close up of a coronavirus molecule

Latest Insights on COVID-19

close up of a coronavirus molecule

Latest Insights on COVID-19

Corporate Benefits

Study Shows Canadians Should Wait to Claim Pension Benefits

January 21, 2021

A recent study shows there are significant advantages to delaying Canada and Quebec Pension Plans until age 70.

The paper from the National Institute of Ageing and FP Canada Research Foundation says people who elect to take benefits at age 60 instead of waiting can lose over $100,000 of lifetime income.

A $1,000 monthly benefit at age 60 increases to $2,218.75 at age 70 with inflation protection built in to the pension plan.

Don’t want to wait until age 70? The paper found that even delaying benefits to age 61 instead of a year earlier came with significant gains. A one-year wait makes the benefits jump from $1,000 at age 60 to $1,112.50 at age 61, researchers found. That’s over $100 a month by simply waiting a single extra year to retire.

“For retiring Canadians who intend to use their RRSP/RRIF savings to increase their retirement income, delaying the [CPP/QPP] is a financially-advantageous investment strategy in terms of risk and rewards, with less worry about sustaining a secure income throughout retirement,” the paper says.

The paper found more than half of Canadians (51 per cent) could delay their benefits by at least a year and more than a quarter (27 per cent) could delay for more than 10 years if they were open to using savings from their registered retirement savings plan or their registered retirement income fund to bridge any gaps.

These findings come at a time when outdated assumptions about retirement still dominate public discourse. These outdated assumptions often encourage Canadians to take retirement earlier than they may need to.

Attitudes toward retirement have changed and Canadians now face a longer period between retirement and death. This is compounded by fewer sources of pension income, increasingly low interest rates and less adult children to provide care for elderly parents with declining health.

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The COVID-19 Vaccines: Keeping Your Canadian Employees Safe

January 20, 2021

As COVID-19 numbers – infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths – remain at unsettling levels, recent news regarding vaccine progress is providing a much need dose of hope. Health Canada authorized use for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in December and priority groups have been receiving doses ever since with the goal of completing immunizations across the country in 2021.

Federal and provincial public health officials continue to encourage people to wear masks, distance, get flu shots and take other steps, but they are also sharing guidance relative to vaccine planning. Employers have an opportunity to take an active role in the distribution process. The time to begin planning to seize this opportunity is now.

What Employers Need to Know

Health Canada developed a vaccine rollout plan in December based on an evidence-informed approach with the intention of putting Canadians’ health and safety at the forefront.[1] The immunization plan is reliant on six core principles laid out from the Public Health Agency of Canada:

  • Science driven decision making
  • Transparency
  • Coherence and adaptability
  • Fairness and equity
  • Public involvement
  • Consistent reporting

Health Canada’s goal in the vaccine rollout is to “enable as many Canadians as possible to be immunized as quickly as possible against COVID-19, while ensuring that high risk populations are prioritized.”

Through this process, two priority groups have been identified to first receive COVID-19 vaccinations:

  • Health vulnerable: Those at high risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19
  • Exposure vulnerable: Those most likely to be exposed to the virus

Provinces are ultimately responsible for deciding how to deploy COVID-19 vaccines within their jurisdiction, including who is prioritized first. It is important that employers refer to information from their province’s public health department for specific details.

Vaccines in Play

There are currently two vaccines in the spotlight.

The first, from Pfizer, was authorized by Health Canada on December 9 and showed 94 per cent efficacy in trials. The first vaccinations occurred in Britain on December 7.

The other is Moderna’s vaccine, which showed 94.5 per cent efficacy in trials. Moderna applied for emergency Health Canada approval and was approved on December 23.

A vaccine tracker by CTV shows that the vaccine has been administered to over 316,000 Canadians, as of January 11.[2] Both vaccines require two doses three to four weeks apart.

