A review of five family friendly video games for the holidays

By Curtis Withers

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Video games are sure to be at the top of the wish lists of many Canadian children once again this holiday season, but parents may be concerned that some of the most sought-after titles are too much of a time sink, too violent or both.

Here are five suggestions from The Canadian Press on games that children and young teens can enjoy, and for parents looking for an alternative to the “Fortnite” craze.

NINTENDO LABO

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB rating: E (all ages)

Price range: $80 (robot kit) to $90 (vehicle kit, variety pack)

A solid entry-level gaming choice for younger children, Nintendo’s Labo kits are essentially cardboard toy construction sets and video games rolled into one. The Labo debuted in April with the variety pack, and robot kit, and a vehicle kit that came out in September added steering consoles for car, submarine and airplane games. The car steering wheel and pedal can also be used as a controller for the popular racing game “Mario Kart 8,” and it works pretty well.

While building the kits is certainly enjoyable, the real gem of the Labo system is the basic object oriented coding language that kids can access to learn the fundamentals of programming while adding more functionality to the toys. It’s packaged as an under-the-hood extra in the kits released so far, but has excellent potential as a learning tool if Nintendo features it more prominently in a future release.

SUPER MARIO PARTY

Platform: Nintendo Switch

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $80

Nintendo’s bread-and-butter has long been family-friendly games, and this year was no different. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” and the “Pokemon: Let’s Go” games could also have made this list. But for sheer family entertainment that appeals to gamers of all ages, “Super Mario Party” has the edge.

The casual mini-games that make up the heart of the game are fun, particularly with a full complement of four players. And playing the board game modes is a must for any family whose holiday get-together includes a heated round of “Monopoly.”

OVERCOOKED! 2

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows/Mac

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $25 (digital) – $50

Another chaotic family-friendly multiplayer game, “Overcooked! 2” is a game that stresses co-operation and teamwork as a group of chefs are tasked with cooking and serving an increasingly complicated array of dishes within a time limit. As the dishes get more complex, so too do the kitchen layouts the chefs must work in. Without some planning and co-ordination, you could be spending time putting out fires and searching in vain for clean dishes as the timer mercilessly ticks down.

The attractive price point and availability on a wide variety of platforms makes “Overcooked! 2” one of the more accessible holiday gaming recommendations.

FORZA HORIZON 4

Platforms: Xbox One, Windows

ESRB rating: E

Price range: $80

The latest entry in the “Forza Horizon” series takes place in an open-world rendition of Britain, where players vie for supremacy in high-speed races to earn enough money to add more vehicles to their ever-expanding garages.

It’s a game more suited to older kids, as the driving mechanics can get a little complicated, and of course the thought of recklessly driving through the streets of Edinburgh might be a turnoff for parents with smaller children. But with the amount of vehicles available and the variety of racetracks on offer, “Forza Horizon 4” will offer plenty to keep young, aspiring gearheads busy.

SPIDER-MAN

Platform: PlayStation 4

ESRB rating: Teen

Price range: $65 (used) to $80 (new)

Spidey’s latest foray into video games highlighted a big year for the wall-crawler: Peter Parker had a big role in the blockbuster  “Avengers: Infinity War” (we all know he’s coming back from “the snap,” right?) and multiple versions of the hero will appear in the anticipated animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.”

The latest “Spider-Man” game exists outside his film counterparts, with an excellent original story serving as the backbone of the title. It may not be suitable for younger children due to a few intense scenes and some mild language, but any kids who can handle the Marvel films won’t have any problems with the content here.

While there is some cartoonish violence in the game, Spider-Man’s moral compass stays true. His fisticuffs with the forces of evil are never lethal, and when he’s not facing off against The Kingpin or The Rhino he even has time to clean up some of New York City’s pollution.

Winnipeg based insurance company closed for day after overnight threat

WINNIPEG _ Thousands of Winnipeg employees of insurance giant Great-West Life Assurance Co. were told to stay home Wednesday because of a threat against the business.

Police said a building security team notified them of the threat just after midnight.

Const. Tammy Skrabek, a police spokeswoman, said officers carried out a search of company facilities and found nothing, but new information surfaced overnight.

“With that they (Great-West) chose to close down their buildings and have employees stay home until police could do a secondary search during the day,” she said.

The police canine unit was expected to be part of the latest search but Skrabek said investigators “don’t believe there is any immediate threat.”

There was no immediate word from Great-West Life on how the closure will affect its clients.

“Out of an abundance of caution for our employees and the community around us, we alerted the Winnipeg Police Service and have closed our buildings at 60, 80 and 100 Osborne Street, 444 St. Mary and 560 Broadway,” Great-West spokeswoman Liz Kulyk said in an email statement.

The Great-West Life Assurance Co. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, a member of the Power Financial Corporation group of companies.

