Students, newcomers advised to think safety when entering the workforce

By David Paddon


TORONTO _ Canada may still be in the depths of winter, but for high school, college and university students across the country, now is the time to prepare for summer jobs and post-graduation employment.

Amid the typical criteria of job seekers such as location, compensation and opportunity, an often overlooked aspect of the job search is workplace safety, as the injury rate for new workers _ regardless of age _ is three to four times higher in the first month on a job than the normal rate.

Enzo Garritano, who heads one of several Ontario health and safety associations designated under provincial law, says  “one of the main things is for workers to understand their rights”  including the right to refuse unsafe work.

Garritano, who is president and chief executive of the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, says job hunters should also research prospective employers before applying.

“There are a lot of tools to help you understand if a company performs well, if it’s dedicated to health and safety, has a culture of health and safety,” he says.

A report by the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada says the young worker group, aged 15-24, accounted for 27 workplace fatalities nationally in 2018, the most recent year available.

Of the deaths for young workers, the largest number was in construction (six) followed by agriculture (four).

Time lost due to injury was more evenly distributed across more than a dozen industries. Construction accounted for 4,473 lost hours, surpassed by accommodation, food and beverage (5,036) and retail (5,835).

In Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board runs an internet portal that can search and display company health and safety performance over several years.

WSIB’s Safety Check portal not only provides an analysis by injury type, it can download the information for further analysis and comparisons.

In addition, there’s a voluntary program called Certificate of Recognition which evaluates a participating employer’s health and safety management system through audits every three years.

Garritano advises new hires to watch for proper orientation and training soon after starting work.

“If they don’t have that strong orientation program when they get there, (employees) need to make a choice to get out of there.”

He says new and young workers are at higher risk in the first month of getting injured.  “Therefore that orientation with the company they go to is paramount in the first few days of work. Paramount.”

Jan Chappel, senior technical specialist at the federal government’s Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, agrees it’s important for both employers and employees to start on the right foot.

“People learn very quickly on the job. So the key for employers is to provide health and safety information and education and training very early when they start working,” Chappel says.

She also advises job hunters to take proactive steps while at the interview stage.

“Look around. See if the employer has the right warning signs and other workers are wearing protective equipment.

“You can (also) ask the employer during the interview what precautions they take for health and safety.”

Trudi Rondou, a senior manager at WorkSafeBC, says her agency has different messages for each stakeholder.

“You’ve got the youths themselves. You’ve got the employers. You’ve got parents and teachers,” she says.  “So we have different messages, depending on who we’re trying to impact.”

For employers, a key message is to provide workplace orientation as well as health and safety programs that are appropriate for the industry or business.

Rondou says B.C. regulations require employers to provide specific training for new and young employees, and there are periodic inspections by provincial officers with enforcement powers.

“We don’t typically move to penalties as the first step. We try to educate and consult with the employer. . .. . .But if there’s willful defiance, if you like, then that penalty is certainly an option.”

Rondou also notes that _ at least in B.C., where health and safety is part of the high school curriculum young workers have a stronger awareness of the issues than they would have been a decade ago.

Rondou stresses that new employees should trust their instincts and speak up when things seem dangerous or wrong.

“Often they’re worried about their first job and wanting to make a good impression and not knowing how to speak up sometimes.”

But the best approach could be simply to begin by expressing uncertainty about how a job is done and asking for a demonstration or explanation of how to do it safely _ making it unnecessary to refuse a task or escalate a complaint.

“So we’re really emphasizing that they should listen to their gut and ask questions.”

Higher prices for gas, auto insurance and mortgage payments fuelled inflation in Canada

The excerpted article was written by Wolf Depner | Victoria News

Higher gasoline prices, car insurance payments and mortgage rates were the biggest drivers of inflation during the last 12 months.

According to Statistics Canada, national inflation rose 2.4 per cent in January 2020 compared to January 2019. Provincially, British Columbians saw inflation rise 2.3 per cent during the same period, as one of four provinces with inflation rates below the national rate. Alberta and Prince Edward Island with spikes of three per cent each led the provinces with rates above the national figure.

