Employment Insurance premiums will be lower than anticipated in 2019

OTTAWA _ The Canada Employment Insurance Commission says employment insurance premiums will be lower than expected in 2019.

The commission says the rate will be $1.62 per $100 of insurable earnings, which is four cents lower than anticipated.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Jean-Yves Duclos, minister for families, children and social development, say in a joint statement that the EI premium rate has been reduced “thanks to a strong and growing economy.”

The statement says the new rate is almost 14 per cent lower than the rates in 2015 and that it’s the lowest rate since 1980.

Randall Bartlett, chief economist at the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy says the low premium rate is a reflection of the strong Canadian job market.

The change won’t be reflected on people’s paycheques until January.

Manulife announces appointment of Chief Human Resources Officer and retirement of Chief Investment Officer

Manulife today announced it has appointed Pamela Kimmet as Chief Human Resources Officer. Ms. Kimmet will oversee the Company’s Human Resources function and provide leadership to the people and culture elements of the Company’s transformation. The Company also announced that Warren Thomson has made the decision to retire as Manulife’s Chief Investment Officer and Chairman of Global Wealth and Asset Management.

Chief Human Resources Officer

Ms. Kimmet’s appointment is effective October 1, 2018, and she will report directly to Manulife President and Chief Executive Officer Roy Gori.

Ms. Kimmet is a world-class Human Resources leader who most recently served as the Chief Human Resources Officer of Cardinal Health, a healthcare services and products company with 50,000 employees in nearly 60 countries around the world. Ms. Kimmet has also served as a member of Manulife’s Board of Directors since March 2016. She resigned from that role effective September 4, 2018. She previously led the HR function at a number of global organizations, including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Bear, Stearns & Co. and Lucent Technologies, and held strategic HR roles at Citigroup and General Motors.

“Pam’s vast experience across a variety of industries and geographies makes her the ideal leader to take on this important role,” Mr. Gori said. “Building a high-performing team and culture is one of our five strategic priorities as we transform our Company into a digital, customer-centric market leader. Pam joins us at a critical time in our history, and her expertise in talent development and organizational change will be of great value as we work to achieve our bold people and culture ambitions.”

Ms. Kimmet is a thought leader within the HR profession, serving as Chair of the HR Policy Association, and past Chair of the Association’s Center for Executive Compensation. She also serves on the advisory boards for Cornell University’sCenter for Advanced Human Resources Studies, and the University of South Carolina’s Center for Executive Succession. Ms. Kimmet was named a Fellow by the National Academy of Human Resources in 2009. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of Perspecta, a leading information systems and mission services provider to the U.S. government.

Chief Investment Officer

Mr. Thomson has announced his intention to retire effective February 28, 2019, following an extremely successful career with Manulife and John Hancock during which he made significant contributions to the Company’s long-term success.

Paul Lorentz, who currently reports to Mr. Thomson with responsibility for Manulife’s Global Wealth and Asset Management business, has been promoted to the role of President and Chief Executive Officer, Global Wealth and Asset Management effective March 1, 2019, and will report directly to Mr. Gori. Mr. Lorentz, who was appointed to his current role in October 2017, joined Manulife in 1993 and has delivered outstanding results in a variety of Wealth and Asset Management roles.

Scott Hartz has been promoted to the role of Chief Investment Officer effective March 1, 2019, and will also report directly to Mr. Gori. Mr. Hartz currently serves as Head of General Account Investments for Manulife, overseeing all U.S., Canadian and Asian general account investments, and has performed with excellence in this role. Mr. Hartz is also the Chief Investment Officer for John Hancock Life Insurance Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Manulife.

“Paul and Scott are proven leaders who have built and maintained strong momentum across their mandates and teams,” Mr. Gori said. “I’m confident they will continue to create significant value for our organization, our customers and our shareholders.”

Spanning more than two decades, Mr. Thomson’s tenure at Manulife has been marked by his focus on finding attractive growth opportunities with appropriate risk profiles. His innovative approach, coupled with a forward-looking view of clients’ needs, helped make Manulife an international leader. Following his appointment as Chief Investment Officer in 2009, during the global financial crisis, Mr. Thomson led programs to de-risk the Company’s equity and interest-rate risk exposures.

