Manulife joining Shoppers Drug Mart in medical marijuana program

By Ian Bickis


Manulife Financial Corp. has partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to offer enhanced medical marijuana insurance coverage.

The insurance company said Tuesday that clients who have been approved for medical marijuana coverage will be able to consult with Shoppers pharmacists at an Ontario-based patient care centre about different strains of medical marijuana and the different ways to take it.

Manulife customers will then be able to choose treatment that is covered under their Manulife plan and receive ongoing case management.

The program is the first to offer support for clients throughout the process, said Nathalie Khalaf, director of pharmacy benefits at Manulife.

“It’s the only one in the industry or in the market to offer member referrals to a health-care professional.”

The program provides more support for plan members taking medical cannabis, but also has a more structured and controlled system that provides support to companies looking to add medical cannabis to their benefits package, said Khalaf.

“Some of them wanted a little bit more comforts before adding it to their benefits plan. So they wanted to make sure that, first of all that there are enough controls in place.”

The initiative could increase interest in the medical cannabis coverage Manulife already offers on a selective basis, but which has seen very little uptake so far, said Khalaf.

The program will be available as an option for participating group and individual health insurance plans starting in the fall. Manulife said more details of the program will be available once the program takes effect.

James O’Hara, CEO of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, said the program should remove some of the confusion in navigating the system for people who need medical marijuana.

“The added ease of fulfillment from a patient’s side removes a lot of the anxiety and the mystery and the subsequent stress of where do I go from here.”

The partnering of two major companies on such an initiative also contributes to combating the ongoing stigma that medical cannabis patients face on a daily basis, said O’Hara.

It overall contributes to the normalization of cannabis as an accepted and recognized medicine today, which is the way it should be.”

Manulife’s program is part of an evolving landscape of medical marijuana insurance coverage in Canada.

Sun Life Financial Inc. said in February that it was adding medical marijuana coverage as an option for its group benefits plans. Great-West Life Assurance Co. has said it plans to expand its medical marijuana coverage options in its group plans this year.

However, coverage has generally been limited to specific approved conditions. Sun Life limits coverage to conditions and symptoms associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS, and palliative care.

In April, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal also overturned a ruling by the province’s Human Rights Tribunal that had found an elevator mechanic was discriminated against because his employer didn’t cover his prescription for medical marijuana.

It’s summer break time for ILSTV News

It’s summer break time for ILSTV News

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Metro Vancouver casinos gang destinations for money laundering

VANCOUVER _ Money-laundering operations in casinos have been tied to British Columbia’s opioid overdose crisis and the real-estate market, the attorney general said Wednesday as he released an independent report detailing how organized crime groups used the gaming industry to distribute its profits.

David Eby said the report highlights disturbing issues related to international gangsters discovering Vancouver-area casinos as destinations to launder illegal drug money and then invest it in real estate.

“The fact that we played not just a local role, but an international role in this should be troubling to everybody,” he said.

Eby said the problem surfaced in 2011, but the former Liberal government failed to address “serious crime with serious consequences.”

“It has to stop,” Eby told a news conference. “We can’t let organized crime get ahead of us.”

Eby tasked former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German to conduct a review and make recommendations last September.

German’s report, “Dirty Money,” said B.C.’s gaming industry and the anti-money laundering system was not prepared for the onslaught of illegal cash flowing through the casinos and they failed collectively.

He estimated more than $100 million was funnelled through casinos as part of a scheme dubbed the “Vancouver model.”

German said the model is linked to Chinese crime organizations that would loan money from their proceeds, usually drugs, to borrowers who would gamble at B.C. casinos. The gambler would then receive Canadian dollars from the proceeds to repay the criminal groups.

“The ‘genius’ of the scheme is the ability to achieve two objectives and be paid for, both in the same transaction,” the report says. “The lender is both servicing a drug trafficking organization by laundering its money, and the Chinese gambler by providing him or her with Canadian cash.”

Much of the laundered money ended up being invested in Vancouver-area real estate, German said.

“Why did this occur? Because it could,” he told the news conference.

