Benefits By Design (BBD) Inc. partners with PocketPills to provide digital pharmacy services to CDN businesses

SURREY, BCOct. 5, 2020 /CNW/ – PocketPills, Canada’s leading digital pharmacy, today announced their partnership with Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc., to provide cost-effective benefit plans to its members by leveraging PocketPills digital pharmacy platform. Through the partnership, members filling their prescriptions at PocketPills will get higher coverage and their copay will be lower than going to a traditional pharmacy.

“We’re thrilled to bring convenience and affordable medication to Canadians across the country with BBD,” said Harj Samra, COO of PocketPills. “The devastating impact of COVID-19 has demonstrated a great need for safe and affordable access to medication. PocketPills has never been prouder to provide free doorstep delivery of medication and virtual access to pharmacists throughout all of Canada.”

Through digital collaboration between both partners, members are able to share their medication and insurance information with PocketPills for a seamless experience. BBD members can then instantly connect with pharmacists and manage their medications online. In addition to free medication delivery Canada wide, PocketPills sorts members’ medications by dose into easy-to-open PocketPacks. Each PocketPack includes the date and time, making it easier to take medications as prescribed. Automation technology improves the pharmacy workflow, making pharmacists more accessible to patients via phone or live chat, 7 days a week.

“After receiving positive feedback from our staff on their use of PocketPills, we are excited to bring that same experience to our customers,” said Mike McClenahan, Managing Partner at BBD. “PocketPills provides plan members with a unique combination of convenience and prescription medication management at an extremely affordable price. Their digital service is especially valuable during a time like COVID-19, allowing for the ordering and delivery of prescriptions to the plan member’s home.”

About PocketPills:
PocketPills is Canada’s first digital pharmacy, using state of the art technology to save time and provide convenience to the patients, allowing them to fill prescriptions online and get their medications delivered for free. Established in 2018 by two pharmacists and an engineer, PocketPills was formed with the vision that medication should be managed in a simplified, safer and more cost-effective way. A low $7 dispensing fee and free delivery make medications affordable, and the PocketPacks system and app help patients manage their medications and take them on time as prescribed.
For more information, please visit

About BBD:
Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc. is a proud Canadian success story. Established in 1996, we are on a mission to help working Canadians promote and protect their health, wealth, and happiness by delivering employee benefits by design.

Follow us on social media @bbdcanada, or visit for more information.

SOURCE PocketPills

For further information: Media Contact: Nik De Sequera,

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CRA to withhold tax from new Covid-19 benefits

Unlike the CERB, new benefits will be subject to 10% tax at source

The excerpted article was written By Rudy Mezzetta

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will withhold 10% tax at source from amounts distributed through three new Covid-19 recovery benefits announced by the federal government in September.

Amounts received through the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) are taxable, meaning they must be included in income for the year when recipients file their tax returns.

“The 10% tax withheld at source may not be all the tax you need to pay,” indicates the CRA in its guidance for the three programs. “When you complete your personal income tax return, you may need to pay more (or less), depending on how much income you earned.”

Applications for the caregiving and sickness benefits open today, while applications for the CRB begin Oct. 12.

The three new programs were introduced to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which came to an end last month. Amounts received through CERB are taxable, but the CRA did not withhold tax at source for the program.

The government’s decision to withhold tax from the new benefits makes sense, says Jamie Golombek, managing director, tax and estate planning with CIBC Private Wealth Management in Toronto.

“This is consistent with most employment income, which these benefits are supposed to replace, wherein tax is paid when funds are paid to recipients,” he said.

The CRB provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by Covid-19, but are not entitled to employment insurance benefits. Canadians eligible for the CRB can receive $1,000 — $900 after tax withheld — for a two-week period. Canadians can apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods, or 26 weeks, between Sept. 27, 2020 and Sept. 25, 2021.

Canadians who receive CRB may also earn employment or self-employment income while doing so, but will have to reimburse $0.50 of the CRB for every dollar of net income above $38,000 earned in the calendar year.