Mr. Thomson also oversaw the establishment and growth of Manulife Asset Management. Manulife Asset Management’s assets under management grew from $94 billion in 2006 to $516 billion as of June 30, 2018. Mr. Thomson led the expansion of Manulife Asset Management into private assets, which saw the Company extend its investment offerings and bring its General Fund expertise in alternative asset classes to external investors.

As a leader, Mr. Thomson has a deep belief in the importance of diversity. He is a passionate advocate of gender diversity and an executive sponsor of Women in Capital Markets, who recognized him in 2016 as a “Champion of Change” for his role in encouraging the advancement of women.

“Warren has made numerous contributions across our global franchise. He is a trusted and respected leader, and he will leave a strong legacy,” said Mr. Gori. “On behalf of the Board and Executive Leadership Team, we thank him and wish him all the best in retirement.”

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. We operate primarily as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2017, we had about 35,000 employees, 73,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 26 million customers. As of June 30, 2018, we had over $1.1 trillion (US$849 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $27.6 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in AsiaCanada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as ‘MFC’ on the TorontoNew York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong.

SOURCE Manulife Financial Corporation

Feds settle lawsuit with moms denied extra EI benefits for sick leave

By Jordan Press

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ It was seven years ago this week that the federal government told new mom Jennifer McCrea she couldn’t access sickness benefits while on maternity leave.

On Tuesday, the government publicly said it made the wrong decision and is agreeing to pay an estimated $11 million to about 2,000 women who, like McCrea, were blocked from accessing 15 extra weeks of employment insurance payments on top of a year’s worth of maternity benefits _ despite the rules saying they could.

McCrea, the woman at the centre of the case, said the settlement had left her in tears most of the day with the burden of the case now lifted from her shoulders.

“There were a lot of people that this happened to and we wanted to make sure it didn’t happen to anybody else in the future and that we needed to help them,” McCrea said in a telephone interview from her home in Calgary.

“Absolutely we’ve been successful in doing that. Whether that took seven years or 17 years, that was originally what it had to be and it wasn’t just about me…. It was about helping others.”

McCrea was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2011, while she was on maternity leave with her youngest son, Logan, who was eight months old at the time.

She had a double mastectomy in August 2011 and was deemed cancer-free shortly afterwards, but was denied sickness benefits, despite a 2002 law that allowed new parents to access the additional weeks of EI payments.

McCrea took the government to court in 2012 alleging thousands of others were also denied benefits between 2002 and 2013, when the Tories clarified the law for all future claims.

The problem was that prior to 2013, the government wouldn’t let new mothers and fathers switch from parental to sickness benefits until they could show they were otherwise available for work.

During the 2015 federal election the Liberals vowed to put an end to the legal dispute if they were elected only to rack up a legal bill of more than $2.5 million fighting the women in court after they formed government.

Federal lawyers gave the first hints earlier this year that the Liberals were ready to settle the case. Months of negotiations and paperwork followed before documents were officially submitted in August.

The settlement is conditional on Federal Court approval that is expected to happen in early December and payments should begin flowing to eligible women by next spring.

“I’m happy about it. It’s just a tremendous relief,” McCrea said.

In a statement, the government said it “recognizes the challenges faced by Canadians who cannot work because of illness, injury and other family challenges” and reached a settlement in the case to “bring closure to these legal proceedings.”

Ottawa has not asked for any upper limit for pay outs, meaning federal coffers will pay out 100 per cent of the wrongfully denied benefits, including to families of women who have died. The total cost could be between $8.5 million and $11 million, but that will depend on the number of eligible women.

McCrea’s lawyer, Stephen Moreau, said the government’s decision to not impose a cap on payments was significant, particularly after a protracted legal fight.

“Although this has taken a long time to get here, six and a half years of litigation, I am happy,” he said.

The women in the case, he said, have “persevered and they’re going to get 100 per cent what they’re owed.”

Occupier’s Liability Claim Dismissed Where Plaintiff Did Not Know Why He Fell Down Stairs

Today’s guest post comes from B.C. injury claims lawyer Erik Magraken

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dismissing an occupier’s liability lawsuit involving a plaintiff who was injured after falling down stairs.

