Bryson Blog

Opening Your Workplace During COVID19: What Ontario Employers Need to Know from a Legal Perspective

Whether your operation has been open throughout this pandemic, or if your business is just opening now, this is a webinar for you.

Key areas of focus include:

  • Recent updates to provincial & federal guidelines and recommendations regarding reopening of the workplace and what they mean for businesses;
  • Specific legal obligations and best practices concerning workplace health and safety during COVID-19;
  • Guidelines for dealing with symptomatic employees and options and strategies associated with screening employees for symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Dealing with COVID-19 related employee absenteeism, work refusals and the duty to accommodate.

Resources mentioned during webinar:

Presenter Information:

Mathias Link has advised and represented employers with respect to labour, employment and human rights law matters for more than 15 years. His practice includes defending employers in wrongful dismissal actions, human rights complaints, grievance arbitration, certification applications, unfair labour practice complaints, claims under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and Canada Labour Code as well as disability benefits claims-related actions.

COVID-19 Workplace Cleaning Practices

Many of the workplaces that have been open throughout the pandemic have adapted to the new reality of a routinely sanitized  environment. For other businesses opening or considering opening right now, the practice of increased routine cleaning of the entire workspace from desks to supplies as well as employee participation and education can be overwhelming.

Creating and sticking to new habits is never easy but a consistent cleaning regimen is critical to keeping your team safe.

Here are a few considerations to help get you started:

Practices for Routine Cleaning (General Areas)

  • Write a list of everything that requires cleaning. This should include everything from high touch areas like doorknobs, work-related clothing and towels, kitchen appliances, bathrooms, carpeted floors and drapes, and include outside high touch surfaces like stair railings.
    If possible, try to minimize duplication of shared office equipment use. If items need to be used by more than one employee, adding them to the above list is important too. This would include printing stations, hole punches, paper cutters, drafting tables and more. Depending on your industry, it could include a number of varying items.
    Turning this list into a checklist that is provided to your cleaning team maintains consistency and accountability.
  • Ensure cleaning materials used are the disinfectants recommended by Health Canada.
  • For employees wearing masks or shields, ensure there is a routine cleaning policy in place.

Practices for Employee Workstations throughout the Day

  • Utilize HEPA air-filters. Beyond ensuring the building’s filtration system is using HEPA grade, you can also purchase portable HEPA air cleaning systems that could be placed in office areas where more than one employee sits and air circulation is low.
  • Ensure there is ease of access to sanitization wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • Ensure there is a well-stocked supply of sanitation wipes and hand sanitizer.

Practices for Employee Participation in keeping things clean

  • Ensure employees are routinely cleaning hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds at a time.
  • Create an expectation for individual employees to regularly clean their workstation.
  • Create an expectation for individual employees to regularly clean their computer, electronic devices, phone and work equipment.
  • If possible, close multi-use shared equipment (like a shared computer for client meetings) to prevent cross-contamination. If you need to use shared working equipment, ensure there is rigorous cleaning procedures between use.

Our shared suggestions are only to be considered high-level guidelines. Ensure you follow the stated procedures and policies specific to your industry to keep your team and customers safe.

Webinar Recording - Solving Trucking Profitability Paradox

Nuclear verdicts, rising insurance rates, depressed used truck pricing, difficult macro and micro economics and countless other curve balls make it difficult to run profitably.

However, this is where the doom and gloom ends and opportunities start for the savvy transportation professional.

Key learnings discussed in this webinar include:

  • Critical differences between highly profitable carriers in 2019 from those that were in the red;
  • The importance of clear operational and financial metrics that can be understood by anyone in the organization;
  • How to bring in line-item accountability and responsibility;
  • The power of leveraging the 'what's in it for me?' mentality;
  • How to keep a culture of profitability alive within your organization.

Presenter Information:

Chris Henry has spent his entire 20-year career in transportation. In 2014, he founded the online motor carrier benchmarking service StakUp.

As a result of a partnership with the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) in 2015, StakUp was rebranded as inGauge and Henry became the program manager for the TCA Profitability Program (TPP), an exclusive benchmarking initiative that includes more than 230 motor carrier participants throughout North America.

Since joining the program, participation in TPP has grown over 300%. In June 2019, StakUp was acquired by FreightWaves and Henry became its vice president of carrier profitability, in addition to his role with TPP.

Summer Pool Swimming Safety

For many children, playing in and around the pool is the most enjoyable part of summer but not every child is quite as strong a swimmer as Canadian Olympic Swimmer Amélie Kretz.

Our current COVID-19 reality presents new and unique challenges for pool safety. Kids are active and parents are working from home! There are no summer camps or childcare… many parents are left to be full-time parent and full-time employee.

