Canadians Wait Longest

Despite spending more on healthcare than most other developed countries with universal coverage, Canada has a relatively short supply of doctors and hospital beds and the longest wait times, says a report by the Fraser Institute. “Canada’s healthcare system remains one of the most expensive in the world yet struggles with a comparative dearth of medical resources and comparatively long wait times,” says Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of ‘Comparing Performance of Universal Health Care Countries, 2019.’ In 2017, the latest year of comparable data, Canada’s healthcare spending as a share of GDP (11.1 per cent) ranked second highest (after adjusting for population age) behind only Switzerland. But again, despite the high cost, availability and access to medical resources in the Canadian healthcare system is generally worse than in the comparable countries. For example, Canada ranks 26th (out of 28 countries) for the number of doctors (2.8 per 1,000 people), and 26th (out of 27) for the number of hospital beds (two per 1,000 people), ranks 21st (out of 26) for the number of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines with 10.4 MRIs per million people, and 21st (out of 27) for CT scanners with 15.9 scanners per million people. On the wait-time front, among the 10 comparable universal healthcare countries, Canada ranks last with the highest percentage of patients (30 per cent) who waited two months or longer to see a specialist, and the highest percentage of patients (18 per cent) who waited four months or longer for elective surgery. “To improve Canadian healthcare, policymakers should learn from more successful universal healthcare countries, for the benefit of Canadians and their families,” Barua said.

Importance Of RI Rises

Importance Of RI Rises

Aon plc’s ‘2019 Global Perspectives on Responsible Investing’ survey has found an enormous uptick in the importance of responsible investing (RI) from institutional investors across geographies, investor types, and firm sizes. Globally, 85 per cent report responsible investing is at least somewhat important to their organization, up from 68 per cent in its 2018 survey. The increase in those that believe RI is at least somewhat important shows, by region, Canada at 78 per cent, up from 68 per cent in 2018; the United Kingdom at 87 per cent, up from 66 per cent in 2018; the United States at 78 per cent, up from 57 per cent in 2018; and Continental Europe at 85 per cent, up from 80 per cent in 2018. “I am sure it comes as no surprise that responsible investing is growing in importance in regions like the UK and Continental Europe, where there’s been a marked increase in RI regulation,” says Meredith Jones, author of the report and global head of responsible investing at Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting. “However, we are also seeing significant investor-led RI efforts in areas where regulation is not driving activity. It seems institutional investors are increasingly concerned about risks associated with non-financial factors within their portfolios and RI offers multiple ways to capture, evaluate, and mitigate those risks.” Despite these gains, relatively ambiguous regulatory policies in the United States may be holding investors back from RI. Forty-four per cent of those polled in the United States indicated that RI plays no role in their investment decision-making, compared with 29 per cent in Canada, 27 per cent in Continental Europe, and 11 percent in the United Kingdom. Globally, the per cent of respondents who do not consider RI in the manager selection process dropped from 37 per cent to 29 per cent.

Mobile Health And Wellness Offered

Great-West Life has launched Health Connected, a mobile-friendly health and wellness platform that draws on strategic features to encourage users to take charge of their health. When they do, from now until December 31 they can enter for a chance to win wellness prizes from Great-West Life. Prizes include $4,000 cash the winner can use on whatever wellness means to them. “Many of us struggle to practice self-care, be it through exercise, nutritious food, good sleep hygiene, or stress management techniques,” says Ryan Weiss, vice-president, group customer product and experience, Great-West Life. “Health Connected has a built-in engagement strategy – our wellness prizes – that rewards taking steps to improve health and get at the heart of this challenge.” He says the platform is accessible to virtually all members of Great-West Life group health and benefits plans, at no extra cost to plan sponsors. Strategic features include digital health coaching; team and solo challenges in categories of nutrition, fitness, stress, or happiness; and integration with top fitness apps.

Cloud Brings Added Risks

With many organizations exploring the idea of using cloud technologies for HR, payroll, benefits, and retirement information, the CPBI Southern Alberta Region’s ‘Digital Risk Management in a Cloud Based Era’ looked at an area of risk that needs examining ‒particularly if personal and confidential information is being stored on the cloud. Harm Cassam, a forensic and integrity services partner with EY Canada, described the cloud as “IT services over the internet.” Cloud based applications are becoming more and more popular as it provides organizations with a one-stop shop for all of their computing needs. Jinu Varghese, with CyAlpha Cyber Solutions, outlined some of the top threats organizations should consider when selecting a cloud vendor. Among their considerations are data privacy/security, where servers located and where is data stored; who has access to the data, and who is liable when there has been a breach. As plan sponsors and carriers begin exploring the migration of HR, payroll and benefits data to a cloud environment, cybersecurity should be at the top of the mind when selecting cloud vendors, he said. Proper due diligence should be performed and a well-documented contract will ensure their cyber risk is mitigated.

