Ontario cutting government-run, out-of-country travel insurance program

The Canadian press Shawn Jeffords

TORONTO — Ontario is pushing ahead with a plan to eliminate basic out-of-country travel insurance, saying the program is very costly and does not provide value to taxpayers.

The insurance currently covers out-of-country inpatient services to a maximum of $400 per day for a higher level of care, and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient services and doctor services.

Health Minister Christine Elliot announced the decision to scrap the program on Wednesday, following a six-day public consultation.

The province spends $2.8 million to administer approximately $9 million in claim payments through the program every year.

“We know that is not good value for Ontarians,” Elliott said. “People should be making their own plans to obtain coverage, which can be obtained quite inexpensively and provide them with full compensation if they sustain any health problems while out of the country.”

The change is expected to come into effect Oct. 1.

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When’s the best time to start collecting CPP and OAS?

You can start collecting your CPP and OAS benefits in your 60s, but is it better to hold off for another few years? Here’s what to keep in mind before you tap into these pensions.

Thinking about how you’ll support yourself after you retire? The balance in your savings account or a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) might come to mind. That’s a great start. But when you’re planning for your retirement, don’t forget the money you could get from the government. That’s the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). These are public pensions designed for Canadians who are no longer working.

Mark Coutts is a Sun Life Financial advisor and Certified Financial Planner™ with Coutts Financial Services Inc. “People often forget that CPP and OAS will form part of their nest egg or they underestimate their value,” he says. “Once they realize that these benefits alone could potentially pay up to $20,000 per year, per person, they begin to feel a lot more enthusiastic about their financial future.”

So, how do you make sure you’re getting the most you can out of CPP and OAS? It all comes down to timing. As you approach your retirement, you’ll need to sort out whether you want to start collecting money sooner or later. “Many Canadians like to take advantage of these pensions as soon as they can,” Coutts says. “But here’s the deal: The government will pay you more if you wait.”

Before diving into the dollar amounts and advantages of delaying your CPP and OAS, let’s look at how they work.

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After death of spouse, CPP survivor’s benefit can be a shock

by Susan Noakes

Sometime in the painful days after a husband or wife’s death, the funeral home or a family member will encourage the bereaved spouse to fill out the paperwork to get the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit.

It’s a moment few widows or widowers have prepared for, and it may come as a surprise how little survivors are expected to live on.

A senior couple who both get CPP benefits and Old Age Security (OAS) can live comfortably — they’ll have about $3,500 a month in income if they’re both getting the maximum benefits.

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Money mindfulness: How to reduce financial stress and reach your goals

Mindful spending can mean the difference between money stress and long-term financial joy. Here’s how it works.

Even the best budgeter can run into a bit of financial stress from time to time. But constant stress can take a significant toll on your health.

Could practising mindfulness really help you reduce that stress and build a better financial plan?

The inspiring – and perhaps surprising – answer is yes.

How mindfulness can help you with your finances

“With mindfulness, the areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering, stress and anxiety become less active,” Meg Salter says. The Toronto-based mindfulness coach is the author of Mind Your Life: How Mindfulness Can Build Resilience and Reveal Your Extraordinary. “And areas of the brain associated with cognitive control and positive mood are enhanced,” she adds.

That means that by soothing anxiety and reducing stress, practising mindfulness can help you make – and stick to – better decisions. That’s the cognitive control part. With a more positive mood, you can approach problems more confidently and calmly. And since money is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for many Canadians, mindfulness can help you feel less stressed and more in control in challenging financial situations. You may find it easier to make and follow up on good decisions about spending, saving and investing.

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Retiring unexpectedly? Here’s how your advisor can help

Instead of being years off, your retirement is suddenly happening right now. Asking your advisor these questions can help you manage the transition.

For most of our working lives, retirement can feel like a distant dream. But a sudden and unexpected change in the latter stages of your career – a department restructuring, a health issue, a buyout package – can mean that, ready or not, your retirement is happening right now. In a 2017 AARP survey, 47% of respondents reported retiring earlier than expected. Earlier research by the Ontario Securities Commission revealed similar results: Well over half the Canadians over age 50 surveyed said something outside their control had affected their retirement plans. Research by Sun Life Financial backs up this finding, with less than a third of retirees surveyed reporting they had left the workforce as expected:

For whatever reason, the thought of retiring before you had planned to can be dismaying.

But don’t panic: You’ve been getting ready for this your whole working life; it’s just the timeline that’s moved up a bit. What’s your first step? Gather all your relevant documents and book an appointment with your advisor. By asking a few key questions, your advisor can help you talk through the transition and develop a plan for moving forward.

Based on my retirement savings, how much will I have to live on?