The CRSB provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they’re sick or need to self-isolate due to Covid-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting Covid-19. Canadians eligible for the CRSB can receive $500 ($450 after tax withheld) for a one-week period. Canadians may apply up to a total of two weeks between Sept. 27, 2020 and Sept. 25, 2021.

The CRCB provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. If a Canadian is eligible for the CRCB, their household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each one-week period. Canadians may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between Sept. 27, 2020 and Sept. 25, 2021.

Source: advisor’s edge

Novacap Acquires Interest In AGA Financial Group

MONTREALOct. 5, 2020 /CNW/ – Novacap, one of Canada’s leading private equity firms, announced that it acquired an interest in AGA Financial Group Inc. (“AGA”), one of Quebec’s leading employee benefits advisory firms and third-party administrators of group insurance and retirement plans.

AGA helps businesses across Canada develop and administer tailor-made group insurance plans. AGA was founded in 1978 and has been owned and operated since 2013 by veteran insurance executives Martin Papillon, Chantal Dufresne and Gabriel Gagnon. AGA serves more than 1,200 clients across the spectrum from small and medium-sized businesses to those with national footprints. It employs more than 100 professionals, including a team of actuaries and a network of external brokers, with offices in Montreal and Quebec City.

“AGA has built a first-class franchise that combines passionate experts with a culture of innovation,” said Marcel Larochelle, Managing Partner, Financial Services, at Novacap. “This is a unique attribute in any business, and it is what fascinated us from the very beginning of our conversations. It speaks to the strength of the Novacap platform that we have been able to attract such a renowned group of partners in Martin, Chantal, and Gabriel.”

AGA is the third investment of the Novacap Financial Services I fund since its first closing in November 2019. Novacap is the first private equity firm in Canada to launch a fund dedicated to investing in financial services businesses.

“Novacap is excited to assist AGA with our deep operational expertise, our experience in executing mergers and acquisitions and in developing new markets across Canada and beyond,” added Rajiv Bahl, Senior Partner, Financial Services, at Novacap. “We look forward to working with the management team to power AGA’s continued growth.”

“Partnering with Novacap is a privilege for my partners and all AGA employees, as we all have exactly the same ambitious vision for the future of the company,” said Martin Papillon, President and Chief Executive Officer of AGA. “Our mission is to facilitate access to group insurance and pension plans, and to streamline their administration for our customers. This pledge is reflected not only in exceptional service, but also strategic advice that allows us to provide more in terms of solutions, products and services. With Novacap as our partner, these capabilities will only be enhanced.”

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP acted as legal advisor to Novacap.

Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP acted as legal advisor to AGA.

About Novacap
Founded in 1981, Novacap is a leading Canadian private equity firm with CA$3.6 billion of assets under management. Its distinct investment approach, based on deep operational expertise and an active partnership with entrepreneurs, has helped accelerate growth and create long-term value for its numerous portfolio companies. With an experienced management team and substantial financial resources, Novacap is well positioned to continue building world-class businesses. Backed by leading global institutional investors, Novacap’s deals typically include leveraged buyouts, management buyouts, add-on acquisitions, IPOs, and privatizations. Over the last 39 years, Novacap has invested in more than 90 companies and completed more than 140 add-on acquisitions. Novacap has offices in Brossard, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario. For more information, please visit

About AGA Financial Group Inc.
Since its inception in 1978, AGA has helped clients across Canada develop and administer tailor-made group insurance plans. AGA is also one of Quebec’s leading third-party administrators and third-party payers (TPA / TPP) of group insurance and retirement plans. Its clients include over 1,200 small, medium and large businesses, as well as financial security and group insurance consultants wishing to make a group insurance plan available to their clients. AGA has a Quebec-wide distribution network and more than 100 employees across its offices in Montreal and Quebec City.

SOURCE Novacap Management Inc.

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Onlia and Ultimate Dining Card® Team Up to Reward Canadians for Good Driving Behaviour

ORONTO, Oct. 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Onlia, Ontario’s fast-growing provider of online home and auto insurance, announced a new collaboration today with Ultimate Dining Card®. Effective October 1, users of Onlia’s safe-driving app, Onlia Sense™, can now unlock rewards that can be redeemed at Recipe Unlimited Corporation’s participating restaurants.