‘Delegated Administrator Created’

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has created a new role of ‘delegated administrator’ under the Pension Services Portal, says Morneau Shepell’s September 2019 ‘News & Views.’ This will allow delegated administrators who work for service providers to make and revoke delegations for the employees within their organizations. It also permits more than one employee of the pension plan administrator (usually the employer) to manage delegations both within and outside of the organizations. Under the previous system, the ‘primary administrator’ (usually an individual who works for the employer) would be required to provide or revoke access to all agents. No other individual inside or outside of the organization would be permitted to manage delegation rights. The change is intended to reduce the burden on primary administrators that outsource the administration and investment functions of their pension plans to third parties.

Risk Exposure Place To Start

With real estate investors buying and leasing assets whose useful lives might very well extend into a climate-changed world, a detailed asset-level risk-exposure assessment is a useful first step for real estate, says the ‘MSCI Real Estate Newsletter: September 2019.’ After assessing exposure, investors may consider avoiding high-risk areas. Another approach may be to transfer the risk to insurance companies and tenants as these hazards become more probable and extreme; however, insurance premiums may rise or worse and insurance coverage itself might become unattainable. Alternatively, investors might consider whether to engage with policymakers and regulators on local climate-resilience strategies. Regardless of the approach, investors can likely no longer ignore these risks. Extreme weather events and natural disasters have become more frequent and intense. For example, the number of floods has quadrupled since 1980 and doubled since 2004. Properties that appear attractive today could be underwater or reduced to ash before their return on investment is fully realized. Yet investors struggle to quantify the severity of long-term climate risks; they seek both a better understanding of their exposure and improved ways to manage it.

Portfolio Diversification Drives ETF Growth

Equity exchange-traded funds (ETFs) will continue to account for the bulk of European ETF assets, but demand for other asset classes of ETFs is growing, says Cerulli Associates. Among the drivers of this growth are the increasing appeal of using ETFs for portfolio diversification, their cost-effectiveness, and their versatility in time-specific or niche exposures. Another key factor is the demand from institutional investors. The assets of ETFs domiciled in Europe rose at a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent from 2012 to 2018, despite contracting last year when several European equity markets moved into negative territory. European private banks and wealth managers are increasingly making use of ETFs and smart beta products, while a growing number of active managers are unveiling ETF propositions. Some 38.9 per cent of the European asset managers expect smart beta products to grow rapidly in the institutional space; a further 44.4 per cent anticipate moderate growth.

Data Among Top Opportunities

Data analytics to enhance product design, marketing, and pricing and enhanced operational processes and use of technology are among the top opportunities identified in KPMG in Canada’s ‘2019 Canadian Asset Management Industry’s Top Opportunities and Risks.’ Other opportunities include enhancing investment yields through investing in new investment strategies, launching new product types/services, and increased penetration of existing client base. The top risks include the push for a lower management fee environment, the increasing complexity of regulation and cost of compliance, and cost challenges and squeezed profit margins.

PSP In Washington Joint Venture

Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW), a joint venture of Hoffman & Associates (formerly PN Hoffman) and Madison Marquette, the co-developers of The Wharf, along with joint venture partner, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, have closed on the largest private construction loan in the history of Washington, DC. The funding is for the second phase of the project which is already exceeding the first phase’s performance with office preleasing and facilities from trophy and boutique office environments to luxury living enhanced by engaging retail and dining experiences. Construction on the second phase of the development started in March. It will occupy nearly 300,000 square feet of the two mixed-use office towers.

Pineau Heads Pace

Jim Pineau is president at Pace Consulting Benefits & Pensions LTD. Most recently, he was national vice-president, group benefits and retirement solutions, at Manulife Financial, a firm he joined in 2000.

Summit Addresses Global Challenges

The SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education) ‘Investor Summit 2020’ will address global challenges, design solutions, and building a sustainable, inclusive, and productive economy. Speakers include Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; Kevin Thomas, chief executive officer of SHARE; and Mark Sevestre, president and chair of reconciliation and responsible investment committee at NATOA. It takes place February 20 and 21 in Vancouver, BC. It will be preceded by workshops introducing trustees to investment, governance, and capital stewardship; on the opportunities and challenges associated with embedding responsible investment into fund governance and investment oversight; and pursuing impact across portfolios. For information, visit Summit 2020