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January 17, 2018

Bargaining Environment Growing Complex

Economic uncertainty, the need to contain costs, and legislative changes are all factors that will make the bargaining environment increasingly complex this year, says the Conference Board of Canada’s ‘Industrial Relations Outlook 2018.’ “Despite stellar economic growth and record-breaking employment numbers in 2017, a slower Canadian economy and lingering uncertainties in the global economic climate will create a challenging bargaining environment this year,” says Allison Cowan, its director of total rewards and labour relations research. “Legislative changes surrounding employment and labour standards, minimum wage increases, and the legalization of recreational cannabis bring a number of additional complexities to the bargaining table.” Wages continue to be the top bargaining issue for both management and unions in 2018. For unionized employees, the average projected negotiated wage increase for 2018 is 1.4 per cent, slightly lower than the 1.7 per cent increase for contracts negotiated in 2017. Private sector organizations are projecting higher increases (1.7 per cent) than are public sector organizations (1.1 per cent). Aside from wages, top priorities for unions include reducing precarious employment and improving health and safety provisions for members. For employers, flexible work practices are the second most important issue after wages, marking the first time that they have been a top-three negotiation issue for management in over a decade.

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Benefits Plan Designed For Retirees

The Co-operators Life Insurance Company’s has introduced ‘ContinYou GOLDEN’ for retiring group benefits plan members and their families. It allows them to easily transition to an individual plan that covers health, dental, and emergency travel medical costs. The flexibility of the program allows retiring plan members to choose the coverage most appropriate for them and their families. Retiring plan members who are covered by group benefits plans are eligible to apply for guaranteed lifelong individual health coverage with the Co-operators within 60 days of their group coverage ending. All plans include coverage for prescription drugs, accidental dental treatment, emergency travel medical treatment, in-home nursing care, medical items and prosthetic equipment, paramedical services, and hospital accommodation. Enhanced plans include coverage for vision care, dental services, and options to increase emergency travel medical coverage.

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Mercer Advising On Climate Risk

Oliver Wyman and Mercer have been selected to serve as expert advisors on a project examining climate-related risks and opportunities for financial institutions. The project is being undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme – Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and a working group of 16 leading banks.One of the buzzwords in the sustainable finance world is ‘mainstreaming’,” says Eric Usher, the head of UNEP FI. “For us to achieve a sustainable financial sector we need to mainstream environmental factors from the periphery of financial institutions’ attention into their core decision-making.” Oliver Wyman and Mercer, jointly with UNEP FI and the working group, will develop common analytical tools – including scenarios, methodologies and metrics – for banks to strengthen their assessment and disclosure of climate-related risks and opportunities.

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Walters Joins GroupHEALTH

Gary Walters is senior vice-president, underwriting, at GroupHEALTH Benefit Solutions. Based in its Barrie, ON, office, he will oversee underwriting initiatives across Canada. He has over 30 years of actuarial experience in employee benefits insurance and reinsurance.

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Solvency Funding Impact Examined

‘No Solvency, No Problem? The Changing Canadian Pension Landscape’ is the focus of a CPBI Pacific session. Greg Heise, a partner at George & Bell Consulting, and Perry Teperson, a vice-president and portfolio manager at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd., will summarize the changes in solvency funding in Ontario and Quebec and provide their opinions on the new environment and their expectations for future changes to come. It takes place February 5 in Vancouver, BC. For information, visit Solvency Funding

