P.E.I. oyster farmers push for crop insurance program

Growers want access to same crop insurance program as farmers on land

Excerpted article was written by Steve Bruce · CBC News

P.E.I. oyster growers say this fall’s early freeze highlights the need for a government insurance program for their industry.

Like many land farmers, growers are concerned the unseasonably cold weather and ice-filled bays and rivers could ultimately kill some of their crop.

The P.E.I. government has already paid out $11 million in claims this year through its crop insurance program, P.E.I.’s Agriculture Minister Robert Henderson says  — but that insurance isn’t available to the farmed shellfish industry.

You’ve got two or three years invested in a crop, so the opportunity for a loss is higher.— Shawn Cooke

“As an association, we’ve asked government before if they’d be interested in including us in a program like crop insurance … thinking the oyster industry is a lot like the farming industry. But we’ve never had any success,” said Shawn Cooke, president of the Island Oyster Growers Group.

‘The margins are very small in the shellfish sector, and that’s why it’s really critical for that support to be there,’ says Tim Kennedy with the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance. (Robbie Moore)

Cooke maintains private insurance premiums would be too costly for most Island oyster growers.

He said without access to a government program, growers are vulnerable to major financial losses, which may be the reality for some this year.

“As the farms grow and more fellas are getting into it, everyone’s got more invested into it,” said Cooke.

“And it’s very intensive, because you’ve got two or three years invested in a crop, so the opportunity for a loss is higher … There’s definitely risks.”

Growers not considered farmers

The cost of crop insurance programs is shared between both levels of government and farmers.The program allows for much lower premiums than farmers would pay through a private plan.

After struggling to get all their potatoes out of the ground this fall, it’s expected many Island potato farmers will be making crop insurance claims. (Submitted by Bryan Maynard)

While provinces administer the programs, it’s ultimately Agriculture Canada that sets the rules.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) says the problem for oyster growers and other seafood farmers is that they’re not considered farmers by Agriculture Canada.

“Because of that, we’ve always fallen under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and that has limited our access,” said Tim Kennedy, CAIA’s executive director.

“We think the time is very ripe that we are taken under the umbrella of Agriculture Canada for growth purposes, and that includes access to the risk programs and support programs long enjoyed by [land] farmers.”

‘Critical for that support to be there’

Kennedy said for years, his alliance has been lobbying the federal government to make that change.

Oyster growers don’t normally have to contend with ice like this in November. (Submitted by Nick Coughlin)

He said the challenges facing P.E.I. oyster growers this fall point to the urgent need for insurance.

“That support is needed for the farmers and the communities,” said Kennedy. “This is a significant risk. The margins are very small in the shellfish sector, and that’s why it’s really critical for that support to be there. It shouldn’t be this difficult.”

In a statement emailed to CBC News, DFO media relations’ Carole Saindon says the need for government-funded insurance for aquaculture producers has been explored, and “preliminary reviews have found that there are a few key risks potentially affecting aquaculture producers, such as disease outbreaks and climate induced impacts. These risks are both sporadic and highly variable across the country.”

The federal government “will continue to engage with the aquaculture industry on this request,” she added.

Source: CBC News

ICBC launches telematics pilot for new drivers

ICBC launches telematics pilot for new drivers

ICBC is taking the next step forward into telematics research with a new pilot—this time inviting as many as 7,000 drivers with less than five years of experience to see how telematics technology can improve their driving and make B.C. roads safer.

ICBC’s rates are under considerable pressure, in part from a significant increase in crashes. In fact, in B.C., new drivers are 5.6 times more at risk of getting into a crash and for that crash to be severe, than those with 20 years of driving experience*. This risk gradually decreases as new drivers gain more experience. Starting September 2019, inexperienced drivers will be paying more to better reflect this risk as part of the recent changes to rate fairness. This pilot is an opportunity to assess if telematics can measurably improve driver behaviour and help offset that impact in the future by decreasing this demographic’s risk of being in a crash.

Results from the first telematics pilot earlier this year that focused on the technology’s usability found that over 40 per cent of participants saw improvements in their driving by using the technology, and nearly three-quarters recommended that ICBC explore its use further—particularly for inexperienced drivers.

Now ICBC will look at telematics solutions that involve a small in-vehicle device that communicates with an app installed on the driver’s cellphone. For each trip, driving behaviours like speeding, braking patterns and level of distracted driving are recorded and an overall score is produced. The results from the pilot will help inform whether a longer-term telematics program should be implemented for more ICBC customers.

