TORONTO, May 26, 2020 /CNW/ – Today, investigators with the York Regional Police Organized Crime and Intelligence Services laid charges related to organized-crime for violent property damage, fraud and drug trafficking, as part of an ongoing joint-forces investigation into the tow truck industry, known as Project Platinum. Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is proud to assist and support this ongoing investigation.
“IBC applauds the efforts of all partners involved in this joint-forces investigation, Project Platinum, that resulted in criminal charges being laid,” said Bryan Gast, National Director, Investigative Services, IBC. “Insurance fraud is a safety issue for consumers. Lives can be put at risk as a result of these criminal actions. Insurance fraud costs Canadians in added insurance premiums, and strains our already burdened health care, emergency services and court systems.”
This ongoing investigation has identified several organized crime groups working within the towing industry who have used violence and property damage to gain control and territory within the industry. A number of towing companies have been involved in defrauding insurance companies, using vehicles involved in collisions and staged collisions. These towing companies partnered with auto repair shops, physiotherapy clinics, as well as car and truck rental companies, to carry out this fraud.
Insurance companies, through the auto insurance industry’s dedicated Investigation Coordination and Support Service (consisting of nine Insurer Lead Investigators, each from an IBC member company), worked to mitigate the costs of this fraud, including additional costs to the consumer, and actively pursued legal action against various towing companies.
For more information on the investigation, visit York Regional Police.
IBC and its members work tirelessly to mitigate the risk and cost of insurance fraud. Insurance companies pursue legal action against towing companies that are committing fraud.
IBC wants to help consumers avoid falling victim to insurance fraud. The more people report fraud, the more fraudsters we can bring to justice.
Know Your Tow
If you’ve been in a collision:
- Call your insurance representative as soon as possible to report the collision. They can provide helpful, on-the-spot advice on towing options, as well as recommendations of repair and car rental companies.
- You have the right to decide who can tow your vehicle and to what location (unless otherwise directed by police).
- A permission-to-tow form must be signed, and the towing company must provide an itemized invoice before receiving payment and towing your vehicle.
- You are entitled to a receipt for towing services rendered, and you have the option to pay with a debit or credit card.
- Decline offers to store your vehicle in a compound yard unless directed by your insurance representative to do so.
Never sign a blank contract or take referrals from towing companies.
For more information, visit Know Your Tow.
If You Suspect Insurance Fraud
In addition to contacting your insurer, you may also:
About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.
P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 128,000 Canadians, pays over $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $59.6 billion.
For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @IBC_Ontario or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.
SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada
Melissa Lopez-Martinez CTVNews.ca
TORONTO — As lockdown restrictions are slowly lifted around the world, the travel industry is looking at ways to get Canadians back on board.
While airlines, hotels and cruise ships are eager to open their doors, experts say convincing Canadians to travel again will be a tough sell.
Incentives are being introduced by airlines, resorts and hotels as a way to bring aboard new passengers, according to Allison Wallace, vice-president of communications at Flight Centre Canada.
“We should see better pricing and if not better pricing better value and that can be a room upgrade, it could be resort credits, it could be on board credits for cruise ships,” Wallace told CTV News.
Air Canada recently announced revisions to their goodwill policy that will allow customers of cancelled flights due to COVID-19 the option to receive either a travel voucher with no expiry date or bonus Aeroplan miles.
The airline also promised to reduce airfare for domestic flights as it introduced its new summer schedule including domestic and international flights. However, the airline is on a long road to recovery as it has been down 97 flights from the 220 it had the previous year amid the pandemic.
Tamer Hanna is among the many Canadians who had a flight cancelled because of the novel coronavirus. Hanna’s $5,000 Italian trip was put on hold and he received a credit for the flight but said he wants a refund.
“The travel situation is not going to be the same and its really about the safety of myself and my family at this point,” Hanna said in an interview with CTV News.
Many airlines are also catering to the post-pandemic world by introducing new cleaning measures and reconfigured seating. While these measures can help ensure safer travel, McGill University business professor Karl Moore said they will likely cost more for businesses to stay afloat.
“When you take away the middle seat at best you can get the planes maybe 70 per cent full, but at 70 per cent the planes can’t make money and that’s not a viable business model for them,” Moore in an interview with CTV News.
