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Posts Tagged "pay"

8Oct

Low-income Canadians struggling to pay for medications plead for pharmacare

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TORONTO — Three of the major federal parties have promised they’ll introduce universal pharmacare if elected. While the details and costs of their plans differ, coverage of drug prescriptions would help the almost one million low-income Canadians who are struggling to pay for prescription medication, with some going without food and heat to pay for drugs, according to a recent study. 

Vulnerable Canadians, including contract workers and people without private health insurance, are struggling to pay for meds for common conditions like diabetes, asthma, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Around 20 per cent of Canadians have inadequate drug coverage or no coverage at all, and must pay out of pocket.

Another study found that one in five households reported a family member who, in the past year, had not taken a prescribed medicine due to its cost.

The Liberals have said they will implement a program to ensure “prescription drugs are more affordable and more accessible to more Canadians,” according to their website. The NDP have said their plan will make sure every Canadian can fill their prescription and will save families more than $500 a year.

The Green Party said they would support the expansion of the Canada Health Act to include prescription drugs dispensed at pharmacies.

Canadians struggle to pay for prescription drugs

Contract worker Natalie Brown, 33 and from Nova Scotia, is one of those struggling to afford her drugs. Chronically ill with a variety of health problems including severe asthma and diabetes, she has no private health insurance or union protection.

Now on disability, her government plan covers some medications but won’t pay for seven others that she’s been prescribed, leaving her with a medical bill for between $200 and $700 a month.

Sometimes she’s forced to choose between staying warm or staying on her meds.

“I will have months where utilities are almost cut off, because I had to pay for my medications,” she said.

“I feel devastated. I worked for the government in the wellness department…and I had the head of the department say ‘you don’t look sick.’”

Brown is among those patients hoping for the introduction of a national pharmacare scheme, a federal system that will cover all essential medications.  

“It would make more sense to have a national program to protect all Canadians equally,” she said.

Patient advocate Bill Swan from Hubley, Nova Scotia, has created the “Faces of Pharmacare” website to highlight the plight of those like Brown.

Swan, who has suffered asthma since childhood and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with about 60 per cent lung function, has also struggled to afford his medications, often ending up in the emergency room.

He is now on a private plan through a professional association, but still pays over $3,000 for his medication.

“It should have been done 50 years ago, so the next best time is now,” he told CTV News.

“There is a massive untold story. There are so many affected by this and don’t get their story out.”

“During the election we are seeing the talk is just talk, and that is what I am doing with my website… we need to get beyond the positioning…and look at why this is good for all Canadians.”

Studies also show that for people with diabetes, heart disease and chronic respiratory problems alone, universal pharmacare would result in 220,000 fewer emergency room visits and 90,000 fewer hospital stays every year.

One-third of working Canadians don’t have drug benefits provided by their employer and most work-based plans don’t cover the full cost of medicine.

University of British Columbia researcher Steve Morgan, who studied pharmacare, is unsure of the prospects for pharmacare post-federal election.

“Canadian voters need to realize that this is a nearly once in a life time opportunity to improve the quality and comprehensiveness of the Canadian health care system,” he said.

“It’s tempting to say we are going to get a national pharmacare system…it depends on voters, but not just parties….but to ask candidates, ask their parties, are you committed.

“Studies are showing that people who don’t take their medications, often end up sicker and in hospital… far more expensive than the prevention they are prescribed.”

With files from CTVNews.ca writer Mariam Matti

25Jun

Hundreds of first responders pay their respects to fallen firefighter | CBC News

by admin

All photos by Ben Nelms 

First responders from across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley lined Willingdon Avenue in Burnaby to pay their respects to senior Capt. Ken Kinney of the Burnaby Fire Department. Kinney passed away from work-related lung cancer on June 7th at the age of 56. 

Active and retired members of the Burnaby Fire Department attended the procession. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Members of the RCMP pay their respects. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Kinney was a member of the Burnaby Fire Department for 28 years and was active throughout the community. He leaves behind Debbie, his wife of 28 years and their three daughters, Nicole, Kirsten and Kaitlyn. 

First responders from across the Lower Mainland attended the funeral. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“This is the only in-service, work-related cancer death I am aware of in my career that started in 1971,” said George Whitehurst, former assistant fire chief with the Burnaby Fire Department.

