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April 22, 2020

COVID-19 and Occupational Therapy  

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Physiotherapists 

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Glass half full? The impacts of CERB on people receiving social assistance in Ontario

The economic impacts of COVID-19 have spared few in our province. Amongst the hardest hit are people living in poverty receiving social assistance. Being able to pay for a full glass of orange juice has gotten just that much harder. 
 
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What life is like now for 3 people with brain injuries — and their loved ones

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a major upheaval to health care in Ontario, those who need around-the-clock observation are experiencing some of the most significant disruptions. 
 
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About social assistance in Ontario 

Ontario has made additional resources available to enable Ontario Works administrators and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) staff to provide additional assistance for those currently receiving social assistance, who are facing additional costs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This funding can be used to meet a broad range of needs, for example: cleaning supplies, transportation, food or clothing that individuals and families may require due to COVID-19. 
 
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Apply for emergency assistance

Learn how to get short term financial support if you are in a crisis or an emergency situation and don’t have enough money for things like food and housing. 
 
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Financial help for Canadians affected by COVID-19

Get information on what’s available to: those who have lost incomerenters and homeownersfamiliesseniorsstudentsbusinessesCanadians abroad. There’s also a personal finance section with information on tax and utility bill deferrals. This guide provides the basic benefit information you need to apply for subsidies. 
 
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Your CERB money is taxable. Here’s how it’s going to work

The federal income support program provides $2,000 every four weeks for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who’ve been financially affected by the pandemic. Ottawa isn’t withholding any taxes at source on those benefits, meaning recipients are getting the full $2,000 for now. 
 
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Ontario to allow people on social assistance to keep part of emergency benefits

Ontarians on social assistance who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will be allowed to keep a portion of federal income support being offered to most other Canadian workers struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. 
 
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Ontario tells social assistance caseworkers to reinstate benefits to those who lost them after receiving emergency relief payments

“Our concern still is for those who have no ties to the workforce,” he said. “They are still going to be left behind if they can’t apply for this benefit.” 
 
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How the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is Failing Low-Income Precarious Workers, and How it Can be Fixed

I have fielded countless inquiries about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”). While at first glance CERB appears to be working, if we assess the rush for expediency, the mechanics, and the scope of the program, large errors in how the CERB was formulated become apparent. These errors run the risk of prolonging or increasing the suffering of vulnerable, precariousworkers and may place some in a position of having to repay debts arising from CERB into old age.  
 
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Ontario lifts roadblock preventing auto insurance companies from offering rebates

Ontario is making a regulatory change that will more easily allow auto insurance companies to provide breaks to their customers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
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Ontario permits auto insurance companies to provide rebates amid pandemic

“Given the financial crisis that’s facing many Ontario families, I think with this barrier removed we should expect insurance companies to be responding in a matter of days,” Phillips said. 
 
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Auto Insurance – Consumer Relief during A Declared Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

The purpose of this guidance1 is to provide FSRA’s (i) Interpretation of whether programs to refund, rebate and otherwise repay insurance premiums to customers (collectively “premium re-payment programs”) are an unfair or deceptive act or practice; (ii) Approach to expedited automobile insurance rate filings; and (iii) Information with respect to an Ontario licensed insurer’s ability to provide other financial relief to its customers, all during a declared emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (an “Emergency”). 
 
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Notice to the Profession, Public, Accused Persons and the Media Regarding the Suspension of Criminal and Civil Jury Trials

To protect the health and safety of all court users and to help contain the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) suspended in-person operations, effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and until further notice. 
 
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Supreme Court of Canada Declines to Hear Insurance Company’s Appeal of Accident Benefits Coverage

In 2013, Mr. B was denied access to more than $2 million in medical, rehabilitation and other benefits when Belair Insurance Company refused coverage for the out-of-province ATV accident that caused his life-threatening brain injury. 
 
 
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18 years…multiple hearings and not at the end of the claim road!
  
[31]  Some of the medical reports favouring the appellant’s claim in the statutory accident benefits file were included in the Joint Document Brief but they were redacted by the defence…” 

Girao v. Cunningham, 2020 ONCA 260 DATE: 20200421 DOCKET: C63778 https://www.ontariocourts.ca/decisions/2020/2020ONCA0260.htm

(1)         Issue One: The “Joint Trial Brief”

[21]       On the eve of trial, the defence dropped a massive and selectively redacted 16 volume “Joint Trial Brief” on the appellant, who has substantial difficulty with the English language, something of which the defence was well aware. The content of the Brief can be summarized as falling into several categories: medical records, notes, and reports; employment, educational, and tax records; and documents relating to the collision and insurance claims. The Brief became the basis of the trial record in an unfair way that was inconsistent with the trial practice directions of this court.

