B.C. introduces new complaint process in bid to increase trust in ICBC

VANCOUVER _ British Columbia’s attorney general says the province will  “supercharge” an office that deals with complaints against the Insurance Corp. of B.C. in an effort to increase public trust in the Crown auto insurer.

David Eby made the announcement as one of several moves that he says will increase transparency and accountability at ICBC.

The government will also require the auto insurer to post its annual reports online in  “plain language,” so that the average person can understand the financial health of the Crown corporation and how premiums are calculated.

And individuals who accept pre-litigation payments from ICBC will no longer be barred from later suing the corporation, a move that Eby said may reduce the number of cases that actually end up in court.

ICBC already has a fairness office with a $200,000 budget, but Eby said it is hard to find and there’s no statutory obligation for ICBC to respond to its recommendations.

Under the changes, the commissioner will be appointed by cabinet, complaints can be filed online and the nature of complaints, the commissioner’s recommendations and ICBC’s responses must be posted publicly in plain language.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that many British Columbians simply don’t trust ICBC,” Eby said at a news conference Wednesday.

“That’s a problem because British Columbians deserve the peace of mind of knowing that if they’re injured in a crash and they ask a public insurance provider for help, they need to know they will be well taken care of.”

The New Democrats  “inherited a mess,” when they took power and discovered ICBC was operating with billion-dollar deficits and projections showed massive increases to premiums for drivers would be required to break even.

“The fact that this information was not available to the public before the 2017 election is just one more example of why more transparency is needed at the corporation,” he said.

Since then, ICBC’s finances have stabilized and accident rates have gone down thanks to road safety initiatives. But the government is still working toward a goal of decreasing premiums and establishing trust in the Crown corporation, he said.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has called for more choice in the sector after a report by accounting firm MNP found B.C. residents pay up to 42 per cent more for car insurance compared to drivers in Alberta.

Wilkinson said the report concluded that B.C. and Alberta have similar insurance coverage and systems, but the difference is that Alberta allows choice and free-market competition.

Eby said Wednesday that he has considered the option of privatizing insurance but that his office has been unable to replicate the modelling promised by the private sector. Under independent analysis, he said moving to a private insurance model would actually increase premiums for almost all drivers, except for one third of drivers older than 45.

The NDP caucus has previously responded that privatizing car insurance could result in double-digit rate increases, saying that the Alberta government recently removed a rate cap, which allowed rates to skyrocket up to 30 per cent.

Canada preparing plane to fly Canadians from Wuhan, once China gives OK

By Mike Blanchfield and Hina Alam

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada has a plane being prepared to fly Canadians out of the province in China at the centre of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday.

The government is also advising all Canadians to avoid  “non-essential” travel to China and has also scaled back its diplomatic presence in the country because of the outbreak.

The next step in the evacuation process is to secure co-operation from China to assist the 160 Canadians who have requested some form of help, Champagne said. Not all of them want to leave, he emphasized in an appearance on Parliament Hill.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, later warned that not everyone who wants to come back to Canada may be able to leave.

“The Chinese authority will not let anyone who might be infected on the plane,” she told the House of Commons health committee.

China has all but sealed off one of its central provinces where the novel coronavirus was first detected. The virus causes respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold, but it can be deadly in very severe cases.

At Champagne’s side, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government still has to decide what will happen with the Canadians who leave China, so as to prevent any spread of the illness.

Asked whether returning travellers would be held in quarantine, Hajdu replied:  “We will always work to ensure the health of Canadians, whether they’re abroad or whether they’re here. So, yes what we’re looking at is a scenario where we have all the measures in place to protect Canadians from exposure to the virus. Having said that, that’s about as far as I can go.”

Officials say the 201 Americans taken to the United States from the Chinese city at the centre of the virus outbreak are undergoing three days of monitoring at a southern California military base to make sure they do not show signs of the virus.

Hajdu said the U.S. has a process that is working  “efficiently.”

Champagne said Canada is working with allies to co-ordinate plans and make the logistics work, and that could take more time.