A 2015 study by the Canadian Cancer Society found firefighters have a nine per cent higher chance of getting cancer than the general public. This has been linked to toxins in smoke, soot and tar from synthetic building materials that can be inhaled or even absorbed through the skin.

The Burnaby Fire Department’s honour guard led the funeral procession. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The provincial government, along with the Workers Compensation Act, label 14 different cancers under presumptive disability coverage, which means if a professional or volunteer firefighter develops one of the recognized cancers, it is presumed to have been caused by their employment.


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28Feb

Caregivers for B.C.’s most vulnerable get first pay increase in a decade

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Foster parents, adoptive caregivers, extended family members caring for children and Community Living BC (CLBC) home-share providers will each receive a boost in support payments – the first increase in 10 years – to make life more affordable and provide more support to some of B.C.’s most-vulnerable children and adults.

“Caregivers open their homes and hearts to children and adults who need their support,” said Premier John Horgan. “For 10 years, the cost of living has steadily increased while caregiver rates have stagnated. Our government is making different choices by increasing support rates for caregivers, to make life more affordable and build stronger, more inclusive communities.”

Budget 2019 provides approximately $64 million over three years to the Ministry of Children and Family Development and $45 million over three years to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to boost monthly caregiver rates.

“I have met with so many foster parents and family caregivers, especially grandmothers, who have been struggling to provide for the children in their care. Their stories resonated with me and I knew this was the right thing to do,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “The most important thing is that children are raised in a safe, loving home, and I am proud to be part of a government that is addressing a long-standing inequity for extended families, especially Indigenous families, and investing in the well-being of all children when they need it most.”

For family members caring for children through the Extended Family Program, support will nearly double and will be paid at the same rate as foster caregivers. This increase is part of government’s commitment to meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and addresses recommendations by Grand Chief Ed John.

“I am pleased the B.C. government is taking steps to address this key recommendation of my report, which identified the disparity between the caregiver rates and extended family rates as being a clear barrier to permanency for many children in care,” said Grand Chief Ed John. “Bringing these rates in line will undoubtedly lead to both an increase of permanent placements as well as an increased quality of care for children placed with extended family members. This is especially important for Indigenous children in care as it will result in greater opportunities for placements with extended family within their communities, thereby maintaining access to their culture and language.”

Budget 2019 will provide foster parents with an additional $179 each month to help cover basic necessities for children in their care, including food, shelter and clothing.

Eligible adoptive parents, many of them adding children with special needs and/or sibling groups to their families, will receive an additional $105 to $120 per month for post-adoption assistance to help meet increases in the costs of living.

“This announcement is a wonderful acknowledgement of the work that foster parents and other caregivers do to emotionally and financially support children and youth in B.C.,” said Russell Pohl, a long-time foster and adoptive parent. “It’s good to know that this government is looking out for us and valuing our contribution.”

Community Living BC home-share provider rates are based on the individual needs of the person in care. The $45 million in funding over three years is a 15% increase for the program. After 10 years without an increase in home-share provider funding, CLBC is updating the program rate structure to better align with the disability-related needs of each individual.

“Home-share promotes social inclusion and helps keep people with developmental disabilities connected to their communities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Over the last year, we have engaged with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to look closely at CLBC supports and plot a new vision for the next 10 years. This increase recognizes the important work of home-share providers. It is long overdue, well deserved and one more step in the work we are doing with the community to create a truly accessible and inclusive province.” 

CLBC will be working with home-share providers over the next few weeks to work through the details. The rate increases will vary under the new rate structure, but all home share providers will receive an increase over the next two years.

In 2018, CLBC engaged with home-share providers to find out how government can better support them in their vital work. The primary concern reported was low rates, which had not kept up with rising household costs and growing demand for the program.

Rate increases for Ministry of Children and Family Development caregivers will come into effect April 1, 2019.

For a breakdown of caregiver rate increases by caregiver type, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/maintenance_rate_increases_by_care_category.pdf

A backgrounder follows.


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25Jan

B.C. nurses approve new contract with pay increase, workload changes

by admin

There are hundreds of nursing vacancies posted on the HealthMatch B.C. website, but not even the union knows how many more jobs need to be filled.


BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – MARCH 16: Nurses in the accident and emergency dept of Selly Oak Hospital work during a busy shift on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England. As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it is expected that that the economy, immigration, industry, the NHS and education are likely to form the basis of many of the debates. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 96847009,535205291


Christopher Furlong / Getty Images files

VICTORIA — Nurses in British Columbia will get a two per cent annual wage increase in a new three-year collective agreement.

Details of the deal between the Nurses’ Bargaining Association and the Health Employers’ Association of B.C. also include wage premiums if employers don’t meet staffing levels they have agreed to.

Starting on April 1, 2020, nurses will receive an additional $5 an hour if they are working short on a unit, department or program with 10 or fewer scheduled nurses.

There are other premiums as well for nurses who work in units that are understaffed and for those who agree to work a shift on short notice.

The agreement takes effect April 1 and expires March 31, 2022.

The B.C. Nurses’ Union says 54 per cent of the more than 21,000 ballots cast in a ratification vote supported the agreement, which was reached in November.

Related

“I believe we have negotiated an innovative contract that will make a positive impact on the working lives of our members and the patients in their care,” union president Christine Sorensen said in a statement on Friday. “However, nurses have sent a clear message to the government that they are skeptical real change will come.”

The union says a provincewide survey in 2017 showed staffing and workload were the biggest concerns for nurses in contract negotiations.

“Unsustainable workload coupled with a systemic nursing shortage has a direct impact on a nurse’s ability to provide safe patient care. Our members have spoken,” Sorensen said. “While more needs to be done, this contract is a step in the right direction.”

The Nurses’ Bargaining Association represents about 44,000 registered, psychiatric and licensed practical nurses in B.C.

The agreement also provides community nurses with improved mileage expenses.

As well, nurses will be paid for previously unpaid work at the ends of their shifts when they provide information to those replacing them.


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4Nov

Canadian Tire tells wife of ailing customer to pay his $18,000 debt, despite credit card insurance

by admin

Almost 30 years ago, George Graves signed up for a Mastercard at his local Canadian Tire store. He was also sold insurance on that credit card, designed to help with payments in the event a cardholder loses their job, becomes disabled or gets sick.

“My husband paid for Credit Protector insurance all these years in case something bad should happen,” says his 72-year old wife, Jolante Graves.

“Now it’s happened, and the company doesn’t want to live up to … expectations.”

George Graves suffered a stroke in February and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. (Submitted by Jolante Graves)

George Graves, 84, a farrier from Addison, Ont., had a stroke in February that put him in long-term care and quickly led to vascular dementia.

“I thought we’d be OK because of his credit card insurance,” his wife told Go Public.

It’s estimated that millions of Canadians pay for insurance on their credit cards.

But financial experts say the product is pricey, carries numerous conditions to qualify for coverage and often doesn’t pay out. In many cases, the insurance will only cover the minimum monthly payment — not the entire balance.

“Credit card protection is fantastic for the banker, usually horrible for the consumer,” says personal finance expert Kerry Taylor, from Vernon, B.C.

In the months following her husband’s stroke, Jolante Graves says he became unable to recognize her and couldn’t read or write.

She says employees from Canadian Tire Bank repeatedly phoned her at home, demanding she pay her spouse’s outstanding credit card bill, which was about $17,000. She had not co-signed for the credit card, and had no obligation to pay it off.

“They have been evasive, rude and unkind,” Graves wrote in an email to Go Public. “This is causing me a lot of distress.”

Graves says she told them her husband had dementia, and was unable to file a claim on his own, but because the policy was in her husband’s name, she was told by bank officials that they could only deal with him.

In July, a letter arrived from Canadian Tire Bank, saying her husband’s overdue account was being “escalated to our Credit Recoveries Department,” and demanded immediate payment.

George Graves died four weeks ago.

Canadian Tire settles

Two days after Go Public contacted Canadian Tire Bank, a spokesperson phoned Jolante Graves and apologized for the harassing phone calls.

He also said that although her husband would have to make the insurance claim, he was willing to erase the debt — which had grown to over $18,000 — if she agreed to keep the deal confidential. 