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January 16, 2018

Reaction To Stress More Important

With stress becoming a major health concern within Canadian workplaces, Morneau Shepell has found that how employees react to stress is more important than the stress itself. In ‘The stress factor and its impact on employees mental and physical health’ at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor website, Dr. Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer, workforce productivity, at Morneau Shepell, explains how a better understanding of the “stress factor” and more thoughtful reactions to stress would help employees and employers lift the burden of stress and prevent burnout. He traces the origins of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion – known as “burnout” –back to employees not having the positive habits and coping mechanisms to break the cycle of stress. Mindful responses to stress allow employees to take control of their behaviour, thinking, and emotions and focus on what they can control as a result of both positive and negative stimuli. These employees are able to better react to, and cope with, positive or negative news. In contrast, those on autopilot – those who feel they have no control and take no responsibility for their behaviour – are more at risk of allowing their environment to shape their reactions and, in turn, activate the “fight or flight” response. This encourages passive reactions that cloud coping skills and put employees at a greater risk of burnout. “Stress itself is not something that is good or bad – it is merely a demand on physical or mental energy,” says Dr. Howatt. “It’s important that we shift our thinking to better understand the many ways in which an individual can use stress positively, simply by changing their perspective. Ensuring that employees are taking a thoughtful approach to stress, and focusing on what they can control, can have positive effects on mental and physical health, resulting in increased engagement and productivity.”

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Caution Issued On ICOs

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) is cautioning investors about the risks associated with initial cryptocurrency or token offerings, more commonly known as ‘initial coin offerings (ICOs).’ ICOs are limited-time offerings over the Internet of digital ‘assets’ ‒ cryptocurrencies or tokens ‒ the use and eventual value of which are intrinsically tied to projects that, in many cases, are only at an early stage. Despite their growing popularity, cryptocurrencies and ICOs remain speculative, high-risk investments. Investors who are attracted to this type of market should make sure they fully understand how cryptocurrencies and ICOs work, know the many types of risk involved, and are prepared to potentially lose the entire value of their investment. Businesses that plan on issuing cryptocurrencies or tokens must understand and meet their obligations under securities laws. In particular, issuers and sponsors could be subject to prospectus and registration requirements.

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CLHIA Holding Sessions On Compensation Disclosure

The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) will hold a series of meetings on Guideline G19, ‘Compensation Disclosure in Group Benefits and Group Retirement Services.’ This guideline sets out standards for intermediary compensation disclosure in group business. In recent years, both international and domestic market regulatory activities in the life and health insurance industry have focused on managing conflict of interest risk, providing appropriate disclosures to customers, and treating customers fairly. In addition, regulators and other stakeholders increasingly expect insurers to proactively identify and address market conduct risks, rather than waiting for regulatory direction. Within this context, the CLHIA’s members identified the need to become more customer focused and transparent in compensation disclosure in group benefits and group retirement services. G19 is based on the principles of treating customers fairly, providing clear disclosure, and insurer accountability. It will apply to the group retirement services and group benefits business of all CLHIA member companies, regardless of the form of compensation paid or provided, or the distribution channel used. It requires insurers to disclose to group contract holders (e.g., plan sponsors) all direct, indirect, and in-kind forms of compensation paid or provided by insurers to intermediaries. The phase-in will run July 1, 2018, to January 1, 2020. For more information and a schedule of the meetings, visit Guideline 19

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New MiFID Rules Shrink Payments For Research

New MiFID II rules on payments for investment research that went into effect January 3 have already shrunk the market for European equity research by an annual $300 million, says Greenwich Associates. However, the ultimate impact of the regulations likely won’t be evident before the end 2018. With a growing number of institutional investors announcing that they would cease charging clients for research and instead absorb research costs into their own P&Ls under the new rules, its study results show that, in the run-up to MiFID II implementation, the 39 Europe-based study participants reduced their 2018 research/advisory budgets by 20 per cent year-over-year. It estimates the 2017 European research/advisory pool at $1.35 billion, meaning the 2018 market, has shrunk by nearly $300 million. Despite these industry-wide reductions, a third of study respondents will pay research providers the same amount as last year. “Managers express concern about the message it would send to their investors if they made sudden and substantial cuts,” says William Llamas, associate director of relationship management at Greenwich Associates, and author of MiFID II is Here: How Investment Managers Have Prepared.’ “Any sign that managers have been wasteful in their spending in the past would resonate poorly.” MiFID II has also prompted investors to cut ties with some research providers. European respondents have reported more than a 20 per cent decrease in research counterparties. With these cuts, the amount budgeted for each provider/broker will remain relatively flat year-over-year.