Travel experts say the new travel incentives are enticing, but the risk remains high. With COVID-19 now a known risk, companies are no longer offering travel insurance to cover the cost if Canadians become ill abroad.
President of Travel Secure Inc. Martin Firestone told CTV News that with no coverage, travellers risk incurring high hospital costs if they catch the virus while travelling.
“Quite frankly if you’re away and that second bout or third bout they talk about hits, you have the dilemma of having no coverage and being stuck in an emergency room in a hospital and you’re paying the tab,” Firestone said.
Industry leaders said travel interest is slowly picking up again, with most Canadians interested in domestic trips.
By Liam Casey
THE CANADIAN PRESS
VAUGHAN, Ont. _ Four alleged organized criminal organizations that operated as rival tow truck companies involved in a violent battle for territory in the Toronto area have been dismantled, police said Tuesday.
York regional police said the alleged crimes involved real collisions with jacked-up fees to drivers, staged collisions and extensive insurance fraud.
The turf war on two lucrative highways has led to murders, attempted murders, assaults, arsons and property damage, said Supt. Mike Slack of the force’s organized crime and intelligence services.
“Organized crime begins with an opportunity to make money and a level of greed that leads to criminality and violence,” Slack said in a video statement.
“The towing industry and its lack of regulations have bred exactly that environment.”
York police worked with their Toronto counterparts, Ontario Provincial Police and the Canada Revenue Agency on the investigation, dubbed Project Platinum, that began in February.
After raids and the execution of numerous search warrants, police arrested 20 people who collectively face dozens of counts, including criminal organization related charges, drug-trafficking charges and firearm offences among others.
During the raids, police seized 40 guns, including handguns, shotguns, rifles and a machine gun. Police also seized five kilograms of the deadly opioid fentanyl, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine, 1.25 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and 1.5 kilograms of cannabis.
Police also seized more than $500,000 cash.
The investigative team also worked with the force’s homicide squad that laid murder charges in March against two men with ties to the towing industry for the death of a man who worked in the same industry.
Slack said the alleged criminal organizations are relatively new and have earned millions of dollars in illicit income.
“And when these profits were not enough, they staged collisions using drivers they recruited they deliberately caused collisions in roadways and parking lots across the GTA,” Slack said.
Police allege Paramount Towing along with other towing companies have been defrauding insurance companies with vehicles involved in collisions and staged collisions.
Slack said the companies would grossly inflate towing bills, move cars from lot to lot to increase storage fees, inflate repair bills and involve physiotherapists, much of it in an effort to defraud insurance companies.
Body shops and car rental companies were in on the schemes, Slack said, and would receive “profitable cuts for themselves.”
Insurance companies grew wise to the alleged frauds, Slack said, which then hired Carr Law, a firm in Vaughan, Ont., to investigate.
“It too became the target of violence, threats and extortion,” Slack said.
Last fall an employee was threatened by an armed man and shortly thereafter someone fired bullets into the firm’s office, police said.
Slack said investigators also found a cache of computer records that will aid in the prosecution of those charged.
He alleges Paramount Towing, which is owned and operated by Alexander Vinogradsky, controlled a vast territory that included Highways 401, 404 and 400.
Slack said police have made recommendations to the province to implement regulations in the towing industry, including contract towing.
“York regional police has yearly contracts that we sign that we identify trucks we can use at our collisions,” he said. “We do think that has a great effect and something we recommend in all jurisdictions.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020.
By Lee Berthiaume
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA _ Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’ll push the provinces to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave a year as the country deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
That appears to meet a key demand from NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in exchange for the New Democrats’ support for a motion to limit sittings and votes in the House of Commons through the summer.
Singh laid out the demands on Monday morning, shortly before a small number of members of Parliament returned to the House of Commons to begin debate over the future of parliamentary sittings for as long as several months.
The debate will revolve around a Liberal proposal to waive “normal” House of Commons sittings in favour of expanding the special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a sort of stand-in for the past month.
Because they hold only a minority of seats, the Liberals need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to pass this motion.
The Conservatives are expected to oppose the motion as they push for an end to the COVID-19 committee and the resumption of Commons sittings, albeit with no more than 50 MPs in the chamber at any time.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Jean-Yves Blanchet said Monday his party isn’t participating in negotiations around the return of Parliament.
