitations under that Act has been ordered as of yet.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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B.C. securities panel orders companies, founders to pay $37 million in fines

VANCOUVER _ A group of companies and its founders have been fined nearly $37 million by a B.C. Securities Commission panel that says they misled investors, conducted unregistered trading and illegally sold securities.

The panel says it ordered FS Financial Strategies and six other companies in B.C., Alberta and Ontario to pay $32.8 million for  “making misrepresentations to hundreds of investors” as well as illegally selling securities and unregistered trading.

It also ordered company founders Aik Guan (Frankie) Lim and Scott Thomas Low to pay $2 million each, and permanently banned them from B.C.’s investment markets.

The former general manager of the companies, Darrell Wayne Wiebe, has been ordered to pay $75,000 and is banned from B.C.’s investment markets for a decade.

The securities commission says in a news release that Lim, Low and the FS Group admitted to raising over $47 million from 389 investors without disclosing that the company wasn’t profitable and was covering its shortfalls by raising more money from investors.

The panel says in its decision that it’s unlikely the FS Group can repay investors, and after the commission issued a temporary order in 2017 against the companies, the Insurance Council of British Columbia suspended or terminated licences to sell insurance for the founders and the companies.

The commission also says Lim and Low sold $29 million in securities in violation of a 2014 legal commitment to the securities commission not to trade or distribute securities until one of its companies had filed the proper documents and refunded investor loans.

“The seriousness of the misconduct was magnified by the significant amount of money and large number of investors involved, and the duration of the misconduct,” the panel says in its ruling.

The commission’s news release says Lim, Low and the FS Group admitted to the misconduct in an agreed statement of facts filed last year. In a separate agreement, it says Wiebe admitted to going along with the conduct.

The agreements led to a hearing in February to determine the sanctions.

Canada’s oil giant cuts capital spending by 26%

By Bloomberg

Canada’s largest oil and gas company said it would cut its capital program this year by 26% as it tries to outlast the plunge in crude prices.

Suncor Inc. will lower its capital program by C$1.5 billion ($1 billion) this year to between C$3.9 billion and C$4.5 billion, the company said in a statement. It will also reduce operating expenditures by C$1 billion from C$11.2 billion in 2019, and is adjusting refinery utilization because of the drop in fuel demand. The company is also delaying its target of C$2 billion of incremental free funds flow by two years to 2025.

Suncor’s cuts follow $4.4 billion in reductions already announced by other companies in the nation. Canada has been particularly hard hit by the oil crash, as pipeline constraints force steep price discounts even beyond the drop in global benchmark prices. Workers in the remote oil-sands region in Alberta are also bracing for potential outbreaks of the coronavirus.

“The simultaneous supply and demand shocks are having a significant impact on the global oil industry,” Mark Little, Suncor’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We are adjusting our spending and operational plans to be prepared in the event the current business environment persists for an extended period of time.”

The company’s full-year production outlook is 740,000 to 780,000 barrels a day, compared with about 743,000 in the first quarter. That includes an increase in bitumen output offset by lower production expected from Fort Hills, where the partners are reducing it to a one-train operation to increase cash flow, according to the statement.

The Syncrude annual coker turnaround is being deferred from the second quarter to the third, while MacKay River’s return to operations has been intentionally extended to May because of the virus and low prices. The company is also seeking options for its project to extend the life of the Terra Nova floating production vessel as Spain is no longer able to accommodate a dry dock slot.

Edmonton travel agents field calls, re-book and cancel trips over COVID-19

The excerpted article was written by  

Approximately 100 people working in tourism gathered Thursday in Edmonton for an industry conference that touched on the novel coronavirus and its impact on travel.

The coronavirus COVID-19 has reached every continent except for Antarctica and has upheaved the travel industry, disrupting flights, accommodations and tourist attractions around the world.

The conference included tour suppliers as well as independent travel agencies in the city, and some agents said they are busy fielding calls from concerned travelers.

Hidar Elmais, manager of Travel Gurus, said the agency was busy last month repatriating travellers who were stuck overseas in infected areas.

He said this month, the agency is working with travellers who are uncertain about booking a trip or mulling whether a trip should be cancelled.

Elmais said travel insurance is an important consideration, adding that if the federal government said Canadians should avoid non-essential travel to certain countries, travel insurance would kick in to offer a full refund for those looking to cancel or bring travellers who are already overseas back to Canada.

“Travel insurance can be purchased at any time. The problem is it has to be unforeseen. If you were to purchase travel insurance after Canada had declared non-essential travel to that country, you won’t be covered because it was foreseen. The earlier you purchase travel insurance, the better,” Elmais said.

He said that the most important period of time to purchase extra coverage, such as cancel for any reason coverage, is within the first 72 hours of booking a trip.

Ashish Sanghrajka, president of Big Five Tours and Expeditions, said there has been a roughly 10 to 20 per cent drop in business to certain countries. He said that business to Asia has come to a standstill because of the virus.

“Fear is real. People look at this and say, ‘What do I do?’ There’s a lot of questions,” he said.

However, Sanghrajka said the industry has experience in dealing with major disruptions, citing the SARS epidemic as well as concerns over Ebola.

He said travellers have asked to postpone their trips by a year or have asked to re-book in different parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America.

He said that it is important for travellers to understand their travel insurance and its limitations.

“This is what will happen. Your deposit does become non-refundable because of this, this and this. Understanding all of that. Much like when you’re buying a car, much like when you’re investing in a portfolio,” he said.

Leah Wood of Peace River has been planning a family trip to England and Scotland since last year but the coronavirus prompted her family to re-think their plans.

“The rate of spread. The videos I was seeing out of China. It just was really concerning and now it seems to be spreading – not just in China, everywhere else. I just didn’t want to put my family at risk,” Wood said.

Wood said her family intended to book this month but has decided to postpone travel overseas until the risk of the virus lessens. They could explore Canada instead, she said.

“We’ve seen a lot of people stuck on cruise ships, people stuck at hotels. I did not want to be quarantined to an airplane or another country where I’m not from there and I don’t have family,” Wood said.

“It broke my heart. [But] the safety of my four kids and my family is more important than just a vacation.”

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