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Adding Dependents to Your Benefits

Adding Dependents to Your Benefits

Adding Dependents to Your Benefits

It’s time, they’re here! You are now eligible for your health benefits. It’s an exciting moment when you are able to access your employer sponsored health benefits. It means improved health and well-being for you and your family and a weight of worry off your shoulders as the health bills are now covered.

But with this new coverage can come a slew of new questions, like who is covered? When can I add them? For how long are they covered? These questions and more are often asked, and we are here to answer them and take some of the mystery out of the process. In this newsletter we will cover:


  • Who is considered a dependent.
  • What is a life event.
  • How long a dependent can be on your insurance.
  • The cost of adding a dependent.
  • Adding the dependent to your insurance.

For answers to these questions and more, please
continue reading the rest of our newsletter. We will provide general information on these topics that can be applied to most insurance carriers, however some differences will apply.

Who Is Considered A Dependent For Health Insurance
It varies from plan to plan, but usually for health insurance, a “dependent” is defined as a person, especially a family member, who relies on another for financial support. This typically means your spouse and children. Your dependents are covered under your plan, which means they could be entitled to benefits under your workplace coverage or a personal benefit plan you have.
Definition of Spouse

Your spouse can be your legal married partner, or common law partner with whom you publicly present as your partner and with whom you have resided with for a specific period of time. Each insurance company defines common-law spouse differently, so consult your plan administrator for the exact definition.

Definition of Dependent Children

For most health benefits plans, a child is considered a dependent within your family group. This means that your or your spouses’ children can be added to your coverage. Your children may be adopted by you or your spouse, your natural children or stepchildren.
They must be unmarried and usually under the age of 21 to be eligible for most health benefit plans.

Other Family Members

Typically group health insurance plans don’t consider siblings or parents of the insured to be dependents, and therefore they are not eligible for coverage under your group health benefits plan.

What Is A Life Event
A life event refers to an event that causes change in your personal situation that allows you to change your individual/family coverage easily without the requirement to provide evidence of good health.
Most events that are considered life events are:
  • Marriage.
  • Entering a common-law relationship.
  • Divorce.
  • Ending a common-law relationship.
  • Having a child.
  • Adopting a child.
  • The death of your spouse.
  • The death of your child.
  • Your spouse gaining or losing insurance  coverage.
  • Your dependent gaining or losing insurance coverage.
  • Your province of residence changing.

It is important that you notify your insurer of any of these life events immediately, usually withing 30 days of them happening, to keep your policy and coverage up to date for you and your family.

How Long A Dependent Can Be On Your Insurance
There are a few different factors that dictate how long a dependent can stay on your health insurance plan and it varies per policy. For your spouse, they can usually remain covered under your plan for as long as your relationship lasts.
For children, the length of which they can remain on your insurance is different for each policy. However, the most common rules are that so long as the child is unmarried and under the age of 21 they can remain under your coverage. Though, there are sometimes exceptions to certain policies.

For instance, some plans allow your child to remain covered so long as they are attending post secondary school and are under 25. Others can allow for dependent children to remain on their parent’s plan if they are over 21 and have a disability. It is best to check with your specific health benefits provider
to see what their policy is.

The Cost Of Adding Dependents To Your Insurance

The cost implications of adding a dependent to your health insurance plan will vary from insurer to insurer, as well as different factors like your dependents health and age. For more information, check the premiums information of your insurer’s website or brochure, or contact us to speak to one of our plan member service representatives to learn more.

Adding The Dependent To Your Insurance

Once you have taken out the policy or you are eligible for workplace group benefits plan your dependents are also eligible. Each dependent is eligible to be added based on certain criteria: For a spouse or common-law partner, they are eligible from the date of marriage or according to the common-law definition of the insurance company. For a child, they are eligible from the date of birth, adoption, or assemblage of the relationship between you and your spouse.

Remember to gather the necessary information and documentation for each dependent, like the birthdate of each person to be included on the application and their medical information (name and addresses of the family doctors and details of prescription drugs). The documents that are sometimes needed to prove the relationship between the insured and the dependent differs per insurer but could be the following:

  • Personal Health Number (PHN) for everyone.
  • For a spouse, marriage certificate or documentation that you are in a common-law relationship (utility bills, etc.).
  • For newborn children, birth certificate.
  • For adopted children, a copy of the Notice of Placement from the adoption agency is required.

For indigenous applicants to some group benefits plans provided through a First Nations organization (such as First Nations Health authority) you may also need the following:

  • Indian Status Number (register with ISC as soon as possible as the wait can be up to two years).

Note, for a newborn dependent who has been registered with ISC, and has a PHN number, they could be covered under your account for up to two years while they wait for their Indian Status Number. Once the documentation has been provided to the insurer, processing times will vary.

Removing A Dependent From Your Insurance

Being able to remove a dependent from your insurance will be different per policy. Typically, in personal health insurance policies you can remove a dependent at anytime. However, with group benefit policies you may only be able to remove a dependent because of a life event happening. For example:

  • You get divorced or separated from your spouse.
  • A child reaches maximum age of eligibility (turns 26 or is no longer enrolled
    in a post-secondary school).
  • A dependent passes away.

You must notify your insurer of any life events or changes to your dependents as soon as possible in order to keep your coverage current. If you are unsure of something or need help notifying your insurer of a life event, contact us to speak with one of our plan member service representatives and they will help you.

If you have any questions or would like to review how your dependents are covered under your workplace or individual plan please
don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Plan Member Service Representatives. You can connect with them here using this link. We
are here to help!

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Government Retirement Income Sources

Government Retirement Income Sources

Government Retirement Income Sources

When it comes to retirement, there are so many things to consider: When will you stop working? What sources of income will you draw from? What will you do with your time? This well-earned milestone in your life should be walked into with as much joy and carefreeness as possible, as you deserve it. To get there it will take some knowledge and planning and we want to help you along the way.

For Indigenous seniors, they heavily reply on public income sources like CCP/ QPP, OAS, and GIS in their golden years. So much that it accounts for 47% of Indigenous seniors’ income, whereas only 25% is coming from private income sources. Compare that to non- Indigenous, statistics show that 34% of their retirement income coming from private sources and 33% from government sources.

There are three government provided retirement
incomes sources you may be eligible to receive that
will help support you on your retirement journey:


  • Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)/Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)
  • Old Age Security (OAS), and
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

Continue to read the rest of our newsletter to better understand government retirement options that you may be eligible for and learn how you can maximize your retirement income with personal savings and investment options like RPP’s, RRSP’s and TFSA’s as well as any workplace pensions you may have such as RPS, Group RRSP’s and TFSA’s and Pooled Registered Pension Plans.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)

The Canada Pension Plan and the Quebec Pension Plan are very similar but have some differences. They provide monthly payments to people who contribute to the plans during their working years. Indigenous employees living off-reserve (or those receiving taxable employment income) must contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan. However, if they are living on-reserve, their employer can choose whether to opt into CPP or not. If they are self-employed or living on-reserve and wanting to opt-in on their own, they must pay into the Canada Pension Plan and contribute both the employer and employee portion of the contribution.

Calculating Monthly Payment Amounts

The total monthly amount that you will receive will depend on how long you contributed to the plan as well as how much you contributed. The amount is also dependent on when you start receiving your CPP or QPP pension. To maximize your CPP pension, you must contribute the maximum amount (based on your yearly earnings) to CPP for 39 of the 47 years you work from ages 18-65.

When Can I Receive My CPP/QPP Payment?

You can choose to take your CPP or QPP pension as early as 60 years of age, or as late as 70 years. Most people opt to take it the month past your 65th birthday. If you choose to take the pension earlier at age 60, it will permanently lower your monthly payment.

As well, the inverse is true, the later you take your CPP or QPP pension the higher your monthly payments will be. To have better understanding of how much you can expect to receive, you can use the Canadian Retirement Income Calculator. Click here to calculate your expected benefits.

Will I Have To Pay Tax On My CPP Benefits?

Yes! Canada Pension Plan benefits are considered income and subject to income tax when receiving those benefits. However, for First Nations, Inuit and Metis, if all of your contributions to Canada Pension Plan were made using tax exempt earnings, then your CPP benefits will also be tax exempt. On the other hand, if your CPP contributions were made with earnings from both on-reserve and off-reserve earnings then only the amount of CPP payments resulting from taxable earnings will be taxed.

Will Paying Into CPP Affect My Tax-Exempt Status?

No! Paying into the Canada Pension Plan will not affect your tax-exempt status.

Can I Work While Receiving My CPP/QPP Payments?

With CPP, you don’t have to quit working. If you work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, you may increase your retirement income with a lifetime benefit called the Post-Retirement Benefit (PRB), retirement pension Supplement in Quebec (RPS). CPP contributions toward the PRB are mandatory for working CPP retirement pension recipients under the age of 65. Starting at age 65, you can choose not to contribute to the CPP while you are working.

Old Age Security (OAS)

Old Age Security is a monthly benefit that you can receive at age 65 or older. Unlike CPP or QPP, you don’t have to work or contribute to Old Age Security to receive it. It is an available retirement fund for most residents in Canada who meet the Canadian legal status and residency requirement. You can choose to receive it at age 65 or defer for up to 5 years. Similar to CPP and QPP, if you choose to receive OAS later your monthly payments will be higher.


To be eligible for Old Age Security you need to have been a Canadian resident for at least 10 years since the age of 18. The longer you have lived in Canada, the larger the amount you would receive.

At age 64, you will be notified as to whether you will be automatically enrolled or if you need to apply. Even if you are automatically enrolled you still have the option to defer if you’d like.

If you aren’t auto enrolled, you will have to apply by filling out the form and submitting it by mail.

Will I Have To Pay Taxes On My OAS?

Yes! You will have to pay taxes on the Old Age Security benefit. The OAS benefit that you receive is considered taxable income as they are not connected to any previous income earned.

Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a non-taxable supplement to the Old Age Security pension for recipients who are low income and live in Canada.


To be eligible to receive GIS you must file a tax return every year to show your income. If you are
automatically enrolled in OAS, you will also be automatically enrolled for GIS. For more information on the income threshold click the link here.

Will I Have To Pay Tax On My GIS?

Luckily, no! The GIS is non-taxable benefits that is meant to supplement if your income is below a certain threshold. Therefore, no taxes will be applicable on these benefits.

Strategies To Maximize Your Retirement Income
To maximize your retirement income in addition to these government pension sources, there are investment savings accounts that you can use to save and grow your money for your retirement. Some of these include:
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) a registered retirement savings account that allows you to save and invest your money while being able to use the contributions to lower your taxable income while the earnings grow tax free until you withdraw money (then it’s taxable).


  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) a registered retirement income account that allows you to move money from a registered pension account (RRSP, RPP, etc.) to an income account solely for the purpose of paying you income. Funds in these accounts can still be invested and grow tax free but are taxable when withdrawn. There is also a minimum that must be paid to you annually.


  • Tax Free Savings Plans (TFSA) a registered savings investment account that allows you to grow your money tax free and is generally tax free even when withdrawn. However, the contributions of the savings account are not tax-deductible like with an RRSP.


  • Registered Pension Plan (RPP) a registered pension plan that is set up by an employer or a union for their employees. Both the employer and employee
    contributions are tax-deductible.

For more information or to get help, please visit our website here or contact our expert financial advisors here.

Depending on your personal circumstances, there are several government retirement income sources that are available to you. All of these sources are
designed to complement your personal savings and investments to help build a strong income foundation for you to rely upon in your golden years.