She signed a confidentiality agreement, but CBC had already interviewed her.

Canadian Tire turned down a Go Public request for an interview, and instead emailed a statement, saying, “We take any concern raised by our customers seriously and in this particular case, we were able to quickly resolve the matter.”

Watch CBC‘s investigative consumer programMarketplace (8 p.m. Friday on CBC-TV) as they take hidden cameras into the big banks to reveal how customers get pitched credit card balance protection insurance.

Go Public asked how much George Graves had paid in credit card insurance over the years — a recent Mastercard statement from Canadian Tire Bank showed that he was paying about $105 a month for insurance.

A bank spokesperson declined to say how much Graves had paid in premiums “for privacy reasons,” but in a letter to Jolante Graves, a senior representative wrote, “the amount of creditor insurance premiums paid was far less than the amount of debt that Canadian Tire Bank has forgiven.”

He also wrote that Canadian Tire “has processes in place” to make customers “aware of how their credit protection insurance coverage could apply” and that these processes were followed.

Coverage ‘extremely narrow’

Taylor has examined the fine print on insurance contracts for a number of credit cards, and says she’d never buy such a product.

“It generally doesn’t help the consumer,” says Taylor. “It’s just an expensive product that they’re adding to their debt load and the premiums are extremely high.”

Canadian Tire charges $1.10 per $100 balance a month for its Credit Protector product (which decreases to 59 cents per $100 when the cardholder turns 80). That means that the average customer with a monthly balance of $2,500, who doesn’t get the discount, pays $27.50 a month for insurance, or $330 a year, plus taxes.

Personal finance expert Kerry Taylor says people are better off getting good life and disability insurance, instead of paying for pricey credit card balance protection. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Taylor says what policies actually cover is “extremely narrow.”

Often people who buy credit card protection think they have unemployment coverage, but learn they don’t qualify because many insurance companies require the cardholder to be working for one employer for a minimum of 25 hours a week.

“If you’re someone like me in the gig economy, I’m not going to be covered, because I have multiple jobs and none of them add up to 25 hours a week,” says Taylor.

George Graves did not qualify for unemployment coverage through his credit card insurance because as a farrier, he did not have one employer for 25 hours a week. (Submitted by Jolante Graves)

George Graves didn’t qualify for unemployment coverage.

He was still working as a farrier, shaping and fitting horses with shoes, when he was sold the insurance on his credit card, but he didn’t have one employer for 25 hours a week.

His wife also couldn’t collect on the life insurance included in the coverage, because that stops paying out at age 80.

“With a standard life insurance or disability policy, someone is going to ask you questions about your health, your age, your gender, what kind of work you do and so on,” says Taylor.

“It’s all on paper, so they can figure out what your risk is for making a claim, and charge the correct premium. That underwriting doesn’t exist with credit card insurance.”

Taylor says people get better protection if they pay for life and disability insurance.

“Get the underwriting,” she says, “so you know if your illness will be covered or not.”

She also recommends people create their own emergency fund.

“That way, if you get sick or injured, you can cover your minimum monthly payments yourself,” says Taylor. 

‘People don’t understand how it works’

“A credit card is a high interest product, initially meant for safety and convenience,” says Scott Hannah, president of the Credit Counselling Society. “They’re not designed to carry a long-term balance, that’s the problem.”

Scott Hannah of the Credit Counselling Society says people with crippling credit card debt often cut up their cards when they come in for debt counselling. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

He says counsellors at his office often hear from people who get into credit card debt and are surprised to learn the insurance they’ve been paying for doesn’t cover them.

“It’s not until they hit financial trouble that they find out they never qualified to begin with,” says Hannah, noting that many consumers don’t read the fine print before they sign up for credit card protection plans.

‘He would be devastated’

George Graves died unaware of the controversy that surrounded his outstanding credit card debt.

“I’m glad he never knew,” says his wife. “He would be devastated. He bought that insurance for peace of mind.”

She’s glad Canadian Tire settled the dispute over her husband’s Mastercard, but says the retailer has lost her as a customer.

“They will never see me set foot in their blasted store again,” says Graves. “If I want to buy something, I’ll go somewhere else.”

— With files from Enza Uda

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