The company’s website says it has more than 13 million Canadian customers.

Great-West Lifeco operates in Canada, the United States and Europe through Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life, Irish Life, Great-West Financial and Putnam Investments. (CJOB, The Canadian Press)

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New Course for RIBO Ethics CE Requirement

New Course for RIBO Ethics CE Requirement

RIBO Ethics CE Requirement

The new license year of Oct 01, 2018 to September 30, 2019, brings new continuing education requirements for general insurance licensed individuals in Ontario.

The total number of required CE hours has not changed however a new category, Ethics, has been introduced and licensees must complete a minimum of 1 hour in this category per term.

ILScorp has developed a course that is RIBO approved for 1 CE in the new Ethics Category: Making the Right Ethical Decisions. This course is now available to all ILScorp General CE Subscribers!

More Info

In this course, we will look at the following topics as they relate to “Ethics and the

Insurance Professional”, specifically:

  • Defining “Ethics”
  • Establishing Ethical Standards – Sources of Influence
  • Basic Ethical Values and What They Really Mean
  • The Insurance Broker’s Dilemma
  • What a Formal Ethics Program Will Do For Your Brokerage

Along with the new Ethics CE requirement, there is also a cap on the number of Personal Skills hours permitted and a minimum number of Technical hours required. Continuing Education Requirements are listed below. 

RIBO CE Requirements

Principal Brokers and Deputy Principal Brokers

10 hours of continuing education credits every year between October 1st and September 30th subject to the following conditions:

  • minimum of 1 hour Ethics
  • minimum of 5 hours Management
  • Personal Skills category courses cannot be applied
  • The remaining hours may be in the Management or Technical categories.

A carryover of a maximum of 10 hours (or one term’s requirements) is permitted however the minimum category requirements must be maintained.

All other licensed individuals

8 hours of continuing education credits every year between October 1st and September 30th subject to the following conditions:

  • minimum of 1 hour Ethics
  • minimum of 3 hours Technical
  • maximum of 2 hours Personal Skills may be applied

A carryover of a maximum of 8 hours (or one term’s requirements) is permitted however the minimum category requirements must be maintained.

Newly licensed individuals

The continuing education program of 8 hours every year between October 1st and September 30th will begin the first October following registration. Individuals are only exempted for the remainder of the license year that they were registered.

E.g. Broker A was registered on November 1, 2017 and Broker B was registered on April 30, 2018. Neither Broker A, nor Broker B will be required to have accumulated any continuing education credits by September 30, 2018, but must begin taking the continuing education seminars/courses on October 1, 2018 for the 2018/2019 license term.

First holiday party season with legalized cannabis raises road safety concerns

The first holiday season with legalized cannabis could be a dangerous one on BC roads according to a new BCAA survey released today, revealing people’s plans to mix cannabis and alcohol as well as a concerning misconception about cannabis impairment.

The survey, conducted for BCAA by Insights West with both cannabis users and non-users across BC, shows most people expect to see cannabis appear regularly at holiday festivities and be socially acceptable. In fact, 67% of cannabis users expect to or are open to using cannabis at holiday events, with 54% of this group planning to use both cannabis and alcohol. Even those who don’t use cannabis now may partake, with 11% saying they’re open to trying cannabis for the first time over the holiday season; this increases to 18% if offered by a relative or friend.

Expectations for higher cannabis use raises concerns about road safety this holiday season, with 93% of all survey participants saying they are worried about those who get behind the wheel after mixing alcohol and cannabis.

Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s director of Community Impact is also concerned about how cannabis and alcohol increase impairment. Further concerns come from a stat showing that 38% of survey respondents believe they are safe to drive after consuming the equivalent of one joint.

“This ‘one joint’ myth is worrisome,” says Pettipas who points out a new groundbreaking McGill University clinical studythat proves that drivers are significantly impaired for at least five hours after consuming the equivalent of one joint.

BCAA is also keeping a close eye on other research, including a comprehensive study on cannabis from Statistics Canada in which 25% of users reported they’d driven a vehicle within two hours of using cannabis in combination with alcohol, an increase from 15% in 2017.

“It’s a new era and parties may be a bit different from now on,” says Pettipas.”BCAA just wants everyone to have fun and make good decisions. We continue to implore people not to use cannabis and drive. Stay where you are. Find another way home. Never take chances.”

About the Insights West survey
Results are based on an online study conducted from November 2 – 6, 2018, among a representative sample of 814 British Columbian adults, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.4 percentage points. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.

A summary of the Canadian Cannabis Survey, 2018, including the stats quoted in this news release is available on the Government of Canada website.

About BCAA
The most trusted organization in British Columbia by its Members, BCAA serves 1 in 3 B.C. households with industry-leading products including home, car and travel insurance, roadside assistance, Evo Car Share and full automotive services at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres. BCAA has a long history focused on keeping kids safe on the road and at play through community programs such as its School Safety PatrolCommunity Child Car Seat Program and BCAA Play HerePlease visit bcaa.com.

