Ontario Workplace Blitz Schedule Bulletin

Bryson Bulletin: Ontario Workplace Blitz Schedule

Ontario released their workplace inspection blitz schedule which goes from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. Workplaces will not receive any heads up beyond the outline listed in the document. The focus is on industries with a history of increased risks including construction, logistics, mining, among others. To comply companies must adhere to the Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

While a visit from a Ministry of Labour inspector can happen at random, all businesses should ensure that they are properly prepared. They can do this by reviewing the blitz schedule (included in attached PDF below) and by keeping in mind the following tips:

  1. Review specific provisions of the OHSA and the ESA that may apply to the blitz’s area of focus. Businesses need to meet the minimum legal requirements under these regulations in order to pass an inspection.
  2. Review the Ministry of Labour’s material on inspection blitzes.
  3. Discuss compliance strategies with joint health and safety committee representatives.
  4. Make any required documentation available to the inspector. In the event of an inspection, supervisors, managers, and health and safety representatives should be available if the inspector has any questions.

Read the entire Compliance Bulletin here:

Compliance Bulletin – Ontario Announces 2017-18 Workplace Inspection Blitz Schedule

older man painting outside in durham region

The Myth about Aging

written by Tobi McLeod

Aging is a natural part of the life cycle in all living things. In the animal kingdom the elders of the pack or herd have a specific place of respect within the group.

In the human world, the elders are treated very differently from culture to culture. Many cultures highly respect their elders and ensure they are cared for within the family nucleus until their last breath. In Western culture there is a battle going on. The elders themselves are not willing to accept getting older and the important role they play in the future of the younger generations.

We resist and fight against the aging process. We live in denial about aging in the hopes that this isn’t really happening to us. Not me! No way!

Bryson Insurance Mental Health and Wellness Guru Tobi

Bryson’s Commercial Accounting Assistant & Wellness Adviser Tobi McLeod with her doggie Ruggie

 

If we are not suffering from any underlying medical issues we may notice things such as: hair loss for men, new unexplained facial hair for ladies, the new ache you have in your hip or knee, gray hair creeping in, a few more wrinkles, you get the idea.

We have to stop viewing old age as a problem – as if it were an incurable disease. It cannot be ‘solved” by spending billions of dollars on plastic surgery in a vain attempt to mask the visible signs of aging. There are billions being spent annually on research to extend the life span itself, along with more money than ever before spent on nursing homes and retirement homes as a way to isolate those who don’t want to conform and continue in denial about aging.

A new concept of thinking about aging called “Conscious Aging” includes a new way of looking at the experience of aging in its entirety. In ancient cultures there was acceptance that life has a beginning, middle, and an end. The concept of “Conscious Aging” returns us to that way of thinking or belief. To recognize and accept the aging process, a natural part of the life cycle for all creatures on this planet, and discontinue the cultural obsession with the Fountain of Youth and learn to respect the need for wisdom. The goal is to change the view of aging to something that should not be feared, but rather embraced. The societal attitude towards aging is at one of its lowest points in history. Instead of spending billions of dollars to ward off the evil of aging, the money should be spent on finding ways to improve the quality of life of the aging population.

older couple having fun together in durham regionEverything in existence has an expiry date; from the label on the package of food, our clothing gets worn out, our cars only last so many years, to our lives. The only question is: How are you going to expire and what do you want to do until you do?

Most of us live in fear of aging which, ironically, speeds up the aging process. The stress this fear creates actually increases the chance of wrinkles, grey hair, along with a multitude of health problems. It begins to rob our lives of meaning at a time when we should be living our lives to the fullest.

The fear of aging and the denial associated with it has a cost. We go through our lives psychologically and spiritually incomplete. We fear memory loss as one of the things to decline in old age. In the same way our fear of physically aging can increase our physical signs of aging, the same can be said about the fear of memory loss. The more we fear it, the more it can create actual memory decline. It is human nature to fear the unknown. For centuries the fear of the unknown, of what will happen to us after our existence here on Earth, has forced us to focus on the fear and not the actual act of living. The animal kingdom lives in the present moment; humans struggle to even be present at times. older man paints outside in summer in the durham region

We can not alter nature. We invest billions into research on ways to extend life and defy death for as long as possible. Our attempt to add a few more years to the human life span is exhausting, expensive and in the end a meaningless venture. We add stress to our existence by not being able to accept the natural process of aging. Instead of living longer, maybe we are just dying longer.