(a) The Governing Principles

[22]       It is clear law that: The goal of a trial judge in supervising the assembly of a trial record is completeness and accuracy, so that the panel of this court sitting on the appeal can discern without difficulty exactly what was before [the trial judge] at any moment in the course of the trial”: 1162740 Ontario Ltd. v. Pingue, 2017 ONCA 52, 135 O.R. (3d) 792, at para. 14. This court has given instructions on the preparation and use of document briefs, for example, in Iannarella v. Corbett, 2015 ONCA 110, 124 O.R. (3d) 523, at paras. 127-128, and in Pingue, at paras. 39-40.

[23]       Any document introduced by any party that does not become a numbered exhibit should become a lettered exhibit. The important distinction between numbered exhibits and lettered exhibits is that, subject to the trial judge’s discretion, lettered exhibits do not go in with the jury during its deliberations, but numbered exhibits do: Pingue, at para. 17.

[24]       As a more general observation, it is customary for experts to prepare reports, which counsel provides to the parties and to the judge. The admissible evidence of the expert is normally understood to be the oral evidence, particularly in jury trials. However, the best practice in jury trials is to make expert reports lettered exhibits in order to preserve the integrity of the trial record for the purpose of an appeal: Pingue, at para. 21.

[25]       The problem in this case with the trial record went further. It is quite usual in civil actions for counsel to prepare an agreed trial document brief containing documents that are admitted as authentic and admissible. See J. Kenneth McEwan, Sopinka on the Trial of an Action, 3rd ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2016) at pp. 66-72. In Blake v. Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, 2015 ONCA 165, 331 O.A.C. 48, at para. 54, Brown J.A. emphasized the necessity of ensuring that the record reflects the document’s intended use:

When a document brief is tendered at trial, the record should reflect clearly the use the parties may make of it. Such use may range from the binder’s acting merely as a convenient repository of documents, each of which must be proved in the ordinary way, through an agreement about the authenticity of the documents, all the way to an agreement that the documents can be taken as proof of the truth of their contents. Absent an agreement by the parties on the permitted use of a document brief, the trial judge should make an early ruling about its use.

[26]       Counsel typically agree on a list of documents and one party attends to the brief’s preparation. As observed in Iannarella, at para. 128: “It is regrettably not unusual, however, for counsel to differ on the precise basis on which a document in the brief is being tendered or whether it was to have been included, as the implications materialize in the course of the trial.” Pingue stated, at para. 40:

[I]t is necessary for counsel to clarify to the court and to each other the extent to which the authenticity of each document in the proffered document brief is accepted…. If, as is too often the case, counsel has not done so, it is the trial judge’s responsibility to get the requisite clarity when the documents are made exhibits, especially concerning a document’s hearsay content.

[27]       This discipline of judicial oversight applies even more forcefully where one party is self-represented and the opposing lawyer prepares the brief, and in a jury trial where the brief goes into the jury room.

(b) The Principles Applied

[28]       The Joint Document Brief was prepared by the defence without input from the appellant, despite the misleading label: “Joint”. There is no good explanation for its late delivery, which put the appellant at a disadvantage leaving her to run from behind through the course of the trial.

[29]       The volumes in the Joint Document Brief were made numbered exhibits. The trial judge’s approach was to simply accept all the volumes. He said, when he marked vol. 16 as exhibit one:

[M]y assumption is for the most part, the documents are going to be admissible. And, rather than marking them first for identification and changing it, I thought I would do it the other way around.

It does not appear from the record that the trial judge later excluded any documents from the Brief tendered by the defence.

[30]       Dr. Becker’s report supporting the appellant’s account of her injury was initially made a numbered exhibit. It was later struck, but no copy was then filed as a lettered exhibit. This failure obliged the appellant to add it as well as some other reports to the appeal book in order to ensure that they were available to this court on the appeal.

