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January 5, 2022

TELEHEALTH MISTRUSTED GLOBALLY

Globally, people are still reluctant to trust telehealth or virtual care services, says a report from cybersecurity company Kaspersky. Specifically, 74 per cent of providers have experienced cases where patients have refused a video call with medical staff. Data privacy concerns (52 per cent) are the top reason, followed by a general lack of trust towards telehealth (33 per cent), an unwillingness to appear on video (32 per cent), and the lack of the correct equipment (30 per cent). More than four in five (91 per cent of) medical organizations have implemented telehealth capabilities and 44 per cent started to use them after the pandemic. And 42 per cent of organizations say that most of their patients are more interested in remote than in-person sessions because of their convenience. The most common service provided by organizations is synchronous telehealth (51 per cent), such as real-time communication with patients, including video call or chat.

January 5, 2022

PLANS SHOULD REVISIT RISK EXPOSURE

Defined benefit pension plans should be revisiting their risk exposures and, “where it makes sense, locking-in” some of these gains made in the past year, says Ben Ukonga, a principal and leader of Mercer’s wealth business in Calgary, AB. The ‘Mercer Pension Health Pulse (MPHP) was 103 per cent as at December 31, 2021, an increase of two per cent from the ratio as at September 30, 2021, and seven per cent higher than the ratio at the beginning of 2021. Revisiting risk exposures now will help plans ensure they do not see their surplus positions turn into deficits due to their inaction, he says. For most DB plans, investment returns were positive in the fourth quarter of 2021. Yields on longer-term bonds decreased during the quarter, which increased plan liabilities, offsetting some of the positive investment returns on plans’ funded positions. However, despite the decrease in yields during the fourth quarter, the yields on longer-term bonds are still significantly higher than they were at the beginning of 2021. As funded positions continue to improve, more and more plan sponsors are finding their pension plans to be in surplus positions. At the end of the fourth quarter, 61 per cent of plans are estimated to be in a surplus on a solvency basis and 27 per cent of plans are estimated to have solvency ratios between 90 per cent and 100 per cent. As for headwinds, there are many including the impact of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, the potential emergence of new variants, availability of vaccines in developing countries, increasing geo-political tensions, U.S. political gridlock, and the uncertainty of the November U.S. mid-term elections in 2022.

January 5, 2022

EMPLOYEES GETTING CHOICE ON WORKPLACE

Nearly half (48 per cent) of senior managers in Canada give employees the ability to choose when they work, says a Robert Half survey. And nearly one-third (31 per cent) say they don’t mind if their workers put in fewer than 40 hours a week, as long as the job gets done. However, almost two-thirds of workers say they need at least eight hours a day to get their job done.

January 5, 2022

RECORD INVESTED IN CRYPTO ETFS

A record US$20.23 billion was invested in crypto ETFs and ETPs listed globally at the end of November 2021, says ETFGI. Crypto ETFs and ETPs listed globally gathered net inflows of US$1.11 billion during November, bringing year-to-date net inflows to US$9.26 billion which is much higher than the US$278 million gathered at this point last year. Total assets invested in crypto ETFs and ETPs increased by 3.7 per cent from US$19.52 billion at the end of October 2021 to US$20.23 billion at the end of November.

January 5, 2022

APPDIRECT CAPITAL LAUNCHED

AppDirect, a subscription commerce platform company, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) have launched AppDirect Capital. It offers a set of funding programs dedicated to the growth and transformation of channel partners. CDPQ’s investment will accelerate AppDirect Capital’s AppSmart Invest program, launched last year, which provides flexible capital for technology partners to transform or scale their business.

January 5, 2022

AGNEW BECOMES PARTNER

Jennifer Agnew is a partner at Brown Mills Klinck Prezioso (BMKP) Law. She joined the firm in 2019 as counsel and advises public and private sector employers and plan administrators on all matters related to pension and benefit plans including plan design, administration, governance, investment and compliance with minimum standards legislation, and regulatory policy. Previously, she worked for a number of years in private practice before taking on a role as in-house legal counsel at one of Canada’s largest pension plans.