TIMELINE ON PFIZER VACCINE

October 9: Pfizer submits application to Health Canada for approval

November 18: Pfizer announces its vaccine is 94 per cent effective

December 3: UK approves Pfizer vaccine

December 7: First doses are given in England

December 8: FDA issues preliminary analysis saying vaccine is safe and effective, but doesn't approve it

December 9: Canada approves the vaccine

Week of December 14: Priority groups expected to start receiving Pfizer vaccine

Source: Dailymail.co.uk (December 10, 2020[BJ1] )

Necessity Accelerating Innovation

Both vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA). Instead of injecting a weakened germ, mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. This response produces antibodies that protect against infection. The Pfizer and Moderna offerings will be the first authorized vaccines to use mRNA. The success of the COVID-19 vaccines may pave the way for other mRNA vaccines, which are can be produced faster and at a lower cost relative to traditional vaccines.

Distributing the Vaccines

In terms of distribution, vaccines are typically administered in health centres and hospitals at no charge to Canadians.[3] However, with high demand, additional channels will be required (which may alter how vaccinations are covered), including private pharmacies/pharmacists, community providers, occupational health clinics and employers. Health Canada’s core considerations for the distribution of the vaccine include:

  • Safety and efficacy
  • Manufacturing and availability
  • Transport and storage
  • Managing misinformation
  • Building trust and confidence[4]

Federal officials expect to have all 38 million Canadians vaccinated by the end of the year.[5] Additional supplies – from Pfizer and Moderna, and potentially other players who have vaccines at various stages of development – will be available in the spring and summer for those who are not in the priority groups.

Employer Actions

For employers, this is the time to plan. Actions to consider include:

  • Establishing a structure for developing a vaccination strategy (a committee or a task force)
  • Surveying employees with broad questions (that will not elicit responses related to individual medical conditions) to get a sense of their perspectives (safety concerns, likelihood of getting vaccinated)
  • Considering how to help procure or obtain vaccinations for your employees (assume full participation)
  • Connecting with your insurance carrier to get a clear understanding of their plans, resources and ideas related to the vaccines
  • Staying current with communications from your local health department
  • Reaching out to wellness providers and vaccination providers to understand their approach and how it aligns with your organization’s strategy

Communication is also critical. Keep your employees up to date with activities, plans and expectations. Amplify messages regarding vaccine safety now so concerns aren’t an issue when the vaccine becomes available. Express your support of the vaccines as an important step in overcoming COVID-19, while reiterating the need to focus on safety to reduce infections and hospitalizations.

Finally, if your employees are working remotely, continue to support them with work-from-home and well-being resources. If they’re in the office, remain diligent in executing workplace protocols (distancing, masks, cleaning). Encourage all employees – regardless of where they are working – to get a flu shot.

Requiring the Vaccine

Mandating that employees get the vaccine is an issue that comes with legal, ethical and cultural implications, and should be discussed with legal counsel. There is precedent where organizations require vaccinations for entry (schools being a common example), but with most people not likely to have access to the vaccines until mid-to-late 2021, discussions of how a mandate could work will continue.

The ultimate outcomes will be province specific as a federal mandate is unlikely. And much will depend on the voluntary response and progress toward herd immunity.

Get the Flu Vaccine ASAP

Because the flu has symptoms similar to COVID-19, it is critical to encourage employees to get the flu vaccinations this season. While the flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, having received the flu vaccine may help healthcare professionals rule out the flu when evaluating patient symptoms.

Looking Ahead

This is an exciting and anxiety provoking time. We are seeing tremendous progress, but obstacles will emerge. How employers plan, engage with employees and participate in the process will have an impact on the success of the vaccination effort.

Please let us know if you have questions, concerns or ideas about where NFP’s insight and expertise can be helpful.

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Property and Casualty

NFP Helps Place des Arts Go From Dream to Reality

January 26, 2021

It’s a project the Sudbury community has been dreaming about for years.

Place des Arts has been designed to be a hub for the local francophone arts and culture community with the goal of creating artistic excellence and growing participation.

Construction started downtown in 2019. NFP has been involved with the project since the beginning as the broker of all seven founding francophone member organizations to provide advisory services.

“We are ecstatic in our role in this unique project which will also be a unique landmark in our community,” said Guy Jolicoeur, senior vice-president, Natural Resources, Construction and Surety, at NFP.

Jolicoeur and his Sudbury-based team have reviewed and assisted in the drafting of relevant sections of the project’s tender along with the placement of all project-related coverages with an overall value of $26 million.

Place des Arts1-1.jpg


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some delays in construction as a result of provincial state of emergencies and NFP has been there to help with contract delivery delay issues.