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Diabetes & Ozempic

Diabetes & Ozempic

Diabetes & Ozempic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified diabetes as one of the greatest public health challenges of this century. It is a serious health concern among people living in Canada and especially for Indigenous Communities. In fact, statistics shows that Indigenous populations have a higher risk of developing diabetes than non-indigenous communities. Research also shows that self-reported diabetes rates among First Nations adults living off reserve and Metis adults are 1.9 and 1.5 times higher than that of non-indigenous adults, respectively.

There are multiple reasons why diabetes rates are higher within Indigenous communities. Indigenous people have suffered inequities as a result of colonial policies and practices including systematic racism, intergenerational traumas, disruption of cultural identity and self-determination, and limited access to resources. These factors have severely undermined indigenous values, cultures, and spiritual practicing, creating long-lasting physical, mental emotional, and social harm for these communities.

Continue to read the rest of our newsletter to learn more about the causes, types, and prevention methods of diabetes.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic health condition characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar. When healthy, our bodies break down most of the food we eat into sugar (glucose) and release it into the bloodstream. When blood sugar rises, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts as the key to taking blood sugar into the body’s cells to use it as energy. With diabetes, the body cannot produce or use enough insulin. When you don’t have enough insulin or your cells become unresponsive to insulin, excess blood sugar remains in your bloodstream. Over time, diabetes causes serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.

There are different types of diabetes that people are diagnosed with. Let us discuss them in detail below:

Type 1 Diabetes

This type is characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. With type 1 diabetes, you are required to have daily insulin injections. It usually begins in childhood. Neither the cause nor the means to reduce the risk of acquisition are known yet.

Type 2 Diabetes

This type occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or does not effectively use the insulin produced by the body. This type is caused by several factors such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and smoking. Genetics and obesity are also important risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Daily insulin injections may be required.

Gestational Diabetes

This type of diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. This type often goes away after delivery, however, there is a high risk that people with gestational diabetes and their babies may develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Aside from these types, researchers also include prediabetes. Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. This condition is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Medication: Statistics & Drugs

Statistics indicate that the diabetes treatments and supplies category is dominating all other therapeutic classes for health benefits plans and experiencing strong growth year over year. In 2022, diabetes treatments and supplies totaled up to 15% of the total amount covered on drugs. This percentage rose to 31.7% for non-insured health benefits (NIHB) and first nations health benefits (FNHB) plans. Among the top treatments for diabetes for the NIHB and FNHB plans is Ozempic.

Research shows that in 2022, Ozempic accounted for almost 30% of the total amount covered for diabetic drugs, and the utilization rates have increased by 70% from 2021 to 2022 across different age ranges from 25 – 65 and older.

So, what is Ozempic, and how does it work?

Ozempic is one of the most commonly used diabetes control drugs of our time. Ozempic (generic term: semaglutide) binds to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and stimulates insulin release from the pancreas when needed, which helps lower blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C. Ozempic also reduces the amount of sugar your liver produces. It slows down food leaving your stomach and prevents blood sugar spikes in your body. What makes Ozempic a unique drug is that it does not inject insulin into the body. Instead, it helps your body release its own insulin.

Ozempic is used only once a week and the amount injected varies, depending on individual health conditions.

This drug is a popular treatment for type 2 diabetes, and the BC government announced that it will expand its production of Ozempic to meet demand and ensure continued availability of the drug to patients who need it.

Is Ozempic covered for First Nations Health Authority clients?

Ozempic is a covered diabetes drug if you are FNHA client, but it is subject to criteria and requires the prescriber to submit a Special Authority request.

Click here to read more about the Special Authority request.

Learn more about the covered diabetes drugs, insulins, and supplies for FNHA clients here.

Can Ozempic be covered by private insurance?

Patients with private drug plans may be eligible for coverage of Ozempic – depending on the plan and insurance provider. Sometimes the coverage options may vary; it could be partial prescription drug coverage, or it could be having a maximum amount the company will cover. Talk to your Plan Administrators about the details of your benefits plan coverage.

Some people use Ozempic for weight loss too; is it safe?

Although Ozempic was not approved for weight reduction, some people use it as a weight loss tool. Some people are experiencing weight loss when taking Ozempic if combined with proper dieting and exercise. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health is asking respective colleges to ensure the physicians prescribing and pharmacies dispensing Ozempic are compliant with the procedure-approved indication.

Here are some of the dangerous side effects of Ozempic: pancreas inflation, changes in vision, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), kidney problems (kidney failure), serious allergic reactions, and gallbladder problems.

Talk to your doctor about how Ozempic may affect your health and monitor your body for irregular symptoms while on Ozempic.

Diabetes: Prevention Method

Although many studies were and – are still being – conducted to learn more about the causes and means to prevent type 1 diabetes, no prevention method has been identified yet. Nonetheless, scientists are inventing drugs that can potentially delay a diagnose of type 1 diabetes for two years such as Teplizumab. Scientists also encourage early screening to detect Type 1 diabetes early on to manage it at its earliest stages.

For type 2 diabetes, the situation differs. Mitigation and prevention methods are found and if practiced appropriately, they can have a major role in preventing type 2 diabetes. Some of those methods are proper dieting and frequent exercise. Let’s explore these options further in the following sections.


Diet plays an important role when it comes to Type 2 diabetes prevention. Your registered dietitian can guide you through a healthier lifestyle by improving your eating habits. Here are some recommended dietary restrictions:

1. Develop A Healthy Eating Style

When you decide to follow a healthy lifestyle, your food choices have to include vegetables and fruits, whole-grain foods, and plant-based proteins. Canada Food Guide recommends using the following proportions:

  • Make half of your plate vegetables and fruits.
  • Make one-quarter of your plan whole grain foods.
  • Make one-quarter of your plate of protein foods.
2. Prepare Your Meals

Weekly meal planning helps you avoid making decisions at the moment when you are hungry. When you create a meal plan for the week, you are choosing better quality food for your diet (fruits, vegetables, protein) and thus improving your organ function and blood sugar. Meal preparation also helps you reduce the stress that is caused by feeling guilty for eating unhealthy food.

3. Use The Glycemic Index

Blood sugar management is an important factor in managing and preventing diabetes and this is where the glycemic index comes to play. “The glycemic index is a measure of how fast different carbohydrate-containing foods raise our blood sugars after eating them” – Lumino Health.

Using the GI can help you make better choices when it comes to meals and snacks. The GI of foods is ranked as follows:

  • Low GI: 0 – 55
  • Medium GI: 56 -69
  • High GI: 70 – 100

Essentially, the lower the glycemic index, the slower your blood sugar will rise and the steadier your blood sugar will be after you eat that food.

Physical Activity

Another key factor to prevent diabetes is physical activity. Doctors recommend an active routine to ensure your body is protected from illnesses like diabetes. Here are some of our recommendations for a healthier lifestyle:

1. Fit Movement into Your Day

Many of us have stories of starting a new exercise routine and then failing to commit to it a couple of weeks or months after. We need to transform thinking about exercise into actually doing the exercise!

To start, you need to think about what is motivating you to commit to those 30 or 45 minutes of exercise every day. Often time, we lose interest quickly because we don’t have what motivates us to move out from the couch. So as the first step, learn about what motivates you.

The second step: know your barriers. Is it not having enough time? or, is exercising at 6 o’clock in the morning exhausting you? Or is it a financial cost? Once you have identified your barriers, it’s time to address them. Find a closer gym, exercise at home, exercise at a time that works well with your schedule, etc.

And remember, short workouts are better than no workouts at all. You can start with a short period of 5 minutes and then increase gradually. There are some phone applications you can use that can keep you on track, such as the MOVR app.

Most importantly, you need to remember to designate a time for exercise, just like eating, sleeping, or working. Once you prioritize your workout time, there will always be time for it.

2. Stick to your workout routine

Personal trainers understand that motivation can lag; that sometimes life priorities can get in the way of doing your workout. That is the first thing that they want to advise when you want to commit to a workout plan; recognize that everyone experiences motivation lags sometimes.

But how can you work around it and stick to your workout event after some lag?


They advise you to acknowledge your roadblocks and set up an accountability system where someone expects you to show up to their workout session every time. Go with a friend, you will be held accountable!

Experts also advise when trying to commit to a workout plan, lose the critical self-talk when you miss a workout or two. Remember that every activity counts, even a short walk after work!

Being able to manage diabetes successfully is about so much more than tracking blood sugar. It’s about setting a healthy lifestyle and committing to it; being able to make the right food and exercise choices when the time comes. Go for a walk, eat well, avoid blame, learn a relaxation technique, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends.

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Six Tips To Consider Before Filing Your 2022 Taxes

Six Tips To Consider Before Filing Your 2022 Taxes

Six Tips To Consider Before Filing Your 2022 Taxes

It is that time of the year again! You guessed it, it’s Tax Season.
In Canada, individuals who may owe income tax or may be eligible for Canadian government tax credits or benefits file “income tax and benefit return” by the end of April, every year. Indigenous people are subject to the same tax filing requirements as non-Indigenous residents in Canada, even if income is eligible for the tax exemption under Section 87 of the Indian Act.

How do I know if I am eligible for tax exemption as Indigenous person?

According to Section 87 (1) (a) of the Indian Act, “The personal property of an Indian or a band situated on reserve” are exempted from taxation in Canada. This means the income of registered Status Indian will be exempted if that income is located on a reserve.

This exemption does not apply to all Indigenous people living in Canada because there are conditions to meet for a tax-exemption approval.

If you are unsure if your income qualifies for tax exemption, speak to your employer. There are a variety of criteria that must be assessed including a connecting factor test that assesses related criteria such as the domicile of your employer, working from home, location of work duties performed and proration rules.

Learn more about the connecting factors test here.

My employment income is considered tax -exempt, should I still file a tax return?

My employment income is considered tax -exempt, should I still file a tax return?

As Indigenous person, you have access to the same benefits and credits as non-Indigenous Canadians. If you choose not to file your tax return, you may be ineligible for specific benefits and credits that you may be entitled to.

To ensure that you are receiving benefits and credits, you must submit your tax return on time, every year even if your income is considered tax-exempt or if you had no income at all. You spouse or common – law partner needs to do their taxes as well so that CRA can calculate the payments based on household income.

Some of those payments include Goods and services tax/Harmonized sales tax credit (GST/HST), Canada child benefit (CCB), Northern residents’ deduction, Canada workers benefit, and Canada training credit. 

Continue to read the rest of our newsletter to learn about the six tips we recommend considering before filing your tax for the year 2022.

1. Use a simplified paper tax and benefit return

You may be able to file your taxes using “Let Us Help You Get Your Benefits! Credit, and benefit” short return. If you are a member of a First Nation, you may also be eligible for the T1S-D, Credit and Benefit Return.
To access these forms, you can contact your local friendship center, community representative, or band council office. You cannot download these forms online. Learn more here.

2. Create online account with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

A great way to keep track of all your previous years’ taxes, benefits and credits, balancing owing, and more is through creating an online account with Canada Revenue Agency. Your CRA account helps you easily manage your taxes and credit information online, from the comfort of your home. Here are a few excellent ways you can utilize your online CRA account:

      • Apply for benefits and credits
      • Update your account information (marital status, address, phone number, etc)
      • View your notice of assessment or reassessment
      • Pay your payments
      • Review historical tax information for up to 7 years

Register for your CRA account here.

Filing Electronically

Electronic returns are usually processed within two weeks whereas paper returns may take several weeks for processing. According to research, 92% of tax returns are filed electronically due to their convenience, security, and faster processing.

If you are registered for “My Account” with CRA, you can use “Auto – fill my return” to quickly fill in parts of your return with your information the Canada Revenue Agency has on file. If you choose to file your 2022 tax return digitally this year, access Canada.ca to learn more about the certified tax software you can use to file your tax.


