New FireSmart Home Development Guide helps Canadians build wildfire resiliency

FireSmart Canada, in partnership with The Co-operators, has developed a new resource to help residents make their homes more resilient to wildfire. The FireSmart Home Development Guide is now available to all Canadians, and will become part of the FireSmart Home Partners Program.

The FireSmart Home Development Guide outlines specific measures homeowners can take to reduce the risk of damage from wildfire.  Available to help homebuilders and property owners make informed decisions, the Guide provides recommendations on elements that significantly reduces the wildfire risk a home faces: roofing material and design; siding and vents; gutters and eaves; decks; fencing; and landscaping.

“Canadians have seen the devastating personal, social and economic impact of wildfires, the most tragic of which occurred in Fort McMurray last year,” said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. “Fortunately, we know that proactive mitigation efforts by individual property owners can significantly reduce wildfire risk. By making the FireSmart Home Development Guide available, we are hoping to inspire homeowners to take action to protect what matters most – their loved ones and property.”

The Guide will also now be part of the FireSmart Home Partners Program, which is being piloted in four communities: Fort Nelson First Nation, B.C., Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, B.C., Slave Lake, Alta. and Whitecourt, Alta. The Program addresses the need for a standardized system that offers detailed, customized and measureable wildfire risk assessments and measurable risk reductions for individual properties. In the future, it will also include in-person workshops for insurers, realtors and homebuilders.

“Any place where conditions allow for ignition and spread of fire between structures and vegetation – the wildland-urban interface – people are more exposed to the risk of wildfire, and that needs to be considered and managed by all stakeholders, including property owners,” said Kelly Johnston, executive director of FireSmart Canada. “Preparing for the threat of wildfire is a shared responsibility that will only grow in importance as climate change and other factors continue to increase the risk. The FireSmart Home Partners Program provides homeowners with the tools and information to reduce the risk of wildfire to their homes.”

The Co-operators also partners with FireSmart Canada and other organizations on Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (WCPD), which will be held this year on May 6, 2017.

The FireSmart Home Development Guide is available at

About FireSmart Canada
FireSmart Canada is the go-to national program committed to helping Canadians reduce their wildfire risk and become fire adapted through community-based solutions.  FireSmart is administered by Partners in Protection; a non-profit coalition of federal, provincial, indigenous communities, private industry and municipal fire, emergency and land management experts. Through publications, programs, outreach training, and workshops, FireSmart Canada provides tools for Canadians to become pro-active in reducing the risk of wildfire to their homes and communities. FireSmart programs and products are supported through membership and ongoing active support from organizations such as the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, the National Fire Protection Association and The Co-operators. For more information on FireSmart visit

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $44 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean’s magazine. For more information visit

SOURCE The Co-operators

Spam campaign targets Google users with malicious link

Spam campaign targets Google users with malicious link


Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) warned its users to beware of emails from known contacts asking them to click on a link to Google Docs after a large number of people turned to social media to complain that their accounts had been hacked.

Google said on Wednesday that it had taken steps to protect users from the attacks by disabling offending accounts and removing malicious pages.

The attack used a relatively novel approach to phishing, a hacking technique designed to trick users into giving away sensitive information, by gaining access to user accounts without needing to obtain their passwords. They did that by getting an already logged-in user to grant access to a malicious application posing as Google Docs.

“This is the future of phishing,” said Aaron Higbee, chief technology officer at PhishMe Inc. “It gets attackers to their goal … without having to go through the pain of putting malware on a device.”

He said the hackers had also pointed some users to another site, since taken down, that sought to capture their passwords.

Google said its abuse team “is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again.”

Anybody who granted access to the malicious app unknowingly also gave hackers access to their Google account data including emails, contacts and online documents, according to security experts who reviewed the scheme.

“This is a very serious situation for anybody who is infected because the victims have their accounts controlled by a malicious party,” said Justin Cappos, a cyber security professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Cappos said he received seven of those malicious emails in three hours on Wednesday afternoon, an indication that the hackers were using an automated system to perpetuate the attacks.

He said he did not know the objective, but noted that compromised accounts could be used to reset passwords for online banking accounts or provide access to sensitive financial and personal data.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Jim Finkle in Toronto

Do I have right-of-way when backing out of a mall parking spot?

Do I have right-of-way when backing out of a mall parking spot?


In an ideal world, drivers would stop if they see you backing out of a parking space. But if you’re counting on them to stop, you may need a backup plan.

“Generally, the person backing up does not have a ‘right of way’ – they must ensure it is safe before they start,” Constable Melissa Wutke, spokesperson for RCMP Traffic Services, said in an e-mail. “There is no definition under the [Motor Vehicle Act of B.C.] that stipulates, ‘you must wait for a vehicle to completely back up from an area before passing.’”