Some other countries have promised similar help for their citizens stuck in the province of Hubei particularly those that have diplomatic offices there, which Canada does not and Champagne said Canada isn’t far behind them.

“The only plane which has landed is a U.S. plane that was scheduled to be there,” Champagne said, which was then followed by a plane sent by Japan earlier Wednesday.

He said Canada was at the  “forefront” of the international response.

The virus has killed 170 people and infected more than 7,700 on the Chinese mainland and abroad.

A Twitter message by the Canadian Embassy in China said that as of Wednesday its diplomatic missions are working with reduced staff due to the coronavirus. It urged Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance to call or email the emergency response centre of Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa.

It also posted the contact phone number of 1-613-996-8885 and the email address of sos?international.gc.ca.

A teacher who is living with his pregnant Canadian wife and child in a city that is the epicentre of China‘s coronavirus outbreak had been hoping to leave the country on a British flight.

Tom Williams is hoping to get his wife, Lauren, who is about 35 weeks pregnant, out of Wuhan, the Hubei city that has been essentially locked down with the emergence of the disease. The couple also has a two-and-a-half-year-old son, James, who is Canadian.

Williams is a British expat and his wife and son are from British Columbia.

“We’re just currently waiting to hear confirmation whether we’ve got space on the British flight,” Williams told The Canadian Press in a FaceTime interview from China on Wednesday, before Champagne’s announcement.

The family received a call from officials in Ottawa earlier this week, who asked permission to share his wife’s file with the British Embassy, he said.

“We have some stuff laid out in case it’s a last-minute departure.”

At least 250 Canadians have registered with Global Affairs Canada to say they are in Wuhan, said Champagne, who added that officials are trying to contact everyone to assess their needs.

Williams said looking at options isn’t really helping people on the ground, although he understands that Canada doesn’t have a diplomatic presence in Wuhan, a city of 11 million. Canadian offices in Beijing and Shanghai are closed until Sunday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

“We’re just a little anxious and hoping for some answers pretty soon,” said Williams, who added that he and his family are  “still healthy and still OK.”

The family went out during the day Wednesday and the streets were “very quiet,” he said. They take their temperatures whenever they enter and leave their apartment complex.

James was watching “Toy Story” Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s a little bit clingy, but we’re doing our best with train sets and different things. Trying to keep him entertained.”

Canadian Wayne Duplessis, who teaches in China, said he and his family registered with the emergency response centre in Ottawa to know what help may be available in Wuhan.

But Duplessis, who is originally from Espanola, Ont., said he is not looking to leave.

Most people he knows are taking the situation in stride, although he said there is  “a certain resignation” and  “despair.” Duplessis and his family members take their temperatures every morning at breakfast.

More restrictions have been placed on cars and some people are worried those might affect day-to-day activities such as getting groceries, he said.

From his 28th-floor balcony, Duplessis said he could see the highway, usually buzzing with activity, was empty.

“The IKEA mall across the street is empty, which is too bad. There’s great lunches there,” he said.

“An IKEA meatball lunch would be nice right now.”

Mastercard to open $510M cyber-security centre in Vancouver

The excerpted article was written by Tyler Orton Business in Vancouver

Ottawa is putting up nearly $50 million to boost the presence of Mastercard Inc. in Vancouver with the launch of a $510 million cyber security centre.

The credit card company announced Thursday (January 23) that the West Coast city would be the home of its sixth global technology centre — one focused on developing technologies to thwart cyber attacks in the payments arena.

In a bid to entice the financial giant to B.C., the federal government dipped into its Strategic Innovation Fund to the tune of $49 million.

A February 2019 analysis from The Logic revealed just over half the fund’s recipients were foreign firms, at the time the story was published.

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said in a statement, “The Vancouver centre will help us meet the growing demand for technology solutions to reduce the cost of cyber-attacks, enable today’s connected devices to become tomorrow’s secure payment devices and address the growing vulnerabilities associated with the Internet of Things.”

Mastercard’s new Intelligence and Cyber Centre will be based at The Exchange office tower on Howe Street, which counts Amazon.com Inc. among its tenants.

The Mastercard office houses Vancouver-founded cyber security firm NuData Security Inc., which Mastercard acquired in 2017.

