Wildfire Situation in Alberta: IBC is here to help – safety is top priority

As wildfires force a number of Albertans to evacuate their homes, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is reaching out with information and advice.

“Our thoughts are with those whose lives have been disrupted by the wildfires. The top priority right now is the safety of those affected,” said Celyeste Power, Vice-President, Western, IBC. “The insurance industry is here to help. Anyone with questions about their home, car or business insurance can call their insurance representative or IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422) or email askibcwest@ibc.ca.”

What insurance covers

Almost all home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If residents have to leave their homes because of a mandatory evacuation order issued by civil authorities, most homeowner’s and tenant’s insurance policies will provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time. Your insurance representative is at the ready to clarify the details of your policy.

The claims process

If you have been affected by the wildfires, when safe to do so:

  • List all damaged or destroyed items. Taking photos can be helpful.
  • Call your insurance representative and/or company.
  • If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Keep damaged items unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all of the receipts related to cleanup.

If you have been displaced by the wildfires:

  • Ask your insurance representative what living expenses you’re entitled to and for what length of time.
  • Keep the receipts for your living expenses.

Next steps

  • Once you have reported a loss to your insurance representative, you will be assigned a claims adjuster. It may take some time, given the number of people affected by the wildfires, but the adjuster will contact you.
  • The claims adjuster will investigate the circumstances of your loss, examine the documents you provide and explain the process. Take notes during the conversations and ask questions if you need clarification.
  • Your insurance company will ask you to complete a Proof of Loss form, to list the property and/or items that have been damaged or destroyed, with the corresponding value or cost of the damage or loss. You must sign and swear that the statements you make in the Proof of Loss form are true. Ask your insurance representative or claims adjuster to clarify anything you are unsure about.

To learn more about wildfires and wildfire safety, visit IBC’s website.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.

For media releases and more information, visit IBC’s Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow us on Twitter @IBC_West or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

$70,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Partly Limiting Chronic Pain

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for chronic pain with partial limitations arising from a vehicle collision.

In today’s case (Rabiei v. Oster) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2016 collision.  The Defendants accepted fault.  The crash resulted in various soft tissue injuries resulting in chronic pain in the plaintiff’s neck, back and shoulder.  These injuries resulted in some impairment in the Plaintiff’s ability to work and also impacted activities outside work.  Full recovery was not expected.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $70, 000 Madam Justice Adair provided the following reasons:

[140]     I find that, as a result of the accident, Ms. Rabiei sustained soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper, mid and lower back.  These diagnoses are made by both Dr. Stewart, and by Dr. Parhar, who saw and examined Ms. Rabiei about a month after the accident.  These are not inconsistent with Dr. Goel’s impression concerning Ms. Rabiei’s primary injury (although he was unable to opine on what the injury was related to).  For a period of some months after the accident, she also suffered from headaches.  Physiotherapy treatments, which began at the end of April and continued until the middle of July 2016, were helpful in addressing her symptoms and improving her ability to function.  Her headaches and lower back symptoms eventually resolved.  However, Ms. Rabiei remained off work for the balance of 2016, because she remained symptomatic in her neck, upper back and left shoulder and (at least in part) because of the advice she received from Dr. Parhar.  The pain symptoms in her neck, upper back and left shoulder, while they improved, have persisted and become chronic.  Although the symptoms are not debilitating, and they come and go, they impair Ms. Rabiei’s ability to function at her pre-accident level, both with respect to her work and her activities outside of work.  Further medical improvement is unlikely, although if Ms. Rabiei follows through on recommendations to work with a kinesiologist on an active rehabilitation program, she has the opportunity to become stronger and more functional…

[148]     Ms. Rabiei is a young woman, just 30.  She has many years ahead of her to live with chronic pain symptoms.  When injured, she was just establishing a new career in B.C.  Her pre-accident work history once she arrived in B.C. showed that she was willing to work hard and was ambitious.  As a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident, she has been and will be working with pain, and is less able to pursue career goals she had for herself.  The satisfaction she can enjoy from her work is diminished.  She is less independent at home. 

[149]     Following the accident, she has been less socially active.  However, beginning with her job at Fresh, her work schedule (where she worked Fridays and weekends) must be considered a factor – she has less time available to go out dancing and to clubs with friends. 

[150]     Ms. Rabiei has given up playing the violin, which is a major loss for her.  It has also affected her social life as she and Mr. Hekmatshoar no longer get together regularly to perform.

[151]      In view of my findings above, and taking into account the factors mentioned in Stapley (including in particular Ms. Rabiei’s age and stage of life) and the cases cited to me in argument, I conclude that a fair and reasonable award of non-pecuniary damages is $70,000.

Future floods: Climate change’s role in reshaping natural disasters

Warming planet increases the likelihood of flooding in the future, says federal government

CBC News

As water levels rose along the St. John River this spring, many New Brunswickers had two reactions.