“For years, Onlia has promoted road safety through Onlia Sense™, a driving app available free to all Canadians, that coaches safe driving and provides rewards like gift cards and cashback for good behaviour,” said Pieter Louter. “By teaming up with The Ultimate Dining Card®, we’re now able to celebrate safe road usage and inject funds in our user’s entertainment budgets.”

The Onlia Sense™  app uses an innovative coaching approach based on nudge theory and behavioural economics. Using telematics to track driving behaviour, it helps users proactively develop safer habits while earning rewards for improved driving behaviour. Now, rewards for safe driving can be redeemed at restaurants across the country, helping to fulfill Onlia’s mission to make Canada safer.

On a monthly basis, Onlia Sense™ users can earn Ultimate Dining Cards valued between $5 – $100 by unlocking everyday driving badges, completing monthly safe-driving challenges and ranking among top drivers on the in-app leaderboard.

“Ultimate Dining Card® is proud to partner with Onlia to encourage and reward safe driving habits for all Ontarians” said Michael Griffin, Brand Manager of Ultimate Dining Card. “Each user who redeems their Onlia Sense™ safe driving points for a UDC will have 1000+ Canadian owned and operated restaurants to choose from. Whether it’s dine-in, take out or delivery, a great dining experience awaits”

Beginning October 1, 2020, Ultimate Dining Card® replaced Onlia’s Starbucks® Gift Card rewards. Existing Starbucks® Gift Cards can still be used if they’ve already been earned.

About Onlia

Onlia Holding Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiaries Onlia Agency Inc. & Onlia Services Inc., offers innovative digital home and auto insurance and a safe-driving mobile app to the Canadian market. Onlia’s mission is to create a community around making Canada a safer place, and to provide tools and motivation to facilitate safer behaviours. Launched in 2018, Onlia is a joint venture between Achmea Canada Holding Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Achmea B.V. the largest insurance group of the Netherlands, and Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, a Canadian holding company which, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and the associated investment management. Using proprietary and award-winning technology, Onlia is rethinking the way Canadians approach safety and insurance. Join the community at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Ultimate Dining Card®

Ultimate Dining Card® is valid at any participating Swiss Chalet, Milestones, Montana’s, Kelseys, Harvey’s, Bier Markt, East Side Mario’s, New York Fries, Fionn MacCools, D’Arcy McGee’s, Paddy Flaherty’s, Tir nan Og, Original Joe’s, Elephant & Castle, State & Main, The Landing Group of Restaurants and Pickle Barrel locations across Canada. That means there are over 1,000+ locations across Canada waiting to welcome you and your friends or family for lunch, dinner, or drinks. Visit to find a restaurant location near you. ® Registered Trademark of Recipe Unlimited Corporation.


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Julia Stein
416 435 2380

Why can’t Toronto music venues get insurance?

“It’s a catch-22. The system says we need insurance, but the system won’t provide it to us.”

The excerpted article was by Richard Trapunski |

There’s a new obstacle facing Toronto’s already precarious live music venues: none of them seem to be able to get insurance.

A coalition of the city’s venues are calling on the Ontario government to help them figure out why so many are being refused renewals on commercial liability insurance.

After months of behind-the-scenes advocacy, no one has come up with answers.

“Live music venues in Ontario are facing unprecedented hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Shaun Bowring, owner of the Baby G and the Garrison, in a press release. “In addition to 100 per cent loss of revenue now over six full months, permanent loss of valued employees and lack
of resources/funding to cover basic operational costs, as an industry we are now facing an unparalleled crisis in regard to commercial insurance.

“Commercial insurance rates for live music venues have risen between 200-400 per cent over the last 10 years,” he adds. “Now, the unregulated insurance industry in Ontario has presented… predatory practices making it near impossible for many in our industry to continue operating our businesses.”

