Equitable Life: Premium relief for Dental and Extended Health Care benefits

From Equitable Life:

“We know this is a difficult time for Canadian employers and that many of your clients are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to look for ways to help employers manage while still supporting their employees.

With many health practitioners closing their offices due to the pandemic restrictions, plan member use of dental benefits and some health benefits has declined.

So, we are pleased to announce that we are offering premium relief for all Traditional and myFlex insured non-refund customers for Health and Dental benefits, as follows:

  • A 50% reduction on Dental premiums; and

  • A 20% reduction on vision and extended healthcare rates (excluding prescription drugs), which equates to an 8% reduction on Health premiums. 

These reductions are retroactive to April 1, 2020 and will appear as a credit against the next available billing. We will assess the situation monthly and expect to continue with monthly refunds for as long as the current crisis period continues.

We expect that claims experience and premiums will return to normal once the current pandemic restrictions are lifted.

In the meantime, plan members will continue to have full access to their benefits coverage throughout the pandemic. In many cases, dental offices remain open for emergency services, and a variety of healthcare providers are available virtually.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact your Group Account Executive or myFlex Sales Manager. In the meantime, we have provided some Questions and Answers below.

Will the premium reduction on Health and Dental benefits have an impact on the renewals that were deferred?
 
No. Renewals will proceed as normal, with rate adjustments based only on months where full premium was paid. For most clients, we anticipate “normal” rate adjustments at renewal compared to rates paid prior to refunds taking effect.
 
Does this adjustment apply equally to clients who have had their renewal deferred?
 
Yes, these adjustments apply to all Traditional and myFlex insured, non-refund customers for Health and Dental benefits.
 
How does this affect clients who have terminated or amended a plan?
 
If a benefit is in-force during the month of April, the adjustment will be credited to the next available billing. For clients who have temporarily terminated all benefits, this will be applied against the first bill once benefits have been reinstated. No cash refunds will be paid.
 
Will you recover any of the adjustment at a future point in time?
 
No, we will not recover this adjustment.
 
Instead of this premium reduction adjustment, can a client cancel or adjust some of the benefits on their plan?
 
Yes, you and your clients always have the option of changing the coverage on a plan, such as reducing or removing a benefit to help control costs. Please speak to your Group Account Executive or myFlex Sales Manager about the options available.
 
Are TPAs and self-administered groups eligible for the premium reduction?
 
Yes. TPAs and self-administered groups are eligible for the premium reduction. However, timing for the credit will be dependent on the billing practices of the TPA or self-administered group. We will apply these credits as soon as we are able.

More details will be announced later this week.

Sun Life – New for all non-refund Clients: Premium credits for dental and extended health care

From Sun Life’s website:

“The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone. We know it’s been a great challenge for many small businesses. We continue to seek ways to ease the burden – while still providing the coverage your plan members need.

We’re pleased to provide a new solution – premium credits for dental and non-drug-related extended health care benefits.

Plan member use of dental benefits and some extended health care benefits has declined during the pandemic. The premium credits we’re providing reflect this lower usage – and we hope this can help our Clients with their cash flow needs.

Here are the changes we’re making for all non-refund Clients:

  • 50% credit against dental premiums paid. Most routine dental visits have stopped during the pandemic. We’re providing a 50% dental premium credit per month. We will apply the April credit to your June 1 invoice. We will continue to assess on a monthly basis.

  • 20% credit against non-drug-related extended health care premiums paid. Prescription drug usage has not declined during the pandemic. However, while plan members are using an increased volume of virtual care across their paramedical providers, we are still seeing a reduction in claims activity. To reflect this, we’re providing a 20% premium credit on the non-drug coverage portion of your extended health care benefit premium which will translate to approximately 8% to 9% of the overall extended health care premium. As with the dental premium credit, we’ll apply the April credit to your June 1 invoice. We will continue to assess on a monthly basis.

We will be revisiting these credits on a monthly basis going forward. We expect plan usage to return to normal levels once current pandemic restrictions are lifted. Until then, we’ll be here for you and your plan members, who will continue to have full access to their benefits coverage throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Thank you

Your input on our COVID-19 response continues to be valuable. We hope these premium credits can help you and your business at a difficult time.”

New Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance | Canada Emergency Business Account Expanded

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

On April 16th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced support for to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May and June.

The program is being worked out with the provinces and more details will be available shortly.

“Businesses and Commercial property owners are also facing specific challenges because of COVID-19 so we plan on introducing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. This program will provide support to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May and June. To implement this program we have to work with the provinces and territories as they govern rental relationships and we hope to have more details very soon” – PM Justin Trudeau

Canada Emergency Business Account

The eligible amounts are being expanded to include businesses with 2019 total payroll between $20,000 – $1.5 million.

There are restrictions on the funds can be used. From their website https://ceba-cuec.ca/:

“The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.”

