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Trusted Saskatoon Group Benefits and Insurance Professionals at Aurora Workplace Solutions Share Benefit Costs

Aurora Workplace Solutions are about creating brilliant futures by developing wealth security for businesses and individuals. As experts in the industry, they keep on top of recent news including changes to relevant group benefit plans, retirement savings options, and guidelines and policies. They also keep their eyes open for informative articles we think are of interest to our current and potential clients. Aurora Workplace Solutions are Trusted Saskatoon Group Benefits and Insurance Professionals! 

Employers Concerned About Rising Cost of Group Benefits 

Employers and the Rising Cost of Benefits

There is a new survey out from Aon that shows while Canadian employers are highly concerned about the rising costs of group benefits (due to drug expenses), they still prioritize the productivity and engagement of their employees and recognize the importance that group benefits play in creating healthy employees and a healthy work environment.

Canadian group benefit sponsors were surveyed by Aon to identify their Top 10 benefits and workplace priorities. 

The results were:

Top 10 Workforce Priorities

  1. Employee productivity/engagement
  2. Employee wellness
  3. Attracting, retaining employees; developing skills for changing business environment
  4. Workplace mental health
  5. Employee financial wellness
  6. Family support obligations, the effect on productivity and well-being
  7. Chronic illness effect on productivity
  8. Multi-generational workforce
  9. Delayed retirement – productivity and performance challenges
  10. Delayed retirement – employees working past normal retirement age.

Top 10 Group Benefits Priorities

  1. Escalating drug costs generally
  2. Escalating specialty drug costs in particular
  3. Escalating extended health costs generally
  4. Chronic illness effect on plan costs
  5. Need to personalize employee benefits experience
  6. Rising payroll costs (e.g. minimum wage, CPP contributions)
  7. Compliance/governance obligations
  8. Cost-shifting – public to private
  9. The administrative hassle of employee benefits
  10. National Pharmacare discussions


“The key takeaway from our survey is that plan sponsors are keenly aware of the need to manage rising benefits costs, but they also put a high priority on ensuring their employees are engaged and healthy,” commented Canadian health & benefits chief actuary Greg Durant. Durant prefaced that although the top priorities sound contradictory, there are ways for employers to achieve a balance – they will just have to “think outside the box” in order to meet both their workforce objectives while creating value for their people. One suggested method to achieve this balance is to create wellness programs that could potentially reduce overall extended health costs.

Aurora Workplace Solutions design & create custom group benefits plans that meet custom organization goals. Read more about their Group Benefits Plans or contact them today to get started!

If you are ready to set up a group benefit or retirement plan, or just want to learn more about their services, just Click Here For A Quote.

'Creating Brilliant Futures'

Aurora Workplace Solutions are Trusted Saskatoon Group Benefits and Insurance Professionals! 

Trusted Saskatoon Insurance Pro's at Wiegers Financial & Benefits Explain Critical Illness Insurance

Wiegers Financial & Benefits is one of the largest private financial planning and employee benefits consulting firms in Saskatchewan. Its Saskatoon Financial Planning Division provides business ownershouseholds, retirees, and students with expert investment and insurance planning services to help them reach their long-term financial goals. They also have a Benefits and Personal Insurance planning division- check out more on their Trusted Saskatoon Insurance Advisors listing.

Unpacking Critical Illness Insurance and Why It Matters

No one wants to be told they have a terminal or critical illness. If you suffer from a heart attack, stroke, or cancer you could lead a normal life again. However, you need to plan for the financial cost of surviving a life-altering illness. In this article, we discuss key points about critical illness insurance and ask two Wiegers Financial & Benefits staff members with firsthand experience to explain the impact it has had on their lives.

Pat Kyle’s husband was diagnosed with a critical illness a few years ago after suffering a stroke at the age of 52.

Pat says: “You never think it’s going to happen to you. Everyone lives in a bubble. Even the healthiest people may have an illness at some point. In the moment, you’re so removed from your day-to-day and fixated on your situation that you don’t even think about it. In my case, I came back to work and it wasn’t even on my mind to apply. I was so concerned about my husband’s health. It wasn’t my top priority to fill in the application to submit the claim, but I knew it was there.
As the first employee at Wiegers to go through the critical illness insurance process, it was emotional and gratifying to know that I have that piece of the program to support me. It was very helpful to be able to put a claim in and ease the financial burden. It took away stress. Just the fact that we had it made all the difference in the world. That lump sum payment is a beautiful thing.
I’m now an advocate of both critical illness and life insurance. To me, they’re more important than purchasing an RRSP. My husband had a stroke, then a heart attack, and it builds. These things all work together. Strokes can happen at any time. It doesn’t matter what age. There are so many fundraisers or steak nights for people who are sick. You may know someone who has pulled money out of RRSPs to help their child have a chance to survive. Critical illness insurance protects the wealth that you’ve created and that others around you have created, too. It supports the family, not just the person affected by the illness.”

Kim Chicoine’s husband was involved in a serious accident at a young age that left a lot of uncertainty about whether he would survive.

