Autumn View Edition 2, 2019

Autumn View Edition 2, 2019


A message from the chair

As I put this to paper, it’s mid-May and, sadly, black clouds are on the horizon – and it’s not just from the rainy weather we’ve been experiencing.

A few weeks ago, the Premier and his Conservative cohort passed Bill 74, a massive health care restructuring document. I’m sure most folks in Ontario have little or no idea that it was passed, why it was passed, or what its ramifications are. However, I can assure you this horrendous omnibus bill will negatively affect heath care as you now know it, such that, in the next three years, you will experience increased costs, closed hospitals, loss of local control and large-scale privatization – unless we stop it.

During the election, Ford swore to put an end to “hallway medicine” and stop patients having to wait endlessly in emergency rooms or on gurneys looking for a bed. Yet this new legislation adds no money for more nurses, frontline workers or beds; no money for more operating rooms; no money for long-term care beds; and no money to increase ambulance service. In fact, it does the exact opposite by making major funding cuts.

These cuts are being accomplished by creating a super-agency controlled by a Conservative-appointed board of corporate CEOs. It will have sweeping powers to merge, transfer, close services and even privatize. Bill 74 gives it unfettered powers to give direct orders, cut funding and issue local restructuring edicts, as the board sees fit. It’s important to realize there are no public-interest protections, no access to any super board documents or minutes and, worst of all, no avenue of appeal.

We’re just at the beginning of what is to come, and already we’ve seen cuts to planned funding in mental health; cuts and restructuring to autism funding; no surge funding for hospital overcrowding; pubic hospital funding set below inflation; and cuts and restructuring to the ambulance (EMS) systems.

As this new agency gets rolling and the real cuts, mergers and privatizations unfold, and you find yourself wondering why or how this happened, keep in mind that none of this was even suggested during the election. No service cuts or closures were ever mentioned – just a suggestion that “efficiencies” would be found.

Doug Ford has no mandate whatsoever to continue his slash-and-burn program. But he will continue, and we’ll all have to suffer the consequences. We’ve got a vision for a better Ontario, and we must continue to work together to fight for it.

In solidarity,

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division                   

Investors profit from cuts to education funding

It is not a coincidence that supporters of ISAs include people with a history of supporting cuts to public services to pay for tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy. 

Ottawa (10 May 2019) — For students, cuts to funding for post-secondary education mean mountains of debt. For investors, it means a new opportunity to make money. Under a scheme called Income Sharing Agreements (ISAs), university and college students receive funding to cover cost of their tuition fees in exchange for agreeing to pay a percentage of their income to investors for several years after graduation. These arrangements are being offered by a number of universities and private colleges in the United States as an alternative to government supported student loans. While this privatization scheme is not yet widespread, bad ideas that allow the rich to get richer can spread fast.

ISAs distract people from cause of student debt crisis

In addition to allowing investors to profit from student debt, ISAs are also being portrayed as a solution to the debt crisis, even though the amounts people are paying are usually similar to loan payments. This reduces the pressure on governments to address the cause of the student debt crisis — governments underfunding education. It is not a coincidence that supporters of ISAs include people with a history of supporting cuts to public services to pay for tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthy.

Investing only one way ISAs allow wealthy to profit from the student debt crisis

Like almost all privatization schemes, there are opportunities for the private sector to make money by providing administrative or consulting services for ISAs. In fact, being the “middle man” in a privatization scheme is often a surer way of making money than being an investor.

There are already a number of companies in the US involved in setting up ISAs. One of the most prominent is Vemo Education, a privately-held company owned by hedge funds.

Like social impact bonds, ISAs allow investors to profit from the most vulnerable

There is a strong resemblance between ISAs and another dodgy privatization scheme, social impact bonds. Both are designed to allow investors to profit from providing a service for people in very vulnerable situations. Both are billed as a solution to government under-funding. And neither helps the most vulnerable.

With both ISAs and social impact bonds, investors want to make sure they get their money back. Investors in social impact bonds make sure they only support programs where people are likely to meet the targets. Funding from ISAs will go to students who are the most likely to be able to make substantial payments after graduation.

ISAs are the revival of a bad idea

The idea of ISAs originated with conservative economist Milton Friedman in the 1950s. It was his theories that inspired many of the more disastrous policies implemented by conservatives in the 1980s.