Mastercard said in a statement the new centre will be “creating and maintaining” a total of 380 jobs, while the federal government estimated the new sit would create 100 new co-op positions.

NuData already employs about 100 workers in its downtown office, leaving Mastercard to hire about 300 more workers to meet the needs of the cyber centre.

Jill Tipping, CEO of the B.C. Tech Association, told Business in Vancouver Mastercard was clearly enticed by access to talent and the city’s connections with key markets around the world.

“I’m thrilled that they’re recognizing Vancouver as a great place to launch, but it makes it even more important that we put the investment into supporting our local homegrown companies,” she said.

Mastercard is the most recent international company to show an interest in Vancouver.

Earlier this week, Silicon Valley-based fintech company Tipalti Inc. announced it was opening an office in the city next month, while fellow California tech firm Grammarly Inc. opened a 3,000-square-foot site in Gastown last fall.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: 

The reality is “insurers are not going to write business that is unprofitable. It’s not their function,” Muir-Wood said.

Read more

ICBC Effort To Remove Case From Supreme Court Fails

While the BC Supreme Court Act allows parties to apply to transfer claims to small claims court such applications are rarely brought in personal injury claims where the quantum of claims can vary widely based on how evidence unfolds.

Today reasons for judgment were published by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, hearing and rejecting such an application brought by ICBC.

In today’s case (Herrera v. Miller) the Plaintiff was injured in a collision and sued for damages.  After examinations for discovery the Defendant brought an application to move the case to small claims court arguing the damages could not exceed the limit of that court because the collision was “relatively minor, that the plaintiff suffered insignificant injuries for which he received very little treatment, and that the injuries did not seriously affect the plaintiff’s enjoyment of recreational and sporting activities, or his employment“.

The Plaintiff opposed pointing to recent case law for injuries similar to his with quantum assessments in excess of the small claims court jurisdiction.  In dismissing the application, ordering costs payable to the plaintiff and finding the claim could stay in Supreme Court Mr. Justice Giaschi provided the following reasons:

[12]         The plaintiff filed an affidavit sworn December 13, 2019. In that affidavit, he deposes that, as a result of the accident, he continues to experience symptoms in his back, shoulders and right hip, and has difficulty sleeping. He complains of pain in his lower back and shoulders when not active, and of pain lasting two to three days if he engages in activities. He further deposed to having difficulty falling asleep and of waking in the night because of lower back pain. He further deposed to attending massage therapy on a more or less weekly basis and that he intends to seek chiropractic treatments.

[13]         In approaching this mater, I am particularly mindful of the caution expressed by Justice McEwan in Kooner v. Singh, 2011 BCSC 1384, at paras. 3 and 6. There, he stated it is only in the clearest of cases that a matter should be transferred to the Provincial Court. It is only where there is no possibility of a damage award exceeding the Small Claims’ limit that a matter should be transferred to the Provincial Court:

[3]        I have commented on other occasions about these applications.  They amount to the Supreme Court being asked to summarily determine that damages could not possibly exceed $25,000 and also to accept that a trial in Provincial Court is the most expeditious way to deal with the action.  On the basis of the material before me, it is not possible to say that the case could not exceed $25,000.  The plaintiff wishes to have the matter heard in Supreme Court, and it would only be on the clearest basis that the court would act to deprive a person who wished to be heard in the Supreme Court of the right to do so.

[6]        I have said as much on the previous occasion of Chang v. Wren in oral reasons given June 10, 2011.  I see no reason to stray from the outcome in that case which was to the effect that unless the court were persuaded that damages could not possibly exceed $25,000 the plaintiff should not be deprived of the opportunity to convince a court that their damages exceed that amount.  I considered it most unsafe to summarily decide a case on the basis of descriptions that do not include the actual evidence of the parties.  Courts certainly have the experience of being persuaded that cases that did not appear to be worth a great deal turn out to be worth much more once they have been heard.  I will also say, as I said in Chang v. Wren, that I am absolutely not persuaded by any efficiency or cost-saving argument, particularly where, as here, the application is brought at a point post-discovery.  There is very little process to avoid at this point and, for the reasons I have already indicated, it is not at all clear that there are cost savings to be realized.

