Everything you need to know about the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine

There are a lot of questions on the COVID vaccine from both employer and employees. Although this publication is UK based, I found their Q&A quite good.

The first takeaway…

How effective is the vaccine?
About 95 per cent. The phase 3 trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine involved 42,000 people, about half of whom got the experimental vaccine and the rest a placebo. In total, 170 people fell ill with covid-19. Only eight of them were in the vaccine group; 162 had received the placebo. So around 5 per cent of cases were in the vaccine group, which is where the 95 per cent figure comes from. That is a very healthy number: the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it would be happy with 50 per cent.

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2261805-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine/#ixzz6gdNAs6Ui

As a note, the influenza vaccine in Canada is about 58% effect

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Ontario Dental Fee Guide up 4.6% for 2021

Each year the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) sets their dental fee guide for the coming year. This guide is used by many dentists to set their prices (though they can charge above or below this). Insurers tend to use these numbers as the “reasonable & customary” limitation for claims.

Last year the Ontario average increase was 1.27% and this year the increase has jumped 4.6% higher. The average over that the past decade has been about 2.2% per year, so this is much higher than normal increase and is in good part due to COVID expenses.

What this means to employers is that if your employees submitted the exact same claims this year, as they did last year, then the cost charged in 2021 would be 4.6% higher. In reality, there are also trend and utilization numbers that are added (because we don’t really do the same thing every year, we tend to do more, and higher cost treatments), so the end result is even higher.

Depending on your renewal date, many clients may not see this affect rates until much later in the year (or even next year) and depending on the utilization of dental services, we may see the cost of claims rise, while the number decreases. That could result in premium costs staying stable.  Time will tell.

I’m doing a drive-thru, COVID safe, book signing !

As you may know, I have written a book called SELLING BENEFITS about building and growing business relationships (with a bit of benefits and sailing thrown in). It is now available through most on-line retailers.  Links are at http://www.sellingbenefits.ca/

In support of that, I will be holding a COVID-safe, drive thru, book signing THIS Friday December the 11th from 10 to 11:30 am and 2:00 to 2:30pm at 10 Linton Crt, Thornhill/Markham, ON

If you’re in the area (or looking for an excuse to get out), drive up, buy your copy(s), get them signed and go.  Books are $30 each, but discounts are available for larger orders.

Work-from-home expenses deduction gets thumbs up

Just a quick note in case you missed it. CRA is allowing your employees working from home to write off some of the expenses without having to do T-2200’s

Employees working from home with “modest expenses” will be able to claim up to $400 in the 2020 tax year without the need to track detailed expenses. And employers will, generally, no longer be required to confirm the status of employees by completing a T2200 form for each remote worker.


Mainstay Matching Charitable Donations

Each year we make a donation to a charity to say thanks and help out worthy organizations. For many years it was Yonge Street Mission, then BroadReach Foundation and now we’ve donated to Hands Across The Nation (HATN) for the past couple years.

We chose HATN as they are managed entirety by a small team of devoted volunteers. Their commitment ensures the lion’s share of donations goes directly to projects while having very low operating costs (than 10% of total expenditures).

This year we are trying to make a bigger difference by matching any donations that are made by our partners and friends up to a maximum of $5,000 total.  On top of that, HATN has a donor that will then match those donations.  This means a $250 donation is matched twice over, so $1,000 goes to the charity.  That’s pretty cool.

If you know someone that might be interested in donating, the site is https://www.hatn.org/donate/ (Don’t forget to drop us a note after the donation, so we know how much to match.)

Joanne travelled to The Gambia in January/February with HATN to help build a market garden, distribute health care and oversee a well being drilled for drinking water and irrigation.

I’ll hopefully be joining the next trip, to Mali, once COVID is over.

Provincial Telehealth Resources: An Interactive Map of Canada

We have informed clients about telemedicine services providers like TIA Health that are free of charge to residents of Ontario. Some insurers have built these into your plans, some have not. it’s honestly been a bit confusing to keep track of it all.

One of the companies that we deal with (BBD) has put together a great listing of these providers coast to coast. Many of them are free of charge. You can use these services, as well as share with family and friends to access doctors to renew prescriptions, get advice or treatment and a variety of other service.  Click below to see what is available in your

Provincial Health and Telehealth Resources

Some of the telehealth resources available to Canadians vary by province – but don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of provincial resources and packed them all up in this neat, interactive map. To view the resources available in your province, simply hover over one of the yellow provinces and click to visit the appropriate resource.

If your province is grey – don’t fret! While it does mean we weren’t able to find any provincial resources explicitly dedicated to telehealth, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Other telehealth and telemedicine services are available Canada-wide. We intend to update this map as availability changes or new services become available. In time, we hope to see all of Canada lit up in yellow to indicate provincial telehealth availability, but for now, this map is up to date as of October 19th, 2020.

Provincial Telehealth Resources: An Interactive Map of Canada

CRA: Employers can now reimburse home office furniture tax-free

Over the past 6 months we’ve had a few clients ask about supplying employees with equipment to set up home offices. Many went ahead and reimbursed staff for desks and/or chairs now that they are working from home.

I know this is not our field, but when I saw the article I thought I’d pass it along as it seems to give a bit more clarity to what can be done tax-free

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has added home office furniture to the list of expenses that employers are allowed to reimburse tax-free — as long as the expenses were related to the Covid-19 pandemic, a CRA official said at the national conference of the Canadian Tax Foundation on Tuesday.

The agency allows employers to reimburse employees up to $500 in allowable expenses without taxing that amount.

Previously, the CRA had indicated that only employer reimbursements of personal computer equipment expenses would be eligible for tax-free treatment under the $500 threshold. Reimbursed amounts above the threshold would be treated as as a taxable benefit for the employee.


A positive of COVID. It helped me realize a dream.

In November/December I started to do something I’d only talked about. I decided to write a book.  I never thought I’d have the time to actually publish it, until after I was retired. Then came COVID. I found it hit me harder than expected. I didn’t find reading to relax came as easy as it had, nor as relaxing. Writing did come easily and soon became an outlet, as did the editing, rewriting and researching how to self-publish. The idea of writing a book started to shift from an abstract idea to really taking on tangible form. I could actually do this.

I thought I would share some of the lessons learned in the benefits industry over almost 25 years. It was originally targeted to benefit advisors, but as I wrote it I realized it might appeal to anyone that was trying to build better relationships with clients and I added some travel stories too. Well, the dream came true today as my book was published to the FriesenPress bookstore and within the next week it should also be on Amazon.ca and others.

Thanks to all my wonderful clients that have added to my story, taught me so much and made me better at what I do.

Supreme Court of Canada’s latest word on bonus entitlements on termination

This case may not apply to every employer, but if you are one that pays bonuses and has long term incentive programs, it may. We’ve seen many of these cases find for one party and then be overturned so the Supreme Court having the final word sets it in stone (sort of).

this is where you want to really be sure that your Employment contracts are well written, your incentive programs crystal clear and terminations get vetted by employment lawyers when dealing with longer term employees, higher earning levels and anything but the most basic types of income.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its decision in Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd.[1] This highly anticipated decision dealt with the entitlement to bonuses and long-term incentive plan amounts in assessing wrongful dismissal damages. The Court concluded that such language will only be effective where the contract language clearly and unambiguously limits or removes the employee’s right to damages based on the loss of those entitlements.