First, they prepared urgently for the flood.

Then they asked themselves whether this was evidence of climate change — whether two major floods in two years proves that human activity has altered the forces of nature.

“Things have certainly changed,” Elaine Price of Mill Cove said as she watched the water rise toward her home last month.

In Chipman, Rhonda Saulnier was asking the same question.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said.

“So now that it’s happened two years in a row, like everybody I’m afraid it’s the new norm. I’m praying it’s not.”

Water levels peaked in Fredericton on April 23 at 8.36 metres, compared with a peak of 8.31 metres last year. In Saint John, the peak was 5.53 metres compared with 5.76 metres last year.

For the second straight year, homes were evacuated. For the second straight year, the Trans-Canada Highway was closed downriver from Fredericton.

Even officials who oversee flood response seemed taken aback.

“When this event happened last year, we were under the impression this was a historical event, and two years in a row, the historical event happened,” said Ahmed Dassouki, the director of operations at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“It’s a new day, and two years in a row is telling us we can’t just do the same thing,” Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters.

Yes, this is climate change — probably

Is this climate change?

The answer isn’t straightforward, but the consensus is: yes, probably, likely.

“You can’t attribute one event to climate change,” said Barrie Bonsal, a senior research scientist with Environment Canada, who co-authored a major report on climate change released last month.

“But as we warm the atmosphere, and we see associated impacts, we are increasing the probability of certain types of events that are associated with warming.”

READ MORE HERE: 

 

Data reveals scope, damage of spring floods in Quebec & New Brunswick

New data from Statistics Canada is revealing the scale and scope of this spring’s devastating flooding in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

More than 600 square kilometres of land suffered flooding this year, according to maps created by Statistics Canada, which used satellite data from the Canadian Space Agency and information from Natural Resources Canada.

The data gathered over the last two weeks of April was used to take a closer look at southern Manitoba, the Fredericton-Saint John area in New Brunswick, the Ottawa-Gatineau region and Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, northwest of Montreal.

The agency reported Friday about 17,500 homes in the affected areas were either hit by flooding or considered at risk.

About 153 square kilometres of agricultural land flooded much of it in Manitoba which could have an impact on the 2019 growing season. The data also indicated some 460 kilometres of roadways were either washed out or cut off by rising rivers.

Some municipalities were harder hit than others this spring particularly in Quebec and New Brunswick. Parts of Ontario and Quebec have yet to see a reprieve from flooding.

About 29 percent of homes were flooded or at risk of flooding in Pontiac, Que., about 45 kilometres west of Ottawa. In Ste-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, northwest of Montreal, 25 percent of residences were hit by flooding or at risk.

The agency said it intends to put together more reports on the 2019 floods as more information becomes available.

Statistics Canada spokesman Fabrice Mosseray said,  “the rationale for producing such data is to contribute to public understanding of, and discussion on, the impact of such events to Canadians, and how to improve response in future events.”

B.C. legislature clerk retires; report says benefits wrongly claimed

By Dirk Meissner

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA _ A spending scandal that shook British Columbia’s legislature came to a partial conclusion Thursday with the abrupt retirement of the clerk and the suspended sergeant-at-arms asking for his job back after a report by a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Beverley McLachlin, appointed last March to probe overspending allegations against clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, concluded James engaged in misconduct, but Lenz did not.

She also noted in her report there was a “lack of clarity” in authority over expenses and administrative matters that were at the heart of her investigation of Lenz and James, the top two administration officials at the legislature.

New Democrat House Leader Mike Farnworth told the legislature Thursday that James has retired with a  “non-financial” settlement.

“We have all worked very hard, together, and it has not been on the basis of partisanship or anything like that other than to do what’s right, and what’s in the best interest of this institution,” said Farnworth at a joint news conference with house leaders from the Green and Liberal parties.

The NDP government said in its throne speech last February the spending scandal shook public trust in the legislature and the government will implement  “reforms that restore trust in this core institution.”

Both James and Lenz were suspended last November amid allegations of receiving improper benefits and expensing spending on personal items, which they have denied.

McLachlin’s report found four of five administrative allegations against James were substantiated, while she said Lenz did not engage in misconduct. Farnworth says Lenz will remain on paid leave, while the search for a new clerk will begin this month.

McLachlin says James engaged in misconduct in expense claims for suits, luggage and a private life insurance premium for himself.

Her report says he engaged in misconduct by directing the creation of three benefits for his personal advantage: the 2012 retirement benefit, the 2018 resignation benefit and the death benefit proposed in a 2017 letter.

She says James also took alcohol from the legislative precinct without accounting for it and kept a wood splitter and its trailer under his personal control, in the face of clear consensus that there is no reason for the equipment not to be at the legislature.

McLachlin’s report only looked at the administrative allegations made by Speaker Darryl Plecas in a report he released in January.