[31]       Some of the medical reports favouring the appellant’s claim in the statutory accident benefits file were included in the Joint Document Brief but they were redacted by the defence in order to excise any opinion evidence favourable to Ms. Girao.

[32]       I would not consider the flaws in the management of the trial record to be fatal to trial fairness in this case, but they unfairly enabled the defence’s strategy of keeping expert evidence favourable to the appellant from the jury and from the trial record.

[33]       In my view, counsel and the court should have addressed the following questions, which arise in every case, in considering how the documents in the joint book of documents are to be treated for trial purposes:

1.    Are the documents, if they are not originals, admitted to be true copies of the originals? Are they admissible without proof of the original documents?

2.    Is it to be taken that all correspondence and other documents in the document book are admitted to have been prepared, sent and received on or about the dates set out in the documents, unless otherwise shown in evidence at the trial?

3.    Is the content of a document admitted for the truth of its contents, or must the truth of the contents be separately established in the evidence at trial?

4.    Are the parties able to introduce into evidence additional documents not mentioned in the document book?

5.    Are there any documents in the joint book that a party wishes to treat as exceptions to the general agreement on the treatment of the documents in the document book?

6.    Does any party object to a document in the document book, if it has not been prepared jointly?

[34]       It would be preferable if a written agreement between counsel addressing these matters were attached to the book of documents in all civil cases. In addition, it would be preferable if the trial judge and counsel went through the agreement line by line on the record to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.

[35]       In my view, none of these issues or questions are novel. The answers to these questions are not implicit in the filing of a joint document book and must be expressly addressed on the record or by written agreement. The problem frequently comes because the parties have not turned their minds to the issues in sufficient detail before the document book is tendered as an exhibit. This must change as a matter of ordinary civil trial practice. Had the trial judge taken himself, counsel and Ms. Girao through this list of questions relating to the document book, some of the problems identified in these reasons could have been avoided.

[145]   Given the pleadings and the material facts at issue, there was minimal, if any, probative value in this mocking and belittling cross-examination on the benefits settlement. It was highly prejudicial to Ms. Girao, having the perverse effect identified in Ismail of using “collateral entitlements premised on disability to support arguments of ability”. The trial judge did nothing.

[146]   In my view the trial was unfair to Ms. Girao for all of these reasons, quite apart from my earlier conclusion that the combined errors in addressing the medical evidence alone are a sufficient basis upon which to allow the appeal.

(4)         Issue Four: The role of the trial judge and counsel where one party is self-represented

[147]   The overarching principle is that the trial judge is responsible for controlling proceedings to ensure trial fairness. Trials involving self-represented litigants can be especially challenging.

(a) The Governing Principles

[148]   Numerous trial fairness concerns arise for self-represented litigants. In Pintea v. Johns2017 SCC 23, [2017] 1 S.C.R. 470, at para. 4, the Supreme Court endorsed the Statement of Principles on Self-represented Litigants and Accused Persons (2006) issued by the Canadian Judicial Council. The Statement provides guidance to the judiciary on how to ensure litigants “understand and meaningfully present their case, regardless of representation”: at p. 2. The enumerated principles appear under the following headings: promoting rights of access, promoting equal justice, and responsibilities of the participants in the justice system. The Statement sets out directions for the judiciary, court administrators, self-represented persons, and members of the bar. The section on promoting equal justice is particularly relevant. It states:

1.    Judges and court administrators should do whatever is possible to provide a fair and impartial process and prevent an unfair disadvantage to self-represented persons.

2.    Self-represented persons should not be denied relief on the basis of a minor or easily rectified deficiency in their case.

3.    Where appropriate, a judge should consider engaging in such case management activities as are required to protect the rights and interests of self-represented persons. Such case management should begin as early in the court process as possible.

4.    When one or both parties are proceeding without representation, non-prejudicial and engaged case and courtroom management may be needed to protect the litigants’ equal right to be heard. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the case, the presiding judge may:

a.    explain the process;

b.    inquire whether both parties understand the process and the procedure;

c.    make referrals to agencies able to assist the litigant in the preparation of the case;

d.    provide information about the law and evidentiary requirements;

e.    modify the traditional order of taking evidence; and

f.     question witnesses.