In the recent case (Goddard v. Bayside Property Services Ltd.) the plaintiff “fell on a wooden exterior staircase outside a fire exit” at the rear of a property owned by the Defendant.  The Plaintiff did not know why he fell and did not produce any evidence documenting the stairs being a hazard at the time of the fall.  In dismissing the claim via a summary trial application Mr. Justice Ball provided the following reasons:

[17]         In this case, the plaintiff advanced a theory about what caused his fall, but the Court cannot speculate in respect to a theory; the cause of the fall has not been established on the evidence called by the plaintiff.

[18]         The standard of care under the Act and at common law for negligence is the same: it is to protect others from an objectively unreasonable risk of harm. Whether a risk is reasonable or unreasonable is a question of fact and must be determined based on the circumstances of the case: Agar v. Weber, 2014 BCCA 297 at para. 30.

[19]         The existence of stairs by itself is not an unreasonable risk of harm, but a risk that persons in our society face on a daily basis. The existence of stairs is not therefore something from which the defendants needed to protect the plaintiff: Trinetti v. Hunter, 2005 BCCA 549 at para. 11; Delgado v. Wong, 2004 BCSC 1199 at para. 25.

[20]         The fact of the plaintiff’s fall does not establish that the occupier failed to take reasonable care to ensure the plaintiff was reasonably safe. The plaintiff’s uncontroverted evidence, which was accepted by the defendants, is that he does not know what caused him to fall. If that is the case, he cannot establish the defendants caused the fall and he fails then to establish either negligence or breach of a duty under the Act.

[21]         Further, given the detailed description of the inspection and maintenance of the staircase involved by the staff and owners of the strata, the defendants have met the requisite standard of care under both the Act and common law negligence.

[22]         While the Court heard argument concerning allegations the plaintiff was negligent and submissions relating to quantum of damages, I do not regard those matters as necessary for the purpose of giving judgment.

[23]         In the circumstances of this case, the plaintiff has clearly not met the onus which he bears, and as a result the action falls to be dismissed.

Insurer reports ‘high volume’ of claims after acid spills on B.C. highway

TRAIL, B.C. _ Thousands of insurance claims have been made in the wake of two acid spills along a southeastern British Columbia highway earlier this year that damaged vehicles.

Insurance Corporation of B.C. spokeswoman Lindsay Wilkins said vehicle claims related to the April 10 and May 23 spills of sulphuric acid in Trail have topped 3,000, although fewer are now showing exposure to acid.

“These are complex claims that require extra time to process as each vehicle may have been exposed to varying degrees of sulphuric acid, affecting different parts and components of the vehicle,” she said in an email statement.

A technical expert has been retained to determine the level of contamination of each vehicle and a team of 30 is now dedicated to processing the claims, which Wilkins said are “complex.”

Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd. said in a release posted on its website that the separate spills, one amounting to about 220 litres and the other of about 70 litres, occurred along as much as 16 kilometres of a busy commuter route through Trail.

The spills happened after Teck sold the acid from its Trail smelter and the buyer, International Raw Materials Ltd., contracted to move the corrosive liquid by truck to two other locations in the city.

The truck leaked the acid intermittently along the route, with the largest puddles at intersections where it stopped and started, said Trail Mayor Mike Martin in a telephone interview.

“I’ve seen numbers in the range of 15 to 20,000 thousand vehicles per day that would be passing along that route in both directions,” he said, adding the number of southbound vehicles that could have splashed through the acid “would have been considerable.”

Two vehicles belonging to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue were among those damaged.

“Essentially, a brand new fire engine worth probably in the order of around $800,000 as well as a command vehicle,” said Martin.

Wilkins said the fire truck was a loss but the corporation was still determining if some parts from the truck could be saved.

The corporation has set up a dedicated phone line for drivers who may have travelled through the acid before it was neutralized by first responders.

An adviser who answered the line said sulphuric acid has the potential to corrode vehicle undercarriages, aluminum parts and especially brake lines and brake systems.

Teck spokesman Chris Stannell said in an email that the company “regrets the concern this issue has caused in the community.”

