Graphic showing wall of words in blue with "Benefits" as the largest word

2019 Federal Budget- Employee Benefits Impacted

How will the new 2019 Federal Budget impact benefit plan sponsors, employees, and employers?

National Pharmacare Program

With the March 2019 Federal budget, progress is being made towards instituting a National Pharmacare Program. The move away from Provincial Pharmacare Programs involves projects to develop a National Drug Formulary and the creation of a Canada Drug Agency (CDA) plus a National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases.

Our publicly funded health care system is based on need and is the envy of many countries around the world. However, a National Pharmacare Program would cover the costs for expensive drugs necessary to help Canadians with certain rare diseases.

Protect Employees & Pensions from Employer Insolvency

The new Federal budget is also looking into how to improve creditor protection for plan members should an employer declare bankruptcy. The goal is to improve the fairness and transparency of the insolvency proceedings and make them more accessible for plan members.

Canadian Training Benefit

As of 2020, if you are an employee between the ages of 25 and 64 and with an income of less than $150,000, you may be eligible for the Canadian Training Benefit. This EI Training Support Benefit provides an automatic credit of $250 per year (with a $5000 lifetime limit). The benefit can be used for up to 4 weeks of leave or towards training fees for college, university, or any other eligible institution. You must have 600 insurable hours to qualify.

Summary

For more information about the 2019 Federal Budget in Canada, visit the Government of Canada page entitled, Investing in the Middle Class.

Need Help with Employee Benefits Plans?

If you are an employer and you want to learn more about what you can do for your employees, our employee benefits brokers can help.

If your business employs 10 or more employees and you don’t currently have an employee benefits plan, let us show you how a well-designed plan can benefit your employees and your business.

Benefit Strategies Inc. is located in Edmonton Alberta and we service businesses throughout all the Western Provinces plus the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

If you still have questions about how the Canadian 2019 Federal budget will affect employee benefits, please call our benefits brokers at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Employees in a board meeting.

Benefit Strategies Inc. Wins Consumer Choice Award

For two years running (2018 and 2019), Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton Alberta has been awarded the Consumer Choice Award for Business Excellence.

The majority of our clients are from the Edmonton and the Northern Alberta area, but our group and employee benefits brokers also service small and medium sized businesses throughout Western Canada, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.

Voted Best Group Benefits Broker

Voted Best Group Benefits Broker

The Consumer Choice Award program has been recognizing business excellence throughout Canada for more than 30 years. This recognition is awarded by consumers to help other consumers make better and more informed buying decisions.

Benefit Strategies Inc. was the only winner in the “Group Benefits Broker” category for the Edmonton and Northern Alberta area.

We offer creative solutions for group and employee benefits plus complimentary benefit analysis and exceptional on-going benefits plan management.

About the Consumer Choice Award

Established in 1987, the sole purpose of the Consumer Choice Award (CCA) is to recognize small and medium sized local businesses for their business excellence. The CCA award uses a 4-step ranking process that is statistically supported by independent market research. CCA Award winners are selected by the consumer based partly on customer satisfaction and brand reputation. This recognition helps to inform and assure other consumers they will be receiving best in class for products and service in this market.

Contact Us

Benefit Strategies Inc. is located at #204 – 6908 Roper Road in Edmonton AB.

To learn more about our group and employee benefits plans or about our company, please call us at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

 

Click here to see the full list of winners for 2018 on the news release by Globe News Wire.

Payroll binders, notepad, pens, and pencils in a pencil holder.

Trend Alert: Canadian Salaries Expected to Rise in 2018

As you prepare for next year you are likely already thinking about whether or not to give out salary increases, and if so, how much. Here are two recent Canadian studies that showcase how other employers across Canada anticipate rewarding employees in the next year.

Two Studies Show Salaries Expected to Rise

A recent study by Willis Towers Watson, a Toronto based Insurance Company, surveyed over 300 Canadian employers on whether or not they project base salary increases for all or some employee groups in 2018.

