UBCM Group Benefits Plan Newsletter  

July 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!


My last newsletter to you was distributed in February, we thought it would be better not to clutter your inbox and leave room for the really important information. 
Wow! The rate and nature of the changes taking place, the disruption to our daily life, our jobs, our communities, has hit us like a tsunami. Everyone and everything in its path have been affected and will forever be changed in some way.  What we thought was normal just a few months ago, doesn't exist anymore. Our lives have changed. And we collectively as a community, province, country and world - have no idea what things will look like once this is over.

Resilience is defined as the 'capacity to rebound or bounce back from adversity, conflict, and failure'. As we cope worldwide with this health crisis, the concept of resilience is highly relevant to our lives. The pandemic reminds us about the importance of weaving resilience into our everyday lives. Right now, we are adapting our lives at an unprecedented level, motivated to protect our families, communities and economy. This crisis has drastically changed the way we work, communicate, and socialize and left us with the challenge of making significant changes in a matter of days on an extraordinary scale.   Physical distancing and stay-at-home orders can feel isolating and, at times, even overwhelming. Fortunately, an incredible number of resources have been made available to help us stay resilient during this crisis, such as virtual counseling services, free online workouts, ideas for new hobbies to take up, or options for holding virtual gatherings. The current limitations have also given us the opportunity to cherish connections with our family and friends.
How we manage to embrace this detention will measure our strength and our flexibility. And the future is here: now is when we are called on to be resilient, smart and kind.  We may not know what someone else has experienced during the pandemic. They may have lost their job or have a loved one affected by the illness, fighting for their life in the hospital. We've each had our own experiences, but one thing we can all aim to achieve a reset of priorities to welcome the urgency of working together for the better.... with a dash kindness.

Quote for the month:

"The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived."
-Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven

If you have any comments or concerns, do not hesitate to email me. 
UBCM Group Benefits Newsletter
July 2020 
Our New PBC Account Executive 
I have the pleasure of introducing and welcoming back Annie Ni as the incoming Account Executive for UBCM. 
Annie has worked with Pacific Blue Cross for 8 years and with UBCM in supporting the benefits needs of UBCM members for 4 years. She manages large public sector accounts in health, community social services, education and municipal sectors. Her insurance industry experience spans sales, service, administration and marketing. These multiple roles provide her with a comprehensive understanding of the full spectrum of client needs. She holds a Bachelor's of Business Administration and Diploma in Marketing Communications from BCIT, as well as Group Benefits Associate designation.
Annie is excited to be back working with UBCM and its members. She can be reached at ani@pac.bluecross.ca.
UBCM wants to thank Nathan Roeters for his commitment and dedication to UBCM Group Benefits Plan over the past few years. We wish him every success with his new accounts at PBC. 

News from PBC 

As BC moves into Phase 3 of the restart plan, PBC is seeing claim volumes resume each week closer to pre-COVID levels.
PBC will be providing the insured non-refund plans with the following premium relief for the month of July:
  • 10% credit against dental premiums paid
  • No further credit against non-drug-related extended health care premiums paid
Make sure you visit often as this information for plan sponsors can be found on PBC's COVID info site.


Minimum Wage Increased to $14.60

As of June 1, 2020, the hourly minimum wage rate in British Columbia was increased to $14.60 per hour. All local government employees must be paid at least this minimum wage, regardless of how they are paid (i.e. hourly or salary).
This recent increase of 75 cents per hour is part of the Province's objective to close the gap between living wages and minimum wage in BC through increases that are regular, measured and predictable, an objective which began in 2017 with the establishment of the Fair Wages Commission. Minimum wage is set to increase again on June 1, 2021 to $15.20 per hour.


Changes to Workers' Compensation

On July 14, 2020, Bill 23, Workers Compensation Amendment Act,  2020  received first reading.

The bill is intended to modernize the Workers Compensation Act. Among other matters, the changes include:
  • raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers' compensation benefits are based
  • authorizing WorkSafeBC to provide preventative medical treatment before a claim is accepted
  • giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants that are appropriate for investigating workplace safety infractions; and
  • giving individuals a voice in serious workplace prosecutions and trials by using victim impact statements

WorkSafeBC Directs All Employers to Prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan

On May 14, 2020, the Provincial Health Officer also ordered employers to post a copy of their Safety Plan on their websites, and at their workplaces so that the Plan will be readily available for review by workers, others persons who may attend the workplace to provide services, and to the public. Employers must also provide a copy of their Safety Plan to a health officer or a WorkSafeBC officer, on request.


WorkSafeBC announced on April 30th that COVID-19 will be added to the list of "occupational diseases" in Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act, the primary significance being that COVID-19 claims will be presumed to be caused from work, unless proven otherwise.

In a typical claim, assessed on a case-by-case basis, the worker has the burden of proving that an illness was contracted "out of and in the course of employment". Once an illness is included in Schedule 1, however, it is presumed to be work-related, and claims are automatically accepted without consideration of the circumstances of the particular case. This means that once COVID-19 is added to Schedule 1, employers will have to rebut the presumption that an employee contracted the illness at work in order to have a COVID-19 claim denied.

Although an addition to Schedule 1 generally takes between 18 and 24 months, it is anticipated that COVID-19 will be added through an expedited process in approximately 6 months. In the meantime, COVID-19 claims will continue to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

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Paid Leave for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Harassment

On March 3, 2020, Bill 5, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2020 received first reading.
British Columbia is amending its employments standards to provide up to five days of paid leave for victims of domestic and sexual harassment.

The new bill builds on improvements made to the Employment Standards Act last year that provided up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave from work for those feeling the impact of domestic or sexual violence. If passed, it will mean five of these days will be paid days, allowing workers to attend to personal needs or the needs of their family without worrying about not getting paid for time away from work.


British Columbia has Extended the Temporary Layoffs Provisions

A new initiative by the provincial government is helping to keep employers and workers connected as British Columbia continues on the path towards economic recovery.  A streamlined variance application process is now available for employers and workers to jointly apply to the Employment Standards Branch to extend a temporary layoff period. 


Some Interesting Resources 
Don't Work from the Couch! Tips to Improve Your Home Office
The temptation to sit in bed with your laptop and a cup of coffee or to take phone calls from the couch with your feet up on the ottoman, leaves you susceptible to many risks that aren't present in a typical office environment. Here are a few ways to improve office ergonomics at home.

▶      READ MORE

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