Two new resources for Canadians struggling with their mental health

For Canadians who need mental health support during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two new resources available to help you through these tough times.

Stronger Minds is a free digital program for Canadians by BEACON and sponsored by Manulife and Green Shield Canada

From their website at https://www.mindbeacon.com:

“With Stronger Minds, participants get day-to-day guidance from the extensive BEACON team of clinical psychologists. Through videos, quick reads and resilience-building activities, let’s help you learn how to protect your mental well-being through these times.”

Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support

The Federal Government launched Wellness Together for Canadians who need mental health and substance use support. This website provides online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.

Stay Healthy & Safe!

Expanded eligibility for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) & Boosted wages for Essential Workers

From his speech this morning (April 15th), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced:

“Today, we’re announcing more help for more Canadians. This includes topping up the pay of essential workers. At the same time, we’ll also be expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to reach people who are earning some income as well as seasonal workers who are facing no jobs and for those who have run out of EI recently. Expanding the CERB to include people who earn up to $1,000 per month. Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter, or a contractor who can pickup some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store.”

Eligibility for CERB

On eligibility for CERB, the Prime Minister stated:

“If you earn $1,000 or less a month, you’ll now be able to apply for CERB.

If you were expecting a seasonal job that isn’t coming because of COVID-19, you’ll now be able to apply.

If you’ve run out of EI since January 1st, you can now apply for CERB as well

And for others who still need help, including post secondary students and businesses worried about commercial rent, we’ll have more to say to you very soon.”

Wage Boost for Essential Workers

On topping up wages for Essential Workers, PM Justin Trudeau said:

“Our government will work with the provinces and territories to boost wages for essential workers who are making under $2,500 a month, like those in our long-term care facilities”

The government website is being updated with the new qualifications, for full details and to apply click below:

WellCan – A new app available to support mental health during COVID-19

Struggling to cope with COVID-19?

WellCan.ca provides free digital mental health resources for Canadians online and through their Apple Appstore app.

WellCan.ca describes their program:

Well-being resources for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents complex and unprecedented challenges, impacting all parts of Canadian life: how we socialize, how we work, how we get our essentials, and how we maintain our overall health and well-being. And while ensuring we take all recommended preventative measures to protect ourselves, our hospitals and healthcare workers, it is important for all Canadians to maintain good mental, physical, social and financial health in the midst of this pandemic. WellCan can help.

What is WellCan?

WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health and substance abuse concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the mental, physical, social and financial impacts of COVID-19, please visit wellcan.ca

The Government of Canada also provides mental health support:

Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!

Applications for the Canada Emergency Business Account starts TODAY!

The new Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is available starting TODAY and is available through major banking institutions: TD, Scotiabank, BMO, CIBC, RBC, National Bank, HSBC and Canadian Western Bank.

The CEBA will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced until December 31, 2022. Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for loan forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022.

Eligibility

Organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019

How do I apply?

Prior to applying, please make sure you have this information readily available:

  • Canada Revenue Agency Business Number (BN 15 digits)

  • 2019 T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid (T4SUM)

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

Rules changed to allow more struggling business owners access to CERB, Wage Subsidy. Summer jobs program increased to 100%

Ontario Support for Families portal is LIVE!

Today, Ontario launched the portal for parents to apply for a one-time COVID-19 payment to help offset the costs of keeping children entertained and engaged during this time away from school.

Under this new program, parents are eligible for a one-time per child payment of:

  • $200 for children aged 0 to 12

  • $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs

Eligibility

There is no income cap on this program. All parents are eligible if you have a child who is:

  • $200 for children aged 0 to 12

  • $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs

If you have more than one child, you must submit one application per child.

 Before you apply, please note:

  • only one parent can apply for each child

  • the parent who applies should have custody of the child

You are still eligible if you are a health care or front-line worker who is using emergency, 24-hour child care centres.

Accepting Applications starting April 6th – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The sheer volume of applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will likely overwhelm the system. If you or someone you know need to apply for this benefit, we suggest you prepare TODAY before the applications begin:

  • Double check your myCRA account username and password

  • Direct Deposit is setup

    • 3 – 5 days via Direct Deposit vs 10 days via cheque in the mail

You should double check your myCRA username and password by signing in at:

If you do not have direct deposit setup with CRA, you can set it up TODAY at:

To help manage the volume, the CRA has setup specific days for you to apply based on month of birth.

If you were born in the month of:

  • January | February | March: Mondays – Best day to apply is April 6th

  • April | May | June: Tuesdays – Best day to apply is April 7th

  • July | August | September: Wednesdays – Best day to apply is April 8th

  • October | November | December: Thursdays – Best day to apply is April 9th

  • Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are open for any birth month

Eligibility

The benefit will be available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;

  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;

  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and

  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.