3. Enter your income and other benefits payments.

If you are employed, you should receive your T4 from your employer by the end of February 2023. You may receive other slips from different payers such as pension providers, financial institutions, and educational institutions that you should also include when filing your income tax return.

If you have received benefits from CRA such as Canada Recovery Benefits, and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, you will receive a T4A information slip that you should add as an income for the year 2022. You should also receive these slips from the Government of Canada by the end of February 2023.

Other sources of income are still required to be reported but may not generate a tax form, such as:

    • Income from sales of goods and services regardless of whether payments were in cryptocurrency or traditional monetary currency.
    • Income earned through buying and selling crypto assets.
    • Tips and gratuities earned at your place of work.

If you also generate a world-wide business income, you should report that through the platform economy. One example of this type of income is social media influencers’ income that is generated through social media platforms.

These income sources may be generated through advertisement, referral codes, merchandise sales or commission on sales, sponsorships, or barter transactions.

Click here to learn more about reporting international income.

4. Claim your benefits, credits, and deductions

You may be eligible for tax deductions, credits and expenses on your tax return for the year 2022. CRA uses the information from your return to calculate your benefits and credit payments. Some of these payments include:

    • Canada Child Benefits
    • Good and Services Tax/ Harmonized Sales Tax (GTS/HTS) Credits
    • Provincial or Territorial Benefits.

You might be able to claim a deduction that can reduce the amount of tax you may owe. Examples of those expenses are childcare expenses and home office expenses (if you work from home as an employee and have arranged deductions with your employer). If you are self-employed, you may be able to claim certain business expenses such as a motor vehicle, and business–use–of–home expenses (heating, home insurance, & electricity).

Learn more about the tax credits and benefits you might be entitled to here.

5. File on time, pay on time!

Filing your taxes on time will ensure your taxes returns and benefits will not be delayed or interrupted.

If you owe a balance to the CRA, it is important to note that retirement income benefits such as the Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) may be held back if you do not file on time.

The deadline for filing for 2022 income tax is April 30th, 2023. If you, your spouse, or common law partner are self-employed, you have until June 15th, 2023, to file your taxes and benefit return. If you don’t file your taxes by deadlines, you may be subject to late filing penalties on any money you owe.

In addition to filing on time, any balance owing is also due by April 30, 2023. Paying your dues in full ensures interest will not be charged. If you are unable to pay your balance owing, contact the CRA to make payment arrangement that suit your ability to pay overtime.

Learn more about payment arrangement here.

6. Maximize your tax return with Registered Saving Programs

An excellent way to reduce taxable income is through contributing to a Registered Savings Plan.

If you are a non-Status individual or a Status individual earning taxable income, a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) may be a good option for you. Contributions you make to an RRSP will attract a tax deduction annually. The savings within your RRSP account will grow on a tax-deferred basis. Taxes will be payable at retirement or upon withdrawal, based on your marginal-tax rate (MTR) at that time.

Generally, the contribution room (limit) for RRSP is 18% of annual earned income from the last tax year (up to a maximum of $27,830 for 2022), however, each individual has a unique RRSP limits subject to multiple factors. Check your online CRA account to find more information about your personal contribution limits.

Find more information about RRSP here.

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Four Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

Four Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

Four Ways Employers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health

“Mental health problems and illnesses among working adults in Canada cost employers more than $6 billion in lost productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover in 2011.”

 – Mental Health Commission of Canada

Workplaces can play a vital role in supporting and maintaining positive mental health for their employees. They can give people a sense of productivity, value, and achievement, all of which are strong contributors to employees’ mental well-being.

Yet, a workplace can also often be a big stressor and a contributor to poor mental health. There is no workplace that is immune from poor mental health risks to its employees.

Just as poor physical health can impact employees’ work performance, poor mental health is often associated with emotional distress and psychosocial impairment comparable to that of a major depressive episode.


Employee Mental Health
The psychological, social and emotional well-being of individuals in the workplace is what referred to as “Employee Mental Health”.

It is important to understand the causes and triggers for good or poor employee mental health as the later impact their over health, performance, productivity, and their work interactions. As such, employers should make a conscious effort to foster a positive work environment that enriches its employees and supports their mental health.

Prior to discussing what employees can do to support mental health of their employees, it is critical to understand some of the causes or contributors to poor employee mental health:

  • Stress is the largest risk factor in poor mental health for everyone and specifically employees. While stress is common to experience in any workplace environment or field, excessive stress can have major risks on someone’s mental health.
  • Bullying and Harassment at workplace are big contributors to mental health as it leaves victims with long lasting impacts that are uneasy to overcome.
  • Poor working environment which includes poor working hours and workplace that can impact both mental and physical wellbeing of employees on the long-term.
It is important to mention that mental health experiences will differ according to race, economic opportunity, citizenship status, job type, parenting and caregiving responsibilities, and many other variables. Therefore, employers have a responsibility to take care of their employees’ mental health and explore what can they do to support their mental wellness.
What If Employees’ Mental Health is Ignored?

Unfortunately, if employee mental health is not taken care of, major risks will take place that cannot be easily eliminated or mitigated on the long run. Here are some of those risks of ignoring employee mental health:


  • It reduces trust between employers and their employees.
  • It creates unsupportive, distrustful company culture.
  • It can decrease employee performance and productivity.
What Can Employers Do To Support Their Employees’ Mental Health?
You, as an employer, and your human resources team, play a critical role in supporting employee mental health. It is your responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive workplace and provide necessary support for your team. Here are some of the experts’ recommendations on how you can support your employees’ mental health:
  • Model Healthy Behaviors & Encourage Proper Self-Care

Promote the importance of self-care to your employees and lead by example. Consider offering paid time off for mental wellness days and/or schedule a team breaks so your employees can mentally rest during the day. Be creative with ways to support their mental health at work such as setting up companywide formal “walk” together if conditions permit.

  • Implement Supportive Workplace Mental Health Policies

Some of the helpful resources that supports employee mental health is Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), bereavement leave, grief counselling, and general mental health counselling. EAPs are great option to include in your employee benefits plan as it offers confidential counselling services to your employee. Learn more about EAPs here.

Other policies that support employee mental health are anti-discrimination policies (including bullying and harassment). Implementing such policies will foster more welcoming and accepting work environment and ensure that employees are safe and protected at their workplace. If you already have a policy in place, review it and see how you can better support your employees.

  • Encourage Work – Life Balance

Work -life balance is an essential aspect of a healthy work environment as it helps reduce stress and prevents burnouts. Work-life balance starts with offering flexible hours options. This helps employees have greater control and time management of their day, chance to avoid traffic, and opportunity to attend medical appointments, of all which is needed for mental health.

  • Facilitate a Clear Communication

Communicate with your employees clearly and compassionately about your company’s policies, and mental health treatment options. Offering that regular, open, and consistent communication with your employees helps strengthen relationship between you and your employee and ultimately boosts their mental health.

Supporting mental health in the workplace empowers employees to do top-notch work and to balance personal well-being needs. It is your responsibility as employer to create a strategy and foster an environment that enables and support your employees’ health.

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How Inflation Impacts Your Retirement Plan

How Inflation Impacts Your Retirement Plan

How Inflation Impacts Your Retirement Plan

“Just surviving day to day has become a big concern of mine”, “Yes, I can afford what I’m doing right now, but I’m starting to panic. I’m starting to think, ‘How am I going to keep paying for everything?”

 Morgan – 65 years old retiree.

In a survey done in April of 2022 for 1001 Canadians, data indicated that due to inflation, 54% of households are cutting back on dining out, 51% looking at flyers are looking for sales, and nearly half ^47%) are putting off purchases like clothing. Some households are struggling to pay the bills right away or their debts are getting bigger while for some others, they may be able to manage but not save for the future and especially for their retirement.

Understanding how inflation would hurt our retirement strategy is a must to ensure that we have enough assets to rely on and last through our retiring years.


Defining Inflation
In simple terms, inflation is the devaluing of buying power of a currency. It occurs over time as the government pumps more money into the economy. Essentially, inflation means that there is more money supply buying to a relatively fixed amount of stuff. This results in rising wages and prices over time which causes a reduction in the purchasing power of people, not allowing them to live the same lifestyle as they used to, only a few months back. As we try to understand inflation, let’s dig deep into the root causes of it.

Inflation could occur because of:

  • Cost-push Inflation
  • Increased demand over supply
  • Government printing money (to simulate economy during bad times – Ex; COVID-19)

Regardless of the cause, the problem remains the same; inflation will impact our retirement dollars just as it is impacting our dollar worth today (and if not worse).

The sad reality is that the consequences of inflation are not experienced equally across the income spectrum.

For low-income workers and those on fixed income support (ex: retiree), inflation can be catastrophic.
Inflation is always and everywhere more than simply an increase in prices; it’s fundamentally a conflict over the distribution of income and wealth.

There is no escape from this reality!

Continue to read the rest of the newsletter and let us help you understand how inflation can impact your retirement savings and what you can do to mitigate its risk.

The Impact of Inflation on Retiree

While inflation impacts everyone, retirees and pre-retirees can especially feel the effects when the money they are relying on to live comfortably for 20 or 30 years suddenly is not so secure. They would be very worried and fear that they are running out of money especially since their income is fixed meanwhile all living expenses are rising. This is concerning for Canadians that a recent statistic showed about half of Canadians, who are over 55 years of age, are planning to delay their retirement due to inflation and debt issues.

To explain how inflation impacts retiree life, lets first briefly list their potential sources of income during retirement:


  • Canadian Pension Plan (CPP)

Monthly payment to people who have contributed to their plans during their working years. The payment amount depends on how long you contributed to the plan and how much you contributed. You can choose to take your CPP as early as age 60 or as late as age 70.

  • Old Age Security Pension (OAS)

Monthly benefits for Canadians who are 65 of age or older. Working and non-working individuals can get OAS support (you don’t have to make a contribution). You can receive OAS at the age of 65 or choose to defer five years. Canadian citizens and legal residents are eligible for OAS with the condition that they have been in Canada for at least 10 years.

  • Guaranteed Income Supplement Pension (GIS)

Monthly non-taxable benefits to Old Age Security recipients who have low income and are living in Canada.

  • Employer-sponsored Retirement & Pension Plans

Benefits that you receive from your employer who sponsored you for retirement plans such as group Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP) or Registered Pension Plan. Both, you and your employer, contribute to this plan.

  • Personal Retirement Savings & Investment

Sources of income that is made up of various savings or investment products such as Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP) or Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). RRSP helps you grow your money while offering tax benefits. TFSA can also hold investment products and allow them to grow tax-free. This means you don’t have to pay tax on income from investments held in your TFS such as interest, capital gain, or dividends.

Regardless of your retirement income source, if it is set in your bank account and not growing (not generating a return), then it will inevitably devalue over time. For example, you save $1000 today, and in ten years, it’s only worth $800, and there is no way you can get those $200 back unless you change your retirement savings strategy.

Is there something you can do to control inflation rates? Not really.

Is there something you can do to grow your savings to outpace inflation? Yes, there is. That should be your strategy!

Controlling and managing inflation is not in the hand of the people, rather it falls to the Bank of Canada and whole economic regulations. However, what we can do, is mitigate the risk that is posing to our retirement savings. Continue to read the next section for some helpful recommndations.

What can you do to mitigate the risk of inflation on your savings?

1. Grow your retirement assets (invest!)

As we explained before, inflation hinders retiree purchasing power as the cost of everything rises faster than the pace of their asset/retirement income growth. If inflation rises by 10%, and your income increase by 3% only, then everything is 7% more expensive than before.

When savings are invested at higher rates (bonds, stocks, property), your savings worth is going up outpacing the inflation rates (plus extra bonces). Speak with your financial advisors for ways you can invest your money for a good return rate.