This article was taken from the NUPGE website

Four smart things to do with your tax refund 

Gordon Pape Advice

April 16, 2019

You’re likely to receive a fat cheque soon, if it hasn’t already arrived.

According to Statistics Canada, almost seven million people had been issued tax refunds for 2018 in the period to April 1. The average amount was $1,615.

That’s about two-thirds of the total number of Canadians who had filed to that point. The message is if you still haven’t completed your return, get going. Ottawa probably owes you money. Don’t let them hang onto it any longer than necessary. It might be tempting to buy a new TV, but your tax refund can be put to better use. 

For most of us, $1,615 represents a nice windfall of tax-free cash. The question is: What to do with it? It’s tempting to blow it on a nice weekend at a resort or on a new TV set. But I have some better ideas.

Pay down your credit card: Unless you’re in the hands of a loan shark, no one charges you more interest than your credit card company. In most cases, it’s 19.99 per cent annually on regular balances and 22.99 per cent on cash withdrawals. If you only pay the minimum monthly amount, it will take years to pay off your current balance. You can see how long by reading the fine print on your monthly statement. In the meantime, the credit card issuer is making huge profits from your money. There’s no better way to use a tax refund than to reduce or eliminate credit card debt.

Reduce your 2019 taxes: You can make a good start on earning another refund next year by contributing part or all of your payment to an RRSP. That will generate a deduction that will reduce the amount of tax due when you file your 2019 return next April. The higher your income (and therefore your tax bracket) the more money you’ll save.

Make a TFSA contribution: RRSPs work best for high-income earners but the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is the best friend of lower-income Canadians. However, the program is not being used as much as it should be according to a report released this week by the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).

One of the main advantages of a TFSA is that withdrawals are not treated as income – it’s the same as taking money from a bank account. That means TFSA payments don’t affect your eligibility for government financial support programs, such as the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

“Too many future GIS recipients are not getting the advice they need to shed their RRSPs and some are still, wastefully, saving in them,” says report author Richard Shillington, an Ottawa-based statistician.

Since TFSAs were launched in 2009, the report says that only 36 per cent of workers without an employer-sponsored pension plan have opened an account.

“Given the potential benefits of TFSAs for low-income seniors, we should be seeing a significant movement away from savings in RRSPs and toward TFSAs among Canadians likely to qualify for the GIS. This has not occurred to the extent policy-makers envisioned when TFSAs were introduced,” Shillington says.

Open an RESP: If none of the above options appeals to you, how about using your tax refund to open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)? According to Statistics Canada, the cost to an average student studying for an undergraduate degree in this country is $6,838 per year. That works out to more than $27,000 over four years.

An RESP can provide for at least part of that cost and the younger the child is when the plan is opened, the better. The contribution is not tax deductible, but the federal government will kick in an extra 20 per cent of your contribution (up to $2,500 per year) through the Canada Education Savings Grant. Lower income families can earn even more. All income earned within the plan is tax sheltered.

After reading all this, you may still be tempted to blow your tax refund on something fun – but now you may feel guilty about it. So, here’s a compromise: spend 50 per cent of the refund on yourself. Use one of the above options for the rest.

Gordon Pape is editor and publisher of the Internet Wealth Builder and Income Investor newsletter and was given to Autumn View by Leoney deGraf Hastings of deGraaf Financial strategies.

Have grandkids – will spoil

How to be a generous grandparent while also being financially prudent

Most grandparents agree – having grandchildren is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. Loving grandparents undoubtedly want to ensure their grandkids want for nothing, but it can be easy to get carried away. From toys to clothing to school supplies and entertainment, the costs can really add up – and may even impact retirement savings if not managed carefully. If you are a doting grandparent, here are some strategies to help keep your finances on track without compromising your status as World’s Best Grandma or Grandpa. 

Create a budget and stick to it 

Buying grandchildren gifts can be rewarding, but it’s a good idea to set limits on spending. Consider setting up an annual budget for presents, taking birthdays and holidays into account. It’s also helpful to find out what grandkids truly want, instead of trying to predict what they will like – this way, money will be spent on gifts they will actually use. 