Place des Arts’s main attraction will be a theatre, which can seat up to 300 people. The building will also feature a multi-functional studio for local producers and presenters, gift shop and office space. It will be able to host rehearsals, banquets and many other social functions, with service available in both official languages.

The centre is expected to add over $7 million in economic contribution to the local GDP annually and welcome more than 50,000 people.

Construction continues on the project with the infrastructure becoming clearer every day. Completion is reportedly expected this summer, with a grand opening in the fall.

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COVID-19 Tests and Vaccines: What’s Going On With Travel Insurance?

January 25, 2021

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, so is the travel insurance industry.

Two key issues are currently taking place during the second wave of the pandemic with people and airlines consistently trying to keep up with public health regulations.

Negative COVID-19 Tests

The Canadian government made it mandatory for travelers five years old and above to produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test prior to returning to the country, effective January 7.

Passengers won’t be allowed to board if test aren’t presented. If the country where they are departing from does not have the proper COVID-19 testing available, they will still be able to board the plane, but will be held in a federal quarantine facility upon entry in Canada. The mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entering Canada still applies for all travelers.

NFP spoke to Martin Firestone of Travel Secure to find out more about how it will be handled.

Q: How much is the test and will the insurer will cover it?

A: COVID-19 tests range between $120 and $180 and there is no coverage provided through the insurer.

Q: If I miss the plane because results weren’t returned in time or I couldn’t get the test, will the insurance company extend their coverage?

A: People who missed flights will have to call their insurer to pay and get it extended. If there is a claim, it could present an issue into getting coverage extended.

Q: Can I find out whether the country I’m going to has the required test?

A: There has yet to be a list produced to indicate which countries carry the required tests.

Lines at the airport are also expected to be long as airline employees review and decide whether you are allowed to board or not.

Snowbirds Chase Vaccine

Firestone has recently had clients flying to the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine that is being made available to them either through the community they live in or snowbirds who are already in the US and have access either online or through American doctors.

Q: Will insurance companies pay for the vaccine for snowbirds and what will the cost be?

A: Insurance companies will not cover the vaccine, although it’s free of charge. There may be a dispensing fee once it can be administered at drug stores.

Q: Will snowbirds still need to present a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine if they receive both doses of the vaccine?

A: Yes. A new development also requires people to present a negative to enter the US as of January 26.

Many Canadians are wondering it’s even possible for snowbirds to move ahead of the queue and get vaccines months ahead of what would happen if they had to wait for vaccines in Canada. Firestone says it’s an incredibly fluid situation and updates will continue as more details become available.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that people who own property in Florida and live there at least part-time would qualify for the vaccine, however non state residents are no longer eligible to receive the vaccine.

For more information, please reach out to Martin Firestone.


Disclaimer

Martin Firestone is the owner of Travel Secure and also a consultant with NFP’s benefits and retirement division.

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2021 Trends: How Consumers and Businesses Will React

January 15, 2021

The entire infrastructure for transporting goods around the world shifted dramatically in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supply chains were tested across industries, highlighting the need for continuity plans. It started last March and April when the virus started to severely impact operations around the world. Public health regulations prevented some goods from being shipped to certain locations, while the demand for other materials, such as personal protective equipment, soared and shortages were felt globally.

Although statistics for this past holiday season are not yet available, consumer trends most likely shifted toward online shopping due to COVID-19 restrictions, putting additional stress on the supply chain due to the spike in shipping.

With these elements in mind, the following trends from the past year will most likely shape how consumers and businesses react in 2021.

Demand Shifts for Different Sectors

The global pandemic affected different industries in various ways. Some struggled, while others thrived.

Airlines are an example of an industry having difficulty attracting customers as restrictions prevent people from travelling. Even as vaccines become available, rebuilding customer trust and getting people to fly again in tightly confined aircraft cabins will be a struggle.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in an e-commerce report that luggage sales were down 77 per cent in 2020, while men’s formal wear saw a dip of 62 per cent.

Disposable glove sales, however, have increased 670 per cent. With the vaccine coming in varying shipment sizes, both glove sales along with masks will continue to be hot commodities moving forward.

Accessing these goods will continue to shift towards online, IATA reports. The report says a quarter of the world’s population (2.05 billion) shopped virtually in 2020 with a jump to 2.14 billion expected in 2021.