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Advantage Plus Whole Life

Foresters Advantage Plus Whole Life is a life insurance solution designed to help meet your financial needs and take care of your loved ones.

  • Death benefit amount, premium amounts, and cash values are guaranteed for your lifetime.
  • Advantage Plus is a participating product, which means it has the potential for dividends.  These can purchase additional paid-up insurance and build additional cash value, be left on deposit to accumulate with interest, reduce premiums, or be paid in cash.
  • As part of our purpose, Foresters Financial offers members a wide range of unique and complimentary benefits including Competitive Scholarships, Legal Link, Community Grants and inspiring volunteer activities.

Benefits that can be part of our members’ lives today and every day.

Two simple steps towards your financial stability and overall wellness

Step 1:

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OMAFRA launches mental health videos

The videos encourage farmers to practice self-care

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Ontario’s provincial government is publishing a series of videos to help farmers with their mental health.

OMAFRA’s videos will feature information and advice from farmers and leaders in the ag sector. The videos will be posted on OMAFRA’s Twitter account and website throughout the planting season.

The videos originated from conversations with Ontario producers, said Ernie Hardeman, the province’s agriculture minister.

“When we reached out to farmers and agriculture leaders to get involved in our spring planting mental health campaign, they stepped up to the plate, providing advice on reducing stress, resources available to support farmers, and addressing mental health challenges,” he said in a statement. “They know first-hand what it’s like to be overwhelmed by long work days and stress when there is so much at stake, but with no control over factors like the weather.”

Farmers appreciate the government’s commitment to mental health awareness.

The video messages are a good start, but more needs to be done to ensure farmers have access to publicly funded resources, said Sandra Vos, a beef producer from Brant County.

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Is permanent life insurance right for you?

Looking for financial protection for the people who depend on you that will last as long as you live? Permanent life insurance might be the answer.

Whether you’re looking back on your life or dreaming of your future, some milestone moments may come to mind: graduating from school, buying your first home, raising your children. Whatever the milestone, you can usually count on the need to plan ahead. Your diploma may leave you with a student loan that your parents have co-signed. That beautiful home comes with a mortgage that you need to pay down. And your kids will depend on you for all sorts of living expenses – for quite some time.

There’s a lot of responsibility attached to milestones. This is where life insurance can give you a helping hand.

Why is life insurance important?

Life insurance can help protect your family financially. The death benefit – that’s the amount of money paid or due to be paid when an insured person dies – from a policy can help your family cover expenses like funeral costs, child care and tuition, home maintenance, estate and legal fees and any outstanding debts and bill payments. It can also help give your family financial assistance after you’re gone.

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Minister Bibeau highlights Government support for women in agriculture

Calgary, Alberta – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Diversity and inclusion are integral to creating an economy that works for everyone. The full and equal participation of women in Canada’s agriculture and food system will ensure the sector remains an engine of economic growth, contributing to the sector’s competitiveness and prosperity.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau today spoke at the Advancing Women in Agriculture West 2019 conference in Calgary, highlighting the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive economy and supporting women in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

The Minister also announced Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) new Women Entrepreneur Program to support women entrepreneurs involved in the agriculture and agri-food sector by providing the capital they need to grow their business, along with the meaningful skill development opportunities they are seeking. The program includes access to capital through the Women Entrepreneur Loan, enhanced learning events, partnerships with other groups, and delivery of online content to support their needs.

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Which investments can reduce your tax bill?

Taxes may be inescapable, but your choice of investments can have a huge impact on how much tax you pay.

It all depends on your personal situation and how you structure your investment portfolio.

3 types of investment income and how they work

A basic investment portfolio can generate three types of income:

  1. Interest income. If you have a savings account or a money market fund, you will receive interest income. Ditto, if you have a fixed income or bond component in your portfolio. A five-year Government of Canada bond, for example, may have a “coupon” of 2.25%, meaning for every $1,000 invested, you will receive $22.50 in interest each year. If your bond component is held in a mutual fund trust, you will receive annual “distributions.”
  2. Dividend income. If you buy shares in publicly traded companies, you may receive dividends, a company’s way of sharing its profits with its shareholders. You will receive a certain amount per share quarterly, semi-annually or annually. Likewise, you can receive dividend income from a mutual fund that buys dividend-generating stocks and makes an annual distribution to unitholders like you.
  3. Capital gains or losses. If you sell your company shares, your mutual fund units or a bond you own before its term expires, you may generate a capital gain or loss. For example, if you bought shares in ABC Co. for $10 each and sold them for $20 each, you would have a $10-per-share profit. That is a capital gain. If, on the other hand, you bought at $20 a share and sold at $10, you would have a loss of $10 per share. That is a capital loss.

How your investments are taxed

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