The Bloc previously laid out a set of conditions it wanted met before it would engage in discussions around how Parliament could sit.
Those included more help for businesses to cover their fixed overhead costs and a straightforward plan for how the Liberals would follow through on a promise of financial support for seniors.
Blanchet said the Liberals have followed through on neither, and ensuring they do is his priority.
“Every time we spend five minutes talking about parliamentary rules, we’re spending five minutes less talking about what Quebecers require,” he said.
He said his party will likely go along with whatever consensus is arrived at to govern how the House of Commons sits for the next while. The Bloc won’t argue about who drives that bus or where it’s going, Blanchet said, but when it comes, the Bloc will probably get on board.
That leaves the NDP, with Singh said his party is willing to support Liberals’ motion for a price.
“We are continuing to make it clear that we need a commitment that the government is willing to provide paid sick leave for all Canadians,” Singh said during a news conference on Parliament Hill.
“We’re suggesting the government can use something like the (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) or employment insurance to deliver that program federally immediately. But we want to see something that is long term and that will require working with provinces and employers to deliver a long-term commitment so that forever in our country, everyone who needs paid sick leave will have access to it.”
Singh is also demanding the government make good on a promise to provide more support to Canadians with disabilities who are struggling during the pandemic.
“If the government does not deliver on paid sick leave for all Canadians and real support for Canadians with disabilities, then we will not be supporting the motion,” he said.
Trudeau said it makes sense to support paid leave for all workers if they’re ill, so that people who might be sick with COVID-19 don’t have to choose between going to work sick and sitting at home unpaid. He acknowledged that he’d had discussions with Singh on the issue on Sunday.
The battle over the future of Parliament in the age of COVID-19 has largely coalesced around the limitations and uncertainty associated with virtual House of Commons sittings as they butt up against demands for full parliamentary representation and accountability during the pandemic.
The Liberals on Saturday unveiled their proposed solution, which would see “normal” House of Commons sittings put aside in favour of expanding the special COVID-19 committee.
The motion proposes adding an additional day to the committee’s current schedule of one meeting a week in person, with fewer than three dozen MPs actually present, and twice a week virtually.
The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17 with a hybrid of in-person and virtual attendance that would see a small number of MPs in the Commons chamber and others participating via two large video screens set up on either side of the Speaker’s chair.
The motion also proposes four sittings of the House of Commons in July and August, each with a question period that would allow MPs the chance to ask cabinet ministers about issues unrelated to COVID-19 _ a key issue of contention for the Conservatives in recent weeks.
The Conservatives have nonetheless indicated they want to do away with the special COVID-19 committee and bring back House of Commons sittings, which includes opposition days, private members’ business and other activities that cannot occur with the committee format.
The key hangup for both sides of the debate appears to be around representation as the House of Commons’ administration works through the technical limitations on virtual attendance.
Those limitations were highlighted in a report by a Commons committee two weeks ago, including concerns about hacking when it comes to MP votes and procedural questions such as how to handle points of order and privilege.
Wondering when Canadians can start travelling again? Here’s what you need to know
· CBC News
For many Canadians, their most exciting adventure over the past couple of months has been a weekly trip to the grocery store.
But now that provinces are easing COVID-19 restrictions, some people may be contemplating travel abroad.
Here’s what you need to know about travelling outside Canada while COVID-19 still lingers in our lives.
Can I travel now?
Yes, but with a lot of conditions to consider.
On March 13, the federal government issued an advisory against all non-essential international travel, to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The advisory remains in effect until further notice.
Despite the advisory, Canadians can still travel abroad. However, they may struggle to find flights and their travel insurance likely won’t cover their medical bills if they fall ill with COVID-19.
International travellers will also have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
The Canada-U.S. border remains closed to tourists crossing by land until June 21. And that date could be extended if the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. — now totalling more than 1.6 million — remains a concern.
Where can I go?
Due to closed borders and a fear of flying during the pandemic, airlines have slashed their routes.
WestJet has grounded all transborder and international routes until June 25. Air Transat and Sunwing have stopped flying altogether until June 30 and June 25, respectively.
Air Canada is currently flying at about five per cent of its capacity. On Friday, the airline announced an updated summer schedule that offers flights to 97 destinations including Rome, Athens and locations in the Caribbean.