To keep our population safe this summer, kids will be unable to host friends in their backyard, go to the park or do all the other things that make being a kid fun.  At the same time, many parents do not want to see their children lose their summer to video games and phones.

If your kids are one of the lucky ones on the block with their own pool, we have some pool safety tips and ideas to help keep your kids safe while splashing around in the pool this summer.

Don’t rely on your own awareness

Maybe you have set your workstation up at the kitchen table in earshot of the pool or maybe you’ve set up on your back deck under an umbrella. Being close to the pool is great to quickly respond to any issues but it is not fool proof. We all have experienced times of heightened concentration (your spouse may ask a question which you don’t hear) or you may be putting earbuds in for that next Zoom meeting. Being by the pool is excellent but it does not equal pool safety for your children.

Softly mandate the Sibling Buddy System & make sure they tell their parents first

Your children are strong swimmers and you feel comfortable with their ability enough to play in the pool without you around? This summer, siblings will be asked to be close buddies too. Make sure one sibling is never in the pool without their ‘sibling buddy’ while mom and dad are trying to work.

Set your child’s “Swim within your limit” boundaries

Once a child is in the pool, the whole world can disappear. For some children, going beyond the shallow end of the pool may put him or her at risk.

Show all the pool hazards

Skimmers, pool drains, filters and drains are all active hazards that can change a world in an instant. Filters pull water out of the pool, into the drain and back into the pump. Drains with strong suction can hold someone underwater which could lead to the worst outcome.

*Super Safety Tip* Child with long hair? Make sure they promise to have it tied up before swimming… or better yet make a swimming cap mandatory when there are no adults around the pool to supervise.

Make sure kids stay away from underwater traps

A common fun game to play in a pool is ‘how long can you hold your breath?’ To get extra leverage, kids will utilize the ladder in the deep end to make it easier to stay down. That ladder can quickly turn into an underwater trap if a child gets caught swimming under it or wrapping their arms around it.

No wrestling while mommy’s working!

Play fighting in the pool can be a lot of fun. Water reduces impact and splashing is a great equalizer. In a moment, without an adult around, play fighting could result in something worse, like a head injury. Our advice. Make it a house rule that there if there are no parents around there is no play fighting in the pool.

It’s cool to be safe

Many parents had to cut swimming lessons short or were unable to put their kids into swimming in the first place. If you end up being part-time swim instructor as well (for your own children of course), there are many videos to help you. You may have a child who is a fine swimmer but not the strongest or most confident. Since they are only going to be in the pool with their siblings this year, they don’t have to worry about being cool. Life jackets or arm flotation devices can be mandatory to swim when parents are not around. And if they practice enough this year, they’ll be super strong and confident swimmers with all their friends next year.

If you have any additional tips, creating ideas for pool games or have children drawing their dream pool experience, please send them in.

*Feature image credit: Olivia K. of Ajax, Ontario. Thank you Olivia!

Webinar Recording - Managing Cyber Risk of Remote Work

Since January 2020, there has been a 30,000% increase in COVID-19 related phishing, malicious website and malware activity, targeting remote users (Zscaler Cloud Security).

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had to quickly adapt to a new reality of an at-home workforce. Cyber criminals are adapting quickly too by focusing attacks on vulnerable home workstations. Learn what strategies every leader should begin implementing in their business today.

A big realization I had listening to this webinar is 'there is a lot we could be doing and a lot we have implemented  to make our company cyber safe but, even so, there are some significant cyber risks out there.' If you haven't had a consultation with us yet about cyber insurance I strongly suggest emailing (kpaterson@brysoninsurance.ca) for a brief 20-minute discovery call.

Our presenter, Michael Castro of RiskAware, provided a thorough overview of the current cyber risk landscape including providing insight into the main types of approaches cyber criminals are taking today, the biggest at-home cyber vulnerabilities and actions individuals and organizations can take to minimize the threat. Main focus areas included vulnerabilities with video conferencing tools, email and other types of COVID-19 related phishing campaigns targeting home users, weak home network systems, new types of malware and gaps in software patching leaving openings for hackers. 

There was a lot of quality information brought forward throughout the duration of the webinar. Before viewing the webinar, there are a couple of highlights we want to ensure are captured:

  • We talked about the importance of going to trusted domains for news and content. Michael highlighted a number of malicious COVID-19 related websites that appear credible. They are designed to capture sensitive data or leverage the visitor’s computer to mine bitcoin while there.to capture sensitive data from viewers. Michael recommends https://bing.com/covid as a trusted site for COVID-19 related information.
  • We reviewed the various Zoom vulnerabilities that the company has been working hard to close down. Michael suggested utilizing two-factor authentication, downloading Zoom 5.0 and ensuring you update where you give permission for Zoom to route data.

