For injured paws and claws, insurance may come in handy for some pets

By Aleksandra Sagan


TORONTO _ Monica Finlay’s childhood yellow Labrador, Amy, had a few surprise accidents that cost her parents a lot of money.

“She blew out her ACL and that was really expensive,” Finlay says.

“Then, right at the end of her life, she blew out her other ACL.”

That experience is partly why she and her husband have been spending $45 a month for pet insurance since they got their German shepherd mix, Ozzie, about six years ago.

Pet insurance plans cover some veterinary costs, but pet owners are divided on whether they’re worth it.

Medical costs over an animal’s lifetime can be steep.

Cats cost their owners at least $100 a year, while dogs cost at least $200, according to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those numbers only cover routine visits and don’t take into account emergencies, which can add up to thousands of dollars.

Monthly fees vary depending on factors such as the animal’s breed, age and location, as well as what the plan covers. Owners can choose from accident, illness and wellness coverage, which covers the routine visits most plans don’t.

Plans often have a combination of a maximum payout amount each year, a deductible (an amount the owner must pay before the insurer pitches in) and a co-pay (a percentage of the bill the owner is responsible for). Many plans won’t cover future costs for pre-existing conditions.

Fees vary. But the average yearly cost of insuring an adult cat for accident and illness coverage with Pets Plus Us, for instance, is $370, while for a dog the cost nearly doubles to $734.

It’s estimated only about one to three per cent of all domestic cats and dogs in the country have some type of insurance, like Finlay’s dog Ozzie.

Finlay says insurance has covered Ozzie’s roughly $2,500 of annual medical costs since they discovered he has allergies to about 22 things, including beef, chicken and wool.

“It would have been really cost prohibitive to keep him if we didn’t have pet insurance,” she says, adding the insurer pays 90 per cent of those costs save for a one-time $500 deductible.

But not all pets need such expensive, ongoing care and the monthly fees could add up to more than what the insurer needs to pay.

Michelle Van Dyk-Houghton chose not to insure her dog Brooke or her cat Ginger after weighing the monthly cost of insurance versus the potential savings.

Instead, she and her husband set aside $100 to $200 a month for animal care and draw on those funds when needed.

“If we don’t need it, then it’s money that we still have,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m just giving it to an insurance company to kind of be gone forever.”

Not all pet owners are able to take out insurance though.

When Marli Vlok’s first guinea pig fell ill with what she believes was fibrous osteodystrophy, a metabolic bone disease, she paid more than $900 for Ember’s teeth to be trimmed three times and about $700 for a visit to a specialist.

She looked into pet insurance for her other guinea pigs, but couldn’t find a plan that would cover them.

Vlok routinely shells out between $40 and $70 for vet visits and has paid about $300 for two sets of X-rays for Onyx.

She says she keeps about $500 on hand for vet purposes at all times, but would prefer to pay for insurance.

“They’re one of those pets that you have a very good chance that they’ll be absolutely healthy,” she says.

“But when things go wrong, it’s expensive wrong.”

Probes launched into Manitoba privacy breach after names of MRI patients leaked

WINNIPEG _ Two probes are underway after the names of some high profile Manitobans who were allegedly fast-tracked for MRI scans became public.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has launched an investigation into the privacy breach and Manitoba’s ombudsman is also conducting a review.

The investigations come after the Winnipeg Free Press published a story based on a leaked document which was part of the Auditor General’s report into the management of MRI services.

The report contained the names of Manitobans who potentially received preferential MRI scans and noted patients with influence and those covered by private insurance may have been given higher priority to scans.

Auditor General Norm Ricard’s report found some people such as injured workers, professional athletes and government officials are given faster service.

He didn’t name those involved due to confidentiality and says he was mortified when he found out the document had been leaked.

Theresa Oswald, former health minister and current executive director of the Women’s Health Clinic, told CTV Winnipeg she found out her name was in the leaked document after receiving a call from a reporter.

“It was extremely jarring,” she said. “One’s personal health information is really the most intimate and private information that anyone can have.

“Today, it may be records of a diagnostic test for me, but as I lead the Women’s Health Clinic I can’t help but wonder, tomorrow might it be somebody’s decision to release information about our clients’ sexual and reproductive health?”

