Board Nominees: April 2017

In advance of the Annual General Meeting on April 6th, 2017, please take a moment to review the board nominees this year:

Lisa Lamb, HR Director, Clubhouse Manager, The Oakville Club

Working in the Private Club Industry for 16 years from the bottom up, I feel I could represent this industry well. In addition I have a background in Marketing/Communications as well as Human Resources. I am a strategic thinker and able to look for new and “outside of the box” ways of doing things. 

Sisto Fini, Controller, CA, TPT Systems Limited O/A TransPro Freight Systems.

Please consider myself for an open position on the Board of Directors. I am a Controller of TPT Systems Limited.  I have been TPT’s controller since 1993.  I have been involved in Accounting and Finance since 1983.  Prior to joining TPT I worked for a large national CA firm as a senior accounting technician and also in there bankruptcy and insolvency division.  My capacity at the bankruptcy and insolvency was corporate controller. I graduated with honours in 1983 with an Accounting & Finance designation. 

I was one of the original members’ of the Board of Directors at the Beneplan Co-operative before it was a Co-operative and assisted in the forming the present Co-operative.  I continued on the Board for 2 years after its formation as a member of the audit committee, and served as Treasurer. I would be honored to be considered.

Daniel Friedman, CPA, CGA, VP Administration, Starline Industries

I am CPA –CGA and for the past 15 years have held the position of the Vice President of Administration for Starline Industries which includes Human Resources and evaluating  Group Insurance.  10 years ago, I reviewed the group plan of Beneplan with others, and found that this Plan is by far the best for my Company.  I am concerned about the cost of Health care to the Company as well as ensuring that my employees get the best coverage possible.

I was one of the original members’ of the Board of Directors before it was a Co-operative and assisted in forming the Co-operative.  In addition, I continued on the Board for 2 years after as member of the audit committee.

Sean Macy, President, Basics Office Products

I believe I can help the organization based on my work with Buying Groups across North America over the past 24 years.

President of Basics Office Products 2006 – present

Vice President Basics 1995 – 2006

Chairman and BOD member of Canadian Office Products Assoc. ’98-’06

Chairman and Member of 3M Dealer Council 1997-2010

Mauro LoRusso, CPA, CA, CFO, Pride Pak Canada Ltd.

I have been a Chartered Professional Accountant for almost 30 years and worked in an Executive financial role as Vice President of Finance/CFO roles for over 20 years in industry. I possess very good business sense coupled with very good financial background. I have worked in public accounting in the early part of my career and have worked with and attended many Board of Director meetings for large public corporations. I served for two years on the Board of Directors for a Condominium Corporation and successfully reduced costs by over 50%. With my business acumen and financial background, I think I can bring good ideas to the table for the Co-operative Corp. and help keep costs down for us all.

Jennifer Osborn, CEBS, Dan Lawrie Insurance Brokers Ltd.

I would like to serve to represent our company and our clients. I feel that I can contribute with my expertise and passion to ensure the cooperative continues to grow and develop in a away that is meaningful way within the Ontario and Canadian marketplace.

Melina Garate, Controller, Planet Paper Box Group Inc.

With my experience as a Financial controller, with some human resource knowledge from mid sized financial firms, I have had exposure to many different aspects regarding health plans. I am able to view aspects of health plans from the employer as well as from the employee point of view and can shed of insight into what I believe is really important. I would also like to have the opportunity to meet more of my peers and share my experiences with them and be able to learn from their knowledge and experiences. I also believe that Beneplan has an excellent product and would like to learn more about what it holds for the future and how I can contribute to it’s success. I work very well in a board setting and not only listen but also believe in constructive contributions. Thank you for your consideration and I would very much like to be a part of the Beneplan team!

[Event] HR, Benefits & Law Workshop: Nov 9 and 16th, 2016

[Event] HR, Benefits & Law Workshop: Nov 9 and 16th, 2016

Join us for our Annual HR, Benefits & Employment Law Workshop. We have two dates and locations this year to accommodate our members.

Please see more on our Events page.

About the workshops:

November 9th Location: Four Points Sheraton: 6090 Dixie Rd Mississauga L5T 1A6
November 16th Location: Westin Prince Hotel, 900 York Mills Rd. North York ON M3B 3H2

Duration: 9:30am to 3:30pm
Cost: Complimentary for plan sponsors & partners in our network.

9:30am Registration & Coffee
10:00am Understanding your Renewal
10:30am Q3 Financial Update on the co-operative
10:50am Break
11:00am Hear from an Insurance Carrier
11:45am Wellness Tips for the Workplace
12:00pm Lunch
1:00pm Legal Update: Marijuana in the workplace, Travel Insurance Legalities, and the new Sexual Harassment Guidelines
2:00pm Break
2:15pm Trends for 2017 and beyond
3:00pm Break & Prize Draw
3:10pm (Optional) Benefits Admin 101 for Beginners – Seasoned Administrators are welcome to leave early to beat the traffic.

Please RSVP by October 31st to

Ontario Minimum Wage Increased to $11.40

Effective October 1, 2016, the Ontario Government has increased the hourly general minimum wage from $11.25 to $11.40.


