Canadian man diagnosed with brain tumour while on vacation in Thailand dies

Sean Davidson, CTV News Toronto

A Canadian man who was diagnosed with a brain tumour in Thailand last winter and fought with his insurance company to get home for surgery has died.

Kitchener, Ont. resident Alex Witmer and his wife Jennifer Witmer, who had been living in New Brunswick, quit their jobs earlier last year and went on a trip to Thailand before planning to relocate to Toronto.

The couple was about a month into their trip when the 30-year-old began suffering from a severe migraine. They went to the hospital in Koh Samui and after doctors completed scans they were given the devastating news that he had a tumour deep inside his brain.

Their insurance company, Allianz Global Assistance, initially rejected the $265,000 air ambulance flight home because Alex reported a headache during an emergency room visit in Moncton a month before their trip. Days later, the insurance company reversed the decision and he eventually flew home to Canada and underwent surgery in Ottawa.

The tumours were originally thought to be benign but after a second pathology report doctors revealed his tumour was in fact cancerous.

According to Jennifer, he was diagnosed with epithelioid glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.

She announced on Instagram that he died on Sunday.


Economical Insurance will donate $200,000 to Canadian charities driving change in their community

Employee and broker-driven campaign, Choose Your Charity, supports communities in need

Press Release:

Economical Insurance is proud to announce that it will be granting donations to 13 community-based organizations in areas neighbouring Economical offices across the country, through an employee and broker-driven Choose Your Charity.

Normal life – along with significant portions of the Canadian economy – has been significantly disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic and a shifting societal landscape. For many Canadians, the services provided by the not-for-profit sector and community-driven organizations have become more essential than ever. The impact of COVID-19 requires additional funds to assist with health care and mental health supports. The Choose Your Charity program may also provide assistance for organizations that are furthering anti-racism causes or unique needs that have resulted from the hardships of 2020.

“Our Choose Your Charity campaign is focused on supporting registered charities whose needs have increased or been neglected, and whose mandates have a positive community impact,” said David Bradfield, Vice-President, Marketing and Communication at Economical Insurance. “This campaign empowers our employees and our broker partners to nominate and advocate for the needs they believe are the most significant in their community.”

Employees and broker partners of Economical will be able to nominate and vote for charitable organizations from coast-to-coast between now and late June to determine which final charities will receive a combined donation of $200,000.

In response to the present and growing needs of surrounding communities, Economical Insurance has already taken action to pivot its corporate social responsibility (CSR) planning for 2020. Over the last few months, Economical has:

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the world is changing in other ways. Thousands of protesters have recently taken to the streets – and to social media – in a show of solidarity with the anti-black racism movement,” said Bradfield. “Choose Your Charity is intended to provide diverse support to assist any organization in need.”

The nomination period of Choose Your Charity is now open for the employees and broker-partners of Economical. As a proud supporter of Canadian charities and causes that directly protect the safety and security, youth and education, and health and wellness of Canadians — Economical remains focused on driving true change for Canadians through community funding.

Economical will announce the selected charities in the weeks to come.

About Economical Insurance
Economical Mutual Insurance Company (“Economical” or “Economical Insurance”, which includes its subsidiaries where the context so requires) is a leading property and casualty insurer in Canada, with approximately $2.6 billion in annualized gross written premiums, based on the quarter ending March 31, 2020, and over $5.8 billion in assets as at March 31, 2020. Economical is a Canadian-owned and operated company that services the insurance needs of more than one million customers.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

Emergency chief Tom Sampson said some of the hail was as big as tennis balls

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Many Canadian film and TV productions held up by lack of COVID 19 insurance

Many Canadian film and TV productions held up by lack of COVID 19 insurance

By Victoria Ahearn


TORONTO _ Reduced crowd scenes. Fewer people on set. COVID-19 testing. Handwashing stations.

Those are some of the health and safety protocols Canadian film and TV producers are mulling over for their projects as provinces including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec ease pandemic restrictions that shut down the industry in mid-March.

But despite such measures, many independent producers can’t set a date to roll cameras yet because of a key issue: insurance.

The Canadian Media Producers Association says insurance companies that service the film and TV industry are excluding from their new production policies any coverage for COVID-19 on a go-forward basis.

That means a large number of Canadian productions that didn’t have insurance policies in place before COVID-19 including the long-running series  “Heartland”  can’t take the financial risk of starting up only to have the virus shut down the project.

The CMPA recently developed a proposal with a  “market-based solution” to the problem asking the federal government to serve as a backstop.

The proposal says producers would pay premiums to access COVID-19 coverage, which would go into a dedicated pot to pay for potential claims. The government would only contribute financially, through a proposed $100-million backstop, if the funds generated though the sale of the policies were insufficient to cover the claims made.

“Everyone understands that there is huge urgency to resolving this issue,” CMPA president and CEO Reynolds Mastin said in a phone interview. “We’ve had good conversations with the government.

“They are asking a lot of very good questions and doing a very in-depth analysis of our proposal, and so we are working together to figure out the best pathway forward as quickly as possible.”

Producers across the country are working with government, guilds and unions to develop the proper guidelines and best practices for returning to production.

But without COVID-19 coverage in an insurance policy or government assistance, many independent producers aren’t able to shoulder the cost of having to halt a project due to a cast or crew member becoming ill with the virus, or a second wave of the disease.

There could also be added costs of starting up production during a pandemic due to longer filming periods because of increased safety measures, additional cleaning on set, and bringing in appropriate health and safety protective equipment.

“What goes through my brain when I think about a second wave? My brain explodes,” said Toronto-based producer Amy Cameron, who was in pre-production on the upcoming CBC series “Lady Dicks” when COVID-19 hit.