The best way to combat the aging process would be to start really living your life. Embrace the daily things that occur, enjoy the time spent with family, friends, and co-workers. Do something every day that makes you smile. Go for a walk. Eat everything in moderation. Watch a flock of birds interact. Learn something new to stimulate your memory, read, do crosswords, or take an adult educational class. Your brain is a muscle and it requires exercise too!

We are only here for a short time so get out there and enjoy every moment of it!
Mind yourself and your mental health.

Should I get Term Insurance to replace my Mortgage Insurance?

For many of us, purchasing a home can be one of our biggest life decisions. Often that purchase involves a substantial mortgage and years of debt. Slowly paying down the mortgage creates for many their biggest family asset base. It is why many home owners make the decision to add mortgage insurance to cover remainder mortgage debt owing in the case of death of one of the owners.

Taking proactive steps to care for surviving family members is responsible, caring and Term vs Lifecommendable. Because life is busy, many home owners choose to simply add the mortgage insurance offered by the lending institution. We believe there is a superior alternative that puts you and your family first.

Term insurance is often a better overall solution for you and your family. In this article, we will compare similarities while also contrasting mortgage insurance vs. term insurance.

Ready to get a complimentary quote to see if our insurance package fits your needs better than your current mortgage insurance coverage? Take a minute to get in touch with us at 1-800-661-5196 ext: 4, email your dedicated account manager or send a general email to info@brysoninsurance.ca.

To help illustrate, let’s consider a case study of a family. A married couple, the Smiths, with two children purchase a $1,000,000 home and carry a $500,000 mortgage with a 20-year term. The couple obtains a mortgage at the bank and is offered mortgage insurance that can be blended into their monthly mortgage payment. Before agreeing, they sit with their personal insurance specialist at Bryson to get a quote for term insurance. Premiums come back equal but the couple chooses the term insurance over the mortgage insurance.

Why did they choose individual term insurance to cover the mortgage?

Surprisingly, ease of insurance is actually easier with mortgage insurance. The bank asks a few standard health questions but holds off on doing a medical check until after a claim is made. What does this mean? After death, the mortgage insurance company often conducts an analysis of medical records to determine insurability. And what does that mean? It is possible for the mortgage insurance company to reject payment and instead only return premiums paid in over the life of the policy.

CBC Marketwatch investigated Lender Mortgage Insurance in a segment called “In Denial”

How was obtaining term insurance different? Well, the Smiths were asked health questions from their personal insurance specialist and were required to complete a medical exam before the insurance policy was issued. When approved and delivered, the Smiths could rest with peace of mind knowing they are properly insured.

What else did the Smith family love about their own term policy? Just that, they own the policy and are able to select their own beneficiaries. This is different from lender mortgage insurance which names the lender as the beneficiary. With term insurance the Smiths are in control of their future and are able to name each other as beneficiary (instead of the lending institution).

Why is this important? The surviving spouse can make powerful decisions with the payment received. Maybe paying off the mortgage is the best option but maybe it makes sense to pay down other higher interest debts that are accumulated or other supports the family requires in its time of need.

While these are significant differences, the biggest is getting what you pay for. Warren Buffett’s wisdom: ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’ rings true in this discussion. While the premium payments may be similar, the payout can be significantly different. With lender mortgage insurance, the coverage decreases with the remaining balance of the mortgage. With term insurance the premium payment and death benefit remain what was initially agreed to.

The Smiths also knew they would likely be moving within the next few years. They knew this was an opportunity to get proper insurance while they are healthy which helped to keep premiums down and the coverage reliable regardless of who carries their mortgage.