Kim says: “Sitting in the hospital beside my husband, I didn’t have to worry about the finances if things went the other way. Knowing that there wasn’t going to be a change in our finances because we had that critical illness piece in our puzzle was so huge. There was the potential that if his condition didn’t improve, we could have a critical illness payout. We ended up not getting the payout because he got better. It’s great when it pays out, but it’s also great when it doesn’t. The money stress is not there. You know your finances aren’t going to change and you’re covered.”

What is critical illness insurance?

Critical illness insurance is meant to relieve the financial burden of recovery, so you can focus on the task at hand. It can be purchased for children as young as 60 days up to those at or nearing retirement.

It’s one of the newest products on the personal insurance market, having been available in Canada for approximately 20 years and internationally for nearly 40 years.

Critical illness insurance is a “wealth-protecting product”, says Pat Kyle. It keeps your finances at status quo – maintaining your debt, bills, mortgage, etc. – while you focus on getting better.

Why did the need for critical illness insurance arise?

A South African cardiac surgeon, Dr. Marius Barnard, pioneered critical illness insurance after he noticed his surviving patients were struggling financially. While it was excellent that his patients were living after experiencing a life-threatening illness like heart disease, Dr. Barnard observed they experienced a significant drop in their standard of living. The patients who had overcome surgery had emerged to a world where their quality of life suffered due to the costs associated with recovery.

Which conditions are classified as a critical illness?

Each insurance carrier’s definition of critical illness differs slightly. In general, there are 26 covered conditions with the top three being stroke, heart attack, and cancer.

What’s the benefit of using critical illness insurance?

The payout is designed to help support yourself and your family during extremely difficult personal health challenges. You can get policies starting as low as 25 thousand dollars in a tax-free cheque that you don’t need to declare on your tax return.

The value of critical illness insurance is totally dependent on your personal situation, for instance:

  • a stay-at-home parent could provide for their family with their partner’s critical illness payout;
  • a self-employed individual would need critical illness insurance to cover them in the absence of workplace benefits such as long- and short-term disability;
  • or a recent grad would be able to maintain their student debt payments, etc. while going through treatments.

It’s important that you consider both life insurance and critical illness in tandem. Each situation will vary in priority as to when they’re paid out. There is no one-solution-fits-all insurance product.

When is the best time to buy critical illness insurance?

The ideal time to buy critical illness insurance is when you’re healthy. If you’re not in good health, it’s a more difficult application process.

Kim Chicoine’s husband is still young, but his health has changed. If the Chicoine’s didn’t have critical illness insurance prior to the accident, they would likely be declined. Because they had it, they will continue to have it in the future.

Family history also comes into play during the underwriting process of critical illness. Your parents’ diagnoses can affect your application, so it’s best to apply while they’re healthy.

What happens to your life insurance after using critical illness insurance?

Nothing happens to your personal life insurance after you use critical illness insurance. It depends on your personal life insurance that you’ve been medically underwritten for with an insurance carrier. If you’ve continued to pay the premiums, your life insurance is still enforced. It is difficult to get life insurance after making a critical insurance claim, so it’s better to have both products beforehand. You’ll want your advisor to package life insurance with critical insurance when you’re healthy.

How long, on average, does it take to get paid after a diagnosis?

There is a clause that says you need to pass a survival period of 30 days. After that, payment can take anywhere from a few weeks to a month. After the survival period, your doctor will need to give evidence to support the need. The decision to payout is dependent on the attending physician’s statement and all other sources.

How can the funds be used once they’ve been distributed?

If you pass the 30-day survival period, there are no restrictions on how you use the money once it’s been paid out. You decide how to use it. For example, you could use it to cover experimental medical treatment to see specialists that may not be covered by the Canadian health care system.

What will purchasing a premium do?

You can upgrade a base policy with a simple lump sum payout by adding riders. When you add additional riders it adds additional costs, but it can help in certain situations to have the return of premiums.

Here are a few riders to consider:

  1. Return of premium on death rider: the lump sum won’t get paid out, but your beneficiary will be paid out what you have paid into the policy.
  2. Disability waiver premium: if you become disabled, the insurance company waives the premiums.
  3. Rider name? If you have a policy for 15 years, you can give back the policy and get back everything you put into it. Once the policy is finished you get all your premiums back.
  4. Second event rider: pays out if the second condition is different than the first.

Prioritize your future self

Pat Kyle says: “Critical illness insurance manages the risk of what could happen in your early years, so you don’t have to take money out of savings. My financial priorities are 1. life insurance, 2. critical illness insurance, 3. slush fund, 4. RRSP. Yes, saving is important. But if something comes up your savings aren’t going to last. In my opinion, it’s not about 'should I get critical illness insurance?' it’s 'why shouldn’t I have critical illness insurance?' Protect your future self.”
Kim Chicoine says: “Peace of mind is important. In Pat’s situation, it paid out, in mine it didn’t. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the hospital without it. I wouldn’t have been able to focus on my husband; I would have been stressed out about our finances.”