The Willis Towers Watson survey results showed that:

  • 94% of Canadian employers expect to increase salaries in 2018 (up from just 90% in 2017)
  • Employers expect to award base increases of 2.8% – to both executive and non-executive employees

In another Canadian salary study by Mercer Canada, the study projects that Canadian salaries will increase by 2.4% in 2018 compared to the 2.3% increase in 2017.

Salary Increases Need To Be Strategic

The Mercer study found that top performers can expect to receive salary increases of up to 1.8 times that of average performers. Both top performers and those with in-demand skill sets will expect to be paid differently because competition is so fierce.

The Willis Towers Watson study found that most employers are rewarding what they call “star performers” with substantially larger salary increases while giving minimal – if any – increases to their weakest performers.

Employee Retention #1 Priority for Employers in 2018

The Mercer Canada study found that 69% of survey respondents are most concerned about employee retention when it comes to compensation decisions in 2018.

The second highest concern when administering salary increases is overall economic climate.

Alterative Compensations Instead of Salary Increases

Rather than just handing out pay raises only to top performers, or pay raises straight across the board, Allison Griffiths (principal at Mercer Canada), suggest employers look to alternate compensation packages.

For example, extra vacation days, education and skill development, or work-from-home options could be more lucrative than a straight across dollar raise. The report also showed that employee benefit plans can also fit in as an alternative to salary increases in 2018.

About Benefit Strategies Inc.

As employee benefit brokers based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Benefit Strategies Inc. is dedicated to helping Canadian businesses compensate and reward their employees. We service small businesses and corporations throughout Alberta, the Western Provinces and the Northwest Territories.

For more information about how to leverage employee benefits to retain and compensate your employees in 2018 please contact Benefit Strategies Inc. Call us at 1-780-437-5070 or contact our benefits brokers by email.

You might also our article titled How to Deal with Employee Benefits Cost Increase.

A meeting discussing productivity study.

Which Industries Offer the Best Benefits

While salaries are still the strongest incentive, many potential employees also look at industries with the best benefits like paid leave, health insurance, and retirement plans.

In 2016, Glassdoor conducted an anonymous online survey of past and present employees who rated employers across eight different industries, with over 470,000 responses. The objective was to uncover which North American industries (that currently have active job openings) offer the best employee benefits.

The three industries that came out on top with the highest rated benefits packages were:

  1. Finance Sector
  2. Information Technology
  3. Manufacturing

Not surprisingly, food service and retail industries were rated at the bottom of those surveyed with education, health services and business services rounding out the mix.

What Are the Top Industries Doing Differently

According to a Glassdoor study, 3 out of 5 respondents consider “perks” and “benefits” right up there with salary when evaluating job compensation.

In support of this, when searching for top employees, many finance and technology companies stated that they had “increased benefits” as a means of attracting the most desirable candidates.

In the manufacturing sector, offering significant incentives are necessary to attract and maintain highly skilled tradespeople. The unions who represent the employees generally negotiate premium benefits packages for employees in manufacturing.

Most respondents that considered parental leave a top priority were from the education and IT sectors, while business services, retail, and health care had the lowest ratings in that category.

Additional Perks

The Glassdoor survey also examined free snacks and free food as perks of the job.

While the quality of benefits in the food service industry may be some of the lowest, this sector did offer the best perks in terms of free food and snacks. However the education and retail sectors received the lowest rating for food perks.

Want to Offer Your Employees Better Benefits?

In today’s job market there seems to be an upswing in terms of the number of potential employees looking for added benefits along with a competitive salary.

Regardless of what industry you are in, Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton Alberta can help you rethink your employee benefits package and help you attract the best employees for your job postings.

Call us today at 780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Millenial using MyHSA benefits health app on her phone.