[14]         The plaintiff is relatively young. He apparently had no medical issues prior to the accident. He apparently suffered soft tissue injuries in the accident to the neck, back and shoulders, and continues to suffer from what may be chronic pain which may encumber him for the rest of his life. He also has ongoing sleep difficulties and his injuries have affected his enjoyment of recreational activities. The injuries suffered by the plaintiff and the effects of those injuries are somewhat similar to what is described in Poulin and Carson, where the plaintiffs were awarded general damages of considerably in excess of $35,000.

[15]         In my view, on the basis of the evidence before me and the authorities, there is a possibility that the plaintiff may recover damages at trial in excess of $35,000. Accordingly, this matter should not be transferred to the Provincial Court, and the application is dismissed.

Brad Riddell Appointed Vice President, CyberSecurITy at FlexITy, Canada’s leading Systems Integrator

TORONTO, Jan. 20, 2020 /CNW/ – Brad Riddell has been appointed Vice President, CyberSecurITy at FlexITy, Canada’sleading Systems Integrator and Digital Transformation Solutions, by CEO Peter Stavropoulos.

As Vice President of CyberSecurITy Solutions, Brad Riddell is responsible for rapid expansion and growth while managing FlexITy’s emerging CyberSecurITy business. He brings more than 20 plus years of IT risk management, systems integration, and managed services, sales and delivery experience to the FlexITy organization.

“Brad is astute at understanding the cybersecurity challenges faced by Canadian companies and developing pragmatic solutions to effectively manage cybersecurity risk. He has a proven track record of building high performing teams that attract top cybersecurity talent that our clients require. As a longstanding trusted advisor to clients across many industries, Brad quickly earns their trust and develops long-lasting relationships,” said Peter Stavropoulos.

“FlexITy is a proven and trusted Systems Integrator focused on attracting and retaining top IT engineering talent and delivering robust, high performance and reliable solutions to their clients. We are applying this winning approach to cybersecurity to create Canada’s leading end-to-end cybersecurity services business. FlexITy will build tailored solutions targeted at solving the most daunting challenges such as ransomware, securing IoT devices, ensuring the safety of critical infrastructure, enabling secure electronic commerce, and ensuring the privacy of patient medical records,” said Brad Riddell.

Canadian companies now have a single trusted provider to design, deploy, secure and manage critical IT networks, systems and applications. By taking a truly integrated approach to network and system design, integration and security, FlexITy offers a unique capability unmatched in the Canadian market.

Along with the depth of FlexITy’s Infrastructure team of architects, pre-sales engineers, highly skilled and cross-certified integrators and project managers, all with the highest of government security clearances, we work with our best-of-breed strategic partners to develop and deliver broad and deep sets of Managed and Hybrid CyberSecurITy Solutions that make an immediate impact with clients across Canada.

The range of FlexITy clients serviced over the past two decades span across some of Canada’s leading financial, government, public sector, legal, media, telecommunications, insurance and health care institutions.

About FlexITy

FlexITy is an award-winning integrator of smart technology, CyberSecurITy and service solutions, built on powerful and digitally advanced secure platforms, and delivered with decades of expertise, is headquartered in Richmond Hill, with offices in Toronto and Winnipeg.

FlexSecurITy is a next-generation cybersecurity offering enabling organizations to protect the way people work today from advanced threats and compliance risks. FlexSecurITy protects organizations from the advanced attacks targeting them and protects the critical information people create while arming organizations with the right intelligence and tools to respond quickly when things go wrong.

FlexHealth-Powered by FlexITy is a suite of patient-centric solutions that integrate interactive mobile applications, secure health IT and data, and optimize healthcare management. FlexHealth engages patients and families, empowers clinicians and delivers outcomes that matter.

FlexTEL, a leading and secure managed business provides Unified Collaboration Cloud Services for Enterprises seeking a holistic enterprise grade Collaboration Platform.


www.flexsecurity.com, www.flexity.com, www.flexhealth.ca

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