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April 29, 2021

ONTARIO PROPOSES PAID SICK DAYS

The Ontario government will be introducing legislation to provide up to three paid sick leave days to eligible employees if they are taken for reasons related to COVID-19, says a Hicks Morley ‘FTR Now.’ The program would be retroactive to April 19 and remain in effect until September 25, the date the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CSRB) ends. The government also announced that it has offered to provide funding to the federal government to double CRSB payments to Ontario residents. If passed, the bill will require employers to provide eligible employees with up to $200 per day for each of the three sick days. The sick days do not need to be taken consecutively and, while a medical note will not be required, employees may be required to provide evidence reasonable in the circumstances for entitlement to the leave. Eligible employers may seek reimbursement from the Ontario government of up to $200 per employee day taken (depending on the applicable wage rate of affected employees) if they apply within 120 days of the paid leave being taken.

April 29, 2021

ESG BACKS ‘WINNERS’

To consider ESG (environment, social, and governance) factors in the investment process is to ensure “you’re backing the winners, because, in the long run, the companies that meet the demands of society and all key stakeholders will be those that will succeed financially,” says Amy Atack, client service director and partner at Baillie Gifford. Speaking at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events ‘Group Retirement Plan and Sustainable Funds: Now More Than Ever’ session sponsored by iA Financial Group, with Nessim Mansoor, head of Canadian large cap equities at Fiera Capital, she said this is about finding the best investment opportunities and really delivering superior investment returns over the long term. Mansoor said as long-term investors, they are really focused on finding high quality businesses and “that sort of mindset is key to outperforming over time.” ESG related factors can be used as part of the evaluation of the quality of a business in terms of the management culture, the company’s reputation, the corporate brand and the community, how the company treats its employees, and whether it really invests in its employees. “These things are very important to long-term investors who need to understand the strengths and the quality of a business,” he said. “Plus, it’s just common sense long-term investing.” A sustainable growth framework builds investment in ESG considerations into every step of the process. Those companies that are able to facilitate society’s transition to a more sustainable ecosystem will displace outdated index incumbents, said Atack.

April 29, 2021

GENDER AFFIRMATION ADDED TO PLANS

As part of its ongoing commitment to helping plan members live their healthiest lives, Green Shield Canada (GSC) will be including a gender affirmation offering in all group plans as a standard benefit (ASO and non-refund) effective June 30. This offering enables plan sponsors to support plan members throughout their gender transition journey. While traditional benefits plans address some components of the journey, it says they fall short of covering the scope of transition needs. This offering steps in to reimburse expenses that are above and beyond typical plan designs. Equally, it helps to fill the gaps tied to services not covered under provincial or territorial government healthcare plans. In developing this, it consulted with a wide range of organizations, including the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH).

April 29, 2021

COVID SUCCESS SWINGS RECOVERY

Success in fighting the COVID-19 virus is a key swing factor in recovery forecasts, says FTSE Russell’s ‘Equity Market Drivers Report for April 2021. While gaining traction, the global economic recovery is progressing at different speeds across regions, hinging largely on the scale of vaccination rollouts and government stimulus efforts. Investors are increasingly discriminating between the recovery haves and have-nots. So while U.S. and UK recoveries pull ahead, others stall. The upcycle in earnings per share forecasts slowed ahead of the first quarter 2021 earnings season and diverging recovery prospects. But stocks look less stretched viewed through a historical lens  and exceptionally attractive versus bonds.

April 29, 2021

VIRTUAL CARE EVOLVES

TELUS Health has launched TELUS Health Virtual Care ‒ the next evolution of its national, employer-focused virtual care service. It is built on more than 35 years of combined experience delivering healthcare services to Canadians by merging the capabilities and features of Akira by TELUS Health ‒ its bilingual, on-demand virtual care service; and EQ Care ‒ its recently acquired virtual care company that delivers specialized virtual care functionalities and advanced employee assistance features. Further, through a recent integration, it is able to securely share patient information, with appropriate consent, with any one of the 30,000 clinicians using a TELUS Health EMR ensuring improved continuity of care.

April 29, 2021