Introducing League Health Insurance Benefits

Benefit Strategies Inc. is proud to offer its customers access to League Health Insurance Benefits – an employee benefits plan that can be customized through the League digital health app!

League Health Insurance Company is an employee benefits provider that offers a digital alternative to traditional health benefits. With League, employees (and employers) can say goodbye to one-size-fits-all benefits plans and tight spending restrictions.

Employees Love League Benefits Canada

Here are four reasons why employees love this new League digital health app and four reasons you will love the health benefits plan too!

  1. Digital First. League Insurance is a fully digital health benefits provider. Employees can check their account balances, transaction history, statements, receipts, and more, all within the League Digital Health App.
  2. Diverse expanded benefits plans. League Benefits offers a Lifestyle Spending Account where your employees can choose a variety of services including gym memberships, personal training, health coaching, food and supplements, physiotherapy, and more.
  3. Convenience. In addition to going digital, your employees will love the convenience of on-site health screenings and flu clinics. If incorporated, they will no longer have to visit their local clinic for a flu shot, massage, blood pressure testing, and other health screening options.
  4. Membership reviews. Thanks to the League digital benefits marketplace, there are literally thousands of health services available from some of the best professionals in the business – all rated by League’s members. The League Insurance roster includes only qualified professionals who have been verified, rated, and reviewed.

Reasons You Will Love League Benefits

  1. Financial Control. League offers a fixed contribution model that allows for cost control and certainty. There will be no more end of the year surprises and you only pay for what your employees actually use.
  2. Flexibility. Build an employee benefits plan that is perfect for your business and team. Options include popular packaged benefits plans with flexible spending accounts or a-la-carte menu of products and services that meet your needs and fit within your budget.
  3. Onsite Workplace Health Services. Bringing healthcare to your employees can improve the overall wellness of your workplace, which can lead to reduced stress, improved morale, fewer sick days, and many more benefits. League’s Workplace Health Services include verified health professionals providing on-site services such as health screenings and clinics, group fitness classes, stress management, and more. When health is incorporated into your company culture, everyone feels they are well looked after!
  4. Tax Deductions. Your company can enjoy some great tax deductions by introducing an Employee Benefits Plan like League Insurance. Ask us how!

To learn more about League Benefits and the League digital health app, or how League can improve the overall health, wellness, and satisfaction of your employees, please contact Benefit Strategies Inc. today at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email.

Older couple engaged in retirement planning.

Canada Pension Plan – Will It Be There When You Retire?

In this post, Benefit Strategies Inc. in Edmonton Alberta takes a look at how Canadians feel about retirement and some troubling statistics about the state of the public pension plan in Canada.

  • The belief that Canadian pension plans will cease to exist at the point of retirement is shared by as much as 21% of today’s working age Canadians, according to an HSBC report entitled The Future of Retirement: Shifting Sands.
  • Concern over the decline of public pensions is also worrying at least 62% of the respondents. That same percentage of Canadians (62%) was mindful of economic uncertainty as it applied to their ability to save for retirement.
  • On the heels of the 2007/08 financial crisis, 52% of Canadians polled stated that it is now more difficult than ever to save for retirement.
  • Employee pension plans were troubling 48% who question whether they will receive a full pension payout on retirement.
  • Rising health-care costs concerned 74% of Canadians, who feel they will have to spend more in the future.
  • The report also indicates changes in the landscape of retirement are compelling Canadians to adjust their retirement outlook. Many are using online technology to research saving options, with 22% having deposited money in an online savings account.

How Canadians feel about retirement is certainly a cause for concern. Are you feeling bewildered by these Canada Pension Plan statistics and the potential ramifications for your future retirement?

Contact Benefit Strategies today at 1-780-437-5070 or send us an email and let us show you how to develop a positive course of action in today’s volatile retirement climate.

You might also like our Benefit Strategies article entitled New Trends in Retirement Planning in Canada.

Employees in a board meeting.

