2019 Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey released

I have had the great privilege of being a part of the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey Advisory Board for the past few years.  Through this group I get to meet some great people in a variety of roles including; consultants, insurers, plan sponsors, associations, medical, pharmaceutical, as well as those in the publishing field that make it all happen behind the scenes.  These are people that the average benefits advisor never gets the chance to meet let alone spend some time with.

The learning for  the survey results as well as the exchange itself, makes me much better as an advisor and as an educator in our industry. Thank you Sanofi, for making the survey possible and letting me be a part of it.

Tale a few minutes to read the report highlight.  Some of the results that the employers and employees share can be quite enlightening.

While just half (49 per cent) of plan members said changes were made to their benefits plan in the past two years, 72 per cent of plan sponsors reported they made changes, according to the 2019 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

Read the Benefits Canada article HERE    Get the 2019 Survey HERE

Superior Court Confirms that Employers can Fundamentally Change Employment Contracts with Reasonable Notice

This case is from late last year but provides a great example of the amount of notice that may be required for changes in “conditions of employment”.  As employers make changes to benefit plan offerings, employment contracts (contract staff, independent contractors), or major changes in location etc., they may wish to keep in ind that notice may be as long as notice for termination.

Published on July 11, 2018 User Stringer LLP
In Lancia v. Park Dentistry, the Ontario Superior Court confirmed that employers can change the fundamental terms of an employee’s employment, without providing consideration, so long as they take appropriate steps to provide reasonable notice of the change coupled with notice that employment under current terms would terminate at the end of that notice period…


The legal risks of drug plan design changes

If you are a Mainstay client, then your risk (mentioned in the article) is a bit lower than with most.  You likely have an insured benefit plan (over ASO) and few of our clients reduce or remove drug coverage. That said, sometimes due to rising costs, a drug cap can be appropriate as a last ditch effort to maintain a plan, and risks can arise.  In some cases insurer changes beyond an employers control can cause delays and in some cases, moving to an HSA only plan or dropping a plan altogether can create a risk if someone is on a high cost drug.  All that said, we are lucky in Ontario to have the Trillium Drug Program that can assist in many of these situations..

Drug plan design changes are often unavoidable, whether they’re due to a carrier modifying contracts across the board or an employer looking to manage ballooning costs.


If you are an Ontario employer and pay WSIB premiums, you should know there are some changes coming for 2020 as to how they calculate the rate you pay.  We’ve included an article below, but the WSIB site also has info on the upcoming changes.


Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is changing how premium rates are calculated for almost 300,000 registered businesses across the province.

The WSIB hasn’t changed its rate setting scheme for more than 20 years, says Pamela Steer, the board’s chief financial officer. “We really looked at how we could change the offering to our customers, such that it would make more sense for the modern day. So leveraging technology, big data and risk analytics in order to more transparently provide employers with their premium rates and also to base it more on the risk they present.”….


OHIP changes eyed for some out-of-country travellers

If you are reading this, you are probably a Mainstay client that likely has travel coverage through your employer plan, so this may have no, or next to no effect on you.  Where it MAY have an effect on you is… If you are an Ontario resident with employee benefit travel coverage, and have an out of country claim, then you will no longer need to apply to the province for coverage before your group plan considers the claim. This should make the process faster and easier for employees.

The Ontario government is looking at eliminating some OHIP coverage for Ontarians travelling outside of Canada but it is a move that will not change coverage for the overwhelming majority of citizens, the government says.


Employment Law Update 2019 seminar

If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and looking for an update on Employment Law, look no further than this seminar.

Littler is a global leader in Employment Law, and George Vassos has been a great speaker at CGIB event in the past.

Employment law in Canada is always evolving. Join us as we discuss how these important issues and developments in employment law will affect your workplace in 2019 and beyond. In this instructive and interactive session, we will share practical tips and important insights to help your organization navigate the following workplace issues with ease.

  • How to improve employee retention by instituting workplace policies that:
    • Allow employees to balance work and life by requesting flexible work arrangements
    • Create a culture of inclusivity
  • Is your final release really “final”?: Cautionary lessons from case law
  • Update on restrictive covenants and how to maximize the enforceability of non-solicitation and non-competition clauses in your employment contracts

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

8:00 a.m. — 8:30 a.m.
8:30 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.
The Ritz-Carlton Toronto
181 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON M5V 3G7

To register: CLICK HERE

Extended EI Parental Benefit Sharing effective March 17, 2019

Employees taking Parental Leave and applying for EI benefits may now be entitled to an extra 5 or 8 weeks of EI benefits as noted.

