Green Shield Canada Commits $500,000 To Support Communities impacted By COVID-19

TORONTO, ONTARIO, APRIL 15, 2020 – With the COVID-19 crisis continuing to cause unprecedented challenges, Green Shield Canada (GSC) is committing $500,000 to support communities across Canada impacted by the pandemic. This support includes:

  • Financial contributions to emergency relief funds launched by Community Foundations and other partners in Windsor, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Halifax, Moncton, London, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Kitchener Waterloo, and Algoma
  • In-kind support for innovative community efforts like the COVID-19 Community Response Coalition in Windsor-Essex, where GSC call centre agents are helping to run an emergency food hotline
  • Sponsorship for BEACON’s Stronger Minds, a free digital program – launched on April 6 – which provides crucial mental health support for all Canadians

The emergency relief funds launched by Community Foundations and other partners will go towards addressing immediate needs identified in each community. These include ensuring food security, supporting vulnerable populations (including those in shelters), preventing seniors’ isolation, increasing mental health services, and providing support for frontline healthcare workers.

Zahid Salman, GSC President and CEO, adds: “GSC remains committed to helping our communities manage through the challenges presented by COVID-19, and will continue to work with our community partners to determine where additional support may be needed. Through the collective generosity of organizations and individuals, we hope that people in all communities across Canada receive the help they need during these difficult times.”

About Green Shield Canada

GSC is Canada’s fourth-largest health and dental benefits provider and is uniquely structured as a social enterprise with the purpose of making it easier for people to live their healthiest lives. From coast-to-coast, our service delivery includes drug, dental, extended health care, vision, hospital, and travel benefits for groups and individuals, as well as administration and benefits management services. Supported by outcomes-based sustainability strategies, advanced technology, and exceptional customer service, GSC creates innovative programs for nearly four million plan participants nationwide.


Premium Holiday: Onlia waives insurance payments for one-month amid pandemic

Company strengthens its commitment to safety through measures to support customers, employees and the community

Onlia, safety advocate and fast-growing provider of digital home and auto insurance in Ontario, today announced additional measures to support and protect its community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Onlia’s mission is to promote the safety of Canadians – at home, on the road, and in communities.

Onlia is introducing a premium holiday during the month of May for their home and auto insurance customers. All active policy holders as of March 31st who have made at least one full monthly premium payment will automatically receive a one-month premium waiver. The measure is intended to help relieve the financial impact of the pandemic by providing immediate savings at a time when Canadians need it most.

“Onlia has always put the safety of Canadians first, and now more than ever we are pulling together to protect one another,” says Pieter Louter, CEO of Onlia.  “With customers presently experiencing un-precedented lifestyle changes, we are taking additional steps to provide support and assistance to our community.”

True to Onlia’s philosophy to motivate and reward safe behavior-change, the company is also activating their safe-driving app, Onlia Sense™ to reward Canadians for staying home. Typically, the app rewards safe driving, however, in May insurance customers can earn $20 cash for not driving at all.

“Our community has made significant strides in decreasing road usage over the past month”, says Olivia van Eyk, head of marketing Onlia. “Trips taken by Onlia Sense™ users have decreased by 70 per cent from March 1st to April 1st, displaying a commitment to social distancing.”

As a fully digital company, Onlia has always enabled customers to connect with its products, services, and people online. The company’s service model affords seamless, reliable and consistent service to its customers during this uncertain time. Customers looking for additional information are encouraged to visit

About Onlia

Onlia Holding Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiaries Onlia Agency Inc. & Onlia Services Inc., offers innovative digital home and auto insurance and a safe-driving mobile app to the Canadian market. Onlia’s mission is to create a community around making Canada a safer place, and to provide tools and motivation to facilitate safer behaviours. Launched in 2018, Onlia is a joint venture between Achmea Canada Holding Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Achmea B.V. the largest insurance group of the Netherlands, and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Canadian holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and investment management. Using proprietary and award-winning technology, Onlia is rethinking the way Canadians approach safety and insurance. Join the community at and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

SOURCE Onlia Holding Inc.