2. Factor inflation rates into your future savings 

Pre-retiree should do long-range planning correctly for their retirement, incorporating inflation rates in their retirement (future fixed income). Meaning that they should factor in the increase of an average of a 3% annually (as an example) into their savings and their expected spending levels when they retire.

3. Downsize or rent a portion of your home to generate side income

Selling your home and buying less expensive one can provide you with extra money in retirement. Not in favor of small living spaces? Then maybe you can free up some space in your home (ex: basement) and rent it for extra income that pays off your mortgage and allow you to have extra savings.

4. Speak to an expert financial advisor

Financial advisors can be a great resource of information and guidance. They have market experience dealing with rates, inflations, recessions, and investments. 

They can offer you advice on how you can factor inflation into your future savings, where to invest your money, and how you can grow your retirement funds with low or high risk and return, offering you peace of mind.

Contact our expert financial advisors here to help you plan early for your retiremnet and navigate through your investment options.

Even if inflation become nonexistent again soon, you still need a plan to account for it over your lifetime, so the doubt and uncertainty of your finances do not overwhelm you when another year like 2022 returns.

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Inclusion In The Workplace

Inclusion In The Workplace

Inclusion In The Workplace

As social beings, we experience the need to feel included and an accepted member in a group. Inclusivity is very essential in our lives: without it, we are vulnerable to having poor mental health and experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Our healthy self-worth and self-esteem are tied to feeling included in a group or community. When we feel like we don’t belong anywhere, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let’s First Define Inclusion & Belongingness…

The sense of belonging is defined as experiencing the feeling of being accepted for authentic self and the feeling of being included in social circles. Inclusion is defined as the practice of providing equal opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.

Inclusivity & Our Health

Studies show that social environment profoundly shapes our personalities and impacts our health. We tend to suffer when our social bonds are threatened or severed. Particularly, our mental and emotional health are at risk the most when we feel we are being excluded. Let us take the workplace environment as an example of social environment. We spend a minimum of eight hours a day at our workplaces, interacting and communicating with colleagues, managers and clients (both in person and virtually). Experiencing the need to be heard, seen and recognized in that small (or big) community is essential to make us feel we are part of that community (we belong to that community).

A study in this field was conducted to uncover how employed adults define belonging and what makes them feel like they belong at work and what makes them feel excluded in the workplace. The study data was categorized per generations: millennials, Gen Xers, & Baby Boomers.

When excluded, 38% of millennial respondents felt they are being ignored, 30% of them felt stressed, and 34% felt lonely. ,
Whereas for Gen Xers, when feeling excluded, 41% of them felt ignored, 27% felt stressed, and 26% experienced the feeling of sadness.
Meanwhile, for baby boomers, when excluded at work, 45% of them feel ignored, 26% feel angry, 21% feel stressed, and 21% feel lonely.

The numbers and the feelings varied from one generation to another but mostly all have indicated feeling stressed, anxious, sad or ignored at some level.

Inclusivity & Language

We use languages to communicate with each other and establish relationships. Choosing to use inclusive language with people you communicate with will means that you are less likely to make someone feel like they don’t belong. Train yourself to become more conscious of your language and the expression you use around others. It is important to remember that words have strong impact on others and when used carelessly, can deeply hurt people; leaving an impact that might not be easily forgotten.

Here are six tips to consider as you try to use more inclusive language in your speech:

    • Don’t complain about or express that you are struggling to be inclusive.
    • Don’t over apologize if you make a mistake. Your apology forces the other person to discount their feelings to make you feel better.
    • When someone corrects you, acknowledge them with thanks.
    • Reinforce your learning when you need to make a correction by practicing the correct approach three times.
    • Consider meeting up with someone else who is working on using inclusive language to practice.
    • If you observe a mistake, offer a quick correction. It helps the person become more aware, demonstrates respect and commitment and shows empathy and understanding.

Is exclusion considered a form of bullying?

Yes! For many people, it is considered bullying. According to recent study conducted for young, employed adults, 54% of respondents believed that exclusion is a form of bullying at work. Meanwhile, 68% of employees that are part of the LGBTQ community believe that exclusion is a form of bullying. Whereas, for women participants, the majority believed that exclusion is a form of bullying in the workplace.

Inclusivity in the workplace

Being inclusive starts with little everyday things. For example, the choice of words you choose and how you interact in social settings. People can determine if you are being authentically inclusive or pretending to be.

For managers who aim to build an inclusive environment for their employees, start by making them feel heard, valued and recognized for their effort and unique abilities. Ultimately, when inclusivity exists in a workplace, organizations can experience game-changing insights, super-charged creativity and attract the most talented people to join a group of happy and satisfied employees.

What is Emotional Tax?

“Emotional Tax is the combination of feeling different from peers at work because of gender, race, and/or ethnicity and the associated effects on health, well-being, and ability to thrive at work”

Inclusivity for Indigenous Employees

A recent survey was conducted to explore the representation of Indigenous People in workplaces, indicated that indigenous employees are in fact underrepresented. When surveyed, participants responded that they often feel isolated at their workplaces due to the lack of Indigenous role models at senior levels. Additionally, the survey showed that Indigenous employees experience low levels of psychological safety at their workplace and also pay what is called an “emotional tax”.

Eighty-two Indigenous employees were surveyed (both men and women) working for different industries and job levels, and responded to the survey as follows:

  • Fifty- two percent of them said that they are regularly on guard to the experience of bias, a hallmark of “emotional tax”.
  • Sixty-seven percent of Indigenous women experience the feeling more commonly than Indigenous men (38%) which reflect the disproportionate discrimination and violence they experience compared to other groups.
  • Sixty-one percent of Indigenous People surveyed indicated that they do not feel physiologically safe at work. Low psychological safety reflects on employees’ feelings of belonging and impact their job performance directly.

In comparison with Indigenous employees who experience low levels of psychological safety, we found that those who experience high psychological safety are five times more likely to have a sense of belonging to their workplaces, over five times more likely to experience being valued for their uniqueness, twice as likely to speak up when something is not right, twice as likely to report task-focus, and twice as likely to report being able to exhibit creativity.

Inclusive Leadership

Creating an inclusive workplace could be a challenging mission to accomplish when the right strategies and practices are not applied. In order to create an inclusive environment for employees, inclusive leadership should be practiced.

For managers who are aiming to create an inclusive workplace for your employees, studies recommend practicing three important behaviors: empowerment, accountability, & humility. When applied appropriately, you will build teams that feel valued, appreciated, and recognized for their efforts.

Here is a list of recommendations when practicing the three behaviors:

  • Empowerment
      • Ensure that all team members have what they need to succeed and flourish at work and that they can bring their full selves to work by expressing and sharing their cultures.
      • Be a role model of your actions. Model your own learning, vulnerabilities and challenges related to tacking inequities and moving out of your comfort zone.
  • Accountability
      • Hold all team members responsible for their behaviours, development and work processes.
      • Openly discuss how to demonstrate that a wide variety of perspectives, identities and cultures are valued.
  • Humility
      • Practice humble listening by setting aside preconceived notions of how the world works, and truly hear what another person’s experience of the world is like.
      • Be willing to admit your mistakes; find grace for coworkers to make mistakes and take risks without being penalized.

For the full list of recommendations, click here.

Our social interactions can heavily impact our emotional wellbeing. When we experience exclusion, especially at social entities like workplace, we tend to feel sad, unmotivated, depressed and we underperform. Therefore, employers should embed inclusive leadership into their business strategy, taking care of the health and wellbeing of their employees.

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Will Preparation & Estate Planning

Will Preparation & Estate Planning

Will Preparation & Estate Planning

“As wise as my own father was, he never got around to creating a will, or documenting his assets and their locations. He died in 2001 and all these years later, I am still trying to finish up his estate. It was a monumental detective work just to try to figure out exactly what he had and where. To make matters worse, the assets were in multiple countries, and continents.”

 Kashif Ahmed– Real Stories from Financial Planners

Do you know how to prepare a will?

Have you made your will, yet?

Do you know the requirements of a will creation?

Will preparation could be an overwhelming task considering the rules and requirements that need to be obeyed accordingly. Nonetheless, planning ahead with respect to your personal affairs (will creation or estate planning) can save problems and expenses for your family in the future.

Not sure where to start? Continue to read this newsletter and let us guide you through the process of will preparation, validation, and the planning of your estates.

What Is A Will?

A will is a legal document that states how someone wants their estate to be divided after they pass away. Their estates include what they own (assets) and what they owe (liabilities).

Why do we create a will? Preparing a will helps protect your assets and your family; it lets the court know what to do with your estate after your death. A will often needs to go through probate, which is a process that ensures the will is real and was left by the deceased person.

Will usually names an executor or administrator (can be one person or several people) who is responsible for carrying out the instructions in the will. You may name a person who is close to you such as a family member or a friend as an estate representative. You can also name a financial professional as your estate representative. It is always recommended that you talk to your estate representative to ensure they’re comfortable with their role and responsibilities.

What Are The Requirements For A Will To Be Valid In Canada?

When creating a will, some criteria should be followed to ensure its validity. Each province has slightly different laws that must be obeyed. However, below is a general list that needs to be followed:

    • The will must be written in a physical form (on paper, rather than in digital format).
    • The person writing the will must be over the age of majority and must be of a sound mind.
    • If the will is in typed format (not handwritten), there needs to be two witnesses who must see the will owner signing the will, and then sign their names in each other’s presence.
    • In either kind of will, your signature must be at the very end of the will.

It is important to note that a person who is beneficiary under the will, or their spouse, must not be a witness, as this would make the bequest to that beneficiary void.

Are You Obligated To Create A Will? What Happens When You Decide Not To Create One?

You are not legally required to make a will. However, if you die without a will, your property will be divided accordingly to B.C.’s law (or in accordance with your province). You will also be giving up the right to appoint the guardian of your choice for any children in your care.

In other cases, when there is not a will left by the deceased, certain individuals are eligible to apply for a grant of administration in order to handle the estate. If successful, the person who is named as administrator is legally able to distribute the estate. If not, the law decides who will manage your estate and who will get it. Consequently, your estate may not go where you want it to. Therefore, preparing a will is always highly recommended.

Do You Need A Lawyer To Write A Will?

You don’t need a lawyer to write a will. However, it is a good idea to obtain professional legal help when you make your will. This will help you make sure all your documents are prepared and witnessed properly.

Estate Planning and Estate Representative

Estate planning means arranging how you will leave your money and property after death, and what you intend to leave your spouse, children or others.

Part of estate planning is assigning an estate representative that will administrates your estate. Those administrators are primarily responsible for settling debts and liabilities and dealing with assets of the deceased in accordance with the will. If there is no estate representative or no will, then the responsibility of handing your estate settlement will be determined based on provincial or territorial law.

Responsibilities Of an Estate Representative

As estate representative, you are responsible for carrying out the instructions written in the will. These responsibilities may include:

    • Making funeral and burial arrangements
      Locating the deceased’s final will
    • Getting an appraisal for the value of the estate
    • Paying estate fees
    • Paying all debts owing by the deceased
    • Applying to have the will validated by a court (probate)
    • Providing financial information about the estate to the beneficiaries
    • Dividing the estate as outlined in the will (or legislation, if there is no will)
    • Completing a final tax return for the deceased, as well as any returns required for the estate
    • Locating and notifying all beneficiaries named in the will, or under the law if there is no will
    • Putting a notice out for creditors notifying them that the person has died
Does Living On Or Off Reserve Matter For Estates?

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is responsible for estate services in all provinces. Meanwhile, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) is responsible for estate services in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Under the Indian Act, the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) is only involved with estates for people “ordinarily resident” on a reserve.