Section 193 of the act says, “The driver of a vehicle must not cause the vehicle to move backward into an intersection or over a crosswalk, and must not in any event or at any place cause a vehicle to move backward unless the movement can be made in safety.” It’s a $109 fine, including fees, and two demerit points.

Even though the law doesn’t say drivers have to stop to wait when somebody’s backing up, it’s something people should do. Just don’t assume they will.

“Common sense would dictate that if you see a vehicle in your lane of travel, then you must wait for that vehicle to move before you continue in that lane,” Wutke said.

If somebody speeds past out of nowhere and hits you – they could be charged with driving without reasonable consideration. It’s a $198 fine and six demerit points.

“On a surface level, the person backing up has to show caution – but if somebody drives through at a ridiculous speed and they try to slip through the crack and not stop for you, they could be charged,” said RCMP Sergeant Lorne Lecker, with Deas Island Traffic Services. “That’s where witnesses and video are so crucial.”

Or, you could both be charged. Even without charges, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia has to determine who’s at fault.

“As a driver, your top priority is to avoid the collision in the first place than be cleared after an investigation,” Lecker said.

The laws vary by province. Ontario is the only province where the rules of the road don’t apply on private property that’s used by the public, like mall parking lots.

So, if you back up and hit someone in Ontario, you won’t be charged under the Highway Traffic Act – but you could be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada.

And, Ontario’s fault determination rules do apply in parking lots, said the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“Based on the limited information provided, [the driver backing up] would be at fault,” said Pete Karageorgos, IBC’s director of consumer and industry relations.

The law aside, if you’re struggling with drivers and pedestrians who won’t stop, you may have things, er, backward, said Angelo DiCicco, GTA general manager with Young Drivers of Canada.

“It’s better to back into the stall in the first place so you’re not backing out into an uncontrolled environment when you leave,” DiCicco said. “Backing out is very dangerous – there are people going by, kids running out – and rearview cameras have severe limitations.”

And, if you’re backing out extra cautiously because you can’t see if somebody’s there, you may be annoying drivers who’ve been waiting for you.

“Now they’re pissed off and decide to go while you’re double– and triple-checking,” DiCicco said. “If you’re having issues backing up and people are honking at you – at some point, you have to think, ‘Maybe it’s me.’”

If you do decide to back into a stall, signal and then roll down the window to gesture to let other drivers know that you’re backing in – and that they can go around you.

“If they don’t get it, you put the vehicle in reverse,” DiCicco said. “You want to communicate with the vehicles around you that the space is yours and you want to back in.”

Still, if you do back out, drivers should, ideally, stop – out of courtesy.

“Treat the people they way you want to be treated,” DiCicco said. “If someone is on your intended path, you wait. It’s like McDonald’s – first come, first served.”

Source: The Globe and Mail

OPP: Seat belt-related road deaths lowest in 20 years but one life lost is one too many

Insuring and reinsuring Canadian risks from the United States


Over the past ten years, regulation in Canada of insurers has evolved significantly. Prior to the financial crisis, Canada’s primary regulator had begun to move from a “rules-based” approach to regulation to a “principles-based” or “risk-based” approach. After the financial crisis, this trend continued and in many ways accelerated.

Insurers carrying on business in Canada are regulated as to solvency (usually at the federal level by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) and as to market conduct (at the provincial/territorial level) by the local insurance regulator. The test for “carrying on business” is not consistent across the country – from a solvency perspective, it usually relates to the location of the insuring activities, such as where negotiations take place, where insuring decisions take place and how marketing is conducted; from a market conduct perspective, it usually relates to the location of the marketing and promotion activities, though in some provinces having a local risk is sufficient.

To square off these competing tests, where a foreign insurer may not be considered to be carrying on insurance business in Canada (referred to in the legislation as “insur[ing] in Canada a risk”), but its activities may nevertheless require that foreign insurer to require a license under one or more insurance statutes of the provinces or territories of Canada, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators has sent a “Consent and Undertaking” to foreign insurers licensed in Canada which would require that foreign insurer carrying on provincial insurance business to ensure that the business falls under its federal license and that assets are vested in trust relating to that business. This effectively harmonizes reporting and capital requirements across the provincial/territorial and federal insurance regulators for licensed foreign insurers. Unlicensed foreign insurers will be required to obtain applicable provincial and territorial licenses and potentially deposit assets in trust with the applicable regulators.

One feature of this Canadian regime is that foreign insurers and reinsurers may be able to structure their businesses so that they write business in Canada subject to Canada’s solvency and market conduct regimes, with the maintenance of certain assets and reserves in Canada, in some cases and they write business outside of Canada using a home office or affiliate in other cases. The question of business structure will depend on a number of factors, including regulation in the home jurisdiction, the nature of the business, and tax considerations.