This change does not affect business owners, nor does it extend the time allowed off, other than the fact that the second parent may now take time off when they may not have before.  The clip below summarizes the new standard and extended options available.

What are EI parental benefits

EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or children.

There are two options available for receiving parental benefits: standard or extended.

  • Standard parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 35 weeks and must be claimed within a 52-week period (12 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 55% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of standard parental benefits.
  • Extended parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 61 weeks and must be claimed within a 78-week period (18 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 33% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 61 weeks of extended parental benefits.
    • You can choose to claim extended parental benefits only if your child was born or placed with you for the purpose of adoption on or after December 3, 2017.

Note: The number of weeks of EI maternity or parental benefits you are entitled to receive does not change, even if you have a multiple birth (twins, triplets, etc.) or if you adopt more than one child at the same time.

Read more

Exclusive Mainstay Client Benefit – Free Access to HR toolkit

Dear Mainstay Clients,

You often tell us that you need HR, that you don’t know where to start, who to call, what to do.  And too often, you do nothing.

You’ve been heard!  Mainstay has entered into a program with ConnectsUs HR ™ so you can take advantage of the proven HR package made for Canadian small business and compliant for Ontario, Alberta and BC.

The best part?  There’s no cost to you – we’ve picked up the tab! You won’t even have to provide a credit card. Simply e-mail dave@mainstayinsurance.ca who will be happy to provide your unique program code to you.

For more info: https://connectsus.com/partner-programs/1002-mainstay-insurance-brokerage

Get started on your HR today!

What keeps us up at night.

Each year we meet with clients, talk about the industry, changes in legislation and taxation, as well as drivers of cost increases affecting plans.  It’s the last part that most clients are concerned with as so much is beyond the control of the employer (or the broker or insurer for that matter).

There are consistent cost drivers such as the provincial dental fee guides that rise by 2 to 2.5% each year (which we are told will be double and up 4.2% this year and likely next!), then there are things like the new drugs coming to market .  This post from Benefits Pension Monitor illustrates just some of the challenges we see that will drive claims and costs for employers.


More than 140 drugs are braced for launch from Canada’s drug pipeline as they await regulatory approval from Health Canada, says Mark Jackson, a consultant pharmacist with TELUS Health. In ‘The TELUS Health Drug Pipeline Report,’ he takes a closer look at 14 of these drugs, anticipated to have the most impact on private drug plans. Cancer therapies dominate the drug pipeline and a fair share of them will be available as pills that can be taken outside the hospital which means that more cancer patients will turn to private drug plans first for coverage. Estimated costs for these drugs could reach $150,000 to $520,000 annually per patient. However, these new cancer therapies are for highly targeted uses only, based on genetic biomarkers. In one case, the estimated patient population for all of Canada is less than 200. The largest potential patient population, for a drug to treat a certain type of breast cancer, is approximately 5,500 individuals/patients. The cost is $149,300 for the recommended year of treatment. Outside of cancer, Canada’s drug pipeline includes three specialty drugs indicated for conditions with relatively larger patient populations. Private plans will see the second biologic drug for people with chronic migraines, as well as an additional biologic for severe asthma. New on the scene are specialty eye drops for dry eye, a condition that affects up to 30 per cent of people aged 50 and older. The eye drops are estimated to cost $8,700 annually. Rounding out the pipeline report are four medications for very rare conditions. All can be administered outside the hospital setting. Three are break-through therapies and one is a replacement for Soliris, which made headlines as the most expensive drug in the world when it launched more than 10 years ago. Its replacement, which can be administered every eight weeks instead of every two weeks, is expected to cost about 10 per cent less than Soliris, or approximately $605,000 annually.  http://bpmmagazine.com/news/

Webinar Repeat – Changes to Ontario Drug Benefit program coverage for children and youth aged 24 years and under

The Ontario Ministry of Heath and Long Term Care is putting on a number of webinars on the changes to OHIP+.  The webinars are WEEKLY on Wednesdays and the info is below.  If you or your staff have children under 25 that may be affected, please join them to find out more.

OHIP+   –   Please join us!

We will be hosting weekly webinars to provide an overview of the redesigned OHIP+ and to answer questions regarding changes to Ontario Drug Benefit program coverage for children and youth aged 24 years and under. Webinars will be held each week on Wednesdays from 12:15-1:00 pm.

Please join us for the webinar on Wednesday March 20, 2019 from 12:15-1:00 pm. Click on the link below to access the webinar:


Teleconference information will be available at this link 10 minutes prior to the start of the webinar. Please mute your phone by pressing *6 once you have dialled in.

If you do not have the latest version of Adobe installed on your device, please click on the link a few minutes early in the event you are prompted to update your software.

Thank you!