“Ordinarily resident” on a reserve means that an eligible First Nations person usually lives on a reserve and does not maintain a primary residence off a reserve. They may, however, temporarily live off a reserve for education purposes or to obtain care or services not available on a reserve.

How Are The Estates Of People Who Have Died On Reserve Managed?

SC or CIRNAC is required to manage estates of people who were or could have been, registered under the act and usually lived on a reserve. As part of estate services, ISC or CIRNAC:

    • Appoints estate executors or administrators
    • Approves wills so they can take effect
    • Transfers reserve lands from the estate to the beneficiary or the heirs
    • Determines the heirs of a person dies without a will
    • Serves as administrators if no one is willing or able to settle the estate
    • If serving as an administrator, distributes estate assets according to the will or the provisions of the Indian Act when there is no will
What You Can Do When Someone In The Family Passes Away?

Handling the affairs of someone who died can be very different from one person to another. The following checklist helps you determine who to notify, points you in the right direction, and keep you organized:

      • Register the death,
      • Get a death certificate,
      • Cancel a Canadian passport,
      • Cancel a citizenship certificate or permanent resident Card,
      • Cancel driver’s license, BCID, and/or BC service card,
      • And more…

For the full checklist, please click here

Helpful Resources For Indigenous Communities

BC: 1-800-655-9320

Others: 604-775-5100

BC: 1-800-940-1150

Others: 604-557-5851

BC: 1-866-262-8181

Others: 613-234-1991

Preparing a will ensures that a person’s wishes of how they want their estates to be distributed is going to be met. Educating yourself about will preparation and estate planning is an important part of planning for your family’s future. You can use a kit to write your own will, and its’ always a good idea to get help from a lawyer or notary public to review your will and ensure it is valid.

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    Four Tips To Manage Your Mental Health & Wellbeing During Covid-19

    Four Tips To Manage Your Mental Health & Wellbeing During Covid-19

    Four Tips To Manage Your Mental Health & Wellbeing During Covid-19

    “This disease [Coronavirus] destroys you. I was mentally devastated more than physically. The loneliness of the disease makes it that much more difficult. I was in absolute isolation the entire time. That was tough.

    I was thinking that I was going to die. I have lived very well, I have had a wonderful life, but maybe now it’s over. My only problem was leaving my wife alone”

    – Antonio Sales Martínez (COVID-19 Survivor)

    How have you been feeling lately? Are you feeling anxious, depressed, or perhaps having difficult thoughts? Does going back to normal at work and in social settings makes you feel stressed and terrified?

    According to recent research conducted by Statistics Canada in 2020, 38% of the Indigenous participants reported “fair or poor mental health” whereas 32% reported “good mental health”.

    Indigenous women, in particular, have reported higher stress and anxiety levels during the pandemic. Among Indigenous crowdsource participants, 46% of Indigenous women and 32% of Indigenous men described most of their days as “extremely stressful” or “quite a bit stressful”.

    It is undoubtedly, the pandemic had left some severe impacts on our lives and health. But there is always hope! If you suffer from anxiety, depression, substance use, and having difficult thoughts, here are some proven techniques and strategies that can help you recover and support your mental health:

      • Physical Exercise
      • Mindful Exercise
      • Facilitate a balance between your work at home and your personal Life
      • Take advantage of your Employee & Family Assistance (EFAP) program

    Six in ten Indigenous participants indicated their mental health “has become worse” since the onset of physical distancing

    1. Physical Exercise

    Exercise is a powerful medicine that benefits many mental health challenges. It promotes positive changes in our brains that affect neural growth, inflammation, activity patterns, and homeostasis and releases powerful chemicals that energize us and make us feel good. You can try;

      • Walking/Running
      • Hiking
      • Restorative Yoga
      • Dancing
      • Gardening
    2. Facilitate a balance between your work from home and your personal life

    Due to Covid-19 pandemic, most of us have transitioned to work from home setting; however, the new normal can be very exhausting for some employees more than others.

    In some cases, to be more productive, employees work extra time, or at all hours of the day/night – either because it’s easier to work a lot from home.
    While working from home can support the balance and give flexibility to employees, without clear parameters, lines between work life and personal life blurs.

    Share your experience with your supervisors and colleagues about what works well with you; have an honest conversation about what makes you more productive and less burnt out.

    3. Take advantage of your Employee & Family Assistance (EFAP) program

    The EFAP program is paid benefits that support employees and their immediate families to overcome personal and work-related challenges. The program offers confidential, short-term counseling as well as other wellness services. If this program is being provided by your employer, please take advantage of it to help you with your mental health challenges, such as;

    If you don’t have an EFAP in place, please ask your Plan Administrator to contact our Account Managers to get more information.

          • Stress
          • Relationships
          • Addictions
          • Anxiety
          • Depression
          • Grief/Bereavement
          • Life Transition
          • and more…
      4. Mindful Exercise

      Stress is a normal reaction to threatening situations. However, we need to find ways to ease and manage it. Because, without stress relief, the long-term activation of the stress response system can have some destructive consequences.
      Refocus your attention through mindful exercises. Practice techniques with consistency and determination for optimal results. We suggest the following methods:

      Sit comfortably, focus on your breathing and the present moment.

      Learn more abour Mindful Meditation here.

      Breathe with a series of postures or flowing movements to inspire calm, relaxation and focus.

      Learn more about Yoga, Tai & Oigong here.

      Use imagery, repetitive words or a mantra, and body awareness to reduce stress.

      Learn more about Autogrnic Relaxation here.

      Form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation can help take you out of the stressful mindset you currently find yourself.

      Learn more about Visualization here.

      Take long, slow, deep breaths from the abdomen, and gently disengage your mind from distracting thoughts and sensations.

      Learn more about Breath Focus here.

      Tense up and then relax each muscle group in the body, you can gain body connection as you isolate and relax each part of the body, one by one.

      Learn more about Progressive Muscle Relaxation here.

      Why should you practice relaxation techniques?

      Practicing relaxation techniques can have many benefits, such as;

          • Regulating heart rate and lowering blood pressure
          • Controlling the breath
          • Quelling stress hormones
          • Improving sleep
          • Increasing energy
          • Caring for mental health
          • Eliminating frustration
          • and incredibly, maintaining normal blood sugar levels

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      Financial Knowledge & Financially Secure Life

      Financial Knowledge & Financially Secure Life

      Financial Knowledge & Financially Secure Life

      Learn to manage your finances

      “There [are] a lot of things I didn’t know about [financial management], such as credit. I am learning how to manage and budget the money better. Most of my pain comes from the unmanageability of my finances. I almost didn’t come back [to the Financial Literacy workshop] because of the pain around it. That is probably why a lot of people didn’t come back; they felt shame and guilt around their finances.”

      – Attendee to Financial Literacy Workshop


      If you are struggling with managing your finances, you are not alone. Many people find controlling their finances to be a series of complicated tasks, so they pay less attention or sometimes avoid it. There are many reasons for this and human behavior can play a role. The good news is that anyone can work on having more financial knowledge by being open to learning new things.

      When a person has financial knowledge, they tend to have much better financial outcomes. Particularly if they have knowledge in several areas such as investments, budgeting, debt, and retirement planning. If you don’t know where to start, let’s review some of the top 6 steps to make progress towards achieving your financial freedom.

      1. Budgeting & Being Aware of Spending
      An essential tool of your financial management strategy is to follow a budget that tells the truth about your needs & financial commitments. Take the time to get organized and know how much you earn and spend. For example, create a comprehensive document that lists all your accounts. With this proactive approach, you are better prepared for
      any financial crisis or difficulties.

      Are your spending habits matching your income?

      Sometimes, keeping your spending habits under control can take a lot of work; it is not easy! Firstly, you need to be aware of what you are spending your money on. Little purchases add up and can put you in a position where your spending far exceeds your income. You need to be critical of your spending and understand the impact of borrowing money, regardless of the amount.

      Do you have a spending Journal?

      A spending journal is a cost-effective method that will help you track your spending and stay organized. Each time you make a purchase, keep your receipt and enter the purchase in the notebook/calendar or review your online banking transactions or bank statement later. Once a week, add up all your spending and enter it into your budget.

      2. Debt
      Forty-nine percent of low-income and seventy-four middle-income Canadian households carry debt (primarily consumer debt, not mortgage debt).
      Having a debt is not always bad. There is what’s called “Good Debt”. In all scenarios, debt is the basically “the borrowing of money”, but when the money borrowed is for investment that creates value or produces more wealth in the long run, it is considered a “Good Debt”. Examples of that are; mortgage on a home, student loans, or a loan to launch a business. “Bad Debts” are money taken to purchase something that will reduce in value over time or a balance owing that you are paying high interest on.
      3. Investments

      There are many ways you can “invest” money. An investment is typically the purchase of something that is anticipated to grow in value over time. In a typical financial context, investments are part of very good financial plan. However, first, you need to identify your risk tolerance to determine the best type(s) of investments for you. Some options include;

      • Annuities.
      • Segregated Funds.
      • Mutual Funds.
      • Securities (Stocks, Bonds and Futures).
      • Exempt Market Securities.
      • Stocks.
      • Treasury Bills (T-Bills).
      • Guaranteed Income Suppliment
      4. Creating a will & your estate
      An estate holds all of the money and property owned by a person, usually at their death. Creating a will & planning for your estate will help ensure all of the proceeds are managed and distributed the way you want after your death. What are the benefits of creating an estate plan, seeking legal advice (if necessary) and creating a will?
      • Ensures your wishes are put in writing.
      • Sets your loved ones up for a simpler process.
      • Makes you feel confident about the future with a plan in place.
      5. Insurance

      Even though we don’t think about it too much, we encounter many risks in our lives. These may include illnesses, accidents, injuries, disabilities, hospitalization, and more… Obtaining different kinds of insurance products can be very helpful because they here to help us avoid those major risks and overcome life’s setbacks. Here are few Insurance options you may want to consider;

      • Personal Health Insurance: Helps pay for health expenses not covered by your workplace or healthcare plans.
      • Critical Illness Insurance: Provides a lump-sum payment to help you manage the financial impact of a life-altering illness.
      • Long-term care insurance: Helps cover the cost of care and support if you are unable to care for yourself.
      • Permanent life insurance: Lifetime protection with the advantage of growing cash value over time.
      • Term life insurance: Flexible, affordable insurance that protects the people that matter to you most if you pass away,
        for a specific period of time.
      6. Retirement Planning

      If you are in your early 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, it might be hard to think about retirement; however, keep in mind that saving for retirement is easier when you start as early as possible. It is essential to have a strategy that sets the stage for your retirement. Some retirement income sources include:

      • Annuity
      • Segregated Funds
      • Mutual Funds
      • Guaranteed Interest Products
      • Tax-advantaged Retirement Income Plans
      • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
      • Old Age Security (OAS)
      • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)

      When planning your retirement, consider your dream life after retirement, your lifestyle goals, and your time horizon. Because government programs only provide a portion of what you’ll need, and the amount will vary based on your income and how long you worked.

      6. Retirement Planning
      Financial Wellness Assessment

      Did you know you can assess your Financial Wellness easily?

      Manulife Insurance offers a free online resource to determine your financial position. Financial Wellness Assessment tool helps you understand the rating of your wellness for different financial aspects such as budget, investment, retirement planning, debt management, and financial protection.

      Click Here to start your assessment and find out about your situation!

