• How Does your Benefits Plan Measure Up?

    Employers, did you know that plan design features can be a strategic way to control cost for the future? Possible ROIs include increase in employee productivity and engagement, as well attracting and retaining talent for small businesses (employers with less than 50 employees). A recent report published by Sun Life Financial revealed valuable insight into the Canadian group benefits space, claiming that customizing a benefits plan to best suit the workforce can reinforce and accomplish an organization’s goals. The 54 page report offers a comprehensive overview of some of the most common plan designs which can assist small businesses in making the best decisions to meet the health needs and benefit preferences of their employees. To save you some time, we have extracted the five most common plan design options to consider when designing your benefits package.

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  • Well, as you’ve probably heard, the much-anticipated date of October 17th has come and gone, and recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada! Many of our clients have been asking us, what impact does this have on employee benefits plans?

  • Top 5 Tips to Eat Healthy at the Office and on the Road

    Between balancing a career, family, extra curriculars and trying to fit in some semblance of a social life, the day to day grind can be brutal. The struggle to stay on top of everything is so real, and so often comes at the expense of our self care and ability to balance a healthy diet while at the office or on the road. The good news is it’s never too late to hit reset. March is Nutrition Month, and we want to challenge you to put your wellness first, and break some of the most common and problematic patterns (that you may not even realize you’re doing) which can, in effect, give you more energy and improve your overall health.  Since many of us spend at least half of our waking hours at the office, we think it’s worth giving some of these tips a try:

    1. Start with a well balanced breakfast

  • We the North are known to be a resilient people, frequently adapting to changing climates and irregular surroundings. We experience the swift and dramatic change in temperatures, and are unwittingly placed on a seasonal rollercoaster which, for many, becomes an emotional one. For many Canadians workers, weather causes undue stress when taking on a number of day to day tasks, such as selecting appropriate attire, or setting the proper morning alarm to account for the always unpredictable commute time.

  • OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare

    Starting January 1, 2018, Ontario families welcomed OHIP+, a new pharmacare plan that extends free prescription drug coverage to everyone under the age of 25, regardless of their socio-economic status. More than 4,400 eligible medications will be covered under the new Ontario Drug Benefit Program, and is expected to come at a cost of $465 million per year, according to the Liberal budget. These changes are the first the province has ever seen. Until now, the current Ontario Drug Plan only provides prescription drug coverage for seniors and citizens on social assistance.

    New Rules for Maternity and Parental Leave

  • In September 2017, Morneau Shepell released their annual report on Trends in Human Resources which surveyed 370 Canadian employers about their future plans, and asked HR leaders to identify their primary areas of interest in 2018. The findings revealed an overarching goal to build high performing and resilient workforces. The top three concerns were, improving employee engagement (65%), attracting and retaining employees with the right skills (56%), and helping their organizations adapt better to ongoing change (55%).

    Despite an expected increase in average salary of about 2.3% from 2017, employers don’t seem overly concerned about its affect on business. This suggests a shift in focus to reduce cost by investing in their employees’ well being. Increased use of data is linking employee health, engagement and productivity which give employers much to consider. When approaching the issue of mental health, HR leaders reported that their primary challenges were lack of knowledge by their managers (58%) and employees (55%), in addition to stigma (55%).

  • In business, anything you spend money on should ultimately lead to increased profits. It’s not an easy task to evaluate the ROI of any wellness program as it can be expensive, complicated and quite often takes some time to see results. However, the outcome of understanding will lead to bumping that bottom-line by keep staff engaged and boosting productivity.

    In order to understand and measure your wellness programs, we should first look at the barriers; the most obvious is that it’s expensive. Analysing any area of business is costly and takes time. Wellness is an especially difficult area to evaluate as it has many different sets of data to analyse. In order to make sense of the data you would need the help of analytics companies as some of this information can be difficult to understand and keeping that information private is of paramount importance.

  • Fair Tax Plan, is it really Fair? Taxes and the outcome

     

    Canadian small businesses have been hit with numerous changes (or proposed changes) this year that will threaten their long-term prosperity and their ability to compete globally. From minimum wage hikes to the proposed tax reforms titled the “Fair Tax Plan”, life as a small business owner isn’t getting any easier.  

    For those who haven’t heard much about the “Fair Tax Plan” and for those struggling to make sense of the proposed changes under the plan, here’s a quick breakdown. All measures are aimed at modifying areas where business owners are allowed to allocate income in a different way to reduce their marginal tax rate. If any of the following tax situations apply to you, then you will be impacted by these changes.

    1. Dividends to family members.

  • It’s no secret that prescription drug costs are on the rise.  According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, total drug expenditure is estimated to have reached $33 billion in 2012.  With significant advancements in the treatments of rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, just to name a few, it’s not uncommon to see annual drug costs for these patients totaling $10,000-  $100,000, or more.  To illustrate this point, in 2013 insurers in Canada paid more than 4,000 claims for prescription drugs that cost in excess of $25,000.    

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    We’ve all been there, waiting in line at the pharmacy to drop off that prescription, eager to get it filled. Many of us don’t consider the cost of our prescription drugs, especially when a comprehensive employee benefits plan is in place that immediately covers all, or most of the expense. Did you know that 70% of every dollar spent on benefits plans in Canada goes towards the cost of prescription drug claims?  The average prescription costs between $50 and $75. For recurring prescriptions, this could quickly add up to $600-$900 per year.  That is a significant amount!