Presenter Information:

Michael Castro, Risk Executive Advisor and Founder of RiskAware Group

As an IT leader with over two decades of experience building and leading information security, cyber risk and compliance programs at the enterprise level, Michael is a veteran vanguard for protecting sensitive data.

Michael’s previous work includes serving as Head of Information Security and Risk Management at Loblaw Companies Limited and numerous Senior Info and Cybersecurity roles in the areas of Oil & Gas, Finance, Health Care and Retail.

Today, Michael provides controls guidance and consulting to numerous companies, and acts as a Risk Executive Advisor to various Boards. You can email Michael at mcastro@riskaware.ca

Do-it-Yourself Home Flood Prevention

The uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of concerns across Ontario and our country. With warmer temperatures coming (we hope) there is another seasonal risk to prepare for – spring flooding. Extreme weather events like torrential rain can cause spring flash flooding. You may hear insurance professionals reference this as overland water. When we say Overland Water, we are referring to things like flooding caused by rain, overflowing rivers and melting snow.

On top of everything else you are likely dealing with, a flood in your home or business would be an added strain financially and emotionally. By being proactive, there are things you can do to greatly mitigate the risk of suffering the consequences of a flood. 

Here are some do-it-yourself ideas to help reduce the risk of flooding in your home or business:

Do-it-yourself for $0!

Outside the home

  • Do you have municipal storm drains near your home? Remove debris from nearby storm drains on a regular basis to prevent water build-up on the street that can eventually extend on to your property.
  • Have you cleaned your gutters? Remove debris from eaves troughs and downspouts to reduce risk of water overflowing and seeping into your home.

Inside the home

  • Is it easy for any water in your basement to get to the floor drain? Clear the space around your floor drain that may be blocking the flow of water to minimize water height during a flood.

Do-it-yourself under $250

Outside the home

  • Does the grading around your home drain water away from your home? Fix the grading to minimize the risk of water pooling and seeping into your home.
  • Is the length of your downspout on the ground adequate to drain water? Ideally the downspout should be over 6.5 feet from your home. You can purchase extensions to help direct the water away from your home.

Inside the home

  • Do you have a water alarm in your basement? Adding a water alarm sensing device in your basement can provide you with early notice of a flood.
  • Do you have belongings you care about or that have value close to or on the ground? It is important to store valuable items off the ground. Purchasing waterproof containers and storing those on shelving, at least a foot off the ground, will add great protection for those items.
  • Do you have a fuel tank in your basement? Ensure it is secured to the floor so it does not topple and leak as a result of a flood.
  • Do you have hazardous materials on the floor in your basement? Hazardous waste spills can greatly increase the cost of clean-up post flood. It is best to follow similar advice to your valuable materials and keep paints, pesticides and other hazardous materials off the floor, in waterproof sealed boxes.

Hire a contractor over $250

  • Do you have windows close to ground level or below ground level? Installing covered window wells 6 inches above the ground minimizes the chance of water entering through a lower floor window.
  • Does your home have a backwater valve already? In extreme heavy rainfalls it is possible for municipal sewage to backup into your home. Reach out to your municipality to determine if it is worth installing a backwater valve.

You can never completely eliminate the possibility of suffering a flood in your home or business but each step you take will greatly reduce that chance. To see about protecting yourself and your home from the financial damage of a flood,discuss overland protection options with our team of insurance professionals today.

 

 

Webinar - Effective Cash Flow Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The urgent focus for businesses now is understanding business risk and viability, protecting employees, and managing supply chain disruption. Responding to the immediate and on-going challenge is critical.

Think like a strategic CFO as we cover:

  • Understanding your Cash Conversion Cycle
  • Forecasting your financial statements – focus on understanding overall cash flow
  • Improving cash flow in your business – where do I start?
  • Will existing cash reserves/financing be enough?
  • Exploring announced government support for businesses

To follow along with the webinar you can access the slide deck here. You can also access the slide handout sheet here. **For both files it is best to right click the link and choose "open in new window".**

We reference our previous webinar: Federal COVID-19 Relief Programs: Clarity for Ontario Businesses

There was a question about the Canadian Emergency Benefit Account (CEBA) that we wanted to bring clarity to. The question in summary was “If my company applies to the CEBA, does it then prevent us from applying for any other Federal Relief program”?  This individual referenced a line in the application that was open to interpretation. Scott Sonley, our Presenter, has since reviewed the wording and confirmed that the answer is “No, a business can apply for the CEBA and any other Federal Relief Program (Temporary Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Business Credit Availability, etc.). The intention of the wording is to ensure a business does not apply for the CEBA twice.”

