Good News for a Friday

I just wanted to share some good news to end the week.

#1  Almost every insurer and TPA has announced short term reductions in premium to offset the lack of dental and many paramedical claims.  Nothing for you to do, just watch for it on upcoming billing statements. We initially reported this when the first companies offered it but it has continued to the majority. READ POST

#2 Saskatchewan has announced they are starting to re-open things starting with medical services like dentists, chiropractors and optometrists being allowed to resume May 4th, READ ARTICLE

#3  Ontario says an announcement is expected early next week regarding Ontario’s action plan for re-opening the economy.   READ ARTICLE

Have a great weekend.  We ARE getting through this together!

Insurers providing premium relief to clients

You may have seen (or will see) that several insurers are reducing premiums for our clients with insured health and dental plans.  Each insurer will be offering these reductions in response to the reduced paramed, vision and dental claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So far Sun and Canada Life (nee GWL) have announced this, but we expect others to follow with something similar to this…

• Dental: A 50% premium reduction adjustment will be applied.
• Vision: A 20% premium reduction adjustment will be applied.
• Healthcare:
• With PayDirect Drugs: A 20% premium reduction adjustment applied to the Healthcare rate.

This will likely last for a couple months (April and May) to start, and be extended as or when necessary.  These changes will be implemented automatically by the applicable insurers according to their formula.

This may mean your deductions to your staff will also need to be reduced if you share the health and dental portion of the premium.

Help to keep your employees on payroll and benefits

Welcome back.  I hope you had a good long weekend, and maybe a bit of an extended break from work.  We had a fun virtual Easter family get together through Zoom (security concerns have been addressed, and no one wants to listen to our family drama any way 🙂 I hope you could connect with your loved ones.

A few items today.  Just to remind you that the Wage subsidy is available to employers in an attempt to keep your staff at work, or at least on the payroll. The loan can be used to cover benefits and other expenses interest-free and $10,000 of it can be forgiven (kind of like a taxable grant?).  If you are eligible, I’ve included the links below.


The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

The CEWS prevents further job losses, encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis.

GET DETAILS


The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

CEBA provides much needed credit for small businesses to pay for immediate operating costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service.  It is 100 per cent funded by the Government of Canada.

  • It is available to Canadian employers with $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019, and operating as of March 1, 2020. This includes smaller (i.e., micro) businesses and other eligible employers such as not-for-profits.
  • Under CEBA, financial institutions will be able to provide interest-free credit facilities of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses.
  • If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25 per cent (up to $10,000) will be forgiven.
  • If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 per cent interest.

GET DETAILS

Wage subsidy reduced to 15% loss – Details below

Thanks for hanging in there.  It feels like just making it through the week is a win these days.  I have been speaking to lots of you over the past couple of weeks to check in, or to handle issues like lay-offs etc. I’m glad to see so many of you adapting and continuing along.  I hope you, your staff and families continue to stay healthy as we go into this long Easter weekend.  use it as a chance to recharge.  We are in a marathon, not a sprint.

I wanted to remind everyone that we have options for you if you need help with your plan.  Many are working from home and staying status quo, some are cutting and a few may be forced to terminate staff and their plan. We are here to help with any changes you need to make to ensure your survival (we’ll also have to let insurers know what you are doing).

I know there are a lot of competing advisors calling clients.  They are offering to cut dental and massage benefits to get some savings.  In most cases this is short term gain with long term pain.  Cutting benefits like massage usually means services such as psychologists and social workers are also removed at a time when people need them more than ever.  Not mentioned and not good.  Just because people can’t use dental services today, does not mean they won’t as things ease up.  A 3 month premium savings could mean you are severely underfunded at renewal causing MUCH larger than usual rate increases for the next 12-15 months.  Not great during recovery. If you’re approached and want to talk about the “too good to be true” offer, just reach out.  We’re here for you.

Some good news below…


Employers to have easier time accessing coronavirus wage subsidy program

The federal government will now only require employers to demonstrate a 15 per cent drop in revenue during the month of March due to the coronavirus to be able to access the new 75 per cent emergency wage subsidy

READ MORE      GOVERNMENT SITE

Employer Workshare and SUB programs – (Easy to understand)

I have been getting a lot of calls from clients about some of the other well established government programs.  I’ve been sharing info individually in order to avoid overwhelming people with e-mails up until now.  This article is from a national law firm and provides great questions and answers to how the SUB and Workshare plans work and may be of assistance or an option for your firm.


As they contend with the global crisis caused by COVID-19, employers are increasingly welcoming such support mechanisms as the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) and the Work-Sharing special measures. But making sense of it all isn’t easy. To help guide you, here are four (4) frequently asked questions regarding these support mechanisms and our team’s answers.

SUB PLANS

1) Can employers pay unemployment benefits to their employees in addition to those paid under employment insurance? If so, how? 

2) How are supplemental unemployment benefits (SUB) paid under a plan?

3) What is the maximum amount of unemployment insurance that can be paid to an employee under the SUBP without that employee’s employment insurance benefits being reduced? 

4) Can an employee be forced to reimburse employment insurance benefits received? 

WORKSHARE

1) What are the new Work-Sharing special measures? 

2) Which employers and employees may benefit from the temporary Work-Sharing special measures and how? 

3) What benefits are employees entitled to under a Work-Sharing program? 

4) How can you apply for the Work-Sharing program and within what timeframe? 

READ FULL DETAILS

Want a night off from cooking? (something a bit different)

Clients and Friends,

I’m trying to think of ways that I can add a bit more value to our relationship in these challenging times.  Most of you are in the Greater Toronto Area, so have I got an idea for you.