“International Raw Materials Ltd. was the owner of the acid and responsible for its safe transportation,” he added.

The company’s statement said the spills are unacceptable and Teck is “working with the parties involved in acid transportation to prevent any recurrence.”

It said both spills were cleaned up, no acid seeped into area waterways and there was no damage to roads or a bridge over the Columbia River.

Martin agreed the Victoria bridge was undamaged, but he said the city was still checking its own vehicle fleet for corrosion.

A meeting had been arranged for Friday by International Raw Materials to offer a formal debriefing with Teck, emergency services and other parties, but Martin said the city announced Thursday that it would not attend after several other participants pulled out.

“There may be a time and a place to hold a meeting like this in the future, but at this point, with various legal concerns now coming forward, it was understood that until these issues are resolved, the parties directly involved are proceeding with caution,” said a statement from the City of Trail.

Martin said the summary of information released Thursday by Teck and International Raw Materials came months after the second spill and at the request of the City of Trail.

“The city was very disappointed with the lack of information made available following the incidents.”

Time for Ottawa to discuss health insurance for tourists

It’s not fair that the Canadian system has to pay when visitors fall ill and need care.

Excerpted article was written by Dr. Charles S. Shaver Hamilton Spectator

rad Hazzard was referring to $30 million in unpaid medical expenses per year, and is proposing that all tourists to Australia be required to have health insurance. Should Canada do the same?

Increasingly, such insurance is necessary to cover tourists unexpectedly injured in auto accidents, floods, fires, bridge collapses, and in the remote event of shootings and other acts of terrorism.

Proof of health insurance is required by Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Aruba, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cuba, the Falkland Islands, Latvia, Slovakia and Russia, and possibly Thailand in the near future. It is mandated to obtain a visa to the 26 countries in the Schengen zone of Europe.

The number of overseas tourists to Canada may increase by 6.7 per cent this year. Total visitors to Toronto increased by 3.6 per cent; this included a jump in those from Mexico by 72 per cent, India by 31 per cent, Brazil by 23 per cent, and China by 9.1 per cent.

Certainly, the need for travel health insurance already exists in Canada. A bus crash on Highway 401 east of Kingston in June killed three and injured 34 Chinese tourists. A German tourist was shot in the head near Calgary in early August. Toronto now has a higher homicide rate than does New York City, and has witnessed a greater number this year than in all of 2017.

Because of the Canada Health Act and Ontario Bill 94, physicians here cannot charge wealthier patients more to compensate for those who are uninsured. With the recent dispute between Ottawa and Saudi Arabia, Canadian medical schools are losing $100,000 for each medical resident or fellow forced to leave our country. Hence, both hospitals and MDs are hardly in a position to provide free care to visitors; all should be urged to buy health insurance. Possibly, it should even be mandated by Ottawa.

Sadly, such insurance does not cover routine office visits nor complications of a pre-existing illness. The solution is much more complicated.

Many of our larger cities are now multicultural. Many new Canadians may wish to arrange for prolonged visits for parents, grandparents, etc. Yet pre-existing diabetes, cardiac disease, etc. may preclude buying adequate private insurance. Sponsors are legally responsible for medical bills incurred by their relatives. How can we be fair to the sponsors, temporary visitors, but also to physicians and hospitals?

Possibly, Medavie Blue Cross (or a similar company) — which handles the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees, as well as benefits for the military and the RCMP — could expand coverage to include these long-term visitors, under the supervision of Ottawa, with premiums to be paid by the sponsors. To reduce costs, there would be a deductible, and routine office visits and elective surgery would be excluded. It would, however, cover critical illnesses requiring in-hospital treatment. These might include a heart attack, stroke, severe infection, acute congestive heart failure, fall with a fracture, etc.

Sponsors would pay a significant premium per week. This would encourage them to keep the length of stay of relatives in Canada to a minimum; this would minimize the chance that such complications might occur.

Ottawa permits all temporary visitors to enter Canada. It follows that it now has an obligation to health providers and hospitals to ensure that they will be fairly and promptly remunerated should any visitor need unexpected medical or surgical treatment in this country.

 

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