SOURCE British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA)

Aviva Fraud Report 2018: Majority of Ontarians believe 25% of claims are fraudulent

Ontarians, who pay among the highest auto insurance rates in the country ($1,428 per driver), are aware of insurance fraud and supportive of initiatives to fight it, according to the second annual Aviva Fraud Report, released today.

The report contains new polling data on public awareness about insurance fraud in Ontario and shows that drivers are aware of the severe problem. In fact, over 50% of Ontarians believe that 25% of claims are fraudulent. It further shows that the driving public is supportive of actions to combat fraud.

In 2017, it was estimated that Canadians were paying $2 billion per year out of pocket for costs associated with different types of fraud perpetrated against the auto insurance system. Over the past year in Ontario alone, consumer awareness on insurance fraud has grown. For example:

  • 88% of Ontarians think that auto repair shops inflate the cost of vehicle repairs, compared to 77% in 2017.
  • 86% of Ontarians support government and law enforcement agencies investing more resources to investigate and prosecute fraudulent claims, compared to 78% in 2017.

“Dishonest claimants and service providers continue to cheat consumers. We are seeing a troubling and egregious form of fraud that includes the fraudulent sale and issuing of auto policies,” said Colm Holmes, President and CEO, Aviva Canada. “We need to do better for honest drivers. That’s why Aviva is fighting fraud. Honest drivers pay higher premiums because of criminal fraud. They know it. We know it. And the time has come to fight back.”

Key findings of the Aviva Fraud Report 2018

  • 86% of Ontarians feel that more needs to be done to combat fraud.
  • 82% feel the increase in their auto insurance premium is due to fraudulent vehicle repairs, to vehicle theft or to personal injury claims.
  • 73% agree that cracking down on fraud would reduce their current auto insurance premium.

Support of new actions to fight fraud
The results show clear support from Ontario drivers for new actions by government and the insurance industry that can help address situations where:

  • people exaggerate claims,
  • automotive, healthcare and legal suppliers resort to fraudulent practices, and
  • opportunists fraudulently sell policies online and distribute policies.

To effectively tackle auto insurance fraud

  • 74% support a new set of provincial insurance fraud offences.
  • 70% feel that insurance companies need to invest more resources to combat fraud. 60% support an online fraud intelligence database that consumers can access:
    • 72% would use it look up an auto body shop following a car collision
    • 58% would use it to look up a healthcare practitioner for treatment of injuries following a car collision

To help lower insurance rates

  • 59% believe that insurance companies should be mandated to invest in an insurance fraud management model and a clear set of penalties and fines for those convicted of fraud.

To protect consumers

  • 53% feel that government, insurance companies, other organizations fighting fraud, and police all need to take responsibility for warning consumers about insurance fraud schemes.
  • 77% feel that insurance companies that have uncovered fraud schemes should make the information available to the public in real time.

We urge consumers to be alert of any suspicious activity that may lead them to become a victim of fraud. For tips on what to look for, please visit avivacanada.com/fightfraudAviva Canada customers who suspect they may be a victim of fraud can contact our 24/7 fraud hotline 1-855-332-5255 or email us at fraud.canada@aviva.com.

Notes to editors

  • The Aviva Fraud Report 2018 is available digitally here.
  • The survey was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insight through online interviews with 1,500 Ontarians, 18 years of age and older, with a current auto insurance policy. The interviews were carried out from October 15 – 24, 2018. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For a full copy of the survey results contact Aviva.
  • As part of our commitment to combat fraud, Aviva Canada:
    • Released the first annual Aviva Fraud Report in 2017 to increase consumer awareness about fraud.
    • Undertook an undercover investigation called “Project Bumper” to highlight the extent of fraud by auto body shops and tow truck operators in Ontario.
    • Issued an update to the undercover investigation codenamed “Project Duffy” into fraud carried out by healthcare professionals and a paralegal.
    • Continues to invest in identifying and investigating fraud to protect honest policyholders.

About Aviva Canada

Aviva Canada is one of the leading property and casualty insurance groups in the country, providing home, automobile, leisure/lifestyle and business insurance to 2.8 million customers. A subsidiary of UK-based Aviva plc, Aviva Canada has more than 4,000 employees focused on creating a bright and sustainable future for their customers and our communities.

Aviva Canada invests in positive change through the Aviva Community Fund, Canada’s longest running online community funding competition. Since its inception in 2009, the Aviva Community Fund has awarded $9.5 million to over 400 charities and community groups nationwide. Aviva Canada, bringing over 300 years of good thinking and insurance solutions to Canadians from coast-to-coast.

SOURCE Aviva Canada Inc.

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