UBCM Group Benefits Plan Newsletter  

August 2020

Just a reminder that you are able to make changes to your group benefits plan at any time. Please feel free to contact me if you want a review of your plan design. Being part of a bigger pool, the UBCM Group Benefits Plan allows you to offer better customized plans at a lower cost. Email me today!

"Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week."
Spanish Proverb

In August, we reluctantly bid farewell to summer and when we give ourselves the permission to relax and enjoy the sun.  Fight Procrastination Day is on September 6. 
If your motto is similar to Oscar Wilde "I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do -the day after," you are not alone! Everybody 
procrastinatesat least from time to time. (You might even be procrastinating right now reading this article about procrastinating.) If I have to be honest, I occasionally am a culprit as well!  We should have learned by now that short-term gain is almost always followed by long-term pain!

With most of us working from home now it is easy to dodge, delay or defer when the task at hand is either too difficult, too unclear, or just too boring, so the following are new tips that might help:
  1. Forgive yourself first. Research shows that the more you can forgive yourself for past procrastination, the more likely you are to overcome your current procrastination and take action. 
  2. Get organized. You can't do any work if you don't know what needs to be completed.
  3. Set simple, achievable goals. It's a lot easier to get started on a project when you establish simple, reachable goals rather than a big, vague plan.
  4. Create a timeline/schedule.  Breaking an assignment into small chunks over time makes it much more manageable.
  5. Set a deadline. The truth is "someday" and "eventually" never come. It's important to set a specific date for when you want your goals to be accomplished.
  6. Get rid of distractions. Rid yourself of all potential disruptions before you begin working so you don't get needlessly sidetracked halfway through your task.
  7. Time yourself. It's easy to overwork yourself. Plus, our brains can really only handle so much information and focus at a time! Set a timer for a block to be focused and to prevent yourself from burning out and if you need, schedule in specific timed breaks
  8. Use incentives. Everyone loves being rewarded and it's easier to pay attention when something is at stake. 
  9. Get the hard stuff done first.  It's hard to do something that you don't want to do. But guess what? Once you do it, it's over! That way everything after it seems easier and takes a shorter amount of time. 
  10. Tell someone about your goal. Now there is someone holding you responsible for your goals. You can't back out or slough it off. As an added bonus, you also have someone to celebrate your victories with, no matter how small.

Quotes for the month:
"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can't buy more hours. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow." - Denis Waitley

If you have any comments or concerns, do not hesitate to email me. 
UBCM Group Benefits Newsletter
August 2020 


Three New Online CBT Programs Are Now Covered Under Most Benefit Plans
Pacific Blue Cross has enhanced our mental health coverage with new online CBT programs, which use a structured approach to help you develop skills and techniques to manage the stress and emotions of day-to-day life. The program is tailored to your needs and offers one-on-one support from qualified mental health professionals.
And all of this help is available online or via an app that's downloaded on your smartphone or tablet-and it's now covered in most Pacific Blue Cross benefit plans if you have Psychology or Counselling benefits


Student Declarations -- Student 21 Or Older? 

It's that time of year!  Employees whose dependent child is currently identified as a full-time student, 21 years and older, will receive a verification letter from PBC (usually in early September) to re-certify the student's status. Dependent children who are students are eligible for coverage until age 25. Verification of continuation of coverage must be received otherwise coverage for the over-aged dependent will terminate.
If the dependent child is studying in another province or country, it's important to understand how/if coverage can be maintained. It's important to check prior to the student leaving for school to ensure existing coverage can be extended or to review other options. Maintaining provincial health coverage MUST be maintained to continue eligibility for extended health benefits. Also, another consideration is that depending on the overall maximum included in your extended health policy, it may be wise to consider additional travel insurance. 

Pacific Blue Cross Automates Prior Approvals For Depression, Diabetes, And Asthma/COPD Drugs In Blue RX Managed Formulary 

Prior approval process encourages prescribers to consider evidence-based and widely recognized first line therapies as a starting point for treatment.  If a second- or third-line therapy is warranted, PBC system will now review a member's claim history and automatically approve the claim if the drug's eligibility requirements are met. This eliminates the need for a physician to apply for prior approval and the member to wait for adjudication of the claim. 