Oswald said at no time has she ever asked for preferential treatment for any kind of health care.

Ricard said the leak didn’t come from the Office of the Auditor General.

“We know who had access to that information, and it’s limited to two people who I trust implicitly,” Ricard told CTV.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said the source of the breach is not yet known.

Ombudsman Charlene Paquin said she was extremely concerned that the privacy of some people had been violated.

“We cannot presume that anyone accessing health care won’t mind, or won’t be negatively affected by, having their personal health information revealed without their consent or in another unauthorized way,” she said in a release.

Dental hygienists worried PST on insurance premiums will reduce access

Dental hygienists raised concerns that adding the PST to health insurance premiums will reduce access to dental care in Saskatchewan at a meeting with MLAs in Regina on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists Association organized the meeting to enlighten MLAs on the rate of oral disease in the province.

Association executive director Kellie Watson said the group was raising concerns about the provincial budget decision to apply the six per cent PST to health insurance premiums.

Insurance premiums will have the PST applied starting July 1 — adding $157.9 million to the treasury this year.

“Employers will now have to pay six per cent on their current health benefits, which will significantly impact the amount of people that get employer health and dental benefits,” said Watson.

She said the hygienists group would also be asking MLAs to update the Dental Disciplines Act to help dental hygienists provide better care for more vulnerable people.

More people could be accessing care: SDHA

Watson added that there were ways that dental hygienists could reduce costs to make health care more effective in the future.

“We believe that there’s a good amount of people in our province that are not accessing care that they should be,” she said.

“And we want to reconnect the body with the head and neck and the mouth, and make sure that people know that oral health and systemic health is definitely connected.”

Estevan MLA Lori Carr was among the MLAs who met with the hygienists on Monday. (CBC News)

No significant impact, says MLA

Estevan MLA Lori Carr was one of the MLAs who met with the hygienists on Monday.

She disagreed the PST change would have a significant impact on access to insurance.

“Some tough budget decisions were made and this was an area we decided to go in,” she said.

“As a government we don’t feel it’s going to have a huge impact on it.”

Canada: Home Depot Not Liable for Slip and Fall in Parking Lot

In Alberta, occupiers owe a duty to maintain a reasonable system of maintenance and inspection to keep their premises reasonably safe for lawful visitors. This duty can be discharged either by the occupier itself, or by hiring an independent contractor. With respect to snow and ice removal maintenance, the courts have held that implementing a system where the independent contractor is to clear snow and ice after snow accumulation exceeds two inches is reasonable if combined with a system of inspection.

In Reichert et al v. Home Depot Canada Inc. et al, 2017 ABQB 184, the Plaintiff slipped and fell on some freshly fallen snow (between half-an-inch and one inch) in the parking lot of a Home Depot in Calgary, Alberta at 10:00 a.m. It had snowed earlier that morning. However, only trace amounts of snow had fallen during the prior two weeks. There was no snow on the ground the day before the slip and fall.

Home Depot had hired an independent contractor to perform snow and ice removal maintenance for the parking lot. The contract implemented the two-inch threshold. Home Depot also performed its own inspections of the parking lot every day before the store opened. Accordingly, Home Depot, arguing it had implemented a reasonable system of maintenance and inspection, made an application for summary dismissal. The independent contractor made a concurrent application, as well.

Both applications were heard on the same day before Master Prowse. However, in his reasons, he dismissed arguments about the inspections performed (or not performed) by the parties as irrelevant. Given the snow “was there for all to see”, the issue before the court was whether anything ought to have been done about the snow before the slip and fall.

Master Prowse accepted the case law regarding the reasonableness of the two-inch threshold. He also accepted evidence that the two-inch threshold was industry standard. Master Prowse finally found even if this standard was not reasonable, it would be unsafe to operate snow ploughs in the parking lot while customers were attending the store. The evidence suggested it would be safer to plough the snow at night after the store had closed and the parking lot was empty. The fresh snow that fell earlier that morning could not have reasonably been removed prior to the slip and fall. As a result, Master Prowse determined Home Depot and the independent contractor would very likely succeed at trial. Thus, he granted the summary dismissal applications.