Bowring is part of a live music operators group called Love You Live, which represents about two dozen local venues. He says many are experiencing some version of the same problem: their policies are running out and they’ve been refused renewal. They’ve spoken to multiple brokers and looked at companies they know insure music venues, and they’re all coming up empty.

Is this an existential threat to music venues?

Liability insurance protects a commercial space against claims resulting from injuries or damage to people or property in the space. Most venues are not open right now, or those that are have limited capacity, but many commercial leases in Toronto include a clause requiring commercial liability insurance. Without it, their landlords could evict them.

Jeff Cohen is the owner of the Horseshoe Tavern (and also a member of the group). He tells NOW he knows of at least eight venues whose liability insurance has expired since April or May – or whose will soon – and whose brokers are telling them they can’t get it renewed or find a new policy. That includes his venues (the Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace), plus the Garrison and Baby G, Phoenix Concert Theatre, Lula Lounge, Castro’s and Dakota Tavern among others.

Dakota owner Stephen Reid posted on Facebook that the venue “faces a one-month countdown to permanent closure” if the insurance situation isn’t resolved. The Ossington venue has asked for support from its community, to buy beer and snacks so they can stay afloat.

Non-music venue restaurants and bars have also been reporting insurance issues since the pandemic started. They say that their policies are ballooning, but Bowring says this is different.

“They’re saying their renewals are at rates three times higher, which is tough,” Reid says on the phone. “But we’re not even getting that. We’re just not getting renewals.”

The coalition has been working behind the scenes for two months or so before they went public, he says, trying to get meetings with Ontario politicians or people from the insurance industry to find out what’s going on and how they can resolve it. They’ve had help from the city, including the Toronto Music Advisory Council (Cohen and Bowring are both members), but insurance falls under provincial legislation. And commercial insurance is unregulated in Ontario.

“I understand there’s much bigger things gong on, lots of sectors hurting, but we’re one of them too,” Bowring says. “We’re entrepreneurs and small businesses and we have jobs depending on us.

“The [Doug Ford] government’s catch phrase is that they’re open for business. Well, it seems like they’re only open for select businesses.”

Where is the Ontario government and where are the insurance companies?

Scott Blodgett, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Finance, says the government encourages businesses to work with their insurers or brokers and ask about opportunities for premium relief or mid-term adjustments.

“We want to assure you that this government has been in regular contact with the insurance industry to raise issues concerning insurance availability and affordability during the pandemic, especially for small-business owners,” he says in a statement.

Pete Karageorgos is the director of consumer and industry relations at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. He manages a consumer information centre that helps businesses, home owners and automobile owners with questions related to insurance. He says he’s seen more inquiries from businesses than usual, but not necessarily from music venues. But he’s not surprised that insurance would be an issue for them.

In the first part of the shutdown, from March to June, insurance companies across Canada provided over a billion dollars in premium relief to both individuals and businesses.

“Like businesses, insurers are grappling with new financial challenges,” he says. “They might not be willing to assume the same amount of risk.”

His suggestion for music venues is to shop around as much as possible and to negotiate.

“Even if you get a letter saying, ‘We’re not renewing you,’ ask if there’s anything you can do to adjust the deductible limit or highlight to the insurance provider that you’re a good risk, that you’re conscientious,” he advises. “At the end of the day, insurance companies want to support their clients. It’s in their best interests to make businesses succeed.”

Insurers might be seeing that music venues serve alcohol, operate at night, maybe they have dancing – and seeing that as liability risk. But many of the music venues searching for insurance aren’t even operating right now. That means their their risk of liability is actually lower than it would be before or after the pandemic. If there are no customers in the building, there is virtually no liability. Yet if they can’t get liability insurance, as soon as customers are allowed back in, the venue would be at full risk if someone were to sue.

If all venues are getting refused, could there be some collusion happening among insurance providers? It’s hard to tell because no one seems to be able to get a straight answer.

Can the city step in?

In the meantime, the Toronto Music Office and Toronto Music Advisory Committee are looking for ways to navigate the issue. In their September 24 meeting, they put forward a motion to meet with other departments at the city about potentially spearheading a group insurance plan for Toronto music venues. Then the city could potentially underwrite the policy, assume the risk and guarantee coverage of unpaid fees.