“From our first telematics pilot earlier this year, ICBC has developed a telematics strategy to identify how the technology can be used to improve road safety and drive behavioural change among higher-risk drivers in B.C.,” said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We heard from those pilot participants that most believed the use of telematics would make the roads safer for everyone. This is our next step in a thoughtful examination of telematics technology and how it might help to keep these drivers safer.”

In early 2019, ICBC will confirm a vendor that will provide the technology for the pilot through a Negotiated Request for Proposal process, and participant sign-up will begin in the spring. The pilot will launch in the summer with incentives for drivers while collecting driver feedback and driving behaviour data for one year.

Anyone interested in participating in the pilot can sign up for updates at icbc.com/driverpilot. ICBC is looking for participants in the Novice stage of the graduated licensing program or with less than five years of experience as a fully licensed driver from all across B.C.

*New driver refers to someone with less than one year of experience as a fully licensed driver. Stats from 2018 Rate Design Application.

$95,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment For Chronic Pain with Psychiatric Overlay

Reasons for judgment were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain symptoms with psychiatric overlay caused by a series of collisions.

In today’s case (Sandhu v. Bates) the Plaintiff was injured in three collisions.  Fault was admitted by the Defendants.  The Plaintiff suffered injuries which developed into a myofascial pain syndrome.  She further developed somatic symptom disorders.  Her prognosis for full recovery was guarded.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $95,000 Madam Justice Winteringham provided the following reasons:

[137]     In summary, I make the following findings of fact respecting Mrs. Sandhu’s injuries:

a)    Mrs. Sandhu sustained moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, lower back, buttock, right hip, right ankle, and right knee in the accidents.

b)    Rather than following a typical course of recovery after the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu experienced chronic low back pain affecting her buttock and pain down the right leg and associated numbness in the left buttock. Her chronic pain worsened in the first and second years following the accident and persisted at the time of trial.

c)     I accept Dr. Squire’s opinion that the diagnosis for her physical injuries is most consistent with myofascial pain syndrome of the lumbopelvic area and that the intermittent exacerbations are likely episodic acute muscle spasms and the right leg pain is likely referred pain from the myofascial pain syndrome. I also accept that she continues to experience intermittent neck pain.

d)    Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail all agree, and I find, that Mrs. Sandhu developed somatic symptom disorders. I note that though their diagnoses were not identical, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Suhail report that she meets the diagnostic criteria of somatic symptom disorder with predominant pain, following the accidents.  In addition, I accept Dr. Anderson’s opinion that following the accidents, Mrs. Sandhu suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder.

e)    I find that, as Mrs. Sandhu’s psychological condition deteriorated, her ability to cope with pain was poor. Dr. Suhail’s opinion, with which I agree, was that “as here pain would trigger her anxiety, her subsequent psychological problems would reduce her ability to cope with pain. Whenever she would be stressed and anxious, her back pain would increase.”

f)      Dr. Joy, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Suhail, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Kashif all agree that Mrs. Sandhu suffered from anxiety after the accidents. They disagree about prognosis. I find that the first accident, and aggravated in the second and third, caused Mrs. Sandhu’s generalized anxiety disorder. The medical experts are all of the opinion that Mrs. Sandhu’s prognosis is guarded, particularly if she is unable to address her anxiety disorder. Dr. Suhail indicated some recent improvement and, with ongoing cognitive behavioral treatment, there is some reason for cautious optimism.

[153]     I have reviewed the cases referred to by the parties. On my review of Mrs. Sandhu’s cases, as her counsel admits, the injuries suffered in some of those cases were more serious than what I have found in the present case. Similarly, I have found the cases relied on by the Defendants involved Plaintiffs with lesser injuries than those I have found in Mrs. Sandhu’s case.

[154]     In all of the circumstances, and taking into account the authorities I have been referred to, I am satisfied that an award of $95,000 will appropriately compensate Mrs. Sandhu for her pain and suffering and loss of past and future enjoyment of life, for which the Defendants are responsible.

Scotiabank’s exit from Caribbean insurance opens door for Sagicor in Canada

Bank of Nova Scotia’s decision to exit the life insurance market in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago paved the way Tuesday for one of the Caribbean’s oldest and largest insurers, Sagicor Financial Corp., to make its debut on Canadian markets.