Peter and Pauls is the catering company that supplies the CGIB events that I run (educating advisors in the benefits space).  They also run and supply GTA hotels banquet halls and restaurants around the GTA. Their business has obviously suffered as there are no events being held until the end of June and the restaurants are closed except for take out.  That said, they DO have lots of chefs and kitchens and are willing to do the cooking (and shopping) for you.  So why not let them do the hard work?

You can order large frozen trays of meals such as; veggie lasagna, veal parmesan, chicken scallopini, meatballs and much more.  They are also selling from their stock of wine, groceries, toilet paper and sanitizer.  You can pick up in Vaughan and get delivery if you’re in their “delivery zone”.

Don’t let the larger size throw you off (because you can’t have people in).  Share with neighbours, or save for the next meal (⅓ pan feeds  4-6 people & ½ pan feeds 8-10 people)

Our order went in today and you can check out all the details here…
https://www.bypeterandpauls.com/vaughan-food-delivery
https://www.peterandpaulseventcatering.com/file/Covid19_SpecialMenu.pdf

Consolidated information on all government support programs.

I recently came across this site that may be of use to you and your employees.  It appears to be updated daily with both the provincial and federal government programs being offered during the COVID-19 Crisis.  We have linked to the original document so that you can follow the updates.


This website has been adapted from information compiled and published freely by Dr. Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management at Carleton University. You can read the original document here: https://t.co/m0dXFYIZwk?amp=1. Dr. Robson is not affiliated with this website or its publishers. Any errors or omissions in adapting Dr. Robson’s are the sole responsibility of [Mainstay Insurance Brokerage Inc.

READ HERE

COVID-19: How the federal government is supporting small business

I am a member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and they just sent this info out. I thought worth sharing as it highlights all the programs to all the parties.


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know you need cash flow to keep your doors open and employees paid. We’re pushing the federal government to provide the relief measures you need to keep your business alive.

So far, here’s what the federal government is doing to support small business. We will continue updating this page with the latest information as it becomes available—and continue pushing governments for greater relief.

For the CFIB page with al the programs on one expandable page CLICK HERE

For all the details, read the federal government’s full program.

Government Announces Details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to Help Businesses Keep Canadians in their jobs

I have seen info on the subsidy coming in from a number of sources, but here is one that makes succinct points from a local employment law/HR firm.  We will provide more info as details become available.


The government provided more detail on April 1, 2020 about the federal wage subsidy being offered to employers in an effort to limit layoffs and keep Canadians employed during this COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 30, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the federal wage subsidy (which was initially announced as a 10% wage subsidy for small businesses) was being increased to 75%, and that it will be available to all employers, regardless of size, that had suffered a 30% reduction in revenues due to COVID-19. Moreover, all non-publicly funded employers will be eligible to apply for the subsidy, including charities and non-profits.

In particular, the government stated that the subsidy would cover 75% of the first $58,700 of wages for each worker employed by an eligible business, which is up to $847 per week, backdated to March 15.

On April 1, 2020, the government provided further details on the wage subsidy, including that:

  • To be eligible, employers must have experienced a 30% reduction in gross revenue compared to 2019, calculated by comparing revenues from each month with the same month in 2019 (e.g., a 30% decline in March 2020 as compared to March 2019);
  • Employers will be required to reapply for the wage subsidy each month;
  • Employers will be required to attest that they are “doing everything that they can” to provide their employees with the remaining 25% of their wages, to receive the subsidy;
  • Employers will be able to apply online through a portal on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website that will be available “soon”;
  • Funds under the subsidy will be available in mid-May; and
  • There will be “severe consequences” for anyone who abuses this subsidy or uses the money for fraudulent purposes.

READ FULL ARTICLE


Here are the government press releases:

Government Announces Details of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to Help Businesses Keep Canadians in their jobs

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/government-announces-details-of-the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy-to-help-businesses-keep-canadians-in-their-jobs.html

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/wage-subsidy.html

Need medical assistance? – Telemedicine / Virtual healthcare paid for by OHIP

For the past year or so I have been suggesting that employers hold off on buying any of the telemedicine solutions we have seen in the marketplace.  Part of this is because we have seen several provinces (including Ontario) trialing programs for publicly funded options, so why pay privately?

During these unique and challenging times, this may be a way to reach out and get assistance without leaving home.

I’ve included a link to TIA health below that I’ve shared in the past.  This is now funded by the province in Ontario, Alberta and BC.

In Ontario, the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) allows you to connect directly to your own doctor (if they are on the system and many are signing up each day).  More info is below…


Covered in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia with a valid Health Card. 

COVID-19 Screening now available!

Tia Health allows you to connect to a real Canadian doctor online via a, phone or secure messaging. Get prescriptions, medical advice, referrals, requisitions, mental health, and more.

https://tiahealth.com/


OTN services are free for patients. 

Designed to increase access to family doctors, specialists, and other health care providers, eVisits are often a time-saving and convenient option. eVisits connect you to your health care provider either from home on your own device, or from a health care centre near you. Every day, more and more providers offer video as an alternative to having an in-office appointment. There is no cost to patients. eVisits provide the same level of care as you’d expect with an in-office visit, as well as the opportunity for family members or other caregivers to participate in your care if appropriate. And the interaction is safe and private, with sensitive information transmitted through a secure network, and all the information from your eVisit is recorded in your medical record. When things like time off from work, childcare, and parking, make accessing care challenging, eVisits can help.

https://otn.ca/