      If you are looking for extra resources and learn more about how to be financially literate, please check out these resources below;

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      The Benefits Of Online Registration

      The Benefits Of Online Registration

      The Benefits Of Online Registration

      Accessibility & Your Benefits Coverage

      Dear Plan Members,

      Your Group Benefits plan plays a vital role in your and your family’s overall health and wellbeing. You should have easy access to your benefits whenever you need them. Online registration to your plan helps you access your coverage easily and better manage your

      Registering online can help you with;
      • Submitting health claims efficiently; saving
        significant time.
      • Learning about your plan coverage; viewing
        benefits details and balances.
      • Receiving claims reimbursements faster -when you sign up for a direct deposit.
      • Getting immediate notifications of your claim’s updates.
      • Getting a digital health card for your coverage plan.
      • Accessing nearest healthcare providers and practitioners listed on your plan.
      Find Information on Your Coverage Plan and Balances
      Not sure when was the last time you had an eye exam? You can view your benefits details, balances, claims statements, medical, vision and dental claims history conveniently.
      With your online account, you can check if a specific drug is covered, select a medical expense type to see details of your coverage or enter a dental procedure code from your dentist to check if it is covered under your plan.
      Submit Claims

      You can submit your health claims instantly and conveniently through your online account while saving time and paper.
      Go to your insurance carrier’s website. After few easy registration steps, you will be ready to submit your claims and get access to your claim statement right away. Even more conveniently, you can access and view your completed health claims, claims statements, claims in process, claim estimates, your Medical and Dental claim summaries, and your drug summary. For more information on registering Sunlife and Canada life Online Services, check out our previous publication by clicking this link.

      Signing Up for Direct Deposit

      Receiving claim payments quickly is always a plus!
      You can sign up for direct deposit with your bank account and enjoy getting your reimbursements faster. Register your bank information and follow the steps for an easy, quick, and environmentally friendly way of receiving payments.

      Receive Notifications

      Receive text messages and email notifications when claims statement has been updated. Almost instantly, you will be notified via email or text when your claim payment has been deposited into your account.

      Your Digital Health Card

      Did you lose your health card? Or perhaps, it got damaged? You can view, save, and print your benefits cards quickly and confidentially at your home. Save on plastic cards and enjoy an environmentally friendly way of accessing your benefit plan. Don’t have a printer at home? That is not a problem!
      You can sign in to your account via your mobile phone, select your card, and then save it on your Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

      Locate the Nearest HealthCare Provider

      You can locate the nearest healthcare providers, learn their contact information, working hours and services conveniently. You can also find out if they have the option of a direct claim so that they can submit your claim on your behalf for your convenience.
      You can further speed up the reimbursement process by having your health provider’s office submit the claim for you. Just show them your health card or digital card (on your phone), and they can take care of the rest.

      How to Download the App From the App Store?

      Submitting claims and making contributions are even made more accessible with your insurance carrier’s mobile app. Download your insurance carrier’s mobile application and enjoy navigating through your plan details, balances, claim statement and much more quickly.

      Canada Life Plan Members – Download GroupNet

      Apple http://ow.ly/981W50EnIhc
      Android http://ow.ly/AIWz50Eumgw

      CINUP Plan Members – Download my benefits

      Apple http://ow.ly/2woq50EnIxf
      Android http://ow.ly/xMqG50EnIAo

      Victor Plan Members- Download Victor Now

      Apple http://ow.ly/h3Dy50EoGDx
      Android http://ow.ly/RU9I50EoGRL

      Manulife Plan Members – Download Manulife Mobile

      Apple http://ow.ly/B2Ih50EoFQO
      Android http://ow.ly/RxoV50EoFVx

      SunLife Plan Members – Download my Sun Life

      Apple http://ow.ly/LzyV50EnId2
      Android http://ow.ly/Ut8450EnIaM

      Helpful Resources

      Online registration allows you an easy, quick, and convenient way to access your health benefits plan and coverage details whenever and wherever you need it.

      To learn more about your insurance carrier online registration info, please visits the links below:

      For SunLife Plan Members

      Online Registration Form http://ow.ly/mpIS50EoHTo
      How to register online with Sunlife? http://ow.ly/qqnr50EoHUp

      For CanadaLife Plan Members

      Online Registration Form  https://my.canadalife.com/register

      How to register online with Group Net (Canada Life) http://ow.ly/aHb050EoHWc

      For CINUP Plan Members

      Online Registration Form https://www.my-benefits.ca/#/sign-up/employee/certificate

      For Victor Plan Members (Green Shield)

      Online Registration Form https://groupbenefits.ca.victorinsurance.com/

      For Manulife

      Online Registration Form http://ow.ly/JmET50EoFDf

      For Benefits By Design Plan Members

      Insurance carrier website https://www.bbd.ca/

      For ICBA Plan Members

      Insurance carrier website https://www.icbabenefits.ca/

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      How to Successfully Manage Financial Stress During COVID-19

      How to Successfully Manage Financial Stress During COVID-19

      How to Successfully Manage Financial Stress During COVID-19

      “People had to come up with some other way to pay the bills during the pandemic, including using emergency savings, paying for more on their credit card, and stopping their retirement plan savings contributions. Due to these factors, the financial impact of the pandemic will be felt well into the future.”
      – Manulife 2020 Financial Stress Survey

      Not sure if you will be able to pay your hydro bill next month? Does seeing your co-workers, friends and family losing their jobs due to the pandemic give you sleepless nights and put extra pressure on your body and soul?

      Money problems are a heavy burden to bear, especially when there’s not enough of it. Financial stress- now increased by the COVID-19 pandemic, deepens the stress level and leads to other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression in many Canadians.


      Financial stress is feeling a loss of control over your finances, and it can be caused by high levels of debt, a significant decrease in income, loss of work, unexpected expenses or a combination of multiple factors.

      According to the Manulife 2020 Financial Stress Survey, the two main factors keeping Canadians up at night is financial stress and its impact on retirement savings. According to the survey,

      • people with lower household incomes have been more stressed in general during the pandemic and have felt significant financial
        stress before and during the pandemic than others.
      • 15% of the respondents stopped contributing to their retirement plan savings to cope with the financial strain of the pandemic.
      • over half of the participants had to come up with other ways to pay the bills during the pandemic. These include; using emergency
        savings, paying for more on their credit card, and stopping their retirement plan contributions. Because of these reasons, the financial impact of the pandemic will be felt well into the future.

      Stress isn’t something we can turn on and off easily. Naturally, we bring it into our family lives and work. However, there are ways we can take charge of the situation and feel more in control of our mental and financial health. These include;

      • utilizing employer-provided wellness programs.
      • caring for our mental health
      • taking control of our personal finances

      When we know better, we do better! Since knowledge is power, let’s dive in and learn more about achieving our financial well-being!

      Financial stress- now increased by the COVID-19 pandemic, deepens the stress level and leads to other mental health problems such as anxiety & depression in many Canadians.
      Taking Care of Our Mental Health During COVID

      Feeling overwhelmed by money worries? Identifying what you are feeling is the first step is to understand that you might be suffering from financial stress. Once you accept your emotions, you will be more assertive in dealing with any anxiety and depression, which will give you more control.

      Seeking help and being willing to talk about your finances is the first step to improve it. Opening up to someone you trust about your financial stress can help you better understand thoughts and emotions. And in the current economic climate, there is a good chance the person you’re talking to will be able to relate. If you would like to start your journey and review some resources, please start with these free, educational, online sources.

      Hope for Wellness – This 24/7 program is specifically designed for Indigenous peoples across Canada. You can get immediate mental health counselling from culturally competent consultants. If you are in immense stress, experiencing depression and anxiety, counsellors can help you over the phone by calling 1.855.242.3310 or online chat.

      Prosper Canada – Prosper Canada has co-authored with Aboriginal Financial Officers Association(AFOA) and created an interactive and simple to use “Managing Your Money” series. The program contains seven worksheets to help Indigenous individuals and families to set and work towards their money goals. You can learn how to set your money goals, track your bills, spending, income and more. Click here and download your copy.

      Here to Help – You can access various screening tests, info sheets, workbooks for self- improvement. Here to Help BC also can help you with finding resources, services, programs, or other types of supports in BC. Click here to contact Here to Help BC.

      Mental Health ComissionClick and access various webinars, online courses specifically designed for Indigenous peoples, youth and

      Taking Care of Our Personal Finances

      Whatever your circumstances are, there are ways to get through these challenging times. If you are stressed about your finances, it means you may need to review your budget, increase your income, cut down unnecessary expenses and look for ways to reduce your debt.

      It can be daunting to examine your spending and changing your spending habits; however, revising and building a realistic household budget, allocating your current and future income will give you a sense of control and ease your stress. If you lost your job and don’t have other resources of regular income, here are some crucial steps you need to take;

      Apply for Employment Insurance(EI) benefits and report your unemployment to the government
      Apply for other financial assistance programs offered by federal and provincial governments:

      • For more information on Federal Government benefits programs, including
        Canada Recovery Benefit, mortgage payment deferral, and other programs for
        Indigenous peoples, please click here and find out if you are eligible.
      • For more information on provincial support, including BC Recovery Benefit,
        ICBC payment deferral, BC Hydro bill payment support and more, please click here.
      Utilizing Your Employer-provided Wellness Programs

      Financial wellness programs offer employees a wide variety of financial education workshops. They connect employees with experienced professionals and licensed financial advisors to better understand how to overcome day-to-day money issues, credit card debt, personal finance, etc.

      Build Resiliency with EFAP Programs

      Employee and Family Assistance Programs(EFAP) provide confidential, short-term counselling and referral services for employees who would like to resolve personal or work-related problems. These programs are employer-sponsored services, and they offer assessment, counselling, coaching, information and training to employees and their dependents.

      If you are experiencing financial stress and have EFAP embedded in your group benefits plan, you can get professional consultation where you can discuss;

      • Budgeting.
      • Credit & Debt Management.
      • Retirement Planning.
      • Financial implications due to a separation or divorce.
      • Bankruptcy, and more.
      Take Advantage of Financial Wellness Benefits

      Many workplaces offer seminars or lunchtime sessions on physical activity, nutritional intake, healthy cooking and stress management. Why not have such an essential educational piece on personal finances?

      At Eagle Bay Financial Services, we believe financial wellness is vital for our overall well-being. Therefore we offer free education sessions
      for the plan members participating in a retirement plan. These sessions are performed in a group setting as well as private sessions. Perhaps you even had a chance to join us before!

      Due to COVID-19, we have to move our education sessions into a secure virtual platform; however, we are still committed to preparing you for your golden years and give you a deep understanding of your existing retirement plan. During one-on-one meetings, we will usually review your plan and discuss the investment strategy, its performance, death benefits, re-examine your risk tolerance and more.

      Even if you don’t have access to an employer-supported retirement plan, we can help you design your personal safety net. If you would like to know more about the group retirement plans and individual saving options, please contact our knowledgeable experts, Rita Isaac and Tiziana Cagnoni, for more information.

      Feeling out of control of your finances can be stressful. Don’t avoid the problem! Go after it! Have tough conversations, take necessary steps and stay determined. However, while you are doing these things, don’t forget to engage in self-care and find positive things to keep you motivated and focused.

      Here is a great video from an Indigenous-owned consulting agency, Three Things Consulting on Strategies to Address Stress & Anxiety. We enjoyed the meaningful conversation, which reminded us of the importance of talking, self-care and knowing that we are not alone.

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      It’s a Matter of Life

      It’s a Matter of Life

      It’s a Matter of Life

      An Overlooked But Essential Piece Of The Puzzle: Critical Ill ness Insurance

      “I was enjoying a wonderful life with my husband, his children and a grandchild. I remember the day I re-discovered my second lump. I was disappointed, and I said to my self, “Here we go again!” This time the cancer was on the left side, yet again I knew I had to go through all the same procedures; mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsy and that anxious wait!” – Ida Sue Calla

      Critical Illness Insurance is a great product that covers you and your dependents for unexpected serious illnesses from a predetermined list of covered conditions such as life-threatening Cancer, Heart attack, Kidney failure, Multiple sclerosis, Paralysis, Stroke and more. Upon diagnosis of one of the covered illnesses, and after the applicable waiting period has expired, the lump sum is paid to the policyholder.