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Cause for cautious optimism in Canada’s COVID 19 fight, top doctor says

OTTAWA _ While there’s reason to believe the spread of COVID-19 is slowing, Canadian leaders warned Wednesday it was too soon to ease distancing measures, even as the country’s central bank warned the downturn tied to the virus could be the worst on record.

On the day Canada passed the grim milestone of 1,000 deaths, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam nonetheless said there is cause to be “cautiously optimistic” that the rate of growth is slowing.

Tam noted the number of cases in the country is now doubling every 10 days or so, compared to every three days in late March.

But she said Canada still hasn’t reached the peak of the outbreak, and it’s too soon to back off physical distancing measures.

“Coming down from this epidemic curve will be like making our way down from a mountain in the darkness,” Tam said during her daily briefing in Ottawa.

“We mustn’t rush or let go of our safety measures, or the fall will be hard and unforgiving.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned it would still be several more weeks before the country will be able to consider loosening restrictions that have caused businesses to shutter and put the economy in a tailspin.

Widespread testing and the ability to rapidly track down the contacts of infected people will be key to an eventual return to normal activities, he said.

“We have to be through this first wave sufficiently to be able to know we have the capacity to stamp out and restrict any future outbreaks as they come along,” Trudeau said.

“That means technology, that means better testing capacity, that means continued vigilance _ not just by governments but by all Canadians…. We’re still a number of weeks away from that.”

Trudeau announced New Brunswick company LuminUltra was increasing production of chemicals needed to provide the required weekly supply for COVID-19 tests in all provinces. The country has also received more shipments of the swabs needed for the tests, he said.

Millions have lost their jobs as the pandemic has forced the closure of businesses, and consumer spending has plummeted as people have been urged to stay home to stop the spread of the virus.

Economic activity dropped a record nine per cent in March alone, preliminary data released by Statistics Canada suggested.

The estimate, which is to be refined over time, would be the sharpest decline in the nearly 60 years the agency has kept such data.

Despite the bleak economic news, Trudeau was blunt as he warned that easing restrictions too soon could unleash a second wave of infections just as damaging as the first.

“If we reopen too soon, everything we’re doing might be for nothing,” the prime minister said.

Provinces including Manitoba, P.E.I., New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported three or fewer new cases on Wednesday, but devastating outbreaks continued to sweep through long-term care centres in other jurisdictions, killing vulnerable seniors by the dozens.

The death toll across the country surpassed the 1,000 mark with the announcement of 51 more fatalities in Ontario and 52 in Quebec.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the country counted more than 28,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with over half of them in Quebec.

Premier Francois Legault made a desperate plea for family doctors and medical specialists to help out in long-term care homes, where major outbreaks have exacerbated long-running staffing issues.

Quebec has released a five-page list of seniors residences and care homes with at least one COVID-19 case, including 25 institutions where at least a quarter of residents are infected.

Those include a long-term care home in Laval, north of Montreal, which counted 26 dead and 120 infected.

Ontario, meanwhile, had 98 facilities reporting COVID-19 outbreaks that have together killed at least 145 residents, including 29 who died at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, and 27 at Eatonville Care Centre in Toronto.

On the economic front, the Bank of Canada on Wednesday kept its key interest rate target on hold at 0.25 per cent, saying that it is effectively as low as it can go.

It warned the downturn tied to COVID-19 will be the worst on record and the economic recovery will depend on the effectiveness of current measures to bring the pandemic under control.

By Sunday night, some six million people had applied for a $2,000-a-month emergency benefit.

To give a boost to struggling workers, Trudeau expanded the criteria of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Wednesday to include seasonal workers, those who are still working but earning less than $1,000 a month and those whose employment insurance has run out.

He said he would also be working with the provinces to raise the salaries of essential workers who earn less than $2,500 a month, which includes many working in care homes.

SGI not considering breaks for drivers

CBC News 

Less traffic on the roads means fewer collisions and not as many claims.

However that does not mean Saskatchewan drivers impacted by the pandemic should expect to see a break on their monthly premiums to their auto insurance provider.

A spokesperson for SGI says while “they are considering options,” rate reductions do not appear to be one of them.