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Best Governance Practices Examined

Steve Mahoney and Harry Matheis, of Matheis Financial Group, will discuss best practice investment governance processes, tools, trends, and an actual case study at its ‘Challenges Facing Employer Sponsored Plans Today’ session. It will look at governance, fiduciary responsibilities, and risks which, combined with an environment of lower expected investment returns plus an aging workforce, are key challenges facing employer sponsored savings plans today. It takes place February 1 in Pickering, ON. For information, contact or Talia Lane at 905-837-2600, ext. 12

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January 15, 2018

Blockchain ‘Unique Opportunity’

BNP Paribas Asset Management says there is a “unique opportunity” to transform the future of asset management with digital technology after it completed a fund transactions experiment using blockchain. It is part of a group that says a recent project to examine blockchain’s ability to support full end-to-end fund transactions had demonstrated an interoperability between blockchains and had marked a milestone in the evolution of fund distribution. It leveraged Fund Link, a blockchain program created by the firm’s related custody bank division, BNP Paribas Securities Services, and a blockchain fund transaction platform called FundsDLT, which was developed by Fundsquare, a Luxembourg-based market infrastructure provider. KPMG Luxembourg and IT firm InTech were also part of the project. The test showed that Fund Link can connect with other blockchains. Transactions included each part of the fund process from delivery of orders to processing trades. Fabrice Silberzan, chief operating officer at BNP Paribas AM, says blockchain would allow investors to benefit from reduced transaction time and that the firm itself would profit from a streamlined system.

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More Moderate Growth Coming

HSBC Canada Asset Management’s ‘Outlook for 2018’ sees a “less-than-Goldilocks economy” likely to deliver more moderate growth. It says after such a long economic expansion, many economists say a recession is due. However, it disagrees. Growth trends are still synchronized across advanced economies and emerging markets. Recession risk is effectively zero for now. Typical factors that drive recessions ‒ significant monetary tightening, economic imbalances, and external shocks ‒ are not present and leading economic indicators aren’t pointing to an imminent downturn. The key risk comes from a meaningful pick-up in inflation that forces policy-makers to tighten more aggressively. A major rate surprise might require a significant market adjustment.

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Disruption Benefits Mega Cap Companies

Innovation and disruptive change continue to benefit a relatively small group of mega cap companies, say Rob Sharps, group chief investment officer, and Justin Thomson, chief investment officer, equity, in T. Rowe Price’s ‘Experts’ Outlook for 2018. It says despite recent gains, valuations for these stocks still appear reasonable. As well, for the first time since the global financial crisis, the world economy is in a synchronized expansion, driving steady earnings growth in most markets. As a result, barring unpredictable political or economic shocks, the global earnings recovery should continue in 2018. However, year-over-year comparisons will grow more challenging. Moving into 2018, it expects to see a further acceleration in the disruptive forces being unleashed in global equity markets by a powerful combination of technological innovation, changing consumer preferences, and evolving business models. These forces are upsetting the competitive balance in existing industries, while at the same time spurring rapid growth for new products and services. This wave of change should continue to benefit a small group of mega cap companies that have created dominant technology platforms in industries such as eCommerce, social media, mobile devices, and internet search.

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Canada 'Favoured Market'

Canada is “the favoured market” due to its greater sector leverage to global growth and firming commodity prices, says GLC Asset Management Group’s ‘2018 Capital Market Outlook.’ It says Canada’s valuations are more reasonable than its global peers. As a result, GLC holds a positive view toward Canadian equities, believing financial conditions and the global economy have enough momentum to support Canada’s modest earnings growth target of 10 per cent coming from a broad swath of S&P/TSX sectors. With a solid 2018 dividend yield estimate of three per cent, it sees total returns in the neighborhood of seven per cent for 2018. Factors that should see the Canadian economy’s growth rate moderate in 2018 include the prospect of shrinking competitiveness due to a narrowing in U.S./Canadian corporate tax rate differentials; rising costs from carbon and other taxes, along with various provincial moves on minimum wages and regulations; and potential trade friction with the U.S. Even if NAFTA goes well, it says, the U.S. is moving toward a more protectionist stance.