The Bottom Line

To help you make an informed decision, we offer to complete with you an insurance health check. We will evaluate insurance coverage you have in force today and compare it with what is important to you.

Take us up on our offer by getting in touch with us at 1-800-661-5196 ext: 4, email your dedicated account manager or send a general email to info@brysoninsurance.ca.

Why is Water Damage on the Rise?

Water damage is becoming more and more a problem for Canadian homeowners. Insurance companies are also altering how they manage the risk involved with certain types of water damage, specifically damages caused by overland water.

Overland water is classified as water entering a property from the sudden accumulation of water from events like heavy rains, spring run-off and overflow from lakes and winters.

Insurance companies have created an add-on option for most home owners called Overland Water Coverage to protect from this type of damage. Most policies have damage resulting from overland water damage explicitly excluded from the homeowner policy.

This coverage is important and for a few extra dollars a month can provide protection against

a house is surrounded by water which is intensified by snow melting and turning to water causing overland water damage not covered by insurance

significant loss. A recent article in the Toronto Star tells the story of a family that was denied a $2 million water damage claim because it was judged to be from water seepage which was specifically excluded from the policy.

Stories like this highlight the importance of taking the time to talk with your insurance broker about risks your home policy may not be covering you against.

Changing climate conditions is linked to an increase in the occurrence and severity of damage caused by overland water.

Our climate is changing. The average Canadian city is experiencing 20 more days of rain then what occurred in the 1950s.

heavy rain storm causing overland water build-up damage to peoples homesThe severity is also on the rise. The Insurance Bureau of Canada notes that what used to be a 1-in-40 year storm is now more like a 1-in-6 year storm. These storms cause heavier precipitation and flash flooding that is more likely to damage homes and personal belongings.

Depending on the age of your home and the type of basement you have there are things you can do to help protect your home from damage caused by overland water.

We will go deeper into solutions in a following article but a quick overview includes maintaining or adding a sump pump, checking tree root systems, adding backflow valves and removing valuables or other expensive items from basement storage.

The first action to take is to read through your insurance policy to see exactly what is covered. For you, that may be as exciting as reading the phone book. Trust us, knowing what you are covered for is an important responsibility that comes with owning your home.

To take the guess work out and call someone who likes to read insurance policies; your local Bryson Insurance personal insurance specialist! Take a minute to get in touch with us at 1-800-661-5196 ext: 4, email your dedicated account manager or send a general email to info@brysoninsurance.ca.

Feeling the Winter Blues?

Bryson Insurance Mental Health & Wellness Expert Tobi with her dog in Ajax ontario

Bryson’s Commercial Accounting Assistant & Wellness Adviser Tobi McLeod with her doggie Ruggie

written by Tobi McLeod

Many of us feel trapped within the obstacles of our own lives. Each one of us will experience different struggles in our world around us. Some of us struggle with work, family, finances, and each one of us has different coping skills for the changes that come our way.

Change of seasons to some people is a difficult time. Many revere winter as a time of sadness, an ending. However, winter is actually a time of renewal. Winter is a chance for everything to slow down, rest and rejuvenate. Everything in the natural world changes in the winter: animals hibernate, trees are bare of leaves, and bodies of water freeze over.

When spring arrives in a couple of months, we will be fresh and rested, ready to take on new challenges with energy and enthusiasm. The spring is when wildlife comes alive again, birds are singing, plants and trees develop new buds and the blooms begin.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (known as SAD) is defined as late autumn and winter depression associated with the lack of natural daylight. People who suffer from Bipolar Disorder have a tendency to have extreme depression during the winter months. Some may feel hopelessness and worthlessness, have thoughts of suicide, suffer from insomnia and many will turn to alcohol or recreational drugs to help with their symptoms. The use of substances, other than a prescription that is prescribed by your physician, can be highly dangerous. If you are on medications then the interaction can be detrimental. If you are not on any medication, alcohol and recreational drugs can act as a depressant and therefore lower your mood further. It is recommended to avoid alcohol and recreational drugs during episodes of SAD or any other form of depression you may experience throughout the year.