Tyler McMurchy says insurance costs are influenced by factors other than just the number of collisions.

“Storm claims, theft claims, the severity of injury claims and the fact that the technology in modern vehicles makes them increasingly expensive to repair” are some of those factors, said McMurchy in a statement to CBC.

“Just like when a severe winter storm results in a major uptick in collisions, or a hailstorm sweeps through an urban centre resulting in millions of dollars in claims, customers don’t experience an immediate rate increase. Rates are typically based on long term trends, rather than short term changes.”

McMurchy says while they understand the financial impact of the pandemic, SGI will consider all options for passing any savings on to the people of Saskatchewan.

“SGI and government will not see a financial windfall or profit whatsoever from this situation.”

Tyler McMurchy is the manager of media relations for SGI. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

This is not the same stance taken by some other insurance providers in the country.

Allstate Canada recently announced that it was introducing a “Stay at Home Payment” program to aid its auto insurance customers.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada, the national industry association representing some private insurers, also informed its members they were reducing premiums for the next 90 days.

“With fewer cars on the road, as many vehicles that were once driving to and from work are now parked,” said IBC president Don Forgeron.

“It was clear that the risk profile had changed, there wasn’t as much risk and the premiums ought to reflect that.” 

But in Saskatchewan, McMurchy says the Auto Fund operates on a break-even basis over time, and does not provide money to, or take money from, the provincial government. 

He says for customers facing financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, there are a number of ways to cut immediate costs such as deferring payments for up to 90 days or temporarily cancelling a vehicle’s registration so that they’re not paying a full premium for a vehicle they’re not using.

Working from home? Every home insurance policy is different so contact your provider

The excerpted article was written by Angela Gemmill · CBC News

There are still some grey areas when it comes to insurance coverage for employees who are now doing their jobs from home.

Many workers have temporarily set up their office space in their homes, as their employers deal with public health directives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it could be like this for another month or two, possibly longer.

“It’s a situation that we’ve never been in before,” says Lisla Beaton, director of claims for Cambrian Insurance in Sudbury.

“We’ve never had everybody working from home like we do.”

Every home insurance policy is different and has different coverage.

Most policies have exclusions which state there is not a business operating out of the home. That definition of a business could include workers who are doing their job for their employer.

“You’re operating the business of your job from your home, so yes, it could still be conceived as a business,” Beaton said.

However, she adds that insurers have currently eased up on the rule.

“Many insurance companies and everybody right at the moment has done it [moved work to home] en masse, that the insurance companies are probably going to be a little more lenient on that.”

However, Beaton does recommend informing your insurance company of the temporary change to avoid the provider denying a claim in the future, or at least inquiring as to what they’re doing with other clients in the same boat.

“I’m not sure the insurance company would want an endorsement for everybody to say: ‘This is now what we’re doing,'” she said.

That endorsement for coverage to operate a business out of a home is roughly an additional $20, but differs depending on the provider.

“It’s not a lot of money to add that extra liability coverage to your policy,” she said.

This is why Beaton believes not every insurance company will be making changes — even if temporary, because they’d have to add endorsements to everyone’s policy.

Business property at home

Home insurance policies have limits on business property, like a laptop, if there’s a claim made for lost or stolen items.

For insured losses for business property, Beaton says the limit is usually somewhere around $5,000, and it’s only while on your property (home).

“It has to be stolen from your premises, so if you were out making a call and you brought it with you, and someone stole it out of your car it would not be covered,” she said.

It’s also a good idea to check with your employer to find out if their insurance covers at-home work, as well as equipment that’s been moved from work to home.

“There’s all sorts of little grey areas we have here,” Beaton said, referring to the current situation.

[Insurance] is a contract and the wordings are very complicated. People don’t know or understand what they are, so basically you need to phone and ask.– Lisla Beaton, Director of Claims, Cambrian Insurance

“Every insurance company is different. It behooves you to call your broker or your agent and find out how your exact company is dealing with [the COVID-19 pandemic],” she said.