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Homewood Completes Lodge Purchase

Homewood Health has completed the purchase of Dunsmuir Lodge on Vancouver Island, BC, along with 28 acres of surrounding property from the University of Victoria. Homewood is converting Dunsmuir to an inpatient facility specializing in mental health and addiction treatment with a capacity of up to 99 beds. Opening is planned for the fall of this year. As a part of its nationally available services, this facility will specialize in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, trauma-related disorders, and addiction as well as co-occurring mental health and addiction conditions.

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‘Stress Busters’ Offered

Cecile Schultz, a chartered mediator with Homewood Health, will define stress and its physical, emotional, social, and behaviour impacts at the CPBI Northern Alberta Region ‘Stress Busters’ session. She will also offer ideas on how to manage stress. It takes place February 21 in Edmonton, AB. For information, visit Stress Busters

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January 12, 2018

Rosenberg Loves Japan

David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin, Sheff + Associates Inc., loves Japan. And at a time when the economic cycle in North America is nearing an end, opportunities exist in economies like Japan to protect investment portfolio, he said in the ‘2018: The Year of the Dog (and Some Late Cycle Training)’ session at the Empire Club of Canada’s ‘Annual Investment Outlook.’ He said the current economic environment in North America is a once in a century event. The typical economic expansion lasts 60 months and the current one is in its 103rd month, the second longest expansionary period ever. This is abnormal, he said, and raises questions about how long it will last. In his view, the signals indicate this won’t be much longer. Consumer confidence is at peak levels and recessions usually follow this about a year later. As well, the U.S. Fed started tightening and raising interest rates in December of 2015. Since 1950, there has been 13 fed hiking cycles and 10 resulted in recession. Indeed, he said another two interest rate hikes and the yield curve will invert starting a recession. Credit spreads, unemployment rates, and other aspects all indicate the lateness of this cycle which may have another year left in the tank, he said. The role of the economist is to help investors understand where they are in the business cycle so they can protect their investment. The later it is in a cycle means they need to be more cautious and take risk off the table by look for companies with earnings predictability not volatility. However, he said only North America is entering the last stages of this cycle and with 60 per cent of the rest of the world’s assets out there, investors need to “think outside the box. You can play the late cycle game in North America where the menu is limited or go outside to other economies which are earlier in the cycle.” Japan a good bet, he said, as it is out of recession and out of deflation. And its economy is not about a declining and aging population. It is about Sony, more women entering the labour force, and the number of foreigners working in Japan increasing. All of this is generating income and Japanese profit margins are at all-time highs and rising. Yet, its stock market still 40 per cent below peak and only just starting to break out. Japan is under-owned, under-appreciated, and under-valued. And this is not just a 2018 story, it is a secular theme which will go beyond this year, he said.

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Retirees Facing Debt Management

Analysts and policymakers should explore ways to enhance debt management practices as they examine factors driving retirement security, says a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper. It found older persons today appear more likely to enter retirement in debt than in past decades. The percentage of people age 56 to 61 arriving at the verge of retirement with debt rose from 64 per cent to 71 per cent. Additionally, the value of debt held rose sharply over time. While the median amount of debt was about $6,800, it almost quintupled among Early Boomers to $32,700. Depending on the interest rate charged on this debt, these families would be very likely to face sizeable monthly debt repayments and carry their debt well into retirement. The analysis found it is not just the value of debt that has increased over time, but the proportion of debt to assets as well. For example, the median value of total debt over total assets was only about four per cent, but this ratio rose to 15 per cent in the Early Boomer cohorts. In addition, a sizable fraction of Early Boomers had ratios over 50 per cent and some held debt worth as much as 90 per cent of total assets. As a result, it appears that cohorts entering retirement will need to ensure that their income and asset drawdowns suffice not only to cover their target consumption streams, but also to service their mortgage and other debt during retirement.