Barbados-based Sagicor is paying US$203-million for Scotiabank’s insurance operations in two of the Caribbean’s most populous countries, along with a 20-year agreement to sell its products to the bank’s clients in the two countries. The deal unites the Caribbean’s dominant insurer – Sagicor has 50-per-cent-plus market share in Jamaica and a number of other countries – with the region’s leading bank. In Caribbean markets, Scotiabank typically offers two types of coverage to clients, while Sagicor sells 15 different kinds of insurance.

Scotiabank also said Tuesday that it’s focusing its Caribbean operations on countries where it enjoys economies of scale, and is selling branch networks on nine islands to Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd.

To pay for the Scotiabank purchase and fund future growth, Sagicor will list its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange through a reverse takeover. The insurance company is being acquired by a special purchase acquisition corporation (SPAC) called Alignvest Acquisition II Corp., which raised $515.5-million when it went public on the TSX in 2017. The SPAC’s cash-and-share bid is valued at US$760-million, and will see Sagicor executives swap their holdings in the insurer for Alignvest stock.

The deal would give Sagicor, a company founded in 1840, a modern corporate structure. As with many Canadian life insurance companies, Sagicor was originally owned by its policy holders, who in 2001 received shares in exchange for their ownership stakes in a process called demutualization. Unlike domestic insurers, Sagicor did not follow through on this process by building its investor base. Shares in the insurer, which has US$6.8-billion in assets, are still held by approximately 38,000 clients and individual investors.

Sagicor has done seven significant acquisitions over the past 15 years, including the purchase of Royal Bank of Canada’s Jamaican operations in 2014, and plans to continue expanding. Joining forces with the SPAC is meant to give Sagicor additional access to capital at a time when the insurer’s executive team said in a news release it sees opportunities “to execute accretive follow-on acquisitions.”

Toronto-based Alignvest Management Corp. launched the SPAC in 2017 and has spent the past 15 months negotiating the Scotiabank acquisition and reverse takeover of Sagicor, with a team that included Alignvest managing partner Timothy Hodgson, former chief executive of Goldman Sachs Canada, and chairman Nadir Mohamed, former CEO of Rogers Communications Inc. If the transaction is approved by Alignvest shareholders at a vote that is expected to take place in January, Mr. Hodgson is expected to become the insurer’s chairman, while current Sagicor CEO Dodridge Miller and the management team will continue to run the company.

As part of Alignvest’s pitch for shareholder approval of the takeover, the SPAC pointed out that it is acquiring Sagicor for its book value, while most Canadian insurers change hands at a premium of 1.2 times their book value. The Sagicor acquisition is valued at 6.5 times next year’s projected earnings, below the average multiple of 8.8 times earnings on domestic insurance stocks. Sagicor posted a US$62-million profit in 2017, and the Scotiabank acquisition is expected to add US$30-million to the insurer’s annual income.

Since 2015, when securities regulations were changed to allow Canadian SPACs, the majority have performed poorly for investors. Approximately a dozen SPACs have raised $1.4-billion but many have either failed to make an acquisition and returned their capital to backers, or did a deal and are now trading for less than their initial public offering price. The first SPAC from Toronto-based Alignvest was sold for $10 a share in 2015, then acquired a telecom company called Trilogy International Partners Inc. in 2017. The shares closed at $1.52 on Tuesday.

RBC Dominion Securities was Alignvest’s financial adviser on the latest SPAC transaction, while Sagicor worked with JPMorgan Securities LLC.

CMHC declares dividend of $1.175B payable to the Government of Canada

The Board of Directors for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has approved a dividend of $1.175 billion to its shareholder, the Government of Canada. The dividend is payable by February 28, 2019.

For the first time, CMHC’s dividend includes $175 million from its securitization business. CMHC has now declared $4.175 billion in dividends so far this year.

CMHC manages its mortgage insurance and securitization activities on a commercial basis. The premiums and fees collected from these activities cover all related expenses while generating a reasonable return for its shareholder, the Government of Canada.

The dividend balances returning excess capital to the Government, while retaining sufficient capital to protect against housing market risks. Our dividend framework is informed by our risk appetite, stress testing and scenarios analysis. We intend to continue to return excess capital to the Government while establishing a dividend that allows us to maintain capital in line with our long-term capital needs.

CMHC’s intention is to continue declaring dividends on a quarterly basis, subject to approval by our Board of Directors.

Associated links:

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. For more information, follow us on TwitterYouTubeLinkedInFacebookand Instagram.