Open a separate “spending” account 

You may want to keep your retirement savings apart from savings that are specific to helping your family. Depending on your situation, there are a couple of options to consider. If not already part of your retirement plan, a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a great way to grow savings taxfree, and money can be withdrawn at any time without tax implications. But remember that any withdrawals are not added back to unused contribution room until the following calendar year. Another option is to set up automatic deposits into a non-registered savings account that pays high interest – even a small amount each month can add up pretty quickly. 

Give the gift of education 

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) allows family members to contribute money towards the education of a child. The earlier contributions start, the longer the investment will enjoy tax deferred growth. The RESP may also be eligible for the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) – a 20 per cent match on contributions up to $500 annually. It may be worthwhile to coordinate with the child’s parents to eliminate the confusion of multiple accounts while ensuring the plan qualifies for the maximum government benefit. 

Consider gifting life insurance 

A permanent life insurance policy in a grandchild’s name can earn cash value that accumulates over time, giving grandchildren access to funds that may help them later in life. A policy for a youngster also has the added benefit of lower rates, allowing them more affordable insurance coverage for life. And when a grandchild becomes of age to access the policy or its cash value, they could use the value in the policy to help pay for their education, or even help purchase a new home.

Spend more time and less money 

Consider giving grandchildren experiences rather than just things. Sometimes just spending time with grandchildren is worth all the money in the world. Playing board games or cards, tobogganing at the local hill or baking cookies are just a few fun activities you can share. Even small things like reading a book together can create fond memories. Being a grandparent is a rewarding experience. With a bit of planning and preparation, you can be generous while balancing the costs of your other needs. Speak to your advisor – he or she can help you decide which strategies best meet your goals.  

Sometimes just spending time with grandchildren is worth all the money in the world.

Léony deGraaf Hastings, CFP, EPC  905-632-9900 Certified Financial Planner                                                       1-800-775-7047 Retirement & Estate Planning Specialist  

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The CLC Views the 2019 Federal Budget but much depends on the October Election

March 19, 2019

The Canadian Labour Congress welcomes new measures to lay the groundwork for national pharmacare, provide assistance for the neediest seniors, skills training, and a community-centred approach to carbon reduction, but says Canadians have a lot riding on the next election.

“Canadian workers, their families and their communities will benefit from new budgetary measures that lay the groundwork for curbing exorbitant medicine prices, income inequality, and climate change,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “We are pleased to see a budget that acknowledges some of the most pressing issues facing Canadians, because these are the issues that voters will be taking to the ballot box in the federal election.”

Canada’s unions have long advocated for the introduction of a universal, single-payer pharmacare plan to reduce drug prices, save billions for families and businesses, and provide vital medicines to the 3.6 million Canadians who cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. Today’s federal budget delivers on a recommendation of the interim report of the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare by announcing funding for a new federal drug agency to lead to the future development of a national formulary, as well as new funding for medicines for rare diseases.

“Canada’s unions continue to feel cautiously optimistic that a universal pharmacare plan is on the horizon. Today’s budget clears important obstacles but waits on the government’s pharmacare advisory council to prescribe the model for pharmacare delivery,” said Yussuff. “Experts all agree that Canada’s patchwork approach to prescription drug coverage needs to be streamlined, but drug costs won’t come down unless there is one plan and one buyer.”

Today’s federal budget also announced plans to introduce improvements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) by raising the $3,500 annual earnings exemption for employment income. Two million elderly Canadians, roughly one third of all seniors, receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which is targeted to the most vulnerable.

“Allowing working seniors to keep more of their GIS benefit will reduce financial insecurity in old age and make a material difference in the lives of seniors,” said Yussuff.  

Budget 2019 announced the government’s plan to prioritize skills and training, including the establishment of the Canada Training Benefit to assist with fees and provide income support for lifelong learning and skills development.

“The commitments in today’s budget signal that the government recognizes access to continuous learning must be a priority to ensure workers can adapt to technological change and emerging skill needs,” said Yussuff. “The success of today’s commitments will depend on funding and training opportunities reaching those who need it most. The Canadian Labour Congress has concerns about the design of the benefit, but remains committed to promoting worker awareness of, and access to, these new training opportunities.”

The CLC also welcomed Budget 2019’s funding commitment to reform the Employment Insurance appeal process. “Unemployed workers and Canada’s unions have long urged the government to restore transparency, efficiency and fairness to the appeal process. We applaud this important funding commitment,” said Yussuff.

