Huge Growth and Extended Rate Guarantees for the AVCC BENSPlus Program

In today’s Copperstone Corner Kirk updates AVCC members on the progress of BENSPlus and the addition of extended rate guarantees.

If your business is a member of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce now is the time to take a look at the BENSPlus platform. 

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Why Salary Updates are Important

Kirk explains the most common error made by benefit administrators, and why reporting salary changes on your benefit plan are important.

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Exciting Announcement about BENSPlus!!

In today’s Copperstone Corner Kirk makes a big announcement about BENSPlus.  Getting exceptional employee benefits just got easier!!

If your business is a member of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce now is the time to take a look at the BENSPlus platform.

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Which Health Benefits do Employees Really Want?

It has been recorded that only 11% of employees are completely satisfied with the coverage levels for all five of the major areas of their health benefits plan, according to the 2017 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

Members really want to boost coverage for major dental services (25%), vision care (21%) and paramedical services (21%).

If employees could only get increased coverage in one of those three areas by reducing coverage in another, 60% of those who want more coverage for major dental services and 53% of those who want better vision benefits would choose reduced paramedical coverage. Of those who want more paramedical coverage, 35% would take reduced dental benefits and 32% would take less vision care.


Prescription drugs (96%) and basic dental services (90%) are the most common health benefits. Fewer plans cover vision care (78%) and major dental services (67%).

Benefits plans are also less likely to cover preventative health-care measures, such as adult vaccinations and on-site health risk screenings although most employees say they would appreciate those benefits: 83% would likely participate in screenings for cancer; 80% for heart disease; 71% for diabetes; and 64% for stress or mental illness.

“This is a good example of a benefit that is justifiable using a research-tested, evidence-based approach,” said David Willows, vice-president of strategic market solutions at Green Shield Canada and an advisory board member. “There is a straight line between vaccines, preventing disease and the potential to reduce health and disability claims.”

A third preventative benefit in which employees are showing interest, according to the survey, is coaching for nutrition (63%), personal health goals (61%) and managing chronic conditions (73% among employees who regularly take three or more medications).

The survey also notes employees’ conflicting feelings about costs: 60% agree they have a role to play in keeping them down, but 68% think their employer is more concerned about cost than ensuring the best benefits are available. Interestingly, plan members aged 55 to 64 are much more likely to feel obligated to help with cost management than those aged 18 to 34.

Mary Ann Baynes, account executive at Desjardins Insurance and an advisory board member, noted the industry must figure out how to “demonstrate better value” and teach plan members there isn’t endless funding for all of their health-care wants. “Consumers need to make more of a contribution,” she said.

The survey also found that if employers can’t or won’t pay for increased costs to maintain the benefits plan, 38% of members would rather pay higher premiums to keep coverage. A quarter (23%) would rather pay the same premiums for less coverage and only 19% said they’d rather pay a higher portion of the cost when they personally use a benefit.

“Plan sponsors are generally reluctant to increase cost-sharing, but these results show that employees are more willing to do that than risk losing benefits,” said advisory board member John McGrath, senior vice-president and human capital benefits practice leader at Willis Towers Watson. “This option should be explored more closely when faced with the alternative of reducing plan design coverage. May 29, 2017 – Which health benefits do employees really want? – Staff


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Should Health Coverage Still Include Semi-Private Hospital Coverage?

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Don’t Tax My Benefits!

This is a very important message about the need for employers and employees to get involved to oppose any tax on employer contributions to group health programs.
Info Page…

FAQ – SUNLIFE…/Focus…/2017/Jan18/GB_Tax_FAQ_EN.pdf…

Bill Morneau –
Scott Brison
Colin Fraser –

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The Value of an EAP

Employee Assistance Program


An Employee Assistance Program is a very powerful benefit that is not understood by many businesses.

There are so many great services EAPs offer and we want to share its value!

The Employee Assistance Society of North America, defines EAPs as employer sponsored programs designed to alleviate and assist in resolving a variety of personal and/or workplace issues that employees and their family members may face. The main purpose of EAPs is to support the employee by offering a comprehensive scope of counselling and work-life services while also helping companies detect and support mental health and addiction issues and manage critical incidents. Professionals who work for EAPs include social workers, psychologists, counsellors, substance abuse specialists and occupational nurses.

A study that investigates the value of a Canadian Employee Assistance program, shows that EAPs can improve Canadians’ quality of life, reduce the economic challenges of reduced productivity in the workplace and ease the pressure on the healthcare system.


When an EAP is offered it gives the employer something to offer to their employee when faced with issues that the employer is not properly equipped or trained to help with.  In many cases, the issues are mental health related and to be able to give the employee a number to call where they can receive confidential help is a huge bonus; but what about an employee who is new to the area and needs help finding certain information about local doctors, dentists, daycare services etc…? Some EAPs are designed to help with that as well.

When there is overall wellness with employees that in turn leads to increased productivity. That is the premise that EAPs are based off of.  Troubled employees are more prone to absenteeism, or will come to work anyway while sick, stressed, anxious, injured etc…, often resulting in decreased productivity and quality of work. When employees are working while not in the best state, this can increase costs of health care benefit premiums, lower the employees morale and increase staff turnover, all of which have a negative impact on the employer’s bottom line.

Productivity Concept With an Arrow Going Upwards 3D

Like all benefit plans, EAPs should be tailored to meet the needs of the employees so it is expected that an EAP will provide two key outcome with respect to the bottom line:

Improved work performance: Employees who are encouraged to use their EAP program often experience positive changes in their work performance, such as fewer absences, higher levels of productivity and improved relationships with co-workers.

Cost savings: EAP services can produce direct cost savings from reduced medical, disability and workers compensation claims, especially for mental health.

If you have any questions about an existing EAP that you have or are interested in the addition of an EAP, our advisors are always here to answer any questions and provide further education on EAP and the value it can provide to your business.



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2017 Benefit Preparation



Now that we are into the new year it is a perfect time to make sure your benefit plan is 2017 ready!

This is a great time to prepare and get organized so that you are ready for what may come in over the next 12 months!

Here are a few items to check off and get your 2017 benefit year rolling:

  • Having an admin kit on hand is always a great reference tool for you and comes with many other useful forms and documents that you may need through out the year.
  • Extra booklets if needed
  • Be sure all new employees are added within 30 days of their waiting period
  • Encourage employees to review their beneficiary list.  If employees do not have beneficiaries listed it is a good idea that they do think about who to list.  Many people do not realize that if anything were to happen and no beneficiary is listed, life benefits will be given to estate.
  • With a new year will come changes. This is a great time to make sure dependents are up to date ei: new babies are added, spouses added or taken off when needed etc..
  • Keep in mind when your renewal is as we will be calling to go over things with you.

Remember, we are always here to help with anything you may need! We wish all of our clients and customers a prosperous 2017!

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Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce Valley’s Best Awards 2017

The polls are open for Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce 2017 Valley’s Best! Let your voice be heard on who YOU think deserves to win this year! voting ends January 31.
As an Annapolis Valley business we appreciate not only the support we receive from the community, but what all local businesses have and continue to accomplish! By taking a few minutes to vote in each category, not only is your support valued, but it is also a great way to bring the whole Valley together as a whole.

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Follow up to EI changes and your long term disability – 2017


Kirk discusses changes in EI and the effect it will have on your LTD coverage in 2017

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