Higher gasoline prices were the biggest contributor to inflation, as gas prices were 11.2 per cent higher in January 2020 than in January 2019, when the world experienced excessive supply. Geo-strategic events, however, pushed oil prices up. This development is far from abstract for local drivers, as Greater Victoria recorded the highest gas prices in all of Canada Tuesday.

Insurance premiums for passenger vehicles rose 8.4 per cent in January 2020 compared to the same period last year, while mortgage payments rose 5.3 per cent. Fresh vegetables, a traditional source of inflation during the winter months, rose five per cent in price, largely because of severe weather in the United States impacting crops.

On the other end of the spectrum, phone services, traveller accommodation, and tutition fees dropped by 7.1, 4.8 and 3.6 per cent per cent.

IBC creates task force to deal with sky-high strata insurance


Source: Global News

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says it is working to find a solution to astronomically high strata insurance rates.

Rob de Pruis, IBC director of consumer and industry relations for Western Canada, says a task force has been created to engage with stakeholders and local governments across Western Canada.

“To get information from them to work towards solutions and recommendations to increase affordability and availability in commercial insurance, which strata corporations fall under.”

He says they already met in Edmonton on Wednesday.

Owners in a three-year-old Langley building told Global News last month that they were facing a premium hike from $97,000 to $371,000, and a deductible hike from $5,000 to $250,000.

That means if a problem arises in their unit, they will have to pay out of pocket up to their sky-high deductible.

De Pruis says expensive materials making up the building and extreme weather events are some of the many reasons for the spike in rates.

“The repair and maintenance schedule, the limits of coverage, the type of coverage and deductibles,” he said. “These are all factors that come into play that are unique to each property.”

His advice for stratas working towards reducing insurance risk is to strengthen building code requirements.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement that the provincial government is trying to help out.

“We have asked the British Columbia Financial Service Authority (BCFSA) to monitor the situation carefully and ensure we are doing everything we can to financially protect British Columbians.”

James is encouraging stratas that are having difficulty getting insurance to reach out to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The task force will meet in Vancouver on March 17.

Life insurers leery about covering Canadians with new coronavirus

By Tom Blackwell | National Post

It’s not just doctors, public health experts and scientists who are struggling to figure out how much of a threat the novel coronavirus poses.

Like SARS and the pandemic flu before it, the newly emerged infection is presenting some unique challenges to Canada’s life insurance industry — and patients who might want to buy a policy.

Some companies say they would outright deny coverage to anyone who has contracted the disease, while others would insist potential clients be certified disease-free for at least three months, according to a new survey of the industry.

Their responses underscore what seems to be a growing reality in an era of globalization and mass travel. The novel coronavirus is the latest in a group of at least three other respiratory illnesses that have arisen and spread to varying extents in the last decade and a half.

Insurers don’t necessarily believe COVID-19 — the infection’s official name — is a particularly lethal bug, they’re just unsure about its true nature as a health hazard, says insurance broker Lorne Marr, who put together the report.


Driving has gotten more expensive in Alberta: Insurance, fuel & fee increases

Matthew Black CTV News Edmonton

EDMONTON — Albertans are paying more to drive their vehicles compared to a year ago, including increases in the cost of insurance, fuel, and licensing and registration fees, according to newly released StatsCan numbers.

StatsCan says the cost of passenger vehicle insurance premiums rose by 7.6 per cent last month, the largest monthly increase since November 2002.

The numbers also show premiums in Alberta have increased by 17.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
“A significant share of private passenger vehicle insurers in this province submitted applications to increase rates following the removal of a rate cap,” reads the report.

Fuel prices rose in Alberta as well last month, up 0.9 per cent from December 2019, according to the report. Alberta gas prices were up 6.6 per cent over the same month last year.
The federal carbon tax was introduced in Alberta on Jan. 1, 2020.The report also details a 14.4 per cent increase in other vehicle operating expenses in Alberta compared to a year ago.

“This was due, in part, to increases in service fees, including fees for drivers’ licences and passenger vehicle registration, introduced in the 2019-2020 provincial budget,” reads the report.
The 2019 Alberta budget raised motor vehicle registration fees by $9.20, up to $93.65.