SOURCE Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

For further information: Audrey-Anne Coulombe, Media Relations, 613-748-2573, acoulomb@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

Tomec v Economical Mutual Insurance Company – Limitation …

Article by Michael J. Henry and Daniel Fisher

Recently, the Divisional Court released their decision in Tomec v Economical Mutual Insurance Company, 2018 ONSC 5664. This Appeal concerned the issue of whether the limitation period set out in the Insurance Act and the SABS is a “hard” limitation period, such that the limitation period begins two years from the date of denial of a benefit, or a “soft” limitation period, such that the limitation period only begins to run when the insuredʼs right to claim the benefit is discovered.

In Tomec, the insured submitted an Application for approval of an assessment for a file review to evaluate the issue of Catastrophic Impairment (CAT). On August 26, 2010, the insurer responded. In the insurer’s response, the following was noted:

In accordance with Section 18(2) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, no attendant care benefit is payable for expenses incurred more than 104 weeks after the accident unless you have been determined to have sustained a Catastrophic Impairment as defined by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.

In accordance with Section 22(3) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, no payment for housekeeping and home maintenance benefits are payable for expenses incurred more than 104 weeks after the accident unless you have been determined to have sustained a Catastrophic Impairment as defined by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.

Please note that should you disagree with our assessment of your claim and wish to dispute it, mediation must be commenced within 2 years from your receipt of this letter.

On November 4, 2015, the insured was deemed CAT. The insurer subsequently denied payments of past benefits owing, and denied ongoing attendant care benefits and housekeeping benefits on the basis that these benefits had been denied at the two-year mark and the insured did not mediate this denial within two years.

A LAT application was filed in relation to the denials. The Vice-Chair determined that the insured was barred from proceeding with her application for attendant care and housekeeping benefits, despite having a Catastrophic Impairment, because she did not dispute the stoppage of those benefits within two years of the denials.

The insured made two primary arguments:

  1. That the 2010 denials was not valid because at the time of the denials, she was not CAT and was therefore, not eligible to claim the attendant care and housekeeping benefits.
  1. That the limitation period could not have started to run as the insured had not discovered she was catastrophically impaired, such that she would become entitled to the increase levels of Attendant Care and housekeeping benefits.

The vice chair rejected both arguments. She found that the 2010 denials were clear and unequivocal and therefore sufficient to trigger the two year limitation period found in s. 281.1 (1) of the Insurance Act, which stated as follows:

A mediation proceeding or evaluation under s.280 or 280.1 or a court proceeding or arbitration under s.281 shall be commenced within two years after the insurer’s refusal to pay the benefit claimed.

She found that this provision did not include the doctrine of discoverability. It is a fixed limitation period, triggered by a specific event (in this case, the denial letter).

The Divisional Court upheld the Vice Chair’s Decision. In determining when the limitation period starts to run, the Court compared the wording of s.281.1 (1) to that of section 38 (3) of the Trustee Act, which states:

An action under this section shall not be brought after the expiration of two years from the death of the deceased.

The Court noted that the two sections were analogous in that they were both triggered by fixed events. In the case of s. 281.1 (1), the event is the denial by the insurer, while with section 38 (3), the event is the date of death.

This decision is a tough pill to swallow for the Plaintiff’s bar. While one can understand the Court’s legal reasoning, it takes too restrictive an approach in its analysis. It ignores the fact that the insured had no claim to make until she was deemed CAT. The insured did not have a claim for the benefits that they simply needed to discover. Rather, the insured was not entitled to the benefits until the CAT determination was made. One wonders how a benefit can be denied before the insured becomes eligible for it.

Furthermore, this Decision ignores a vital aspect of the wording of 2. 281.1 (1) of the Insurance Act. The wording of the provision is that a proceeding must be commenced within two years after the insurer’s refusal to pay the benefits claimed. In this case, attendant care and housekeeping benefits were not claimed after the 104 weeks. What was submitted to the insurer for consideration was an application for a CAT file review. The insurer sent back a letter with a blanket denial of benefits that had not been claimed. As the benefits had not been claimed, how can these benefits fall within 281.1 (1)?

Regardless, the limitation periods under the SABS are now considered ʺhardʺ limitation periods, such that any denial must be mediated or disputed within two years. While this interpretation creates difficulties for insured individuals going forward, all lawyers must be mindful of this fact to ensure that no client is accidentally precluded from accident benefits entitlement.

Whether this decision will be appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal is not known at this time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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