How will this affect your Ontario or Toronto group benefit plan?

If you have group short term disability or group long term disability benefits, your benefits volumes are tied to salaries. Therefore, if you are updating salaries on your end, please remember to update salaries with your benefits administrator at Beneplan. Please email us or submit a request through your Beneplan online account.

Chatbots: The next innovation in group benefits

You may or may not have heard of a ‘chatbot‘, but it will most definitely be a topic of discussion at future group benefits conferences in Canada in 2017.

A chatbot is a rising trend, at the intersection of the hottest topics right now in tech: artificial intelligence, messenger apps, the mobile wave, and of course…teens. It can be likened to an artificial concierge, like a Siri or Alexa, but embedded within the messenger application.


For example, you might open up the Kik bot store, add the Sephora chatbot, and ask it about beauty tips or to find you the best eyeliner. The Sephora chatbot script returns to you the answers, customized to you, and delivered in a human-like fashion…as if you are chatting with a human. Except that you’re chatting with a ‘robot’.

(Throughout researching this post, I stumbled across a ‘chatbot girlfriend’ and shed a single tear for humanity).

It is estimated that teens spend 80% of the time on mobile devices on chat applications, such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, Whatsapp, iMessage, and beyond. Most marketers know that many mobile trends start with teens, then the 20s, and then the mainstream usually follows. sephora chat bot kik

Keep reading →

Canada Post Lockout – Premium & Claim Considerations

In the event of a Canada Post lockout, here’s what you need to do to ensure your group benefit plan continues to run smoothly:

Remitting Premiums

If you currently mail a cheque to Beneplan, please consider instead one of the following options:

  1. Sign up for Pre-Authorized Chequing.
  2. Send in a Direct Deposit payment.
  3. Courier your cheque using Beneplan’s Purolator or ICS account number.

Please note that we discourage cheques from being mailed at this point because in the event that mail is not delivered during the summer, if premiums are not received on time, the insurer has a right to suspend claims until payment is made.

Sending in Claims

If you or your team currently mail in claims, please consider switching to one of the other alternatives:

Health / Dental

  • Use your drug card as much as possible (contact us if you lost yours).
  • Send your claims through electronic claim submission over the insurer’s website.
  • If you’ve never sent a claim through the website before, please see the instructions below.
  • Or, download your insurance company’s mobile app onto your smartphone, for easy submission.

Short Term Disability / Long Term Disability / Life Insurance / Critical Illness

  • Please email copies to Beneplan and courier the package of originals to our office.

E-Claim Submission Instructions

If your benefits are with The Co-operators

  • Login to your account – if you have never done so, please call 1.800.667.8164 for a password.
  • Download the app on iPhone or Android, called ‘Benefits Now.’

If your benefits are with Green Shield Canada

  • Login to your account – if you have never done so, please call 1.888.711.1119.
  • Download the app for iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone called ‘GSC on the Go.’

If your benefits are with Manulife (Formerly Standard Life)

Benefits and Pensions Monitor: How Employers can Balance Drug Costs

Benefits and Pensions Monitor: How Employers can Balance Drug Costs

Canadian employers see the advantages of having an employee benefit program. However, increasing drug costs, the demands of keeping an aging workforce on the job, and having the ability to recruit the best new employees and retain valued employees is creating a new challenge – maximizing benefits without increasing costs. Benefits and Pensions Monitor’s Meetings & Events assembled a thought leadership expert panel to discuss new approaches to meet these challenges.

Yafa Sakkejha, general manager, The Beneplan Co-operative was among the expert panel. You can also find a link to a video of Yafa’s speech here or download the article here.





When will Medical Marijuana be covered by your Benefits Plan?

When will Medical Marijuana be covered by your Benefits Plan?

In 2016, there are just a handful of subjects more controversial than Medical Marijuana. When the federal government introduced rules in 2014 requiring patients to buy medical marijuana from licensed producers, it birthed an industry and drew dozens of new entrants.

While Bay Street has become the world’s leading source of financing for marijuana, Main Street has experienced a green rush of its own, with the growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries opening since Justin Trudeau’s election, leaving some Toronto City Councilors looking for ways to regulate or simply outlaw these establishments, just as the Federal Health Minister announced that Canada will table legislation a year from now to legalize Marijuana.

Ottawa has both been breaking new ground while encountering new challenges that prevent marijuana from being fully legitimized. Further, there is a question around whether or not the LCBO will be the new dispensary of choice. Given the hazy state of flux across the three branches of Government, where does this leave medical marijuana patients and their benefit plans?

Medical Marijuana Today

Cannabis is a legal treatment for patients in Canada. With a doctor’s authorization, patients can complete an application and be authorized to Possess Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes. Medical Research has shown that Cannabis products can relieve nausea, vomiting, chronic pain, while marijuana can help a person regain his or her appetite. Synthetic THC is prescribed for patients to reduce muscle spasms, while some research has shown it can be beneficial for people undergoing cancer treatment.