Once travel restrictions are lifted, airlines will start adding more routes, said Allison Wallace, spokesperson for the travel agency Flight Centre.
But she warns it could take up to two years for carriers to resume normal operations.
“The airlines aren’t going to come back and go to 100 per cent,” she said. “There’s sort of a general agreement that international travel will start to come back around 20 per cent by the fall — like September — and then it’ll grow from there.”
As for possible travel destinations, Iceland, Mexico and some Caribbean countries such as Aruba and St. Lucia plan to start welcoming back tourists in June. Greece plans to reopen in July.
But travellers may face stiff entry requirements. For example, St. Lucia and Iceland will require that visitors get a COVID-19 test before flying and provide proof upon arrival that they’re virus-free. If travellers to Iceland can’t get a test beforehand, the country plans to test them when they arrive.
Airline analyst and McGill University Prof. Karl Moore is set to fly to Iceland in August to teach for a couple of days at Reykjavík University.
But if he can’t get tested in Canada beforehand, Moore is unsure he’ll take the trip. That’s because, if he tests positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, he’ll have to foot the bill for a 14-day quarantine in a Reykjavik hotel. Travellers suffering from COVID-19 can’t fly back to Canada until they recover.
“It’s going to cost me thousands of dollars to be quarantined,” said Moore. “I love Reykjavik, but I may end up teaching [instead] on Zoom.”
What about travel insurance?
Insurance broker Martin Firestone believes that when Canada lifts its advisory against international travel, travel insurance providers may continue to exclude coverage for COVID-19-related illnesses — until there’s a vaccine.
“A person who ends up on a ventilator in the U.S., it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, so [insurance providers] are in no position to take that risk,” said Firestone, president of Travel Secure in Toronto.
READ MORE HERE AT CBC News
The excerpted article was written
Due to COVID-19, many employers have been thrown head-first into working-from-home (WFM) arrangements for some, if not all, of their workforce. It is important that employers ensure they are meeting their obligations in these circumstances, including occupational health & safety (OHS) responsibilities and business cost reimbursement, in order to avoid liability.
Health & Safety
In WFH arrangements, the employee’s home workspace becomes an extension of the workplace and is subject to OHS legislation. An employer cannot delegate its obligation to provide a safe working environment to its employees. If an employee is injured while working at home, then the employer may be held accountable regardless of what the employee has represented about their workspace.
While ideally employers would conduct home safety inspections, alternatives include requiring employees to fill out a hazard assessment checklist and/or conducting an inspection via video conferencing.
An important part of the inspection process is for employers to assess and mitigate risks of musculoskeletal injuries (typically caused by ill-fitted equipment or harmful posture). While mitigation does not mean that employers are required to purchase office equipment for each employee to use at home, employers should provide practical tips on how to set up ergonomic work stations to prevent injuries. However, any employee requests for specialized equipment should be considered by employers on a case-by-case basis as a refusal could potentially result in OHS or human rights issues.
Further, employers are required to have a check-in system for employees who are working alone. Employers must regularly check-in with employees during their shift, including at the end of each shift, and record the results of these check-ins. Employers must also implement a procedure in the event the employee cannot be contacted, including a procedure for handling an emergency situation.
Under BC’s employment standards legislation, employers must not require an employee to pay for business costs. An employee may incur expenses as a result of WFH that they would not have normally incurred in connection with their home – for example, costs of long distance calls, software, or additional internet usage. These are likely business costs which must be borne by the employer to the extent related to employment use. However, a portion of an employee’s rent would not be considered a business cost under most circumstances.
Employers should be cautious about what employees are expected to pay for while working from home, and should consider reimbursement requests received on a case-by-case basis.
WFH arrangements can create additional complications as the employer has far less control over the workplace. Employers whose employees are working from home should consider:
- Implementing a basic policy for WFH arrangements dealing with health and safety, equipment, and business expenses;
- Ensuring employees are aware of how they can report work-related injuries;
- Having employees conduct a risk assessment of their workspace and report any hazards;
- Providing ergonomic tips for home work stations;
- Checking in with employees in accordance with OHS guidelines; and
- Ensuring employees are aware of expense reimbursement policies and procedures.
For further information, please see the following WorkSafeBC resources:
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