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Shift To Real Gold Could Drive Up Price

Shifting away from paper gold to actual physical bullion could drive the price of gold from its current $1,330 an ounce to more than $10,000 an ounce, says Nick Barisheff, president and CEO of BMG Group Inc. Speaking at the Empire Club of Canada’s ‘Annual Investment Outlook’ on ‘Macro Trend Changes for Gold in 2018 and Beyond’, he said suppression of gold and silver prices is no longer a conspiracy theory and manipulation of the gold price has moved out of theory into mainstream. In fact, a law suit in North America against six major bullion banks has been allowed to proceed and one of the defendants is looking to settle and assist the plaintiffs in their legal action. Much of the problem is that trading in gold is being done through futures and derivatives where the sellers never actually own bullion. This means the amount of paper gold dwarfs actual bullion which is forcing the price down, he said. Condition are in place for a major market correction which will result in a massive increase in prices of gold as investors flock to its historic safety, he said.

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ESG Adoption Levels Off

Adoption rates of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into the investment decision-making process among institutional investors has leveled off, says the Callan 2017 ESG survey. Overall incorporation of ESG factors into investment decision-making plateaued at 37 per cent of respondents in 2017, on par with 2016 (37 per cent) and up from 2013 (22 per cent). This trend reflects changing survey respondents over time as a larger portion of smaller and corporate funds responded in 2017 than in previous years). As well, multiple years of investor education around ESG have come to fruition. It also found seven per cent of respondent firms that have not yet incorporated ESG factors into investment decisions were considering doing so in the future, down from 22 per cent in 2016. There has been a 68 per cent increase in the rate of ESG adoption since inception of Callan’s survey in 2013. The largest of funds (with $20 billion in assets under management or more) continued to incorporate ESG factors into the investment decision-making process at a much higher rate than their smaller counterparts: 78 per cent for the largest funds compared to 30 per cent for the smallest funds ($500 million in assets or less).

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Economy Favours Equities

The global economy has enough momentum and inflation and financial conditions will remain accommodative long enough that they continue to favour equities over fixed income, says GLC Asset Management Group’s ‘2018 Capital Market Outlook,’ suggesting that investors moderate their overweight in equities and underweight in fixed income. “Today, investor, business and consumer optimism is high. Yet as a natural progression, the further along the economy rolls, the harder it becomes for conditions to improve. Eventually a normal slowing of the economy is healthy and to be expected” says Brent Joyce, GLC’s chief investment strategist. The report lays out a series of late cycle economic signs that highlight a greater degree of uncertainty for capital markets. “At the current pace, we see supportive conditions lasting long enough that we believe it is too soon to move to a neutral stance, but caution is warranted and we need to be nimble in our investment positioning,” he says.

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Hedge Fund Returns Significant

The global hedge fund industry performed strongly in 2017 with aggregate returns significantly higher than the previous two years, says eVestment’s monthly ‘Hedge Fund Industry Performance Report.’ Aggregate returns for the year were 8.83 per cent compared with 5.7 per cent the previous year and a loss of 0.71 per cent in 2015. Hedge funds focused on India and China were the strongest overall performers in the industry in 2017. India-focused funds returned 35.01 per cent for the year, compared to 4.53 per cent the previous year. China-focused hedge funds came a close second, returning 34.82 per cent in 2017, up from a loss of 5.39 per cent the previous year. Among primary markets, equity-focused funds were strong performers in 2017, returning 13.14 per cent for the year.

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iA Offers Online Claims

iA Financial Group has launched an individual insurance online claims service. This fully digital solution makes it possible to file life, disability, and critical illness insurance claims online and track them in real time. Through, an advisor, applicant, or insured has access to a personalized questionnaire. A minimum of information is required to file the claim and no passwords or user codes are required. A confirmation containing a tracking number and a link to the claim tracking page is sent to the person filing the claim. This page makes it possible to track the status of the claim, see whether all required documents have been received, and exchange confidential documents securely.

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Caisse Supports Columbian Energy

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec will support Colombia-based energy company Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) with a US$250 million loan. This transaction will contribute to EPM’s overall growth, notably the Ituango hydroelectric project, the largest renewable energy project in Colombia to date. For this transaction, it joins a group of lenders led by IDB Invest, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and the principal source of private sector development financing for Latin America. EPM, which also operates in the natural gas, telecommunications, and water sectors, is its second Colombian investment within four months. In October 2017, it made its first direct private investment in Colombia, a senior loan to Pacifico 2, a toll highway sponsored by Colombian concessionaire Odinsa under the Colombian government’s PPP program for transport infrastructure.