In reponse, the province attributed rising gas prices as likely being due to the Jan. 1 roll out of the federal carbon tax, a levy Alberta continues to fight in court.
“We are ensuring that key services Albertans need are properly funded and more accurately reflect the costs of delivering them, including achieving modernizations such as online service delivery, which Albertans are asking for,” a government spokesperson wrote in an email to CTV News.

In late August, the province scrapped a five per cent cap on auto insurance rate increases implemented by the prior New Democrat government.
In December, Finance Minister Travis Toews introduced a new committee to advise on potential reforms to the province’s insurance system.
“This issue is such a significant issue that touches every Albertan,” Toews said. “To assemble a very credible, experienced committee like this, I believe we will be best-informed to make decisions around automobile insurance.”

Today, the Opposition NDP called the increases “very concerning” and called on the government to immediately reinstate the five per cent cap.
“In my office we have heard many, many stories from my constituents and Albertans … worried about people who are unable to afford these increased costs,” said New Democrat MLA Jon Carson.

The data was included in StatsCan’s monthly Consumer Price Index report which tracks changes in the average price for commonly purchased goods like groceries and haircuts.
Across Canada, the cost of gasoline and insurance premiums combined to result in a nearly 20 per cent increase in the CPI.

Intact Financial Corporation Completes $150 Million Preferred Share Offering

TORONTO, Feb. 18, 2020 /CNW/ – Intact Financial Corporation (TSX:IFC) (“IFC”) announced today that it has closed its previously announced bought deal offering (the “Offering”) of Non-Cumulative Class A Shares, Series 9 (the “Series 9 Preferred Shares”) underwritten by a syndicate of underwriters  led by TD Securities Inc. together with BMO Capital Markets, CIBC Capital Markets, National Bank Financial, RBC Capital Markets and Scotiabank, resulting in aggregate gross proceeds (including the proceeds resulting from the exercise of their option) to IFC of $150 million. The net proceeds from the Offering will be used by IFC for general corporate purposes.

Each Series 9 Preferred Share entitles the holder thereof to receive quarterly non-cumulative preferential cash dividends, if, as and when declared by the Board of Directors, on the last day of March, June, September and December in each year at a rate equal to $0.3375 per share. The initial dividend, if declared, will be paid on June 30, 2020 and will be $0.4906 per share.

The Series 9 Preferred Shares will commence trading today on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol IFC.PR.I.

The Series 9 Preferred Shares have not been and will not be registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements.  This news release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy nor shall there be any sale of the Series 9 Preferred Shares in any State in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful.

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is the largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America, with over $11 billion in total annual premiums. The Company has approximately 16,000 employees who serve more than five million personal, business and public sector clients through offices in Canada and the U.S.

In Canada, Intact distributes insurance under the Intact Insurance brand through a wide network of brokers, including its wholly-owned subsidiary BrokerLink, and directly to consumers through belairdirect.  Frank Cowan brings a leading MGA platform to manufacture and distribute public entity insurance products in Canada.

In the U.S., OneBeacon Insurance Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intact, provides specialty insurance products through independent agencies, brokers, wholesalers and managing general agencies.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. When used in this press release, the words “may”, “will”, “would”, “should”, “could”, “expects”, “plans”, “intends”, “trends”, “indications”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “estimates”, “predicts”, “likely”, “potential” or the negative or other variations of these words or other similar or comparable words or phrases, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. This press release contains forward-looking statements with respect to, among other things, the use of proceeds of the Offering.

Forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions made by management based on management’s experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions and expected future developments, as well as other factors that management believes are appropriate in the circumstances. Many factors could cause the Company’s actual results, performance or achievements or future events or developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Certain material factors or assumptions are applied in making these forward-looking statements.

All of the forward-looking statements included in this press release are qualified by these cautionary statements, those made in the “Risk Management” sections of management’s discussion and analysis of operating and financial results for the year ended December 31, 2019 and those made in the prospectus supplement filed in respect of the Offering. These factors are not intended to represent a complete list of the factors that could affect the Company. These factors should, however, be considered carefully. Although the forward-looking statements are based upon what management believes to be reasonable assumptions, the Company cannot assure investors that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. Investors should not rely on forward-looking statements to make decisions and investors should ensure the preceding information is carefully considered when reviewing forward-looking statements made in this press release. The Company has no intention and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

SOURCE Intact Financial Corporation

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