German’s report says the RCMP viewed real estate as a hiding place for illegal money.

“It has been said that ‘everything in B.C. comes back to real estate,’ “the report says. “It has also been suggested that you can see a ‘rat move through all of it,’ meaning that each component of the industry is vulnerable to criminal actors who tend to operate in more than one discrete area of real estate sales, mortgages, insurance, and so forth.”

German said the amount of suspicious money entering casinos since a high point in 2015 has been greatly reduced due to police and industry actions, but the prevention measures must continue to ensure the problem does not resurface.

He warned organized crime will move on to other sectors of the economy, including luxury vehicles and horse racing.

“We need a strong provincial regulator, which is not currently the situation,” German said.

The report makes 48 recommendations, including the establishment of a gaming regulator and a police unit that specializes in criminal and regulatory investigations in the industry.

Eby said the government accepts all the recommendations.

“We will be moving as quickly as possible to slam the door shut on dirty money,” he said.

He said the former Liberal government turned a blind eye to money laundering in B.C. casinos for years.

“Nobody said No to taking this money and that is inexcusable.”

Liberal jobs critic Jas Johal said he expected the report to include announcements of arrests and crackdowns on organized crime.

Billions of dollars have been invested in B.C.’s real estate market in the last few years so “$100 million is a drop the bucket,” he said in an interview.

Johal said German’s recommendations will strengthen the system, and the Liberal government was moving towards making improvements before the last provincial election in May 2017.

Eby launched an investigation after the government’s gaming enforcement branch showed him surveillance video of gamblers walking into casinos with suitcases and a hockey bag full of $20 bills.

The BC Lottery Corp., which operates casinos, said the report is an important road map for multiple organizations involved in fighting money laundering in the province.

“We are poised to implement the direction set out by Attorney General David Eby to keep dirty money out of casinos alongside our industry, government and law enforcement partners,” corporation president Jim Lightbody said in a news release.

By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

Warning: Don’t be fooled by the working income tax benefit tax scheme

 The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is warning Canadians about getting involved in schemes where promoters, usually tax representatives or tax preparers, are claiming they can get a tax refund for participants from the working income tax benefit (WITB) even if they have no work income.

Setting the record straight: What is the working income tax benefit?

The working income tax benefit (WITB) is a refundable tax credit intended to give tax relief for eligible low-income individuals and families who are currently in the workforce. It also encourages Canadians to enter the workforce. You can only claim the WITB if you are earning income from working in Canada.

Be careful—here’s how the scheme works:

Here is what to watch for in the WITB scheme:

  • The promoter, who is usually a tax preparer or tax professional, will tell you they can increase your tax refund.
  • They will tell you that they will prepare a T4 (a T4 is a slip that shows your work earnings, or employment income) in your name and they will list an income amount in box 14 of the slip that will maximize your tax refund.
    • If you have not worked as an employee in Canada then you should not have a T4 slip with your name on it.Reporting this amount may result in serious consequences to you.
  • By law, when preparing a T4, an employer must subtract certain amounts from your work earnings. These include deductions such as: income tax and mandatory employee contributions to certain programs (Employment Insurance (EI), the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)). The promoter will tell you that you must pay them the tax deductions they noted on the T4 slip as well as a fee for them completing your tax return. A legitimate tax preparer will never ask you to pay back deductions and will not prepare a T4 for you when you did not earn income in Canada

A good rule of thumb – If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

What are the consequences to you if you participate in these schemes and what can you do?

The WITB is not intended for individuals who have no work income. If someone claims it is, they are misleading you and there may be serious consequences.

Those who choose to participate in these schemes and those who promote them face serious consequences, including penalties, court fines, and even jail time.

People who avoid or evade taxes take resources away from social programs that all Canadians benefit from.

All taxpayers, including those who pay tax experts to prepare their taxes, are legally responsible for the accuracy of their tax returns.

The CRA encourages all Canadians to seek an independent second opinion from a reputable tax or legal professional on important tax and legal matters.