According to the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry, the estimated average prescription cost is $7.50 per day, good for about one gram of medical marijuana. This is below the $12.25 dollar per day for Sativex, an opiate prescribed for patients suffering with similar conditions.

The Current State of Medical Marijuana Benefits Coverage in Canada

While the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) have granted access to medical marijuana to nearly 40,000 patients, many do forget that marijuana in Canada is still illegal. Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule II controlled substance makes it difficult to conduct the clinical studies. Further, cannabis doesn’t yet have a drug identification number, known as a DIN. We predict that as soon as Health Canada issues a DIN for marijuana, Canadian insurers will add some formulation to their drug benefit plans. The challenge will be how it will be adjudicated:

  • Will marijuana be allowed to be dispensed through pharmacies?
  • If marijuana has a DIN, would insurers allow direct billing from pharmacies?
  • Will newly opened ‘dispensaries’ be recognized practitioners who can bill insurers?
  • If pharmacies or dispensaries are not permitted to bill directly through a drug card, how would an insurer deal with the potential mountain of paper claims?
  • If the LCBO would be one dispensary, how would insurers develop new techniques to identify any potential for fraud, through submitting expenses for alcohol?
  • What prior authorization criteria would be considered in order to pay the claim?
  • What form of marijuana would be covered, be it through the vapour, food, or other?

While marijuana is not technically covered yet, there have been some cases in private health insurers where marijuana treatments have been covered – albeit with some pushback. The most publicized one came just over a year ago, in March 2015 when 22 year old student Jonathan Zaid got his claim paid by his insurance company. This followed a comparable decision a few years earlier a decision by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario arbitrator awarded $567.60 a month to an Ontario woman for the purchase of medical marijuana to treat pain, anxiety and insomnia symptoms. While both these cases set a precedent before the courts, it should be noted that each of these two cases are unique: both patients had suffered from rare diseases, while each had received over 40 different medications for a decade. While some benefits plans could offer medical marijuana coverage as part of a Health Care Spending Account the likelihood of this being routinely covered as a medical expense by both employers and companies is not very likely.

Promotion: Switch to pre-authorized chequing, and enter to win a getaway!

Promotion: Switch to pre-authorized chequing, and enter to win a getaway!

We are pleased to announce our summer promotion:

Switch your payments from Cheques to pre-authorized chequing (PAC) or direct deposit, and enter to win a 2-night stay in Blue Mountain!


  • Switching to e-payments saves you time.
  • One less item on your to-do list.
  • You will be notified by email of upcoming invoices and payments, and you can cancel at any time with 30 days notice.
  • You have the option of signing up for direct deposit instead of PAC.
  • This can be customized if you have multiple divisions.

Switch to PAC by June 1, 2016 to be entered to win the grand prize:

  • A 2-night stay in a luxury, 4-bedroom chalet in Blue Mountain
  • Hot tub, BBQ, and steps to the Blue Mountain Village & Golf
  • Choose if you want to stay on the lake, or near the Village
  • View photos online:

Email - Blog - Switch to PAC - Beneplan

Please fill out the attached from by midnight on May 31, 2016 and email it to – please mail the original to: 500-150 Ferrand Dr, Toronto ON M3C 3E5.

Contest Rules & Regulations

  1. Only one entry allowed per Member Company.
  2. Only member-owners of the Beneplan Co-operative are eligible for the promotion: employees, brokers, vendors, or other arms-length or non-arms-length entities are not eligible for the draw.
  3. The grand prize is not eligible to be redeemed for cash, not eligible to be resold, and is non-transferrable.
  4. Staying in the chalet is subject to the participant agreeing to the resort’s policies & procedures, and bylaws of the Town of Blue Mountains.
  5. If the winner of the contest has set a date, and needs to cancel, they are able to cancel or reschedule greater than 30 days of the check-in date. If the winner needs to cancel within 30 days of the check-in date, they are deemed to have forfeited their prize. Please notify us as soon as possible if you need to cancel or reschedule.
  6. If the winner needs to reschedule, there are maximum 2 rescheduling accommodations that will be allowed – if after 2 reschedules, there is a third need to cancel or reschedule, the winner is deemed to have forfeited their prize.
  7. The winner may choose their weekend, but the blackout periods are as follows: December 20th to January 4th, and any long weekend around statutory holidays.
  8. The stay must be booked by December 31st 2016 for a stay by June 1st, 2017.

If you have any questions, call us at 1-800-387-1670.


Yafa Sakkejha

GM The Beneplan Co-operative

Patronage Dividend Calculations

We’ve received a number of questions this year on how the patronage dividends are calculated. We’d like to elaborate here on the formula, and we welcome any feedback from you as to how we can improve.

At the end of the year, there are companies in a surplus, and companies in a deficit. If we separate them into two columns for 2015, groups in surplus had $1.7M in surplus, and those in deficit had a total deficit of $730,000. Therefore, there’s about $1M left over that we can pay out as dividends to those who were in a surplus.

The million dollar question is, how much money should be taken from each company’s surplus in order to pay down the deficit? Should it be the same flat amount across the board? Or should different companies pay different amounts? Keep reading →