Once the pandemic is over and someone decides to permanently work from their home, Beaton suggests adding an extension called ‘incidental office use’ to their home insurance policy.

“It increases or extends the liability to cover the operation of that business in your home.”

“Insurance is very complicated. It’s a contract and the wordings are very complicated,” Beaton said.

“People don’t know or understand what they are, so basically you need to phone and ask and review.”

Reducing car insurance

Beaton notes that some people might also qualify for a rebate on their car insurance, if they’re working from home and no longer driving the car to the office.

She says just because you’re not using your vehicle doesn’t mean you can get your insurance coverage reduced or stopped.

“If you have your vehicle leased or you still have a lien on your vehicle some insurance companies are actually asking for confirmation from the leasor or the lienholder that you have permission to reduce the coverage because they have an interest in the vehicle as well.”

“They want to make sure that it is protected at all times — they don’t want to lose their money.”

Some insurance companies have also made changes to help seasonal property owners who can’t visit their camp or cottage because of travel restrictions.

Paying the bills

“We know Canadians are navigating a new world with changes occurring rapidly within our communities and beyond,” says Don Forgeron, the president and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

“This is an incredibly challenging and uncertain time for many Canadians, and insurers want to help alleviate some of the financial burden for the most vulnerable.”

The IBC says insurance companies have already reached out to their clients, acknowledging that this may be a difficult time for some to make payments, and have offered options.

They are working with clients on a one-on-one basis.

Do We Really Want Safe Roads?

Ticket WriterAccording to media reports some drivers are taking advantage of the current light traffic conditions to behave badly. When stopped by police and ticketed for their actions the latest response is “Why aren’t you fighting the epidemic instead of writing tickets?” I have it on good authority that you are more likely to die in a traffic collision than you are from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

We have quickly taken extraordinary measures, including spending huge sums of money and drastically changing our everyday behaviour to prevent deaths due to the epidemic. Overt displays of disapproval from the majority toward the minority who do not conform to our new reality are commonplace.

Why is this not also commonplace with respect to unsafe road users? Do we really want safe roads?

British Columbia does have a Road Safety Strategy. Take a look at that web page. It appears that the strategy was last updated in 2016.

At the bottom of the page is information on a BC Communities Road Safety Survey conducted by RoadSafetyBC. 81 of 189 municipalities responded to the survey and all of them said that road safety was a priority in their communities. Overall, those responses indicate that organized programs, stakeholder consultation and the use of data for guidance was rare.

Fast forward five years and nothing has been done to check and see if there has been any improvement. This despite the provincial government having transferred significant amounts of money to municipalities for public safety use under the Traffic Fine Revenue Grant program.

Efficiencies in traffic enforcement were heralded in 2012’s Bill 52 that was supposed to replace ticket disputes in traffic court with an administrative tribunal. This would exchange the time officers spent in court for more time on the road improving safety. This is still “over the horizon” for implementation when I last inquired.

Speaking of traffic court, I attended as a spectator last month. There was a lot of deal making between the officer and the disputant prior to trial. Many tickets were resolved by a guilty plea as the vehicle’s registered owner instead of the driver. This means the driver did not receive penalty points or a driving record entry for the violation.

The latest version of the Intersection Safety Camera Program has also removed the owner’s ability to nominate the driver. Under this program no one receives penalty points for behaviours that contribute to over 50% of collisions in B.C.

With a little planning and luck, one could rack up a few violations yet maintain a clean driving record and stay invisible to ICBC and RoadSafetyBC.

July 1, 2008 saw the requirement to report collisions to the police dropped from the Motor Vehicle Act. In March last year police were no longer required to report a crash to ICBC if they investigated one unless the damage exceeded $10,000 or involved injury or death.

How accurate are today’s collision statistics, particularly those for distracted driving? If I failed to see a vehicle stopped in front of me and rear ended it, do you think that I’m going to tell ICBC that I was busy using my cellphone at the time?

My final observation is the cost of insurance for new drivers. $4,000 a year is unacceptable for an ICBC premium, yet that is the equivalent of what I paid when I bought my first car, a used Cutlass Salon. Hardly in the same class as a Camaro or Firebird.

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