      The money received from the Critical Illness(CI) insurance;

      •  is a tax-free,
      • is not dependent on whether the policyholder can return to work during recovery,
      • can be used by the recipient for whatever way they wish, where and when they need it the most. It can be used for medical expenses, childcare, private nursing,
        allowing you to return to work when a spouse or child is diagnosed with a critical illness or otherwise,
      • has a multiple event coverage, which means you can claim multiple times for separate and unrelated conditions.

      Rates of cancer diagnosis, incidences of stroke & heart disease are increasing among Canadians.

      What Conditions Are Covered by Critical Illness Insurance?

      Let`s quickly review the top three prevalent conditions affecting Canadians and see why Critical Illness Insurance brings peace of mind and additional financial stability during a difficult time.

      Cancer – According to the Canadian Cancer Society, nearly one in two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their life time. The number of Canadians diagnosed with cancer each year is also increasing.

      Heart Attack – Heart Disease is a leading cause of hospitalization in Canada3. Approximately 2.4 million (8.5%) of Canadian adults 20 years and older live with diagnosed ischemic heart disease, including 578,000 (2.1%) with a history of a heart attack.

      Stroke – Due to increased awareness and medical improvements, 80% of those who suffer from a stroke survive4. This results in more and more Canadians living with the effects of a stroke, including services and support. More troubling, incidences of stroke are rising in young people at a faster than older Canadians.

      The increased prevalence of critical illnesses shows a disturbing trend. It’s becoming more likely that we, one of our loved ones or a colleague will receive a severe diagnosis in our lifetimes.

      What Is A Life Event

      As the Canadian life expectancy continues to increase, so too does the chances of being diagnosed with a critical illness. If you get diagnosed with a severe illness, you or your partner may need time off from work for treatment and recovery, resulting in lost income.

      As you can imagine, any added expenses related to
      the treatment and the financial strain that it may bring to your life can be incredibly stressful. Perhaps a good question that we should ask ourselves is, “Could your bank account survive the cost of a critical illness?”

      Critical Illness Insurance has been in the marketplace for a long time; the number of Canadians affected by these illnesses has seen an increase in the past couple of years. Therefore, the CI has also seen an uptake as a safeguard against the rising probability of these diagnoses.

      Could your bank account survive the cost of a critical illness?

      Your Options

      If you don’t have Critical Illness insurance on your group benefits plan and would like to add one, that`s not a problem. Here are some ways we can help you with it;

      Group Critical Illness Insurance provides coverage for all employees. If you would like to add this benefit to your group benefits plan, please contact your plan administrator. Our Account Managers Mina Dingle and Kathy Cordonier can provide them with more information.

      Individual Critical Illness Insurance is an employee-funded benefit that provides coverage for employees who wants to have this protection for themselves, Spouses and Dependent Children. The cost is your responsibility and not financed by your employer. If you would like to add this benefit to your benefits plan, please contact our Financial Advisor Tiziana Cagnoni for more information.

      Critical Illness Insurance provides your and your dependents with peace of mind! The financial security offered by the lump-sum payment can be used as you see the fit, allowing you to focus on the treatment, recovery, and family.

      Ida Calla`s Story

      I am a three times Survivor of Breast Cancer, and I would like to share my story about why I am a big fan of Critical Illness Insurance.

      I had my first diagnosis in 1989

      I discovered my first lump through self- examination at age 34. It was scary and shocking! Unfortunately, back in 1989, Critical Illness Insurance was not an option. But thankfully, I had excellent private insurance coverage through my employer in the USA. Most of my treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, were covered by private insurance.

      Back in 2005, at age 49, cancer came back again.

      At that time, my husband Nick and I were busy building our business. I was enjoying a wonderful life with him, his children and a grandchild. I remember the day I re-discovered my second lump. I was disappointed, and I said to my self, “Here we go again!”. This time the cancer was on the left side, yet again I knew I had to go through all the same procedures; mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsy and that anxious wait!

      Again, just like the first time, I was lucky because we had a private health insurance plan through our company, but we had no critical illness insurance. You need to know that during my treatments, I was able to work, the kids were old enough to take care of themselves, and we had our savings, so we didn’t need extra money to cover our expenses. However, some cancers don’t qualify under the definition of disability; yet some people might find themselves unable to work. In that case, Critical Illness Insurance is a perfect financial cushion for unforeseen medical costs and family needs.

      In December 2016, at age 61, I had noticed another lump in my right breast again.

      As a two times survivor, I knew the cancer was back again! I quickly saw my family physician and went through all the routine mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsy and waited. On Christmas Eve in 2016, my doctor called and confirmed that the cancer was back again. Can you imagine? It was my 3rd diagnosis!

      This time I would need to have a mastectomy of my right breast. My wonderful husband Nick and our family talked about the alternatives; we decided to get a bi-lateral mastectomy to remove both breasts and go through reconstruction. We believed if cancer was back in the right breast, there is a good chance, it would happen again on the left.

      After my second recovery, we decided to be proactive and include mandatory Critical Illness insurance into our Group Benefits package. The Critical Illness Insurance Policy paid for the uncovered treatments and drugs. Even though I had a recurring condition and had breast cancer twice before, I received my payment on time. That is one of the most incredible things with Critical Illness Insurance!

      Today, I am a healthy senior in my mid-60s. I enjoy the love of my husband and cherish the company of his children and our four grandchildren. I truly believe in having Critical Illness coverage because it covers more than 36 illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, cancer of various sorts, brain tumours, etc. If you are wondering, I still have Critical Illness coverage today, just in case. Because I believe it is a matter of life, not death!

      “Some cancers don’t qualify for disability insurance yet some might find themselves unable to work. Therefore, Critical Illness Insurance is a perfect financial cushion for unforeseen medical costs and family needs.”

      My oncologist told me to get a PET scan asap and start my treatments right after. Perhaps you know, the wait times for a PET Scan is quite long in B.C. We wanted to get the scan at a private facility instead but were informed it would take up to three months for B.C. Medicare to pay for the cost of the scan. It was $3,200 back in 2016. The provincial and private health insurance was covering most of my drugs; except one. The drug was a new pharmaceutical called Neulasta. Luckily, the drug got approved by B.C Pharmacare 3 days before my first treatment. If we didn`t have a Critical Illness Insurance and Pharmacare wouldn`t pay for it, we had to think twice about how to pay for the medication. Four shots of Neulasta would cost us $11,200 back in 2016.

      After my second recovery, we decided to be proactive and have included mandatory Critical Illness Insurance into our Group Benefits package.

      Shannon Hamilton`s Story

      No one ever thinks they will fall victim to a critical illness like cancer or a stroke. But the chances are increasing, as we continue to make advances in medical science and enjoy the longest lifespan of any generation in history. The probability of being diagnosed with a serious illness and surviving is much higher than premature death…and, most of those who suffer from a serious illness recover and return to work.

      I’ve been in the Group Benefits industry for over 20 years, and seen many presentations on Critical Illness (CI) Insurance. I knew CI was a great benefit, but it wasn’t until I received payout from my Employer’s Group benefits plan that my passion for the product grew.

      I’ve always taken a proactive approach to my health management – I eat well, exercise regularly, and go for routine health exams. When I was 40, I referred myself for my first mammogram…and three weeks later, after a variety of other scans, ultrasounds and biopsies, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, my perception of being in great health and invincible to illness was shattered, and my world and everything that I knew of it came to a screeching halt. Not knowing how serious the cancer was, or what to expect next, and the worry for my husband and two children filled my head. We put future plans on hold and dealt with each day and challenge as it came. Surgery, reconstruction, radiation, chemotherapy, and the fatigue and anxiety that comes with it, could all be in my future. I would have to take time off work for recovery, and not knowing how long I’d be off added to the financial stress in our household.

      I did a lot of reading, and went to several surgical and reconstructive consults. I reached out to breast cancer survivors to discuss their journeys, and took in as much information as I could to make an informed decision on my treatment. I was off work for over a month after surgery, and grateful that my aggressive breast cancer was a covered condition under our Group Critical Illness benefit.

      “I didn`t know how serious the cancer was, or what to expect next, and the worry for my husband and two children filled my head.”

      Critical Illness Insurance provides a tax-free, lump sum payment if an insured is diagnosed with a covered condition. Payment is made regardless of the insured’s ability to work or make full recovery, and can be used in any way that the insured chooses. The peace of mind that the policy proceeds gave, by allowing me to tie up some financial “loose ends” so I could focus on treatment, recovery and my family, and return to work when I was ready, meant the world to me.

      It’s been four years and I’m cancer free, and I count my blessings every day that I am healthy and happy, and a proud employee of an organization that cares about my health & financial well-being.

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      Golden Rules Of Investing

      Golden Rules Of Investing

      Golden Rules Of Investing

      Corona Virus & Your Retirement Savings

      Perhaps you remember, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all watched stock markets turn decidedly negative – quickly. During this time, many of you had rightful concerns regarding your hard-earned savings and willingly reached out to our team to ask questions such as:

      “Is my Registered Pension Plan safe?”
      “Is now a good time to make some changes?”
      “How do I change my investments in my Registered Pension Plan?”

      As Canada slowly reopens, the federal and local governments are warning of a second wave of COVID-19; while to date, we still do not have a complete picture of how the severely the market may be affected in the coming weeks and months. As Frances Donald from Manulife Investment Managements explains, “If we were in the midst of a baseball game, we’re probably only in the second inning—and it’s still far from certain how it’ll end. We need to re-frame our thinking and find ways to help us navigate these uncertain times.”

      Financial markets go up and down – and you want to be in the game when they go up. That’s why it’s important to avoid speculation of “What Is Going to Happen?” Knowing your investment risk tolerance, developing an investment strategy and sticking to your plan are all tools in your toolbox to help you achieve your investment and retirement goals.

      Let’s have a look at some proven ways to help you focus on your long-term retirement goals;

      1. Understand Your Investment Personality & Risk Tolerance

      Do coronavirus and the stock market changes have you worried about your investments? Perhaps you couldn`t sleep last night because you were concerned about your savings?

      We all make decisions in our daily lives, some with careful reflection and others without much thought. When it comes to successful wealth building, it is vital to know the investment style that suits your personality and risk tolerance. There are 5 types of investment personalities, and they dictate the way we invest our money;

      1. Conservative  2. Moderate  3. Balanced  4. Advanced  5. Aggressive

      Your investment personality usually depends on your age and the comfort level in taking risks with your finances. If you are not sure about your investment personality or wish to do an investment change, we strongly suggest you complete Investment Personality Questionnaire. It will guide you to determine your risk tolerance and align your investments with your priorities. 

      Click here to access Your Investment Personality Questionnaire

      Your investment personality usually depends on your age and the comfort level in taking risks with your finances.

      2. Determine Your Investment Strategy by Talking to Your Financial Advisor

      Are you comfortable with investing over a long period? What age should you retire? Are you thinking of purchasing any big-ticket items anytime soon, such as a house? Do you have debt or Student debt? Do you need other insurance coverage that is not included in your group benefit plan?
      Proper investment strategy determines clear goals, guides you through your investment journey and helps with ups and downs in the financial markets.