Canada’s unions are pleased to see the federal government announce measures to ensure a just transition as the government addresses climate change. The 2019 Budget pledges $150 million in infrastructure funding to directly assist resource-based municipalities in establishing new fiscal drivers.

“I was proud to serve as Co-Chair for Canada’s Just Transition Task Force, and to work together with government to put people and communities at the heart of climate policy. Today’s budget commitment will help begin to ensure that communities are not left behind as Canada transitions away from coal-powered electricity by 2030,” said Yussuff. “Canada’s unions are looking forward to working with the Minister of Natural Resources as the newly named lead minister, but are disappointed to see that the government has not addressed key Task Force recommendations to support workers, in terms of income, training and reemployment needs. Without this, workers will be left behind.”

The Congress highlighted other positive announcements in today’s federal budget, including:

  • Investments in stabilizing Phoenix in the short term, noting that more is needed for long-term planning and funding for a new system.
  •  Funding to support a new anti-racism strategy, funding for LGBTQ2+ organizations and establishment of an LGBTQ2+ Secretariat, Gender Equality funding to expand the Women’s Program and funds for Black Canadian communities.
  • Action on tax avoidance and restrictions on stock-option deductions, which overwhelmingly benefit a small number of high-income earners.

The Congress also noted several concerns over budgetary omissions, including:

  • A missed opportunity to immediately provide pension protection and address the injustice workers and pensioners face during employer bankruptcy.
  • A failure to expand the EI sickness benefit.
  •  A lack of new investments in high quality, affordable, public early learning and childcare.

This article was taken from the CLC website

Your Guide to a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

This month, we are discussing the importance of promoting heart health for you and your client. Does your client struggle going up and down the stairs? Has his or her doctor advised to monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol? What about you – are you looking to increase your energy levels or metabolism for faster weight loss? A heart-healthy lifestyle can help you and your client achieve these goals and many more.

Learn to Identify the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Recognizing the early signs of a heart attack improves the chances for recovery. Did you know they can actually differ for men and women?

Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women

Women will often dismiss the signs of a heart attack. Instead of experiencing crushing pain, a woman may just feel “unwell” and like she is coming down with the flu. The American Heart Association lists common heart attack symptoms for women as:

  • Chest pain that comes and goes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Pain in the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Upper back pressure
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Cold sweats

Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Men 

Heart disease is the biggest cause of death for men in the United States. Get help right away if you see your client experience these symptoms:

  • Sudden, extreme chest pain
  • Tightness in the chest – this feeling can come and go
  • Heartburn to the left or center of the chest
  • Pain in the upper stomach, shoulders, left arm, back, neck or jaw
  • Not being able to catch their breath
  • Feeling tired and anxious
  • Breaking into a cold sweat

If your client experiences the signs of a heart attack, act fast. A call to 911 can save a life.

Epigenetics: Change Your DNA to Avoid Alzheimer’s?

Posted on September 25, 2018

Do you believe disease is bound up in genetics? Do you think your genes determine whether you will develop certain health problems? Are you resigned to a future in which you have no sway over emerging health problems?

If so, it’s time to check your assumptions. We have more power over our DNA — and the potential for a healthier future — than ever imagined.

What does DNA do, Anyway?

DNA is our genetic code. Think of it as a rulebook the cells in our body use to turn genetic information into proteins.  This process is gene expression.

In simple terms, if your DNA were different you would be someone — or something — else. Getting Alzheimer’s isn’t carved in stone by our DNA. Some of the things that affect how DNA shows up and works are within our control. That’s where epigenetics comes in.

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics studies biological processes that activate and deactivate genes. It decides how cells “read” genes, and how they create proteins.

According to Live Science, “Epigenetics means ‘above’ or ‘on top of’ genetics. Epigenetics refers to external modifications to DNA that turn genes ‘on’ or ‘off.’

A skin cell contains the same DNA as a brain cell and a bone cell. How different parts of the gene are turned “on” or “off” is epigenetics. So, if you carry a gene for Alzheimer’s (APOE e4), a healthy lifestyle could turn that gene “off.”

For example, healthy diet or consistent exercise create healthier cells. In other words, we have the ability to take charge of some very important aspects of our wellbeing. There are also factors we can’t control or undo, such as air pollution or concussions and head trauma.

Give it to me Straight: Is Alzheimer’s Genetic?