There are two possibilities that can cause SAD; one is related to the lack of serotonin. Serotonin carries signals along the neurotransmitters from the brain to the body systems, mainly between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. As such, many people that experience regular depression and other mood disorders will suffer from digestive disorders as well. Some researchers maintain serotonin is regarded as the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance.

The other possibility is a lack of melatonin, the hormone that is produced by the pineal gland. A lack of melatonin can have a substantial effect on the circadian rhythms that synchronize the body systems for sleep, blood pressure and boost immune system. Circadian rhythm is the primary function to regulate our day – night cycles. As we age, the amount of melatonin we naturally produce lowers which can lead to diseases that are affected by memory such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

During this time of year, in the middle of winter, many people feel the challenge from the lack of sunshine and short days. For some people it may feel like there are fewer reasons to get up and get things done. This is the season of procrastination.

The lack of serotonin, melatonin or vitamin D from the lack of sunlight can have profound physical and psychological effects on your body and the body systems. These changes may include: feeling tired and sluggish, general lack of energy, weakened immune system, lack of concentration and focus, overeating and weight gain, as well as sleep issues which are normally related to the lack of melatonin being produced and released into the body.
The psychological effects can include the desire to be alone, withdrawing from social activities and general feeling of isolation.

There are many ways to combat against the symptoms of SAD. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year. For mild symptoms, try spending more time outdoors, go tobogganing, skating, for a walk – the fresh air and any sunshine you can absorb (even through a cloud covered sky) will help rejuvenate and energize you. Try the following for other ways to help during this season: leave curtains open to let maximum light come inside, move your favourite chair closer to the window, install a skylight. Another option would be “Light Therapy” which involves sitting near a special fluorescent light box for several minutes each day.

Taking a supplement of Vitamin D (usually in drop format) will help against the symptoms of SAD. Other ideas are to resist the carbohydrate cravings as they are only a temporary booster to your system and you will feel the down effect faster than consuming something with natural components, such as orange juice or a protein like peanut butter or Greek yogurt.

Monitor your diet during the winter months to avoid the ‘high’ of carbohydrates and the winter weight gain. Be aware of your sleep patterns and make sure you are getting adequate sleep nightly. Sleep deprivation is one of the most disruptive to your body and brain functions.

Remember this simple equation: Less SUN = Less VITAMIN D = Less MELATONIN = Less HEALTH

Mind yourself and your mental health.

**Consult with your doctor before starting any new course of therapy or treatment.

newsletter-image-winter-tire

Is There an Insurance Discount for Having Winter Tires?

The Winter Tire Discount is part of the Ontario Government’s 2014 commitment to reduce automobile insurance premiums.

Do I qualify for the winter tire discount? If so, how much will I save?

To get answers specific for you and your situation give our team of insurance professionals a call at 1-800-661-5196 ext: 4 or email us at info@brysoninsurance.ca.
Have questions about the Winter Tire Discount in Ontario? We have answers.

Why is there a discount to install winter tires on my vehicle?

The winter tire discount was created to encourage drivers to install winter tires on their vehicles. The purpose is to improve road safety in winter months. More vehicles with winter tires will hopefully mean a winter with reduced collisions, both in frequency and severity.

Are all discount amounts the same for winter tires regardless of which insurance company my vehicle is with?

The actual discount is up to the insurance company, but regulators approve them – we’ve seen ranges from 2% to 5%. Some insurers will offer the discount only at certain times throughout the year. Each insurer is different, it is important to talk with your broker to find out the requirements for your situation.

What if I say I have winter tires installed on my vehicle but don’t really?

Under the statutory conditions, an insurance company could void your policy for misrepresentation. It is best to be honest with your broker and the insurance company for discounts like this.

Do I need to tell you about my winter tires every year?

It is ideal to update your broker. While not required a short call or email letting your broker know you are putting winter tires on again let’s us all rest easier during snowy nights.

To get answers specific for you and your situation give our team of insurance professionals a call at 1-800-661-5196 ext: 4 or email us at info@brysoninsurance.ca.