Spreading the Goods

This past year has forced many businesses to evaluate where their goods come from and consider ways to diversify their supply chains.

In an opinion piece for Supply Chain Dive, Kamala Raman, senior director analyst at Gartner Supply Chain Practice, wrote that 33 per cent of businesses have moved some sourcing and manufacturing out of China or have plans to do so in the next two to three years.

China, the first country to be hit by COVID-19, forced factories to shut down to try to stop the virus’s spread and companies around the world spiraled to find alternatives for their goods.

Continuing to find alternative solutions around the world to source and transport goods should be a top priority as companies operate into the future.

Brexit

With the UK and European Union reaching a post-Brexit trade agreement at the end of December, businesses around the world will most likely see changes to how they operate with the country.

Michael Gove, a British politician, estimated in an address to the House of Commons in September that only 20 per cent of small and medium sized businesses in the UK would be ready to export to the EU in January.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, made headway with Canada in November as he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a temporary trade agreement. The two sides are planning for a permanent option in 2021.

The Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement ensures elimination of 98 per cent of tariffs on goods exported between the two countries.

Border Services Shift Digital

Many Canadian businesses that trade goods with other countries will see a change in 2021 with the implementation of CARM, the Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) Assessment and Revenue Management online tool.

CARM aims to reduce the cost of importing into Canada by transforming and modernizing the importation process. The online portal is scheduled to go live in spring of 2021.

The evolving digital state of the economy also remains top of mind for the CBSA and several other countries. Sean Borg, the CBSA’s director of policy integration, planning and performance results, said in a recent LinkedIn post that a working group had been created to increase safety, security health and revenue through e-commerce.

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NFP Acquires EdgeHill Insurance Brokers Ltd., Expands P&C Brokerage Presence in Ontario

January 14, 2021

Acquisition momentum continues, adding to NFP’s existing expertise in high net worth personal lines

NEW YORK – January 14, 2021NFP, a leading insurance broker and consultant providing corporate employee benefits, property and casualty (P&C), retirement, and individual solutions, today announced the acquisition of EdgeHill Insurance Brokers Ltd. (EdgeHill) in a transaction that closed on December 16, 2020.

EdgeHill, a P&C brokerage firm based in Toronto, Ontario, specializes in personal lines for high net worth clients, including home, auto, watercraft and personal excess liability, as well as commercial insurance and risk management services for a variety of industries. The acquisition of EdgeHill represents an opportunity for NFP to expand its expertise for high net worth clients in Canada, as well as incorporate additional service capabilities in its transportation and trucking specialty businesses. Patti Hull and Ross Schofield, principals of the firm, will join NFP as a vice president and a consultant, respectively. Hull will report to Brian Timmis, managing director of NFP in Canada’s Private Client Group.  

“We’re thrilled to add the talent and relationships of the EdgeHill team,” said Greg Padovani, president of NFP in Canada. “Through this acquisition we extend our connection to the Ontario market, positioning ourselves to create new opportunities and deliver more value to clients. Across the business we’re building out our offerings and enhancing our capabilities in markets throughout Canada.”

“Patti is a well-respected leader in the private client insurance space in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Timmis. “Her expertise will complement our existing capabilities and drive growth in an important area of our business. As we continue to expand across Canada, we’re happy to continue welcoming local talent with the ability to provide the solutions our clients need.”

“NFP is focused on growth and delivering more value to more clients with an emphasis on building and maintaining relationships,” said Hull. “I’m excited to join NFP and contribute to their success in the Canadian market, while preserving a personal connection to my clients with a new level of resources and expertise to support their needs.” 

About NFP

NFP is a leading insurance broker and consultant providing specialized business and personal insurance, group benefits, retirement and individual solutions through its licensed subsidiaries and affiliates. NFP enables client success through the expertise of over 750 employees based in Canada, more than 5,800 employees globally, investments in innovative technologies, and enduring relationships with highly rated insurers, vendors and financial institutions. NFP is the 5th largest benefits broker by global revenue (Business Insurance), 10th largest property and casualty agency (Insurance Journal) and 12th largest global insurance broker (Best’s Review).

Visit NFP.com/Canada to discover how NFP empowers clients to meet their goals.
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