While genetics play a role in Alzheimer’s, environment and lifestyle also increase — or — decrease our risk. This means 2 of the 3 risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer’s are within our control.

How can Epigenetics Delay or Derail Alzheimer’s?

“The story of epigenetics is a story of hope,” says Lily Sarafan, CEO of Home Care Assistance. While aging boosts the risk of Alzheimer’s, it is by no means a foregone conclusion.

While the notion of cutting off Alzheimer’s at the pass is nice to think about, what can we do about it today?

An Exercise in Epigenetics?

The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation reports that regular exercise cuts our risk for Alzheimer’s as much as 50%. Until recently, even the brightest minds couldn’t explain why and how exercise helps. Yet the latest findings suggest that exercise actually changes how our genes work. The answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. One study finds that exercise changes the shape and functioning of our genes.

Diet and Your DNA

Last year, nutrition scientists reviewed the effect of diet on epigenetics. As reported in Scientific American,

“A person’s diet is an important source of epigenetic signals, and scientists are now investigating how eating habits modify gene expression in adults and their offspring.”

Clarifying the connection between genes and diet could mitigate Alzheimer’s. In the meantime, explore commonsense dietary solutions:

·         Exclude brain-drainers such as sugar

·         Eat a Mediterranean or MIND diet

Embracing Positive Change

The relationship between epigenetics and Alzheimer’s Disease is beginning to be understood. What we know today hints at a brighter, more empowering future for everyone.


  1. Genetic Code
  2. Neuroepigenetics and Alzheimer’s Disease: An update
  3. Epigenetics: Definition & Examples
  4. Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Fact Sheet
  5. Understanding Epigenetics in the Neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s Disease: SAMP8 Mouse Model
  6. How exercise changes our DNA
  7. Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
  8. How diet can change your DNA

Funny Quotes

  • I finally realized that people are prisoners of their phones… that’s why it’s called a “cell” phone. Anonymous
  • There are a 100 billion nerves in the human body, and there are people who have the ability to irritate all of them. Anonymous
  • How come iPhone chargers are not called apple juice? Anonymous

A walk down memory lane with educator, leader and Region 6 activist Brother Bill Kuehnbaum

By Janine Johnson, Chair, Region 6 Retirees Division

Bill graduated from the University of Waterloo with a master’s degree in 1970. He taught at Cambrian College in Sudbury from 1970 to 1990, then served as OPSEU’s First Vice-President until 1997. He returned to Cambrian until retiring in 2003.

Bill made time to get involved with Local 655 and the CAAT-A Division. He loved the politics of working people, and basic union locals were always a priority for him. He dedicated himself to instilling respect for locals and stewards in all activities. In fact, Bill is largely responsible for the stewards’ rights and responsibilities section of OPSEU’s Constitution.

Bill spent 20 years serving as local treasurer, vice-president, chief steward and president. He won OPSEU’s first local-newsletter award. He served on four CAAT province wide negotiating teams – twice as chair – as well as chairing his division executive for many years. He was the provincial coordinator of a one-day CAAT-A illegal strike, which changed the course of CAAT bargaining.

Bill is still well remembered in Region 6 for his role as a mentor. He encouraged many young members to become stewards, and he’s proud of the many activists who came after him.

In 1978, he was first elected as an Executive Board Member (EMB) for Region 6, and he remained on the board for 25 years. We remember a trio of dynamic Region 6 EBMs – Bill, Will Presley and Wayne Campbell – who shaped the region’s activities for many years. They focused on building strong locals through trained stewards who interacted regularly with members.

They thought provincial campaigns were important, but they liked to say, “Our job-security fight can only be won in our workplaces.” Still today, you can see some of the young members who, through their mentorship, have been able to move on to become staff reps or do other work at OPSEU head office.

I still remember how Bill could bring out an idea we didn’t always like – but by the time he had explained it, he had us all converted. Bill had such a persuasive way of presenting his case, we couldn’t help but understand the good in what he saw.

He first ran for the vice-presidency of OPSEU in 1991 and served until 1997. During the Bob Rae years, 1990-95, we were given two gifts. One was joint sponsorship of our various pension plans: OPT, CAAT Pension Plan, HOOPP and others. The other gift was the right to strike. Under the Leah Casselman’s and Bill’s leadership, OPSEU had its first OPS strike in 1996. Our pensions and job security were at risk, and members reacted forcefully. As OPSEU’s Treasurer, he was responsible for funding a $25-million strike with only $1 million in the strike fund to meet our needs. Never again has OPSEU faced a strike without more than enough in the strike fund.