As a practical matter:

  • many reinsurers and reinsurance activities may take place outside of Canada’s regulatory regime, though (subject to the next comment) ceding insurers would not get capital/asset credit for unregistered reinsurance;
  • unregistered reinsurance may be eligible for capital/asset credits if the ceding insurer benefits from acceptable collateral held in Canada, such as certain letters of credit, funds withheld arrangements, or the Reinsurance Security Agreement regime in which an unregistered reinsurer holds assets in Canada and grants to the ceding insurer a first priority security interest in those assets; and
  • “back office” activities (such as policy administration, underwriting support, product development, claims analysis, investment management) may be carried on outside of Canada or by other parties within Canada, subject to specific requirements such as rules related to outsourcing, privacy laws, and related party transactions.

Source: Lexology 

Not my laptop! Airline passengers hit the device doldrums

Not my laptop! Airline passengers hit the device doldrums

By Barbara Ortutay


NEW YORK _ As the indignities of modern air travel go, the latest ban on laptops and tablets on some international flights falls somewhere between having to take off your ratty shoes at the security checkpoint and having your baby food and milk tested for bomb residue.

It’s yet another inconvenience in the name of security for weary travellers, especially those from or passing through the 10 mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries covered by new U.S. and British policies. While it’s not quite as disruptive as an outright ban on smartphones much less a travel ban based on nationality the laptop limitation loomed large for some people as they prepared to travel.

“Why are only Middle Eastern airlines subject to this ban?” asked Kelsey Norman, a doctoral student who plans to fly home Friday to Los Angeles from Beirut and expects to have to check her laptop, a Kindle tablet and her DSLR camera. “Overall this policy is inconvenient, discriminatory, and continues to hurt America’s rapidly deteriorating reputation globally.”


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security rules forbid laptop computers, tablets, Kindles, some gaming devices, cameras and other electronics larger than a smartphone in carry-on baggage. The U.S. government cited unspecified threats as the reason for the ban. The U.K. government instituted a similar ban; neither government’s restrictions affect U.S.-based airlines.

On the positive side, items people can still carry into the airline cabin include smartphones, overstuffed duffel bags, winter coats, tiny bottles of hand lotion, Tupperware containers full of tuna salad, earplugs, nose hair trimmers, and babies. For now, at least tomorrow could bring a new unspecified threat and with it a new ban.


Other travellers, especially of the dutiful business variety, worried that laptops in checked bags could be stolen, damaged or compromised and that in the meantime, they wouldn’t be able to get any work done. Some tried rerouting flights to avoid the affected airports, but this is not easy.

Banu Akdenizli, a native of Turkey, said having to fly 17 hours without her laptop will cost her precious time to work and prepare for a conference.

“It might seem trivial to a lot of people, but what you get from these parts of the world are usually business travellers,” said Akdenizli, an associate professor of communications at the Doha, Qatar, campus of Northwestern University. “It’s not just about watching movies, but also being able to get some work done.”

Of course, others may well revel in the prospect of a few hours of laptop-free time, stretched out in their luxurious middle coach seats instead of hunched over Excel spreadsheets. It wasn’t so long ago that such this was the norm for air travellers.

And there still are a few ways to make do without those laptops, tablets and portable DVD players. Sort of.


If you’re someone who insists on working, it’s possible to take import documents into Google Docs and thumb away on your smartphone’s keyboard, at least so long as you remember to save them to your phone before you take off. But features can be limited with some apps; Microsoft’s Office app, for instance, only lets you open one document at a time.

Such apps are OK for simple proofreading and minor editing, but probably won’t do if you’re working on your novel. Among other things, the text is tiny when fitting a full page on a phone’s screen, though there’s a button to temporarily reformat text for the smaller display.

Catching up on email or cleaning out your inbox could be another way to pass time without your laptop, especially if you shell out for in-flight Wi-Fi.

If you can resist the urge to work, you can download shows from Netflix or Amazon onto your phone for offline viewing _ though again, you have to remember to do this before your flight. And you might want to stick with comedies or TV shows rather than epics designed for big screens.


For most of us, laptops and other gadgets play mere supporting roles compared to our extra limb, our one and only _ the smartphone. We go to sleep with it and look at it the first thing in the morning. Had the ban included smartphones, passengers might now be agitating for the return of zeppelin travel.

Last fall, Samsung asked users of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 to “power down and stop using the device” when getting on a plane. (The phone was later banned, and then recalled.) People followed the directions but found clever workarounds, such as borrowing non-Note 7 phones from friends.

But at least then people could see Note 7s bursting into flames on YouTube, leading to the natural conclusion that this would be bad on a jetliner. Here, the threat is much harder to envision, travellers say.

A few manage anyway. Nick Lieber, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen living in Jerusalem, plans an April trip to Chicago that will take him through Amman, Jordan, and therefore subject him to the ban. He said stowing his laptop in his checked luggage won’t be too inconvenient because he doesn’t anticipate having work on the flight.

But he worries about laptop lithium-ion batteries which have been blamed for past aircraft fires stored in the plane’s cargo hold. “I’m a nervous flyer already,” Lieber said.

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