“The financial impact is enormous, the logistics of it are huge, and there are so many complications with it.”

Cameron, who serves as co-executive producer, said they secured insurance for the show around the time of the pandemic shutdown. The policy has many COVID-19 exclusions, but it does cover up to 10 cast members, so at least there’s some security.

She’s now drafting health and safety guidelines for the set with the aim of starting production prep in early July if government rules allow.

Producer Tom Cox had existing insurance policies in place for two series before the pandemic shut them down _ the Calgary-shot “Wynonna Earp,” set for a season 4 on CTV Sci-Fi Channel, and the upcoming Vancouver-shot Global drama “Family Law.” He’s now making plans to return to production on both of those shows.

However he can’t move forward with shooting season 14 of another series, CBC’s “Heartland,” because he doesn’t have insurance for it yet.

“We really can’t take on the risk associated with starting production under the circumstances with insurance that has COVID exclusions,” Cox said from Calgary.

“So we’re waiting. And we’re certainly not alone. Most of the Canadian industry is in the same boat.”

Some studios may be able to proceed on the basis of self-insuring, Cox said, but many Canadian independent production companies don’t have the resources to do that.

Winnipeg producer Kyle Irving had insurance in place for the film “Esther” when it was in pre-production before the pandemic.

Using COVID-19 film and TV health and safety protocols he helped author for the entire province of Manitoba, he plans to start rolling cameras on the feature in August.

However, the partner at Eagle Vision says all of their other productions, which include CBC’s “Burden of Truth,” are delayed indefinitely until they’re able to resolve the insurance issue.

“If there’s no backstop for a producer’s liability on another shutdown, how do we work with our union partners to share the financial risk of another shutdown?” Irving said.

“There are going to have to be compromises made by everybody to make this something that, from a business perspective, is tenable.”


Road tests for commercial drivers resume next week

Road tests for commercial drivers resume next week

In line with B.C.’s Restart Plan, ICBC is now moving forward with a phased approach to offering in-person driver licensing services. Commercial road tests (Class 1 – 4) can resume next week, and will be by appointment only.

Starting June 11, customers wishing to obtain a commercial licence can call 1-800-950-1498 to book an appointment. We ask customers for their patience as we anticipate high call volumes. Priority appointments will initially be provided to customers who had their commercial road test appointments cancelled between March 17th and March 30th.

The plan for resuming road tests is focused on the health and safety of our employees and customers, aligned with the guidelines set out by the Provincial Health Office and WorkSafeBC, and developed in consultation with our employees and MoveUP.

Customers are asked to arrive on-time for their appointment with the required identification and ensure the interior of their vehicle is clean. Upon arrival, they will be asked a series of health screening questions and provided a mandatory medical-grade mask to wear for the duration of the road test.

Driver examiners will continue to conduct road tests from inside the customer’s vehicle to ensure the examiner is able to fully assess the road test and to take control of the vehicle in the event of an emergency. Driver examiners will be provided the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) which can include a combination of masks, shields, goggles, gloves and disposable seat covers.

To date, ICBC has secured sufficient PPE for this initial phase. ICBC is planning to expand the availability of road tests to other classes of licences as soon as possible. The timing of that expansion will be dependent on the successful roll-out of this initial phase and our continued ability to secure sufficient PPE for our employees and customers.


Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s President and CEO

“The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and we have taken a thoughtful approach to develop a plan that allows us to resume road tests in the safest manner possible. Customers have been eager to see these services resume and we’re happy to have found a way to do so safely.”

Dave Earle, BC Trucking Association President and CEO

“ICBC’s plan prioritizes the safety of our members and allows us to continue our critical role in helping families and organizations across the province by delivering goods and services during these challenging times.”

Learn more:

Check that your home insurance covers flood damage

As the seventh anniversary of the Great Flood of 2013 approaches, the City of Calgary has issued a high water advisory for the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

“Due to higher expected flow rates and the current forecast, Calgarians are advised against boating and all other watercraft activities on the rivers during this time,” said the City in a statement. “We are expecting ongoing high flows for the next while, due to snowmelt, the ongoing presence of thunderstorms and a low-pressure system entering Alberta on the weekend.

“No flooding over riverbanks is expected, however, flows on the Bow and Elbow are currently fast, cold and murky, making conditions on and near the rivers dangerous.”

The advisory is a reminder to make sure your family is prepared for a flood, and foremost on your list is to ensure your home insurance covers flooding.

It is important to know the province of Alberta has flood-zone mapped locations showing different degrees of exposure. Flooding insurance companies may offer coverage only in low-risk areas. Check with your broker on this point.

Anne Marie Thomas of says flooding is only covered under home insurance if the policyholder purchased it.

“It is not part of the standard homeowner policy. Damage that results from overland water coming into your home through the roof, basement, doors and windows is covered, including damage done to your home’s exterior and interior. Loss of personal property to flooding and damages resulting from a sewer backup as a result of flooding would also be covered.”

If a flood warning is declared, take protective steps.

“Protect as much property as you can from further damage such as moving items from the basement to a higher floor or to another safe location. Contact your insurance broker or company for next steps,” says Thomas. “If a flood occurs and you, unfortunately, need to evacuate, when you are allowed to return, take photos of any and all damage to provide to your insurance company and for other relief programs the government may provide.”

If evacuated, additional living expenses, such as travel, food and hotels, should be covered under most homeowner and rental policies, if the primary cause of the loss was covered by the underlying policy.

“A flood could come at a time when we are all practicing physical distancing,” says Thomas. “Alberta had expected some crossover of the pandemic with floods and fires that can occur, and according to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, the province has made preparations to ensure that evacuation centres have processes in place for physical distancing and sanitation.”

The government of Canada has a list of things to follow after a flood at: .

Source: Saltwire Newtwork


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