Bill continued being active by serving as a CAAT Pension Plan trustee and as a board member of SHARE, a BC-based labour organization dedicated to fostering the ethical investment of pension and foundation money.

Bill retired in 2003, and after many years in the North, Bill and his wife, Linda, decided to move to Burlington where their sons, Josh and Adam were living. Today, Bill and Linda spend most of their time enjoying their three grandkids. In no small part thanks to Bill, those children can look forward to a brighter future.

Canada Life


Introducing the new Canada Life: one brand for three iconic Canadian companies

Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life come together as Canada Life

Winnipeg, MB, April 3, 2019.  Three iconic Canadian brands are coming together under one brand – Canada Life – to better serve their more than 13 million customer relationships across Canada and to position the companies for even stronger growth.

Effective immediately, The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company will begin a journey to move to one brand in the Canadian market. This newly developed Canada Life brand builds on the three companies’ proud histories, whose stories began over 170 years ago. Canada Life will become the new brand under which the organization will create, deliver and communicate products and services in Canada across all of its lines of business.

“Today marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for our companies in Canada,” said Paul Mahon, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Bringing our companies together under one brand will allow us to deliver a simpler and unified experience for our customers, advisors and consultants, focusing on what matters most – helping Canadians reach their full potential, every day.”

In addition to the move to a new brand, Great-West Life, London Life, Canada Life and their holding companies, Canada Life Financial Corporation and London Insurance Group Inc., have also begun the process to formally amalgamate as one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. This initiative is separate from, but aligned with, the move to one brand and will further simplify the business. The proposed amalgamation is a multi-step process that would occur only after obtaining required board, regulatory and policyholder approvals. Further information will be provided in the coming months. 

“The new Canada Life is positioned well for continued growth and success,” said Jeff Macoun, President and Chief Operating Officer, Canada. “Together with our employees, advisors and consultants, we’re excited and optimistic about the task ahead of us. As one brand, we’ll present a unified voice, product and service offering and a simplified experience for customers, advisors and consultants.”

Our more than 11,000 employees across the country will continue to work from our five main offices in Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Montreal and Regina, as well as other offices across the country. There are no job impacts as a result of this announcement.

“Our employees are central not only to our companies’ growth, but to the relationship of trust that we’ve built with our customers, advisors and consultants,” said Macoun. “Under the new Canada Life brand, we’ll make it easier for them to deliver for our customers, advisors, consultants, and their communities.

Quadrus Investment Services Ltd., Freedom 55 Financial, GWL Realty Advisors and GLC Asset Management Group Ltd. will all retain their current branding. Great-West Lifeco’s businesses in the U.S. and in Europe are not affected by this change.

About Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life

Great-West Life, together with London Life and Canada Life, are leading Canadian insurers focused on improving the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians. United under the new Canada Life brand, we help Canadians achieve their potential, every day. Our customers across Canada have trusted us to provide for their financial security needs and deliver on the promises we have made. Together, we serve the financial security needs of more than 13 million people across Canada and are leading providers of a wide range of insurance and wealth management products and services for individuals, families and business owners, from coast to coast to coast.

For more information contact:

Liz Kulyk
Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs
Canada Life

Fun Facts

  1. Sunflowers can help clean radioactive soil. Japan is using this to rehabilitate Fukashima. Almost 10,000 packets of sunflower seeds have been sold to the people of the city.
  2. In 1923, a jockey suffered a fatal heart attack but his horse finished and won the race, making him the first and only jockey to win a race after death.
  3. If you point your car keys to your head, it increases the remote’s signal range. This works by using your brain to act as a radio transmitter.

Pets and Marijuana



With information from Health Canada, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Recreational and most medical marijuana products are prepared using the Cannabis sativa plant, usually by drying its flowers and leaves. More than 100 chemicals, known as cannabinoids, come from the cannabis plant. “Marijuana” refers to products containing bioactive cannabinoid compounds.

Recreational marijuana,  which is smoked, vaporized or baked into oral preparations for humans, contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes psychoactive effects on the mind. This class of marijuana has the highest risk for pet toxicity.