Reichert stands for the proposition that the two-inch threshold is reasonable and industry standard. It is unreasonable to expect an occupier to clear fresh snow from a parking lot filled with customers and their vehicles. Instead, that snow should be cleared at night. Therefore, an occupier, who has implemented a system of maintenance and inspection that incorporates the two-inch threshold for its parking lot, will not likely be held liable for a slip and fall that occurs in that parking lot.

Home Depot Not Liable for Slip and Fall in Parking Lot

Brownlee LLP is a member of the Canadian Litigation Counsel, a nationwide affiliation of independent law firms. Through CLC’s association with The Harmonie Group, our clients have access to legal excellence throughout North America, the U.K. and Europe.

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.

Unlicensed Entity Selling False Proof of Auto Insurance

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is warning consumers that an organization known as Switzerland Imperial Bank AG (“S I B AG Corporation”) is not licensed to do insurance business in Ontario.

Switzerland Imperial Bank AG appears to have issued a fraudulent liability slip (“pink card”) to a consumer as proof of auto insurance.

Switzerland Imperial Bank AG is not licensed with FSCO or the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario.

Switzerland Imperial Bank AG is using the email address, is soliciting insurance business through their website, , and appears to be directing Ontario consumers to their Ontario director, Enzo Jones, at phone number (905) 551-0346.

Also, on its website, the address of Switzerland Imperial Bank AG’s headquarters is listed as Bosch 73 Huenenberg, Switzerland, and its telephone is listed as + 41 41 819 16 50.

Consumers should exercise caution if they are contacted by anyone claiming to represent Switzerland Imperial Bank AG or using these coordinates. Consumers should not purchase insurance items through Switzerland Imperial Bank AG, but instead are encouraged to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

If consumers purchase items or insurance through individuals or companies that are not licensed in the province, they are not protected under the Insurance Act and the regulations that govern Ontario’s licensed insurance companies and agents.

FSCO’s website contains a list of all insurance companies and agents licensed to do business in Ontario. The website of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario contains a list of all brokers licensed to do business in Ontario.

Additional Information:

What to Do If You Think You are a Victim of a Scam or Fraud

SOURCE Financial Services Commission of Ontario

Boxer, ex Olympian Custio Clayton claims he was profiled by Montreal police

By Sidhartha Banerjee


MONTREAL _ A professional boxer and former Canadian Olympian claims he was the victim of racial profiling when he was pulled over and detained by Montreal police on Tuesday.

Custio Clayton, 29, says a police officer accused him of being a drug dealer, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a squad car while she searched his vehicle.

“I guess seeing a black guy driving a big car, that has to be the reason why,” he said on Wednesday during an interview with The Canadian Press.

The native of Dartmouth, N.S., who has lived and trained in Montreal since 2014, said he was humiliated.

“I always try to do the right thing,” Clayton said. “Even though you try to stick to yourself and try to do the right thing, some people are always going to look at you the way they want to look at you and that’s what I feel happened yesterday.”

Clayton had just returned from training in Cornwall, Ont. and was minutes from home when he was stopped.

He was driving a courtesy car a new rental SUV supplied by his insurance company.

The officer initially refused to tell him why she had stopped his vehicle, he said.

He said she eventually told him he was under arrest for suspicion of being a drug dealer and having drugs in his car.

“I didn’t know what to say anymore,” said Clayton.

The father of four said he sat handcuffed in a police car while she searched his vehicle, finding only child car seats and boxing gear.

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve had handcuffs on and been accused of something that I know I’m not,” Clayton said he’d told the officer.

Clayton said the female officer was apologetic after her search turned up empty and told him it was the first time she’d been wrong in 20 years of policing.

She gave him a ticket for having improper paperwork for the rental and let him go.

Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boisselle said the force is aware of the claims but he wasn’t prepared to comment.

“For now, we have to look at everything that happened in that incident,” he said.

Undefeated since turning pro in 2014, Clayton just missed out on a medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.

He is scheduled to fight next week in Cornwall, and said his focus is on that fight.

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