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Williamson Has New Role

Don Williamson is a principal and vice-president, national benefits consulting, at Cowan Insurance Group. Most recently, he was a principal and vice-president, national benefits consulting, at the Williamson Group – A Cowan Company. He joined Williamson in 1994 as an employee benefits consultant and held increasingly senior positions until 2009 when he became president. This change is part of the integration with Cowan, which acquired the Williamson Group in 2015.

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Ageing And Economy Discussed

By 2036, one in four Canadians will be over the age of 65. That means retirement and financial planning services need to start adapting to a new demographic reality. The National Institute on Ageing is presenting ‘Ageing and the Economy,’ a panel discussion featuring Kevin Dougherty, president of Sun Life Financial Canada; Jim Keohane, president and CEO of HOOPP; and Michael Latimer, president and CEO of OMERS. They will offer actionable and practical insights into how the ageing population affects the economy of today and the future. It takes place February 27 in Toronto, ON. For information, visit Ageing And Economy

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January 11, 2018

Social Stability Biggest Threat To Economy

Declining social stability is the biggest long-term threat to the global economy, says Eric Winograd, senior economist global economics research at AB (Alliance Bernstein). Speaking at its ‘2018 Economic Outlook,’ he said the coming year will see more of the same in terms of economic performance with growth in aggregate the same as last year. He said the economy for the past three years has been in a high growth/low inflation business cycle. In this benign environment, growth is pretty good. And the economy is doing well because it is a global story, not just a U.S. story. Manufacturing and world trade are starting to pick up which means we can expect more positive growth over the next couple of years.” However, there are secular trends that could change everything. Consumers are carrying large debt loads which are easily financed at low interest rates, but what happens if rates rise, he asked. Demographics trends suggest lower growth and inflation over the longer term with more elderly dependents being supported by a smaller group of younger workers and inflation kept low to reduce its impact on fixed incomes in retirement. And the elephant in the room is rising inequality which could lead to populism and generate poor macroeconomic outcomes. Populism can be left wing, right wing, or some combination, but it leads to unpredictable policy outcomes and thus limits growth, he said. Up until 2002, corporate profit growth rose at the same as employee pay. However, even with a depression since then that crushed profits, profits have taken off, rising must faster than income. The corporate sector is increasingly owned by the rich and concentrated gains by the wealthiest don’t fully pass through to consumption as the rich have a lower marginal propensity to consume. The question is will firms spend the benefit of tax cuts on wages or on dividends and buybacks. Recent history suggests the latter, he said. This raises a risk of losing that social harmony that “when times are good everyone wins.” In fact, the purpose of monetary policy is to keep the economy stable so everyone goes with the system and no-one is protesting in the streets. This will be, hard to do in the current environment, he said.

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Health And Wellness Offerings Decrease

More than half of Canadian human resources managers (57 per cent) report their organization has decreased health and wellness offerings in the past five years, says a survey from OfficeTeam. Employees cited food at office celebrations (29 per cent) and snacks brought in by colleagues (26 per cent) as the biggest obstacles to meeting health and wellness goals. Nearly a third of professionals (30 per cent) said they eat healthier when they work from home. Of all respondent groups, male employees (37 per cent) and those ages 18 to 34 (32 per cent) reported this most often. While more than a third of employees (36 per cent) are fans of the office candy jar, the same percentage have a love-hate relationship with it. In terms of the most innovative things companies do to support employee health and wellness, the list includes offering onsite exercise, meditation, yoga, and healthy cooking classes; providing free massages; having trained healthcare providers in the office; providing additional days off for mental health; offering onsite personal trainers; and contributing healthy onsite snack and meal options. “As expectations for workplace well-being evolve, companies have an opportunity to significantly impact their employees’ overall health and happiness at work,” says Koula Vasilopoulos, a district president for OfficeTeam. “Organizations that make wellness a priority, and empower staff with resources that encourage healthy-living at and outside the office, ultimately promote an attractive work environment, and a more productive and loyal workforce.”

