COVID-19 RESPONSE
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COVID-19 Response

April 27 Update

Posted on: April 27th, 2020

On April 15th 2020, the federal government launched a program called Wellness Together Canada to provide mental health and substance use support to all Canadians suffering from the impacts of the coronavirus crisis. Wellness Together Canada provides an online portal that allows Canadians to access self-assessments, self-directed e-mental health tools, peer support and live counselling by telephone, video and text.  Anyone in need or who wants to talk can access the service at http://www.wellnesstogether.ca or at 1-866-585-0445.


This program is not meant to replace the employee/member assistance services from your Employee and Family Assistance Plan, but will provide additional resources.


As of April 22nd, many Insurance Carriers announced they would work with customers to provide premium credits as plan members are largely unable to access services. Below is a list of some of the premium credits some of the larger carriers are providing. Please reach out if you are interested in how your carrier is supporting its plan members.

Canada Life
Health: 20% of the health premium (non-drug related)
Dental: 50% of the dental premium

Equitable Life
Health: 20% of the health premium (non-drug related)
Dental: 50% of the dental premium

Manulife
Health: 10% of the health premium
Dental: 50% of the dental premium

Sun Life
Health: 20% of the health premium (non-drug related)
Dental: 50% of the dental premium

Please reach out if you are interested in how your carrier is supporting its plan members. It is important to understand how your plan can best support your employees

April 20 Update

Posted on: April 20th, 2020

If there is one thing that the COVID-19 virus has achieved, it is reminding us that our wealth to a very large extent is reliant on our ability to work and thus our health.  Indeed, for most young and middle-aged Canadians, our ability to work is our greatest financial asset.

As a benefit advisory firm, we often see that employees very rarely understand or are even aware of the basic details of their Long-Term Disability plan. There can be stress and disappointment at claim time, if you do not have the coverage you need. Below are key items of your policy to review:

  • Coverage for High Income Earners – plans often only insure to a certain income level, which may be below your salary. Does your plan have the option to increase coverage?
  • Definition of Disability – plans may specify between Own Occupation Coverage, Regular Occupation Coverage and Any Occupation Coverage. It is important to understand the difference.
  • Income – most plans are set up top only cover salaried income, and exclude bonus or commission income. This can significantly change the amount you will receive in a claim.
  • Total or Partial Disability – does your plan cover only total disability? Or does it cover partial disability as well?

The current crisis may have revealed some weaknesses in our financial pictures; now might be the ideal time to review your Long-Term Disability plan to make sure it will provide the required income when you need it. Your benefit advisory firm will to help you understand your disability plan and determine the correct amount of coverage for your needs.

April Resources

Posted on: April 17th, 2020

We understand that these are trying times, and it can be overwhelming to understand the benefits available and how to access them. There are resources available to both individuals and businesses who have been impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19 from the Government of Canada. Some of these resources were mentioned in our webinars, so we have provided some more information below.

Individuals

The Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit for those who have lost their income due to job loss, illness, work disruption, caregiver responsibilities or quarantine. It will provide $2,000 for a four-week period for up to 16 weeks. Canadians who do not qualify for EI are eligible for the CERB benefit. The CERB benefit has recently been expanded to include seasonal workers and those who make less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours will also qualify.

EI Sickness Benefit

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits can provide up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week. To qualify, you must be unable to work for medical reasons, you weekly earnings have decreased by more then 40%, and you have worked 600 insured hours in the 52 weeks prior.

Other resources for individuals and families:

  • Increased Canada Child Benefit (up to an extra $300 per child)
  • GST Credit (low & modest income families, ~$400 for single individuals and ~$600 for families)
  • Tax Returns (Filing date has been moved to June 1 2020, and balances due are being deferred to after August 21 2020)
  • Mortgage Support (mortgage deferral, loan re-amortization, special payment arrangements)
  • RRIF reduced minimum withdrawals (reduced by 25% for 2020)
  • Student Loans (repayments and interest suspended until September 30 2020)

Businesses

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is designed to help businesses cover up to 75% of wages; up to $847 per week, for employers who have seen their gross revenue drop at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May. This program is in place for 12 weeks from March 15th to June 6th, 2020.

Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy

The Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy will allow eligible employers to reduce their payroll deductions remittances to the CRA for three months. This is available to individuals, non-profits, charities and private corporations eligible for the small business deduction.

Other resources for businesses:

  • Work-Share Program (duration extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks)
  • Income Tax Payment Deferral (until after August 31 2020)
  • Business Credit Availability Program (operating credit and cash flow term loans)
  • Canada Emergency Business Account (interest free loans of up to $40,000 for small business)

If you have any questions on the links or resources or want to understand how these can fit into your financial plan, please reach out to your Health and Wealth Strategist.

Easter Update

Posted on: April 10th, 2020

As events and programs evolve to support employees in response to COVID-19, Sagium Health Strategies continues to monitor and be available to serve our clients. We have summarized some of the most recent major announcements from insurance providers; be mindful that policies are changing and expanding weekly. It is important to understand your benefit plan and the options available to your business and your employees to best fit the current needs of your situation.

Layoff Provisions

  • In the event your business cannot continue operations, some carriers are extending coverage to employees during layoff periods (even outside of their normal contractual limitations), this can include allowing the extension of Short and Long Term Disability for three months.

Premium Payments

  • Payment of your Insurance Premiums may be deferred past the 31 day grace period to potentially 60 days or even 90 days without claims suspension.

Dental Benefits

  • As dentists are only providing essential emergency services at this time, your dental premiums could be suspended (no-coverage or premiums) from 60 – 120 days and resumed when dental services return.

Your benefit program may have an Employee & Family Assistance Plan, to provide your employees with programs and assistance for handling all the changes occurring. Our office has relied on our Employee & Family Assistance Plan to support our employees, with everything from work-from-home tips to handling feelings of isolation. Each carrier has different policies that they are adapting as COVID-19 changes the business landscape. Reaching out to your broker will help you understand your options to supporting your business and employees in these uncertain times.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Easter weekend.

A Message From Greg Guderyan, Founding Partner:

Posted on: March 26th, 2020

During this COVID-19 crisis, we hope our clients and their families remain safe. At Sagium Health, we are doing everything we can to support our clients, employees and community through these challenging times. The health and safety of our clients and employees remain our highest priority. 

We are taking this seriously and doing our best to be a responsible corporate citizen in protecting Canadians everywhere. Our goal is to continue to provide a safe work environment for our employees by having those who can work from home to do so. 

We are fully functional to work remotely to provide whatever you may need. We had most recently tested our “Business Continuity Plan” when we moved offices on the weekend of December 1st. It was a seamless transition and that same team is actively adapting our on-going operations.  

We have also cancelled in-person meetings and events until further notice. We are reviewing these measures regularly to ensure we are doing the most we can. It’s important for you to know that throughout this evolving situation, Sagium is open for business and here to serve you.  Our website contains important information on the evolving situation and do not hesitate to reach out to your Health and Wealth Strategist, or me personally, with any questions.  

Thank you for your trust and confidence, 

Greg Guderyan, Founding Partner
gguderyan@sagiumhealth.com

COVID-19 Response

Posted on: March 25th, 2020

To our valued clients and partners,

As COVID-19 becomes widespread, Sagium is preparing for the possibility of a more serious outbreak in the Calgary area. We are committed to keeping our employees and their families safe and healthy, while also maintaining service to our clients without interruption.

Firstly we would like to begin by saying our hearts go out to all of those across the world that have been impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and we have confidence in the government and public health agencies that are working hard to slow the spread of the virus.
We have implemented a restriction on all work travel and staff must report their personal travel plans and recent travel history to Human Resources. This notification requirement includes family members and housemates. When necessary, employees will work from home to ensure they are symptom-free before returning to our office. In addition to this, we have requested that clients notify us if they have recently travelled prior to attending a meeting at our office.

Our Business Continuity Plan has recently been tested and is designed to allow us to service our clients in the event we have limited access to our office space. All employees are able to access our systems from home and therefore can work remotely if needed. All contact information for our staff will remain the same. We will do our best to keep you informed as the situation changes.

Please feel free to contact us using the information below with any questions you may have.

Yours Truly,


Erin Gilmar, Manager Group Benefits
egilmar@sagiumhealth.com
587.349.9144

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