Child Studying Away From Home? Help Them Study Smart.

Do you have a child studying abroad or out-of-province? Protect your child from unexpected medical costs with Travel Insurance.

When you’re studying away from home, you may not be protected against the costs of a medical emergency.

If you have children that plan to study away from home, make sure they are covered for unexpected medical expenses. After all, your provincial health plan may only cover a small portion of the medical bills incurred outside of Canada or their home province. College

If left unprotected, these out-of-pocket expenses can add up. But with Student Travel Insurance, your child can be covered from unexpected medical expenses in a foreign country or out-of-province at a very reasonable rate.

As an aside, if your child is covered under your group health plan, remember to check the policy to see if it covers medical costs for out-of-province studies. If not, contact Bryson Insurance today to learn more about Student Travel Insurance.

What types of coverages are provided?

    • Tuition Reimbursement resulting from Medical Emergency
    • Hospital expenses
    • Physician services
    • Ambulance transportation
    • Emergency dental treatment
    • Trip break, which allows students to return home for a visit without terminating their coverage
    • Annual medical examination
    • And more

To find out how you may be affected and how coverage like this may produce better peace-of-mind reach out to us today and speak with a Bryson insurance professional. Email our team at info@brysoninsurance.ca, or call us at 1-800-661-5196

Bryson Family Inspired Back-To-School Meals and Snacks

It is getting very close to the Back-to-School time of year! For many, this means getting back into the routine of the daily practice of making packable lunches for your entire family.

We asked a few Bryson team members to share their their favourite healthy back-to-school recipes with you. Which will be your favourite? Leave us your answer and your favourite recipe ideas in the comments.

The recipes include two quick-to-make snacks and two hearty salads.

Recipes included are Vicky’s 1+1 Cookie Dough Bites,  Donna’s No Bake All Gym Class Bars, Tammy’s Arugula Arithmetic Salad, and Linda’s Tex(t)-Guacamole Salad.

Healthy Back-to-School Food Ideas

First the very easy-to-make and super healthy snacks:

Vicky Murphy’s 1+1 Cookie Dough Bites

Vicky made this instant classic recipe for the Bryson summer picnic. We asked to to please share the recipe with the world!

Ingredients
Small Batch:

  • 1 scoop (or packet) of vanilla protein power
  • 1/3 cup of old fashion oats
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk (or water)

Mix ingredients and then sprinkle in dark chocolate chips to taste. Roll into bite sized balls and store in the fridge or freezer. These are also great for parties and events!

Donna Murphy’s No Bake All Gym Class Bars

You know that 3pm wall? Break through it with Donna’s “No Bake All Gym Class Bars”. These bars are packed with delicious energy boosting foods.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Raisins
  • 2 cups Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup Coconut milk
  • ½ Protein Powder
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 1 cup natural Peanut butter
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chia seeds or ground flax seeds

Directions: In a blender, pulse 1 ½ cups of the oats until a flour like consistency. In a large bowl, toss to combine oat flour, remaining ½ cup oats, protein powder, chocolate chips, chia or flax seeds, and raisins. Stir together in a medium bowl the coconut milk, peanut butter, and honey. Pour Peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch square pan or an 11×7 inch pan. Press mixture down and cover with a lid or foil and refrigerate overnight, or until they harden some. Slice into 12 bars and keep stored in the refrigerator.

Tammy McCarthy’s Arugula Arithmetic Salad

Most of Tammy’s recipe is grown in her own backyard garden. When not engaged in her passion for gardening, Tammy is creating great meals like this one.

Ingredients

  • ½ cups ripped fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup ripped fresh kale leaves (de-stemmed)
  • ¼ cup ripped arugula
  • ¼ cup walnuts or cashews (can also sub with almonds, or mix)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (can sub with asiago or romano)
  • A separate 1/3 to ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients into blender except the separated 1/3 – ½ cup olive oil
While pureeing them in the blender, slow add the 1/3 cup of olive oil
Puree until texture is creamy and smooth.

Freezes well. Keeps in fridge for several days.