The city has been building protections for music venues, including a recently implemented property tax break, so maybe they could step in if landlords were to try to evict for lack of insurance.

For Cohen, who admits the Horseshoe has a standing and stature that smaller independent venues might not, he’s willing to operate whether or not he can get the insurance.

He’d even be willing to go to court.

“What judge is going to look at me and say I couldn’t operate because I couldn’t get liability insurance?” he says. “It’s like a band who comes to town and wants Mexican Coke in their rider. I can’t buy it if it’s not available.


Pandemic travel medical insurance now available to all Canadians

Goose Insurance launches Canada’s first standalone worldwide Pandemic Insurance covering Canadians while travelling for up to $500,000 in COVID-19 related emergencies.

VANCOUVER, BCOct. 1, 2020 /CNW/ – Recently, both major Canadian airlines announced that customers booking flights through them may receive COVID-19 medical insurance. But be warned, these insurance policies have many stipulations that might not be suitable for you.

For example, the first airline doesn’t include insurance for flights to the United States. And the second airline only includes insurance for flights booked by October 31, 2020. So, what should you do if you are traveling to the United States, you don’t book by airline’s deadline, or you are travelling with another airline? Or, what if you’re traveling by car?

Your best option is to explore a stand-alone pandemic medical insurance policy like the one launched by Goose Insurance Services in partnership with Lloyd’s of London and MSH INTERNATIONAL (CANADA) LTD. For as little as $99 annually, Canadians will be protected up to $500,000 of coverage for pandemic-related emergency medical treatment while traveling. What’s more, the policy covers you when you travel 200kms or more outside of your principal residence within your home country or anywhere in the world. With this policy you can travel for an unlimited number of trips that are 30 days or less during a one-year period, you can also extend your trip length to 180 days, perfect for Canadian snowbirds. The policy is valid as long as you’re under 75 years old and your destination doesn’t have a war or terrorism travel advisory.

“We introduced this product after receiving many requests for such coverage from our customers who either wanted or needed to travel within Canada or internationally,” states Dejan Mirkovic, President of Goose. “We at Goose Insurance are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and enable them to purchase coverage in a simple, fast, and convenient way. Canadians can now buy Pandemic Insurance in less than 60 seconds on their smartphone through the Goose Insurance Super-App.”

It is critical to ensure Canadian’s have adequate coverage as hospitalization costs can be very expensive in many parts of the world, especially for treatment of COVID-19.  With up to $500,000, Goose offers the highest amount of coverage in Canada for stand-alone Pandemic Insurance. “Goose is a leader in modernizing and simplifying insurance for Canadians,” said Guillaume Deybach, COO of MSH Americas. “We are thrilled to be working with such an innovative team and offer best in class coverage through a mobile app.”

It’s also important to note that whether you are traveling with the COVID-19 insurance offered by an airline or a stand-alone pandemic medical insurance policy, you must still make sure you purchase an underlying travel medical insurance policy. This underlying policy covers you against other medical emergencies, like a broken arm or a heart attack, that you may suffer while traveling.

Goose offers underlying travel medical insurance from as little as $4 per day. The policy covers up to $10 million for emergency medical treatments and emergency medical evacuation. The policy also offers coverage for unstable pre-existing medical conditions for all Canadian travellers under the age of 59 who are travelling 35 days or less, or available as an add-on for all other travellers. Both the pandemic and underlying travel insurance policies can be purchased in less than a minute on your smartphones. Visit or call 1-888-347-6673 for more information.


Established in 2018 and based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Goose Insurance Services takes the confusing parts out of buying insurance and makes it easier than ever to get the right coverage. And it all happens in seconds, from a single app. Goose currently serves British ColumbiaAlbertaSaskatchewanManitobaOntario, Québec, and Nova Scotia in Canada as well as WashingtonOregonIllinoisGeorgiaNew Jersey, and Texas in the US. For more information about Goose, or to download the app, visit

SOURCE Goose Insurance Services Inc.


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