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News: Industry Updates

We offer an update on what is happening in the employee benefits marketplace. Click on the links below to review past articles and reports.

New Directions in Employee Health Benefits

The 20th annual edition of The Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey captures a readiness for change among plan members and plan sponsors on the one hand, and feelings of uncertainty and resistance on the other. And while certain basic truths remain—that employees value their health benefit plans and welcome employers’ efforts to support personal health—persistent gaps continue to call for action, for example, in the areas of chronic disease management and the overall philosophy of employee health benefits.

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Empire Life to offer specialty drug program starting June 1, 2017

(Toronto, Ontario, March 1, 2017)  The Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) (TSX: EML.PR.A.) announced today it will make its specialty drug program a standard feature in all Group drug plans it offers. The specialty drug program, part of the Empire Life Actively Managed Drug Solutions portfolio, will be included in new customers’ plans starting June 1, 2017. Current customers will join the program when their policies renew.

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Tax now being charged on insurance premiums in Saskatchewan

On March 22, 2017, Saskatchewan announced that provincial sales tax (PST) of 6% will apply to all insurance premiums with some exceptions, such as reinsurance, self-insurance, annuity contracts, and insurance contracts purchased by Status Indians or Indian Bands to insure on-reserve property or activity. This change will be effective July 1, 2017.

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Medically assisted death & impact on Life Insurance payouts:

What does this mean for plan sponsors?

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Managing drug cost reimbursement plans: strategies to support tomorrow’s innovations

Having had wild success in their own industry, tech billionaires are setting their sights on another industry – healthcare and medical research.i If their innovation in technology is any indicator, their focus on medical research will help to solve illnesses, diseases, or other issues currently ailing the average human being, but will the average drug plan be able to follow?

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Provincial/Territorial Dental Fee Guide Increases for 2017

It’s that time of year when most provincial and territorial dental associations release their annual dental fee guides. Typically, there is an overall increase for dental services provided by general practitioners.

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2017 Employment Insurance Changes

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Summary of Contribution & Benefits as of January 1, 2017

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EI Maximums - Effective January 1, 2015

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The Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP)

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CRA Tax Change for Disability Benefit Payments- Effective January 1, 2015

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Taxation of Employee Benefits

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Group RRSPs: Are you Providing your Employees with the Opportunity to Save for Retirement?

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Generic Drugs- Important Facts

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Health Spending Accounts: Are you Providing your Employees with Health Care Flexibility?

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Cost Plus Reimbursement

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View Flowchart>>

 

Bulletins and Articles

 

360 DEGREES OF MENTAL HEALTH

Few things have a greater impact on one’s life than their mental health. With at least 1 in 5 Canadians experiencing a mental health disorder in their lifetime according to a 2015 study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada,1 there’s a vast spectrum of possible mental health challenges affecting just as broad a spectrum of people. Yet there remains a commonality: mental health impacts how you feel and function in some of the most significant areas of your life. ...

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ADDICTION & RECOVERY

Regardless of income, race, colour, religion or gender, addiction does not discriminate and may affect anyone. Recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey where individuals are faced with varying obstacles and challenges throughout everyday life. The courage and strength of those recovering from addiction is unprecedented ...

 

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Medical cannabis options for your group benefits plan

Pacific Blue Cross is committed to working with plan sponsors and advisors to improve the health and wellbeing of all Members. With the changing landscape in legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada combined with an increase in awareness, acceptance and access, there may be a need to provide optional cannabis inclusion in your benefits plans.

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Medical cannabis FAQ

To address the changing landscape in the legalization of recreational marijuana, Pacific Blue Cross will be integrating medical cannabis options into group benefits plans. The details of how it will be introduced, coverage options, and more...

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THE LINK BETWEEN CONCUSSION AND DEPRESSION

Research has found that patients with concussions, or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), are more likely to experience depression compared to those who have not had a brain injury.1

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THE MANY FACES OF PTSD

PTSD does not discriminate; it can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender or race. PTSD is brought on by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic, often life-threatening event. At particular risk are individuals who work in occupations where they are repeatedly exposed to trauma under high levels of stress. Also at risk are people who experience trauma in childhood and people with a family history of mental health and addiction disorders.

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Sun Life : Update on Cannabis

The laws on cannabis use continue to change – with the most significant shift coming later this year when recreational cannabis will be legalized under The Cannabis Act. The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has however been legal for some time.

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Tips for Leading Multi Generational Teams: PBC Vitality

In today’s workplace, managers and supervisors benefit from and are challenged with the task of managing multiple generations’ employees including Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials (also known as Gen Y). A recent study by Ernst & Young identified that 75% of managers reported managing...

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HOW TAKING CARE OF YOUR FINANCES CAN REDUCE YOUR STRESS LEVEL

Financial stress can affect more than your wallet; it can have a ripple effect, impacting your health and relationships. The relationship between mental health and finances in some instances are dynamically linked. Experiencing difficulties with your mental health may contribute to financial difficulties, and vice versa, as an example, failing to meet your financial obligations due to challenges with anxiety or depression or alternatively experiencing anxiety or depression due to mounting financial debt.