Linda Colgan’s Tex(t)-Guacamole Salad

Linda’s always bubbling with positive energy. As soon as we asked for a recipe, she was quick to share one of her favourites from a high-end restaurant from her trip to Texas.

Ingredients

  • Recipe for Guacamole Salad
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • ½ orange
  • Lots of fresh cilantro
  • Roasted roma tomatoes
  • Purple onion
  • Sea salt
  • 1 avocado

Squeeze juice into shallow salad bowl. Cut up avocado, put in onion, tomato, dice finely. Shake in cilantro and salt. Mix.

Let us know your favourite back-to-school recipe ideas in the comments!

Maintaining effective work-life balance

The nature of my business, as an insurance broker, allows me to meet new and interesting people every day. Our combination of personal lines, commercial business and specialization in truck fleet insurance, introduces us to all walks of life and the many challenges families and business owners face in today’s fast paced environment. Change is constant and work-life balance is a constant struggle.

I love what I do and enjoy belonging to the Durham business community. We are in the “helping” business and by insuring our clients appropriately, we help protect them against unforeseen perils with their personal, home, auto and business requirements.

I would like to share a few thoughts that have helped me to strike a better balance as a mother to 2 teenagers, a business owner who has just expanded to a second location in Brooklin and after nearly 20 years of marriage, have just completed building our own home. It makes me exhausted just thinking about it!

Tracy’s 5 TIPS for better work-life balance

1 I keep a positive mindset and remind myself daily of everything I have to be grateful for. I try very hard not to allow negativity to be part of my life – at home or at work. I highly recommend the book “A Complaint Free World” by Will Bowen as a guide to the power of positive thinking.

2 I walk to free my head of clutter and read books like “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington, who stresses the importance of getting enough sleep, meditation and making small gestures of kindness. I listen to Brene Brown, a research professor who speaks to the importance of embracing who we are.

3 I plan trips with my family in order to physically get away from our day to day surroundings, rediscover and enjoy each other’s company… no interruptions including cell phones, emails etc.

4 Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is high on my priority list. Personally, I have a movement specialist and a nutritionist I reach out to weekly. I also encourage our team to partake in annual community events we help sponsor like relay marathons, duathlons, Tough Mudder, Muderella and multiple 5 KM walks.

5 I surround myself with people who have strengths in areas I don’t. I delegate tasks that I simply don’t have time to do and align with those who I trust and have confidence in. We are not alone and as part of the Durham community there are those we can help and can help us. It’s extremely rewarding in both directions.

Teaching your kids about online safety

Young Canadians today are growing up in a new digital landscape. Most of them don’t even know a world without computers, digital video, cell phones, online games, and the Internet. Online communication is at the centre of their social world. In many cases, they have email addresses and personal online profiles before they get to middle school. Many of them have mobile phones to keep connected with friends by snapping photos, texting, and sharing conversations.

Growing up online can be a wonderful thing. There are many educational advantages to the Internet – but it can also be a very scary thing. This highly interconnected world comes hand in hand with constantly changing threats, and it’s important to realize the permanent record that it keeps. What your children say, post, and share online now can resurface and surprise them in their adult years.

We tell our children to look both ways when crossing the street, and teach them to not talk to strangers, but it’s also important to teach them to stay safe online. As a parent, you might feel like you don’t know the latest online risks or that you aren’t aware of what kids are doing online. Don’t worry; there are some trusted places you can go to for information to help you talk to your children about staying safe online.

Here are some tips to ensure your children grow up informed and protected (check out the info graphic below):

  • Talk to your children about what they are doing online and teach them how to deal with inappropriate material that they may come across.
  • Talk to them about the consequences of posting inappropriate pictures and saying negative things about other people — actions that could damage a reputation or ruin a friendship.
  • Remind them that the Internet is a public space and it keeps a record. Things children do and say now could have implications down the road.

Set the example and show your kids how to be cyber safe.

Protect while you connect. More information is available online at GetCyberSafe.ca.

CLICK TO ENLARGEtalk to teens