  • This is a debate we see quite often amongst small businesses and their employees. With many employees at different stages of their lives,all with different priorities, the debate can often be a difficult one, leaving some employees feeling as though they’ve lost out. Either way, it’s important for employees to understand the value of a group benefits package and the costs associated with a salary increase, so that they are able to make an informed decision.  

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    Are employer paid premiums taxable to the employee?

  • Susan is the office manager of a busy real estate firm. She has a six-year old daughter Emily, with severe asthma. 

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    Susan worries about Emily's health and the family finances. Emily takes a daily asthma controller but the constant expense of medication adds to Susan's concerns about making ends meet. Her husband, Jeff, is going to school upgrading his skills so family finances are tight. 

  • Employee benefits are an important part of the compensation package for any employee. Today, more than ever, employees expect valuable benefits that are competitive with those offered by other companies operating in your market. Most candidates will ask about your employee benefits offering in the interview process, and not having a plan can impact your ability to hire and retain the kind of talented employees that will help you grow your business. 

     

  • Why disability insurance?

    We get this question often.  The truth is that disability insurance is one of the most important types of insurance available.  After all, it protects your greatest asset; your ability to earn an income.  

    Unfortunately, government sponsored programs such as CPP and EI just don’t provide the level of disability coverage that most of us would need in order to maintain our current standard of living in the event of a disability, especially if you’re self-employed.  

  • 4 simple ways to keep your employee benefits plan onside and up to date.

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    Time flies. With so many other priorities and distractions, it's easy to miss making changes to your employee benefits plan. But many changes to your benefits plan are time sensitive, so it's important that you spend the time to ensure your plan is up to date.

    Here are 4 simple ways to ensure that your plan remains onside and up to date…

    1) Update Employee Salaries

    Updating employee salaries each year, if not more frequently, is important. Especially if you have income based benefits such as Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, or Life Insurance that is tied to a multiple of earnings. If updates are not provided in a timely manner, employees could find themselves underinsured at the time they need the coverage most.

  • You’ve decided to consider employee benefits for your organization, or maybe you’ve got a plan and are looking for a second opinion.  Here are 3 tips that will help you make an informed decision, and avoid frustration along the way.  

  • Do you want to grow your business?

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    One of the first steps to growing your business is partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade.

  • Generic drugs are often touted as money-­‐saving options, a valuable way to keep health care affordable for all stakeholders – including employees, employers, insurance companies and the government. But there’s a lot of confusion about how a generic stacks up against an originator, or brand name, drug.

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    As consumers, we’re faced with countless purchasing decisions on a regular basis.  We all strive to make the best financial decisions for ourselves, our businesses and our families.  At some point in our lives, we’ve all learned the hard way that the decision to purchase the cheapest solution can often end in frustration and disappointment. 

    Let’s take, for example, the decision to buy a car.  It’s a situation we’ve all been in before.  There are countless options out there.  Do I buy new or used?  Which brand is most reliable?  Who has the best warranty?  If you were to buy a car with low cost as your first priority, it is likely that this car won’t be the most reliable, won’t have all the bells and whistles you want and is likely to cause you problems down the road. 

  • We've all heard horror stories of families who have incurred thousands of dollars-worth of medical expenses while on vacation and returned home to find out that they weren't covered because of some limitation or loophole in their travel insurance policy. Well we'd like to help you avoid this!

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  • It’s always a tough question for me to answer. Let’s be honest here, I sell insurance for a living. But I think that the tough part about critical illness insurance is that we don’t want to believe that we’ll need it. We want to see ourselves as invincible. We don’t want to think about the possibility of a sudden change of health, such as a heart attack, cancer or stroke.  

  • You are unique.  And you have unique needs when it comes insurance.  When we sit down with you to discuss your life insurance options, we want to first learn more about your specific situation before customizing a plan that suits your needs.

      

  • Adding dental benefits to your employee benefits plan is a great bonus for your employees.  Each of the insurance providers that we work with offer a number of dental options that can be tailored to suit you and your employees.  Statistics Canada reported* that 56% of Canadian employees have a dental plan at their place of employment. 

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  • Last week, I was standing in what seemed to be an exceptionally long line at the supermarket cash register.  To kill some time, I picked up and started leafing through a copy of the international bestseller by Richard Templar titled “The Rules of Wealth”. 

    The book contains 107 rules that are supposed to guide you on how to become wealthy. Now I haven’t read the whole book, nor can I endorse it, but there was one rule that caught my eye. “Only invest in or buy things that you understand”. Templar explains the risk in buying shares, stocks or any investment without understanding it. 

  • Here’s the scenario; you have an employee that comes into your office to complain that they submitted a claim for massage therapy a few weeks ago but still have not received their reimbursement cheque.  You scratch your head, because it’s been your experience that the Chambers Plan turns claims around in just a few days.

    You ask the employee to do a quick check on their claim to ensure that they followed the Five Best Practices for getting a claim reimbursed quickly.

Contact Us

Telephones:
1-800-667-2726
416-798-4974

Fax:
1-888-313-5886
905-940-1266

Norbram Group Insurance Benefits Inc.

1-360 Industrial Parkway S., 
Aurora, ON, L4G 3V7
Canada

 

Email: 
info@norbram.ca

 

Chambers Plans Partners

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