Employment Standards 
On August 14, 2020, Bill 5, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2020 Received Royal Assent

The bill amends the provisions of the Employment Standards Act related domestic or sexual violence leave.  Previously, employees were only entitled to "unpaid" periods of domestic or sexual violence leave (up to 10 days and 15 weeks in each calendar year).  The bill provides up to 5 days of "paid" leave for domestic or sexual violence leave, with additional unpaid periods up to 5 days and 15 weeks in each calendar year.  


COVID-19 - Employer Health Tax (EHT)

On August 14, 2020, Bill 18, Economic Stabilization (COVID-19) Act received royal assent.
This bill implements a number of previously announced measures in response to the COVID-19 disruption.  Among other matters, this allowed regulations to prescribe the deferral of EHT payments; an earlier announcement indicated that businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their EHT payments until September 30, 2020 (businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax).


On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and new income support benefits in response to the COVID-19 disruption.  
Under ordinary circumstances, the Canada Employment Insurance Commission sets and announces (on or before September 14 each year) the annual premium rate for the coming year based on the seven-year break-even rate as forecast by the EI Senior Actuary.
To support Canadian businesses and workers through the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government is freezing the EI premium rate for employees at the 2020 level of $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for two years. The rate for employers, who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, will also remain unchanged at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.

 ▶    READ MORE 

Employers Can Apply To Extend Temporary Layoffs Due To COVID-19

BC government extended the allowable period of temporary layoff to 24 weeks within a 28-week period if the COVID-19 emergency is a cause of all or part of the layoff.  This COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff extension expires August 30, 2020.

Should you not be able to recall laid off employees by August 30, 2020 and wish to extend the temporary layoff period, the Ministry of Labour has developed a 
 variance application tool to streamline the application process.  Should you not apply for an extension and employees continue to be laid off, termination pay may be owed to your laid off employees if the layoff time limits are exceeded.

Note that to apply for the variance application, more than 50% of employees affected need to support the application.  The Employment Standards Branch has a 
 sample employee email and a support tool available on their website.


British Columbia - COVID-19 - Workers' Compensation Premiums

On June 8, 2020, WorkSafeBC announced that it was extending the deferral period for quarterly premium payments for an additional three months, without penalty or interest.  In order to ensure account balances are correct, employers will still be required to report their payroll for the first and second quarters by July 20, 2020. However, the payments for the first and second quarters will not be due until October 20, 2020, when third-quarter payments are due.
Please also note that, on May 26, 2020, WorkSafeBC also announced that it was waiving premiums on wages paid to furloughed workers of employers receiving the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). This change was retroactive to the March 15, 2020 (start date of the CEWS) and will continue for the duration of the program.


"Surviving September" - Employee and Family Assistance Newsletter

HomewoodTM Health EFAP, Pacific Blue Cross is pleased to release the September 2020 edition of our Life Lines newsletter, "Surviving September."

COVID-19: Legal Obligations Around Childcare Accommodation 
When the Canadian economy "shut down" in March 2020, so, too, did schools and daycares across the country. As a result, many employees found themselves working from home and providing childcare at the same time.  As provincial economies reopen and many employees return to the physical workplace, the issue of childcare remains as many schools and daycares are closed or operating at reduced capacity.  This article looks at employer obligations to accommodate requests for time off or work-from-home arrangements.    


Mental Health Support During COVID-19 - Help your employees - for FREE

In this unprecedented time of global uncertainty, many people are unsurprisingly struggling with feelings of fear, anxiety, and depression. TeksMed is pleased to offer the innovative mental wellness tool QuikCare Thrive, which provides exclusive access to an app-based self-driven platform that empowers users to take advantage of mental health support, build resilience and develop coping techniques, anytime and anywhere. Go here for more information: COVID-19 QuikCare Thrive One Pager

Contact us at:
Anna-Maria Wijesinghe   
                    Annie Ni
Manager, Member & Association Services         Account Executive
Union of BC Municipalities                                  Pacific Blue Cross
Phone: 604.270.8226 (ext. 111)                          Phone: 604.419.2434
Email: amwijesinghe@ubcm.ca                          Email:  ani@pac.bluecross.ca