Medical Marijuana Added to Shoppers & Loblaws Benefits Plan

Canadian drug benefit plans continually need to evolve to meet the needs of employees.

In recent news, Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws Canada have now added medical marijuana into their employee benefits packages.

These drug benefits are capped at $1,500.00 but reflect the vision of employers who are willing to see past the political rhetoric and introduce new aspects to their employee benefits plan that are explicitly focussed on employee needs.

Focus of Medical Marijuana Use

Adaptation to drug therapy changes are pushing these companies into positions of forward-thinking benefits by:

1) Providing alternative relief for workers experiencing chemo-related queasiness and vomiting.

2) Helping employees deal with pain as a consequence of multiple sclerosis.

Earlier in 2017, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ruled that an employee benefits plan “Must cover a member’s medical marijuana prescription.” A pre-approval process is required and the ruling calls for special authorization, with marijuana prescriptions to be filled by Licensed Producers, the current method used by the Canadian Government.

You can read the full article can be read here: Benefits plan must cover medical pot, human rights commission rules.

These drug benefits will be available to approximately 45,000 Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws employees. Depending on the volume consumed daily by the patient, it’s unlikely that these benefits will completely cover costs, but it will certainly help.

Still Have Questions About Drug Benefit Plans?

Benefit Strategies Inc. is based in Edmonton, Alberta and has been serving business clients throughout Western Canada, the Yukon and the Northwest territories for over three decades.

For more information on how medical marijuana is affecting employee benefits plans in Canada, contact Benefit Strategies online, send us an email, or call us today at 1-780-437-5070

OSP Fashion Show Poster from Feb 4, 2016

Benefit Strategies Sponsors The OSP Workin’ It Fashion Show

Gold Sponsor – Benefit Strategies sponsors the first annual OSP Workin’ It Fashion Show!
Please invite some friends and join us at OSP’s 1st Annual “Workin’ It” Fashion Show. The show will feature women’s and men’s Spring Fashion. Fun fact: 3 OSP clients will be among the models!
Enjoy some delicious food and wine, meet some great people, and get a fun photo in the Photo Booth.

Where: Lexus of Edmonton, 11204 – 170 Street NW, Edmonton.
When: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. – Reception (Wine, Appetizers, Photo Booth).
7:00 p.m. – Fashion Show.
8:00 p.m. – Door Prizes.

Dress Code: Semi-Formal
You will receive a $40.00 charitable donation tax receipt for your ticket purchase.
Tickets: $75.00 each.
10 for $650.00. $100.00 each after January 31.
Each ticket comes with 2 glasses of complimentary wine ($3 cash per glass thereafter).
Benefit Strategies sponsors this fundraiser with all proceeds supporting client services at On-Site Placement.

RSVP on Eventbrite.

OSPinvite

Business owners helping business owners -Capital Ideas

Capital Ideas: Balancing Work, Life and Health

On the subject of balancing work life and health, Benefit Strategies Inc. President Daryl Smith and Capital Ideas asked the Edmonton community of entrepreneurs, “What does employee health and wellness mean at your business?”

Daryl Smith started the conversation off with his take on meeting employee needs:

“Balancing work, life and health for employees is paramount. At Benefit Strategies Inc. we include ergonomics around the office, customizable benefit packages, and healthcare spending accounts to enhance the health and wellness of our workforce. To achieve balance, and boost productivity, employees may take shortened work weeks, work from home, and enjoy flex time. It is important to be mindful of what your employees need: allowing time off for a grandchild’s birthday party, or to escort an aging parent to an appointment demonstrates understanding and support for wellbeing, both inside and outside the office.”

Here’s how other Edmonton entrepreneurs feel about employee health.

Do you want to change the way your workplace views health and wellness? Is it time to introduce a new employee benefits plan that will help boost employee satisfaction and productivity?

Contact our Edmonton employee benefits broker at 1-780-437-5070 or arrange a free Consultation online.