Presenter Information:

Scott Sonley's career began in 2003 at a mid-market Southwestern Ontario firm where he obtained his CPA designation.  Family ties and friends brought him back to the Durham Region when he rejoined the firm in 2008. 

Scott specializes in business valuation, transaction effectiveness, litigation accounting and succession planning.

Throughout his career, Scott has developed long-standing committed clients who rely on him for his broad experience in accounting, assurance, and taxation. 

Webinar - Federal COVID-19 Relief Programs: Clarity for Ontario Businesses

Navigating the numerous Federal COVID-19 Relief Programs being introduced by the Canadian Government can be challenging for any business leader. Understanding how one program works in conjunction with another, or which programs are suited for which businesses, can make a significant difference for business viability during this time.

We invited Jesse Genereaux and Laura Willson, Accounting and Tax Professionals from Baker Tilly KDN LLP, to walk us through the Federal Relief programs.

We have separated the webinar into sections. Please feel free to watch the entire webinar or jump to sections based on need and preference.

Click here to download the PDF of the PowerPoint slide deck utilized in the webinar.

To stay up-to-date on related content subscribe to:

FULL WEBINAR: Federal COVID-19 Relief Programs: Clarity for Ontario Businesses

 

EXCERPT 1: Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWS) and the Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJP)

 

EXCERPT 2: EI Work-Sharing Program Enhancements (WS) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

 

EXCERPT 3: Tax Deadlines, Tax Deferrals and Federal Financing Programs

 

Phishing in COVID-19 waters

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to disrupt our lives. There are many experiencing a heightened sense of concern for their personal safety and the safety of their loved ones.

Unfortunately, people hungry for information are also perfect targets for phishing scams. One of the most frequent is the fake World Health Organization email that prompts readers to download a Safety Measures report.

CEO of Darn IT Group, Darnley Greson, joined us us to discuss the rise in phishing attacks and provides tactics individuals and companies can follow to help reduce the risk of being caught.

Should I take one of my cars off the road to save on insurance?

We are in an unprecedented time in our modern era. There are fewer cars on the road across Ontario and our nation. As many individuals and families find themselves in uncertain economic situations, we are all looking at ways to save money on insurance.

With most things in life, if you are saving money in one place, there is a trade of value in another -- something else that may be equal or more important than the associated savings.

As your insurance broker, we know it is important to provide knowledge, perspective and advice. Over the next bit of time, we will review common and less common ways to save money on your insurance and provide the method, benefit and potential trade-off.

Before jumping into any decision, it is important to weigh the benefit against the potential cost.

Today, let’s look at the potential benefit and costs that come with taking one of your cars off the road.

You may look out your front window and see two cars sitting there. One is the primary family commuter and the other the primary work commuter. Where they were both being used daily, now only one is being used every few days. You may be thinking… we can get by with one car for a while.

Is suspending insurance on a vehicle the right option to help you save?

Let’s look together.

If you choose to temporarily suspend insurance on one of your vehicles, you would have to park the vehicle and not drive it. Driving an uninsured vehicle is illegal in Ontario.

The benefit of this is obviously that you would be entitled to certain premium savings while the insurance is temporarily suspended on that vehicle.

But what are the potential drawbacks of temporarily suspending insurance on a vehicle?

  • Most companies require that you suspend the insurance for a minimum of 45 days. They do this to avoid people reinstating insurance when they need it and suspending again when they don’t. So, if things change or a situation arises where two vehicles are required, you will not be able to drive the vehicle with the suspended insurance.
  • In addition to the term of suspending insurance, insurance companies apply the credit to the account at the end of the suspension period. While this may net you an overall savings, it will not necessarily help cashflow in the short-term.
  • Most insurance companies offer robust multi-vehicle savings discounts. If you suspend insurance, you will also be potentially suspending the multi-vehicle discount. When you apply this discount to your overall insurance, you may find that you would be netting only a minor monthly savings from your current monthly premium.
  • If you have a clean driving record built up for a number of years, you may have a nice disappearing deductible amount on your policy (if you do not make a claim, your insurance company may be reducing your deductible as an acknowledgement for being a safe driver). By suspending insurance on the vehicle with a disappearing deductible, you may be putting that benefit at risk.
  • Finally, if you lease or finance a vehicle you may need to request permission and a letter from the lease/finance company before being able to proceed (even if requesting to remove collision coverage).

It’s complicated

What is the right decision for you? Unfortunately, there is no one best solution. Every person and family has a unique combination of things being insured, coverage amounts, policy features and more. To find the best solution for you and your situation, we recommend discussing your needs with one of our personal insurance professionals. We are happy to consult and seek the best outcome for you.

If you are a client already, please reach out to your dedicated Account Manager to discuss.

If you are new to Bryson, we would love to talk with you. Send us an email at connect@brysoninsurance.ca to get started.