HATN – The Great Gourmet Give – Saturday April 15, 2023

I volunteer with a small, local, and 100% volunteer run charity that does some amazing work in Africa.  It’s a great hands on organization that works with the local villages to help them, help themselves. We were over in the fall of 2022, helping build an irrigation system for their Women’s Market Garden.
We are doing a big fundraising event again this year (1st after the pandemic) and are reaching out to friends, clients, and associates to; buy a ticket, donate a silent auction gift, make a donation, come out, have a great night, and learn more about the charity.
If you buy tickets (and let me know), we’ll arrange to put together a few tables, so there are familiar faces (or at least one or two).  Buy tickets at www.hatn.org

Saturday, April 15, 2023 – 6:30pm        

The theme for Hands Across the Nations 17th annual Great Gourmet Give is “Experience the Magic of Giving”.

Radio Personality, John Moore of “Moore in the Morning” will host and over 250 attendees will enjoy an evening of wine, gourmet tapas, live entertainment, dancing and silent auction at The Brighton Convention Center, (Toronto). Proceeds from the Great Gourmet Give will transform communities of women and children living in extreme poverty. Tickets are available at HATN.org at a cost of $175. 

As a 100% volunteer-run organization, HATN relies on the support of generous individuals and businesses to further our commitment of changing lives community by community. HATN embraces global community partnerships with a focus on clean drinking water, healthcare and education.

HATN’s ambitious goal to raise $50,000 will be used in Jammeh Kebbeh, the Gambia to:

  • Build a Bush Hospital to provide life-saving healthcare and maternity care for 9,000+ villagers who currently have little to no access.
  • Install a water tower with a closed drilled well for the hospital. Finding and collecting water consumes a large portion of time and worry for women and children. Village wells are either broken and unsafe and water when available is undrinkable by most standards. The well at the hospital will be shared with the community.

Our projects…

4 Schools & 4 Health Clinics Built | 200 Water Filters Installed | 22 Sanitation Facilities & Greenhouses Built

HATN projects are a testament to our dedicated volunteers, donors and sponsors. Today, classrooms overflow with eager students ready to learn. Women attend night school. Medical aid is accessible, affordable and saving lives; increasing life expectancy, opportunity and hope. 80% of the water filters continue providing clean drinking water for over 10,000 lives.

Thank you in advance for your contribution consideration. We will provide donor recognition on website, social platforms, event program and public announcements.

With Gratitude,

The Great Gourmet Give Team

Is Your Employee Exempt From Employment Standards Legislation?

As a Mainstay Insurance client you know that we do NOT allow independent contractors to be included on benefit plans.  There are a number of reasons for this.  CRA does not allow non-employees, most insurers will not change contract wording to include non-permanent employees, and most importantly, there is considerable liability created for both the the employer and employee if they are deemed as such.  We never want the benefit plan to be the “final nail in the coffin” that redefines an independent contractor as an employee.

In Ontario (as of Jan.1, 2023), things are getting a bit messier, but maybe also a bit clearer at the same time.  If you work with business or information technology consultants, then please read the info below and reach out to your HR or employment lawyers if you have questions.

On January 1, 2023, an amendment to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) came into force that creates a new exemption for business and information technology (IT) consultants.1 This means that if an individual meets the criteria for a “business consultant” or “information technology consultant” under the ESA, then the consultant is excluded from the application of the ESA. If that is the case, then the employer does not have to comply with the minimum employment standards set out in the ESA with respect to the consultant.

Employers should consider whether this new exemption applies to any individuals in their Ontario workforce. In addition, it is also a good reminder for employers to consider whether they are up to date on key exemptions from employment standards legislation in all of the provinces and territories in which their business operates, as the exemptions do vary by province and territory.


2023 HR Checklist For Ontario Employers

Here are some of the recent changes, and others coming in the near future.  Though not directly benefit related, it is a good checklist to reference and ensure you are on-side with.  Any questions, reach out to your employment lawyer or applicable professional.

Effective January 1, 2023, private companies incorporated in Ontario must establish and maintain a Register of individuals with significant control (“ISCs”)

Effective December 18, 2022, Employment Insurance (“EI”) sickness benefits were extended permanently from 15 weeks to 26 weeks.

Effective June 1, 2023, Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) has been amended to require that certain employers provide and maintain a naloxone kit in workplaces

Ontario employers can no longer enter into non-competition agreements


Dental Fee Guide Increases & Prescription Drug Trends

Near the end of December, I shared the Ontario Dental Fee guide increases and at that time, we were still waiting to hear on the other provinces and their adjustments for 2023.  They are now out and the averages are included below.

In addition to the fee guide increase, employers also have trend and utilization drivers to cost (using more of the services, and using them more often, in addition to paying more for the same service). We are seeing these costs show up (already) with the first months dental claims being higher than normal, and do not anticipate that abating.

On the drug side of things, costs are continuing to stay stable, but having an employee with one of the nearly 200 high cost drugs (over $10,000 a year), can have a huge affect on renewal pricing (but we have solutions).  A post in Pension and Benefits Monitor Magazine today stated…

Prescription drug expenditures by Canadian public drug plans increased by 4.2 per cent in 2020/21, bringing annual spending to $12.3 billion, says a Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) report. The use of higher-cost medicines has been the primary factor behind rising costs for public plans over the past five years and this pressure continues to build, it says, as in 2020/21 high-cost drugs accounted for over one third of total drug costs and yet were only used by 2.5 per cent of drug plan beneficiaries. The 10 highest-cost drugs reimbursed by the public drug plans were all rare disease treatments with annual treatment costs of over $200,000.

Put together the dental and drug inflation, trends and utilization increases and we expect to see larger than average renewal rates in the next few years.

As always, we share our numbers HERE.

Ontario Transitions To Biosimilars

Just an update/reminder.  This will initially affect those over age 65 on the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program (for seniors etc), but watch for private insurers to follow suit over the coming year(s).  Biosimilars are anywhere from 25 to 50% less than the biologic (which is often $15,000-$40,000 a year), so the savings can be huge to all parties.

Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) recipients who are on an originator biologic will begin to transition to a Health Canada-approved biosimilar version starting March 31. While this is good for the provincial healthcare budget, the decision may have a significant financial impact on private plans that provide coverage supplementary to the ODB, without restrictions, says an Eckler ‘GroupNews.’ Ontarians receiving coverage under the ODB program (residents 65 years old and over) for biosimilars to treat conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis will be required to switch to a biosimilar or pay out-of-pocket for the reference product by December 29. Exemptions will be considered for patients in certain clinical circumstances on a case-by-case basis in consultation with their healthcare provider. It says plan sponsors may wish to examine their drug plan language and their own philosophy to avoid cost-shifting from ODB to their private plan. It is anticipated that private plans may also adopt similar initiatives that require plan members to switch to available biosimilars in an effort to sustain affordable plan costs while continuing to provide safe and effective medication options. Ontario is the seventh province ‒ and eighth jurisdiction in Canada ‒ to announce a biosimilars switching policy. British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, Quebec, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan had previously done so.