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September 13, 2021

COVID CHANGES ABSENCE MANAGEMENT

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a foundation for future changes in absence management programs for U.S. small- to mid-sized employers, says Hub International’s ‘2021 Workforce Absence Management Survey.’ The findings reveal the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic has driven employers to re-evaluate and change their absence management policies and practices. The survey also reveals that small- to mid-sized employers compare favourably to their larger business counterparts when it comes to absence management practices. For most respondents (75 per cent), the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced how they approach leave management as a whole. About 40 per cent of respondents believe their policies need to be more attractive and 25 per cent have altered their paid time off programs. However, it shows small and medium-sized employers often believe their paid time off programs lag larger employers. The survey results showed that small and medium-sized employers actually compare favorably. As well, telecommuting is here to stay, it says. Nine out of 10 respondents embraced telecommuting and as they continue to emerge from the pandemic, half say they will make it permanent. There’s reason beyond simple expediency to do so: not only does it give employees greater flexibility and work-life balance, but three-fourths of those who allowed remote work before the pandemic saw no difference in performance.

September 13, 2021

EVENTS FAIL TO TRULY CHANGE MARKETS

Since the global financial crisis, investors have navigated a variety of events that have had the potential to change the course of the markets, says Beutel Goodman’s ‘Canadian Monthly Fixed Income Report.’ Some of these events led to notable shifts in sentiment and direction, including, but not limited to, the European debt crisis in 2011, the Taper Tantrum of 2013, the Chinese stock market and oil crashes in 2015, and, of course, the 2020 COVID crisis. All of them led to market declines; however, none of them truly changed the market itself. Despite the challenges posed by these sorts of events, equity markets around the world, led by the U.S., continue to reach all-time highs. The declines powered by negative headlines were relatively short-lived, the recoveries were fairly speedy, and the post-2008 bull market largely remained intact. Bearish periods barely grew into anything lasting – they were more like cub markets than bear markets, thanks largely to the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) and other global central banks. Markets have been generously supported by central banks since the global financial crisis through a variety of stimulative programs, most of which fall under the banner of quantitative easing (QE). However, with the post-COVID recovery well underway and negative pressures such as inflation on the rise, markets seem poised to stand on their own feet again. The thought of removing support from the market may be anxiety-inducing for some investors, but it’s now likely a foregone conclusion, barring any catastrophic economic shocks. Given the history of QE, investors may be wondering “why now?” We believe it’s more of a matter of “why not?”.

September 13, 2021

NAVACORD ADDS C&C

Navacord Corp. has added C&C Insurance Group, based in Komoka, ON, and Vanta Benefits, based in Edmonton, AB. C&C boasts an integrated and seamless group health and wellness program that meets the needs for post-secondary institutions’ domestic and international student populations. With proprietary real-time benefits data and analytics segmented by business, Vanta enables its clients to be proactive versus reactive with strategic plan designs that create long-term sustainability. The partnerships deepen Navacord’s coast-to-coast benefits offering. Waypoint Insurance, a Navacord broker partner, also recently closed its acquisition of FX Insurance, its third transaction in 2021.

September 13, 2021

AIMCO ACQUIRES LAWSON GRAINS

The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) will acquire Lawson Grains alongside partner New Forests, from the agricultural investment management business of Macquarie Asset Management. Lawson Grains is one of Australia’s leading corporate grain growers, comprising a 90,500 arable hectare agricultural land estate across New South Wales and Western Australia. It is one of Australia’s largest grains and oilseeds businesses, producing over 200,000 tonnes per year of wheat, barley, canola, and pulses. AIMCo has been investing in Australia alongside New Forests for more than a decade, primarily through the Forestry Investment Trust, one of the largest hardwood forestry estates in Australia.

September 13, 2021

BENEFITS OF TOMORROW EXAMINED

CPBI Pacific will examine ‘Employee Benefits Of Tomorrow.’ A panel of Janet Hughes, director, HR, at MEC; Rob Taylor , executive vice-president at HUB International; Dave Jones, senior vice-president, group benefits, at Sun Life Financial; and Mike McClenahan, managing partner at Benefits By Design (BBD); will discuss how changes in the workplace and employer-employee relationships over the last 18 months will impact the future of benefits on various levels. It takes place September 14. Information is at https://www.cpbi-icra.ca/Events/Details/Pacific/2021/09-14-Employee-Benefits-of-Tomorrow