Taking Care of Your Finances - Read More

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement isn’t something that companies or industry talked much about 10 years ago, yet, today, companies have roles and teams in companies completely directly devoted to it. In fact, Chief Engagement Officer is the new CEO. The reason it’s been gaining a lot of steam is because, well, it’s important! However, we are seeing that while companies understand the value of engaged employees, they are struggling to figure out where to start and how to put together a comprehensive plan to address it.

Employee Engagement

7 Ways to Bring Nutrition to Your Team

As employers, we want our team to be happy and healthy. We also want them to be focused, productive and present. But think about this: Cars don’t run on empty. So why should your team? If you want to maximize their output, you need to start with their input—what they’re putting in their bodies, that is. That’s why a focus on nutrition in the workplace is essential to the success of your business.

7 Ways to Bring Nutrition to Your Team

UNCOVERING THE FACES OF ANXIETY

Approximately three million Canadians have an anxiety disorder and approximately one in four will suffer from an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.1 Recognized as one of the most common types of mental health disorders in Canada, anxiety disorders have a major impact on the lives of those affected. Having a better understanding of what anxiety disorders are, how they manifest, and techniques that can be used to manage anxiety, can help us support ourselves and others in minimizing anxiety symptoms. ...

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Drug pooling is part of the solution, but not the whole solution

You may have been hearing the term “industry drug pooling” thrown around since 2013. That’s when the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA)—the not-for-profit membership organization that represents the insurance industry— worked with member insurers to establish a framework for insurers to pool ...

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We offer an update on what is happening in the employee benefits marketplace. Click on the links below to review past Bulletins and Articles.

SIX STEPS TO REDUCING WORK STRESS

One in three Canadians say work stress is getting them down.1 Can you relate? If so, there are ways to deal with the causes of stress and develop proactive strategies to help you reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Of course, not all stress is bad stress.

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THE DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

There’s a darker side to how social media can affect us, however. According to researchers, the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to suffer from...

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Supporting Successful Return to Work

With maternity, parental or even short medical leaves, the timing and reasons for an employee’s extended absence are generally well understood and ...

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LINKING EXERCISE AND NUTRITION TO A HEALTHY MIND

What the research is beginning to show is that people who suffer from depression or anxiety may improve their overall mental health through a balanced diet and regular exercise...

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Clarifying group benefits and coverage and underwriting issues related to marijuana

Two developments in particular have raised questions by plan members...

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Life Takes Centre Stage with Group Benefit Plans

Latest study on planning group benefits for Millenials and the evolving workforce.

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LIFE LINES
Healthy Lifestyle and Condition Reports 2017

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LIFE LINES Issue #2
LOVING, HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS

We sometimes need to be reminded it’s the intangibles -- trust, respect, caring, honesty and patience – that are the hallmarks of healthy relationships...

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Impacts of the new Employment Insurance Waiting Period for 2017

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Provincial/Territorial Dental Fee Guide Increases for 2016

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Ask the experts: What do I need to know before establishing a corporate wellness program?

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Generic Drugs Versus Brand-Name – What’s the Difference?

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B.C. Budget 2014: Medical Services Plan premiums will continue to increase

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Pharmacy Compass: Pointing You Towards Savings

PBC has developed Pharmacy Compass, a free, interactive online tool that allows you to compare the prices of your medications at different pharmacy locations across BC.

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Inter-Company Extended Drug Policy Protection Plan (EP3)
Effective January 1, 2013

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Empire Manitoba Retail Sales Tax (RST)
Manitoba’s Retail Sales Tax (RST) will now be applied to some group benefits effective for July 15th, 2012. Empire has provided a great summary of the changes for your reference.

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Legislative Changes to the Insurance Act
Changes to the Insurance Act - effective July 1st, 2012

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2012 Federal Budget
Proposed Changes to the Tax Treatment of Group Accident and Sickness Plans.

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Attention Sun Life Plan Holders
Recent amendments to the Insurance Act in both British Columbia and Alberta will come into effect on July 1, 2012

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Insurers to share costs of high-priced drugs
Canadian life and health insurers are coming together to offer a new drug pooling framework, which they say will help to protect private benefits plans from high-cost drugs.

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Changes to the Canada Pension Plan
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is changing to better reflect how Canadians choose to live, work, and retire. The Government of Canada is adapting the CPP to ensure it...

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Drug Trends
After re-reading the article I wrote for Forum four years ago, entitled “The Road Ahead in Drug Plans”, I decided it was time for an update on this topic. At the time, I asked the question of whether the…

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  Critical Illness - Fill the Gap
A challenge we all face is trying to enhance benefits, particularly when it increases the cost of the benefits program. Adding Critical Illness (“CI”) to a benefits plan is no…

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Group benefits and Generation Y
As the fight for talent intensifies, employers that understand gen Y and find ways to meet its needs could find themselves at a significant advantage…

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Pharmacy Hygenist - Benefits Update
2009 brings changes and new responsibilites for Pharmacists & Dental Hygienists. We'd like to take this opportunity to inform you of several changes taking place in BC's healthcare environment and how these changes will...

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Clear and Present Danger
Those employees who show up on the job instead of booking off sick are not to be applauded. While they may be at work, they are probably not really functioning…

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