The Speaker alleged that Lenz and James engaged in inappropriate spending on personal items and foreign trips. His report also alleged inappropriate vacation payouts and retirement allowances.

An RCMP investigation continues with the help of two special prosecutors.

James said in a statement that he has been in public service for more than four decades and has fond memories of his time at the legislature, but he has now “had enough.”

“I have been publicly ridiculed and vilified. My family has been deeply hurt and continues to suffer humiliation. In an effort to put an end to that, I have decided to retire, and reach a settlement with the legislative assembly,” he said.

He added that when the allegations were disclosed to him, he provided detailed written submissions and supporting documents to the legislative assembly, but many of them are not referred to or addressed in McLachlin’s report.

“I believe the public has a right to see those submissions and documents, so they can know and understand the whole picture and judge the truth of these matters for themselves,” he said.

Lenz told a news conference that McLachlin’s report cleared him of misconduct allegations and he asked to be reinstated but was told he is still the subject of a police investigation.

“I greatly respect the fair and independent process that has been in place. I am confident there will be no findings of wrongdoing,” he told reporters gathered in his backyard.

Lenz said he holds no ill will for what has happened over the past seven months, but added it has been “brutal.”

“It was devastating,” he said.

He has yet to be interviewed by police but Lenz said he’ll answer the questions they have.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Lenz said.

Plecas said he was happy with the conclusions of the report.

“I think it says that the issues I had raised were accurate. I mean, of course, it’s not everything. But I’m reminded that her terms of reference were very narrow. So there’s a number of things which weren’t considered.”

Farnworth told the legislature that McLachlin noted several policy areas that it needs to consider. The three party house leaders accepted all of her recommendations and Farnworth said he has tabled a status report detailing “considerable efforts” already undertaken by staff to address those issues.

McLachlin’s report says there was a lack of clarity over who had the authority for the administrative matters at the legislature. The legislation indicates the office of the Speaker has control, but in practice, the clerk seems to hold that authority, it says.

The report says vacation entitlement policies and practices, expenses, travel and benefits all need to be clarified for staff, and the legislature may also want to put a formal policy in place for the management of alcohol purchases.

Edited for ILSTV

Slip and Fall Claim Succeeds After Plaintiff Injured on Wet Boardwalk

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing fault and damages for a fall a Plaintiff sustained while walking on a wet boardwalk.

In today’s case (Owens v. Steveston Waterfront Properties Inc.) the Plaintiff fell and broke her right kneecap in an incident described as follows:

the plaintiff was walking on a part of a boardwalk in Steveson, of which the defendant is the occupier, when she slipped and fell (the “Incident”).  She was walking on the boardwalk after having a meal (a soup and one beer) at the Restaurant.  The plaintiff was 61 years old at the time of the Incident.  She had followed her husband, Mr. Owens, who was also in his sixties, down a ramp with a small incline that was just outside the Restaurant to the boardwalk.  Although the wooden planks of the boardwalk looked dry, she slipped, landing on her knee.  She testified that, had there been a sign warning of a slipping hazard, she would not have tried to walk down the ramp to the boardwalk.

The Court found she fell due to the slipperiness of the boardwalk and that it did not appear wet.  The court noted the Defendant could have placed a warning sign or, at relatively low cost, installed strips to increase the friction for patrons walking on the boardwalk.  In finding the Defendant liable Madam Justice Maisonville provided the following reasons:

[110]     I find that the risk respecting the boardwalk was unreasonable. The defendant has a positive duty to take reasonable care to make the boardwalk safe to be walked on. Although evidence of local practice is not determinative, having considered that occupiers for the neighbouring boardwalks had mounted signs warning of the potential slipping hazard, I am persuaded that the facts that the boardwalk could be slippery when wet and that this wetness would not always be visually noticeable to visitors, amounts to a recognizable risk that required some positive action on the part of the defendant.

[111]     I do not accept the defendant’s characterization that wetness was an “inherent risk” of such a nature that the plaintiff should have been aware of it being slippery, given she had considered this potential and indeed looked for evidence of that risk. Given no visual clues arise from the wood itself I find that a sign should have been erected at the top of the ramp to warn that it could be slippery given the variable weather conditions at the site.

[112]     There was ease in avoiding the risk by either putting a frictional surface such as a metal grate on the boardwalk to reduce the slipperiness that wetness would cause, or even erecting a sign, warning visitors of the invisible danger. The costs of reducing the risk of slipperiness would have been minimal. As such, in all the circumstances, I find that the defendant breached its duty under the OLA to the plaintiff in failing to take any steps to reduce or eliminate the risk posed by the boardwalk becoming slippery when wet…

[121]     The breach of duty by the defendant, accordingly, is its failure to put up a caution sign. But for there being a sign visible to someone approaching the boardwalk, the Incident would not have occurred. Therefore, I find the plaintiff has established on a balance of probabilities that the defendant is liable for any damages flowing from the Incident.

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