Your ability to earn an income is worth more than your house and vehicle combined. Everyone gets coverage for their material possessions and it’s important to insure yourself, too. The best time to start the process is when you’re healthy and you don’t think you’ll ever need it. Speak to a financial advisor at Wiegers Financial & Benefits about finding an affordable critical illness policy.

Wiegers’ Benefits Consulting Division includes many consultants and support staff who custom-design the most employee-valued and cost-effective group benefit, personal insurance, employee assistance programs, and retirement plans available. Contact Wiegers today for a no-obligation consultation to determine how they can help you.

Wiegers Financial & Benefits are Trusted Saskatoon Insurance and Group Benefits Advisors 

Trusted Saskatoon Group Benefit & Insurance Pro's at Wiegers Financial & Benefits Explain Employee Benefits

Wiegers Financial & Benefits is one of the largest private financial planning and employee benefits consulting firms in Saskatchewan. Its Saskatoon Financial Planning Division provides business ownershouseholds, retirees, and students with expert investment and insurance planning services to help them reach their long-term financial goals. They also have a Benefits and Personal Insurance planning division- check out more on their Trusted Saskatoon Insurance Advisors listing.

How Benefits Can Help Bolster Your Employees' Mental Health AND Your Company's Bottom Line

What Mental Health Is and Why It Can’t Be Ignored

Most of us have heard – probably more than a few times – that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. There’s no denying the truth of that but increasingly, and all the more during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s an understanding that mental health is just as important and impactful as physical health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines positive mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO, 2001, p. 1). Clearly, we all strive for this – or at least should be – but not all of us are mentally well, all of the time. Indeed, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) reports[1] that:

  • Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend, or colleague.
  • In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

What’s more, though final numbers aren’t yet available, Fardous Hosseiny, the National Director of Research and Policy at the CMHA predicted that by 2020, depression would be the leading cause of disability in Canada (preliminary indications are that Mr. Hosseiny was correct). Even more staggering is that approximately 1.6 million people continue to have their mental illness needs unmet. As Mr. Hosseiny explains, “Mental illnesses are episodic, but the key is that if it’s untreated, that’s when it’s really disruptive. We know that untreated mental illnesses are only exasperated with time.” Given the number of people not being helped, Mr. Hosseiny suspects that the number of Canadians who suffer from mental illness each year is even higher than what research shows (1 in 4 Canadians as opposed to 1 in 5), and that the availability of support systems – or lack thereof – plays a major role.[2]  Clearly, something needs to be done.

Your Group Benefits Plan Can Be a Terrific Support to Your Employees and Their Mental Health. 

Here’s How.

My team and I have been promoting the importance of mental health and mental health supports in group benefit plans for many years – long before the stigma surrounding mental illness started to decay. One of the most effective tools available is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can be added to a traditional group benefits plan. Though the number of EAP providers is higher than ever, and the number of options available is ever-increasing, most EAPs provide, at minimum, confidential short-term counselling to employees and their spouses and dependent children, as well as referrals and other forms of support designed to help bolster mental health.

Other options include a robust Health benefits plan that provides coverage for mostly physical concerns, knowing that when an individual cannot afford to pay for a health product or service, his or her mental health can be severely impacted as a result. The same idea is behind Wellness and Health Spending Accounts. Providing your employees with healthcare dollars to spend as they need or choose to do helps reduce or even eliminate the financial concern that might otherwise present a barrier to their getting the help and support they need.

The Business Case for Mental Health Supports in Benefits
Aside from the obvious compassionate reasons for providing mental health supports at and through work, there’s a strong business case for it too. The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) estimates that the total cost to Canada’s economy incurred by mental health problems and illnesses is well over $50 billion annually or nearly $1,400 for every person living in Canada in 2016. This includes significant employer costs due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and employee turnover.[3]  And it makes sense. Healthier, happier employees tend to be more productive than their less healthy, less happy colleagues so investing in your employees’ mental health helps you – and your business – too.

It’s a wonderful thing that awareness and acceptance of the need to protect and care for mental health is finally on an upswing, and the fact that employers can do so much for their employees’ mental health carries exponential benefit for everyone involved, including the employers themselves (given the positive impact on their businesses).  As cliché as it might sound, benefits really are an investment in your team, and there’s never been a greater need than now for the mental health supports they provide.

Debra L. Wiegers, GBA, CFP, CLU., Ch.F.C.

Benefits Consultant, Wiegers Financial and Insurance Planning Services Ltd.

Wiegers’ Benefits Consulting Division includes 11 consultants and support staff who custom-design the most employee-valued and cost-effective group benefit, personal insurance, employee assistance programs, and retirement plans available. Contact Wiegers today for a no-obligation consultation to determine how they can help you.

Wiegers Financial & Benefits are Trusted Saskatoon Insurance and Group Benefits Advisors 


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129 21st St E #500
Saskatoon, SK   S7K 0B2
Ph: 306.244.4150


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