      In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might have considered changing your investment strategy. However, it is proven that with a well-planned strategy, you are going to be less likely to make rash decisions, and you will get better  returns. Talk to your financial advisor ; she/he will help you to stay disciplined and committed to your investment strategy. If changes are needed, they can help guide you to suitable

      3. Maintain Calm & Stick to Your Plan

      During uncertain times, many investors let their emotions get into the way of investing and react to the market after it has moved up or down. If you are nervous about market volatility, have a look at these strategies to help with avoiding emotional investing;

      Dollar-Cost Averaging happens when you invest at regular and smaller amounts of money rather than putting a large lump sum at once. If you would like to learn more about dollar-cost averaging, click and review our previous publication here. Diversification can`t protect you from the market ups and downs; however, it can help to lower the volatility. Simply, you are putting your eggs into different baskets to spread the risk among your investments.

      Dollar-cost Averaging and Diversification strategies can help you avoid emotional investing.

      Final Thoughts

      COVID-19 has taught us that things can change very quickly, and financial markets will respond and react accordingly. We need to be ready for more turbulent times ahead. Following your plans, maintaining calm, and sticking with the traditional investment philosophy will help you to focus on your long term objectives despite what might be happening in the short-term.

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      6 Steps to a Perfectly Insured Trip

      6 Steps to a Perfectly Insured Trip

      6 Steps to a Perfectly Insured Trip

      “6 Steps To a Perfectly Insured Trip” is originally published on Benefits by Design`s Blog

      Are the long cold months of winter making you think of sunnier destinations? With March Break  fast approaching, many of our thoughts turn to tropical vacations.


      Whether you are planning on seeking the sun and the sand or experiencing winter at its finest, you should make sure you’re adequately covered for traveling.

      Here are 6 steps to make sure your holiday is as safe as possible;

      “If you don’t have insurance and you find yourself
      in a hospital bed, it’s too late to purchase.

      Step 1 : Make sure you have travel coverage

      Do you have group benefits through your workplace? Consult your benefit booklet for information or check with your group plan administrator about your travel coverage. Most work policies offer basic coverage but do not offer coverage for things like Trip Cancellation or Baggage Insurance.

      Step 2: Choose your destination carefully

      Did you know not all countries are considered safe to travel to? Before you travel, make sure that you are going to a country that is safe. The government of Canada updates their travel advisory website regularly https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

      Most carriers also have a clause in their travel policy to suspend or limit services in areas of political/civil unrest, riot, military uprising, and various other major disturbances. If you must visit a high risk country, ask the questions of your travel provider beforehand to know what coverage, if any you will have.

      Step 3: Review your policy

      Take a moment and read over what is covered under your travel policy. A little prior knowledge goes a long way in the event of an emergency. 

      Step 4: Know your restrictions

      Have a pre-existing medical condition? It’s good to know what your particular travel plan will cover in the event of an emergency. The majority of group plans have some pre-existing medical condition clause written into their policy.

      Step 5: Know your policy number & carrier contact information

      In the event something happens to you, it is good to know your travel policy number and carrier contact information. It’s also a good idea to share this information with any individuals travelling with you. The sooner a case file can get opened, the sooner the carrier can be helping to facilitate

      No Group Benefits Plan?

      No Problem!

      If you do not have insurance
      coverage through your work,
      we’d be happy to put you in
      touch with an advisor to quote
      individual policies.

      Step 6: Have fun

      It is important though to make sure you and your family members are covered, and know what you are covered for. Be safe – don’t be sorry and out of a lot of money. Travel insurance is added peace of mind, so you can fully enjoy your travels.

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      The Crime of the 21st century – Elder Financial Abuse

      The Crime of the 21st century – Elder Financial Abuse

      The Crime of the 21st century – Elder Financial Abuse

      “While her mother was in the hospital, Karen moved her mother’s silver tea service, some valuable books and a grand piano to her own home. When her mother returned from the hospital, she asked the police to assist her in recovering her stolen property. Karen stated that she had taken the goods for safe-keeping and that these items are heirlooms belonging, not just to the mother, but to the entire family.”


      Vancity`s 2014 and 2017 reports on Financial Abuse in Lower Mainland and Capital Region revealed more that than a third of the senior population, who are over the age of 65 had been a victim some form of financial abuse. It is an embarrassing situation and mostly happens at the hands of that senior’s adult children or grandchildren. So, why the numbers are so high? Perhaps it is hard to identify?

      “Both the abusers and the victims may not recognize the actions as abusive. Elder abuse is a serious issue that undermines the independence, dignity, health, and sense of security of the victim.”

      What is Financial Elder Abuse?

      Financial exploitation of an elder is the misuse and/or exploitation of an older adult’s funds and assets without that person’s knowledge and/or full consent.
      It often starts when family members are given
      power of attorney. A “Power of Attorney” (“POA”) is the legal document through which the donor grants the power to the attorney to ‘step into the donor’s shoes’ and act on their behalf in legal and financial matters. This authority can be limited by the terms of the document. Although the power of attorney or joint bank accounts is not created for malicious purposes, they sometimes end up that way.

      • Standard of living not keeping up with income or assets;
      • Unusual or inappropriate activity in bank accounts,
      • Overcharging for services or products, overdue bills; or
      • Forcing a person to sign over property or execute a Will or Enduring Power of Attorney1( “EPOA”).
      • Missing property;
      • Forged signatures on cheques;
      The role of Life-Changing Events in Financial Abuse

      Life-changing events may increase the potential for financial abuse of an older adult. These can be things like;

      • widowhood for a woman with little or no experience with financial matters
      • when an older person’s health is changing, and he/she begins relying on new-found friends
      • when cognitive capacity is starting to decrease
      • when a person becomes dependent on others to aid with banking or shopping and more…
      Typical Financial Exploitation Scenarios
      Undocumented Loans

      Older adults with some money or a house will often be pressured by family members for;

      • Emergency loans;
      • Places to live when they are out of a job;
      • Help to avoid bankruptcy (adult son/daughter) at the point of losing business or home.
      • Help to pay for higher education (university);
      • Assisting with major purchases (e.g., a car)

      Most family loans are undocumented. The borrower may later claim it was a ‘gift unless the adult child can show proof otherwise (e.g., money was in a birthday card). The legal presumption’ that these types of advancements from an older adult to an adult child are considered a loan rather than a gift.

      A care-giver befriends a senior and persuades him or her to open a “joint-account” so that she can assist with bill paying and getting cash from the account as required. Within a few months, the senior discovers that the account has very little money remaining. A considerable amount of money has been withdrawn. Because it is a joint account, either party can take money out of the account.

      Joint Bank Accounts

      An older adult may set up a joint bank account with a relative or friend to help with banking chores and paying bills. Or older adults will often put another person on the title of a car or real  property, such as a home. But this may create another “a license to steal” because each signer on the account has accessibility to 100% of the money at any time.

      How to Protect Elders From Financial Exploitation;
      1. Adding more than one person with power of attorney creates more accountability among family members.
      2. Assigning a “Financial Power of Attorney,” which gives the appointee control over assets, but also binds them by statute to act in elder`s best interest.
      How to Report Financial Abuse?

      If you suspect you or someone you love is being taken advantage of financially and your funds or property are about to be mishandled, please make sure to follow these emergency procedures below.

      Let`s do our part to support our elders to stop living in fear and silence and help them to enjoy their retirement years.

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      Retiring Unexpectedly? Here’s How Your Advisor Can Help

      Retiring Unexpectedly? Here’s How Your Advisor Can Help

      Retiring Unexpectedly? Here’s How Your Advisor Can Help

      For most of our working lives, retirement can feel like a distant dream. But a sudden and unexpected change in the latter stages of your career – a department restructuring, a health issue, a buyout package – can mean that, ready or not, your retirement is happening right now. In a 2017 AARP survey, 47% of respondents reported retiring earlier than expected. Earlier research by the Ontario Securities Commission revealed similar results: Well over half the Canadians over age 50 surveyed said something outside their control had affected their retirement plans. Research by Sun Life Financial backs up this finding, with less than a third of retirees surveyed reporting they had left the workforce as expected.

      “Nearly 50% of Canadian workers retire
      earlier than they had planned.”

      For whatever reason, the thought of retiring before you had planned to can be dismaying. But don’t panic: You’ve been getting ready for this your whole working life; it’s just the timeline that’s moved up a bit. What’s your first step? Gather all your relevant documents and book an appointment with your advisor. By asking a few key questions, your advisor can help you talk through the transition and develop a plan for moving forward.

      1. Based on my retirement savings, how much will I have to live on?

      You and your advisor will want to work through your income sources and take a financial inventory. After all, a retirement portfolio is typically made up of many pieces: government benefits, workplace benefits, income from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), part-time income, home equity, etc. In a nutshell, you want to have enough on hand to pay for the lifestyle you choose, while maintaining your ability to draw an unreduced Old Age Security (OAS) pension if you can. But drawing down your savings sooner than expected may mean you’ll have to make some trade-offs.

      You’ll also want to lay out a plan for what to do with your RRSP if you have one. For example, it may be tempting to convert it to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) right away, but depending on the situation it may be wise to wait. (You don’t have to decide what to do with your RRSP until the end of the year you turn 71.) If your employer gave you a package to encourage you to retire early, you’ll want to get some advice on that, too. A seasoned advisor can crunch the numbers and show you options to help maximize your retirement income and keep your expenses low.

      2. How does the stock market affect my retirement?

      With retirement only weeks or months away, you may be concerned about market volatility and making sure you can hold onto the gains you’ve made in your investments. Your advisor can help you develop a strategy with the level of risk that
      best suits your situation, since you’ll likely need to start drawing that income sooner than you originally expected.
      Your advisor may, for example, suggest a portfolio stress test. This allows you to see in vivid detail what might happen if your investment returns drop during your retirement. Another option if you want to reduce or eliminate exposure to stock market fluctuations is to use part of your retirement savings to buy an annuity. Life annuities give you a guaranteed monthly income for as long as you live, which provides some cushion during market downturns.

      3. How much should I spend in retirement?

      Everyone’s vision of the perfect retirement is different. And it will likely take you a bit of time to figure out not only what you really want out of these years, but also how much you will need for your new post-employment lifestyle. Embrace the transition.
      The good news is that you will almost certainly be spending less than you did while you were employed. You won’t be commuting to work each day and no work-friendly wardrobe to maintain. Work with your advisor to attach numbers to some of the things you want to do in retirement. That will help you find ways to shift resources around to best serve your new needs and goals.

      4. Do I need to change my will, insurance policies or estate plans?

      As we grow older, we need to ensure everything is in place in case of a serious illness or injury. This is especially important if you plan to spend long periods of time out of the country, as many snowbirds like to do. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to review your will , beneficiaries, medical directives and power of attorney approximately every four years, or whenever you have major life changes. But keeping track of all that paperwork can be hard work. Your advisor can help you change the beneficiaries listed on your pensions, insurance policies and investments. See your lawyer to update your will and power of attorney.

      5. What should I be asking my employer?

      Your defined-contribution or defined-benefit pension plan and your workplace RRSP are likely integral parts of your retirement financial strategy. But it’s wise to think beyond those assets. Some employers offer their retirees extended medical and dental benefits, or an option to keep workplace life insurance, especially in the case of loss of employment due to downsizing.

      Your advisor can help you weigh your options and determine whether these options are competitive or if a private policy is better.

      Successfully funding your retirement isn’t about checking boxes on a standardized list. It’s about going on a quest to understand what you have, what you want and the various rules and regulations that frame your options.

      While you may not have expected to begin the process so soon, you can develop a plan of action with the help of your advisor.

      The sooner you ask the right questions, the sooner you can get answers and turn that valuable information to your advantage in retirement.

      Amanda Willett

      Financial Advisor

      Tiziana Cagnoni

      Financial Advisor

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