Medical marijuana contains moderate to high levels of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound, and lower levels of THC. These medicinal products may be prescribed to human patients for anti-nausea, pain relief and other medical reasons. Some of these products contain enough THC to produce toxicity in pets.

Cannabis that contains very low levels (less than 0.3 per cent) of THC in its flowers and leaves is classified as hemp. This tends to be most used for “medicinal” purposes for pets, with products including hemp oil, tincture or hemp powder. Effective and safe dosages of hemp products have not been studied.


No. Veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe any of these products to pets. In addition, there are currently no CBD products approved by Health Canada and therefore no legal pathway for veterinarians to obtain these products.


No. Studies shows that dogs have a higher sensitivity to cannabinoids than people. Given the insufficient research regarding dosage, frequency of administration and side effects, pet owners should not give their pets any type of marijuana product, as it could produce a life-threatening medical crisis.


Take your pet to a veterinary hospital immediately. Don’t be afraid to tell the veterinarian that your pet has accidentally ingested marijuana products—symptoms are varied and omitting this information can make diagnosing and managing your pet’s case difficult. Remember, your veterinarian only has your pet’s health in mind.


• Lack of balance and coordination
• Fatigue or weakness
• Excessive salivation
• Vomiting
• Dilated pupils
• Tremors or seizures
• Disorientation
• Slow heart rate
• Change in body temperature
• Sensitivity to light and sound
• Urinary incontinence

Interesting Ontario facts

Under Ontario traffic laws, it is illegal to operate a horse-drawn sleigh on public roads with fewer than two sleigh bells attached to it. Penalty on conviction is a fine not exceeding $5.

The Largest Nuclear Power Plant in the world is in Ontario, Canada and that their security force has won the U.S. National SWAT Championship four times. 

Canadian Dermatology Association
Sun Safety for Everyday

Special note for seniors

Many people aged 60 or older face a high risk for developing skin cancer. If you are in this age group, you grew up in a time when little was known about how too much sun could cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. The truth is that it is never too late for sun protection. By protecting your skin from too much sun you can help prevent the onset of skin cancer and more sun damage to the skin. Keeping your skin healthy can help you enjoy your senior years to the fullest!

Be careful with medication

A small percentage of people taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs find that their skin becomes oversensitive to the sun. They can get serious skin damage including sunburn, blisters, rashes or swelling when out in the sun. Some of the medications which may set off these reactions include antibiotics (tetracycline and sulfa drugs), diuretics (water pills), anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, antidiabetic preparations and some acne drugs containing vitamin A or its derivatives. When a medication has been prescribed, check the common side effects with your doctor. For over-the-counter preparations, read the label and information leaflet to find out the possible side effects.

If you have an unusual reaction, check with your doctor.

When purchasing sunscreen consult with your pharmacist to make sure that you purchase the best protection. He/she will know whether your medications will cause a reaction.

What are some common home renovation scams?

The Door-to-Door Game

In this scam, a door-to-door salesperson offers you a “good deal” because “we just happen to be in the neighbourhood with all our material and equipment.” The contract usually has to be signed right away to get the special price.

Or, a salesperson may offer to “inspect” your furnace, chimney or roof, free of charge. Afterwards, you are told that immediate and expensive repair work must be done. The individual then offers to do the work and has a contract ready for you to sign.

The Disappearing Contractor

Never let a contractor talk you into making a large down payment “to pay for materials.” The contractor may cash in the deposit and never finish – or even begin – the job they were hired to do.

Keep down-payments to a minimum (we recommend 10%) and never pay the full amount of the contract before the work is all done. Remember, legitimate home renovation companies have enough credit to buy the materials they need. 

The Paper-Free Deal

Not having the right paperwork – estimates, contracts, professional licences, building permits – is a warning sign that a contractor is not reputable.

A contract is your best protection as a consumer.

It’s also a good idea to avoid cash deals. Although they can be appealing, if anything goes wrong with your project, you won’t have proof of payment without a receipt.

Remember, reputable companies comply with the law. A professional licence shows that a contractor is qualified to do the work you’re hiring him or her to do – like plumbing or electrical. Building permits allow your municipality to make sure that any work you have planned meets the Building Code standards and by-laws.

Updated: May 31, 2019