If you suspect someone of promoting or participating in an abusive tax scheme, you can report it at or by calling the Leads program at 1-866-809-6841. You may give information anonymously.

For more information on tax schemes, please visit

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SOURCE Canada Revenue Agency

How financially savvy are you? Take the quiz!

How financially savvy are you? Take the quiz!

Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV

We have so often heard about the importance of teaching youth about money. But it appears parents aren’t all that financial savvy either. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid for, 78 per cent of respondents claimed to be financially literate.

But, when asked a series of questions to test their financial knowledge, nearly 60 per cent failed.

The quiz consisted of 15 true-or-false questions and the results suggested that Canadians are especially unclear about terminology concerning mortgages, auto insurance and tax-free savings accounts. To make matters worse, of those who passed, most obtained a C or D grade.

Test your knowledge by answering the following statements with ‘true’ or ‘false’:

(answers at article’s end)

  1. A mortgage term refers to the length of time you need to pay off your mortgage.
  2. You must pay for government insurance on mortgages where you put down less than 20% of a down payment – unless the home is worth $1 million or more.
  3. A car that is more expensive always costs more to insure than a cheaper car.
  4. You never have to report interest and profits gained in your TFSA when filing taxes.
  5. You can have multiple TFSA accounts with different banks at the same time.
  6. Your auto insurance automatically goes down when you turn 25.
  7. Applying for a credit card can negatively affect your credit score.
  8. Home insurance can sometimes protect you if your dog bites someone in your home.
  9. Your home insurance will always cover you if a tree falls on your home.
  10. Checking your credit score has no impact on the score itself.
  11. The colour of your car affects your car insurance rate.
  12. All banks charge you money to have a chequing account.
  13. Auto insurance premiums can be cancelled mid-way through their term.
  14. You need to be licensed to buy stocks in Canada.
  15. There’s no need to get travel insurance if you’re travelling within Canada between provinces.

Men were significantly more likely than women to believe they were financially literate, as 84 per cent rated themselves as excellent or good, compared to 73 per cent of women. Canadians who rated their financial literacy high were more likely to pass the quiz, but even then, fewer than half of them passed the test.

Baby boomers (52 per cent) and Gen Xers (45 per cent) were more likely to pass than millennials (31 per cent). While millennials were more likely to rate their financial literacy as excellent, they were the generation most likely to fail the quiz.

The survey showed strong financial literacy correlated with more educated Canadians. Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) university graduates described their financial literacy as either excellent or good, compared to 77 per cent of those with a high school diploma.​

Seems young and old alike have some work to do on their financial knowledge.

Quiz answers: 1 – False, 2 – True, 3 – False, 4 – False, 5 – True, 6 – False, 7 – True, 8 – True, 9 – False, 10 – True, 11 – False, 12 – False, 13 – True, 14 – False, 15 – False.

Hub International Acquires Alberta, Canada-Based Carlton Insurance Brokers Inc.

Hub International Limited (Hub), a leading global insurance brokerage, announced today that it has acquired the shares of Carlton Insurance Brokers Inc. (C.I.B.). Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Jasper, Alberta, C.I.B. offers personal and commercial insurance and specializes in solutions for the transportation industry. C.I.B’s focus on the transportation industry supports Hub’s recent launch of its Specialty practices by complementing and strengthening Hub’s existing solutions in Canada.

The C.I.B. team will join Hub Barton, and Tony Carlton, CEO of C.I.B., will report to Doug Lyall, VP of Sales, Hub Barton, and Elizabeth Fiegehen, VP of Operations, HUB Barton.

About Hub’s M&A Activities

Hub International Limited is committed to growing organically and through acquisitions to expand its geographic footprint and strengthen industry and product expertise.  For more information on the Hub M&A experience, visit

About Hub International

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Hub International Limited (Hub) is a leading full-service global insurance broker providing property and casualty, life and health, employee benefits, investment and risk management products and services. From offices located throughout North America, HUB’s vast network of specialists provides peace of mind on what matters most by protecting clients through unrelenting advocacy and tailored insurance solutions. For more information, please visit

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