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Real Estate Promises Strong Performance

Global real estate investment trusts (REITs) are expected to deliver returns of between eight to 10 per cent in the year ahead, says Timbercreek’s ‘2018 Market Outlook.’ It sees strong performance across many markets including Canada and the United States. Within the Canadian real estate sector, the report says the outlook for the sector remains positive, particularly for REITs that own office and retail assets focused in urban areas such as Toronto, ON; Montreal, QC; and Vancouver, BC. REITs are expected to add further value of existing property by creating mixed use assets where each use – retail, residential, and office – virtuously supports each other. It believes Canadian small cap REITs and REITs that own assets internationally (in Europe or the U.S.) are fundamentally mispriced and poised to deliver better than average returns in 2018. “We anticipate that this year’s market conditions will be favourable for global real estate securities as valuations remain attractive, both on an absolute and a relative basis, with global REITs trading below the 10-year global equities average – levels not seen since 2008-2009,” says Corrado Russo, senior managing director, investments and global head of securities, at Timbercreek. “These factors, when combined with projected dividend growth should positively influence global REIT share prices in 2018.”

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eHealth Efforts Earn Awards

For the fourth consecutive year, Morneau Shepell was recognized eHealthcare leadership awards. It has been recognized for best healthcare content, best interactive, and best mobile apps and sites and was been award the Mark Gothberg eHealth organizational commitment award. In each of the categories, Morneau Shepell was awarded for its interactive website, The website, which is a resource that supplements its employee and family assistance program, provides clients with confidential support to help resolve work, health, and life challenges. The eHealth organizational commitment award recognizes its commitment to achieving its business objectives through technology. The awards will be presented in October at the ‘21st Annual Healthcare Internet Conference’ in Austin, TX.

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Joint Venture Targets Housing

Cortland Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and GIC have formed a joint venture with a targeted equity amount of US$550 million to acquire and renovate 8,000 to 10,000 Class B multifamily units in the U.S. CPPIB and GIC will each own a 45 per cent interest in the joint venture and Cortland Partners will own the remaining 10 per cent interest. Class B properties are generally well-maintained older assets with opportunities for improvements to the buildings for the benefit of tenants, ongoing maintenance, and long-term appreciation. The joint venture has initially acquired garden-style communities located in Denver, CO; Raleigh, NC; and Austin, TX. The joint venture will pursue additional opportunities to acquire multifamily properties that are candidates for value-add strategies, primarily in major markets throughout the southern and southeastern U.S.

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Kesteris Joins Medavie

Karen Kesteris is director, drug, product, and provider management at Medavie Blue Cross. She brings over 20 years of group benefits experience to the role and has led drug plan management and the development of drug, dental, and extended health benefit products. 

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Drug Claim Questions Answered

‘What to do When an Employer asks About a Drug Claim’ will be discussed at a Canadian Group Insurance Brokers Inc/Benefits Breakfast Club session. Thomas Holloway, of Equitus Consulting Inc.; Suzanne LePage, a private health plan strategist; Blair Rutledge, of Cameron Stewart Life Science; and Jim Bullock, a senior insurance advisor and expert witness; will provide answers to some of questions plan members are asking about claims. It takes place February 28 in Vaughan, ON. For information, visit Claim Questions

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January Interest Rate Assumptions

The interest assumptions required to calculate commuted values and marriage breakdown values for an event which occurs in any month up to and including January 2017 are now available at An Excel spreadsheet on the website contains nine worksheets:

          Commuted Values ‒ February 2011 CIA

          Marital Breakdown ‒ CSOP 4300, January 2012

          Ontario (Bill 133) Prior Rates – Rates for Ontario Marital Breakdown with valuation date prior to January 1, 2012

          Annuity Proxy for Solvency Calculations for Non-Indexed & Fully-Indexed Pensions

          Minimum Interest on Employee Required Contributions

          HISTORICAL Marital Breakdown ‒ CSOP 4300, May 2009 (Now Frozen)

          HISTORICAL Commuted Values ‒ 2009 Basis (Now Frozen)

          HISTORICAL Commuted Values ‒ 2005 Basis (Now Frozen)

          HISTORICAL Commuted Values ‒ 1993 Basis (Now Frozen)

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