[168]   In my view, the self-represented status of a litigant is a factor that might unduly complicate or lengthen the trial, leading the trial judge to conclude that prudence suggests the jury be discharged. As noted by Epstein J.A. in Kempf, “in many cases the ‘wait and see’ approach is the most prudent course to follow”: at para. 43 (9). As the trial unfolds, the trial judge becomes better able to assess the capacity of the self-represented party to present the case, whether as a plaintiff or a defendant. While remaining mindful of the substantive but not absolute right to a trial by jury, the trial judge then is positioned to determine whether justice to the parties would be better served by dismissing or retaining the jury.

[169]   While I recognize that the right to a jury trial in a civil action has been recognized as fundamental, it is not absolute and must sometimes yield to practicality. I should not be understood as stating that the presence of a self-represented litigant should invariably lead to the dismissal of a civil jury. In many if not most cases, a trial judge should be able to fairly manage a civil jury trial with a self-represented litigant, with the willing assistance of counsel acting in the best traditions of officers of the court.

[170]   In my view, the trial judge erred in failing to revisit his decision not to strike the jury.

(6)         The Threshold Decision

[172]   I have outlined above the skewed orientation in the evidence that went to the jury. This orientation also made its way into the trial judge’s threshold decision. In the threshold motion, the trial judge “incorporate[d] by reference the review of the evidence in [the] jury charge”: at para. 6. Although he did not otherwise refer to the opinion of Dr. Sanchez, it underpinned the trial judge’s basic approach. Because some of the best evidence that supported the statutory accident benefits settlement was excluded by the trial rulings, there was little to oppose the defence’s evidence. Dr. Sanchez’s opinion also provided the trial judge with a lens through which he looked askance at the other medical evidence Ms. Girao led. Because of the basic unfairness that permeated the trial, I would set aside the ruling on the threshold motion. 
 
[171]   The appellant asks that this court order the case to be retried by a judge sitting without a jury. This court has from time to time reversed a trial judge for striking a jury notice, directing a new trial before a judge and jury: see e.g. Kempf, at para. 78. While s. 134(1) of the Courts of Justice Act gives this court broad jurisdiction to make remedial orders, I have found no cases in which this court has directed that a new trial proceed without a jury. In my view the prudent response to the appellant’s request is to refuse the order she seeks and to leave it to the trial judge to determine whether the jury should be discharged should a new trial proceed.

VI.        DISPOSITION

[173]   At trial, the appellant functioned as a legally-untrained, self-represented, non-English speaking litigant in testifying, examining and cross-examining through a Spanish interpreter. She was faced with a phalanx of defence counsel, two representing Ms. Cunningham, and two representing Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.  The trial was 20 days long, involved many witnesses, and considered complex medical evidence.

[174]   Ms. Girao was entitled to but did not get the active assistance of the trial judge whose responsibility it was to ensure the fairness of the proceeding. As a self-represented litigant, she was also entitled to, but did not get, basic fairness from trial defence counsel as officers of the court. The trial judge was also entitled to seek and to be provided with the assistance of counsel as officers of the court, in the ways discussed above. This did not happen.

[175]   I would allow the appellant’s appeal, set aside the judgment and orders, and order a new trial. I would award the costs of this appeal and of the trial to the appellant, including her disbursements. If the parties cannot agree on the quantum the appellant may file a written submission no more than five pages in length, in addition to receipts for disbursements, within 10 days of the date of this decision, and the respondent may respond within an additional 10 days.

For more on this story see: https://www.canlii.org/en/#search/text=Yolanda%20Girao&resultIndex=2

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SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE – DIVISIONAL COURT – ONTARIO – sets out parameters for ZOOM hearing of upcoming three-day appeal. Gowns not required. Up to 500 members of the public can watch via Zoom. Materials to be filed via e-mail.  
 
Ontario v. Ontario Association of Midwives, 2020 CanLII 25862 (ON SCDC), <http://canlii.ca/t/j6bq9
  

[1]               This endorsement addresses the conduct of the hearing and the filing of documents for the upcoming hearing in this application.

[2]               The hearing will be held before a three-judge panel on April 21, 22 and 23, 2020 (three full days).

[3]               The hearing will be conducted as a video conference.  ZOOM technology will be used.  Further details about the videoconferencing process will follow in a subsequent endorsement.

[4]               Neither counsel nor the court will gown for the hearing.  Instead, business attire is required for anyone with a speaking role in the hearing. All parties must ensure that they participate in the videoconference from appropriate surroundings and that they (and the Court) will not be interrupted or disturbed during the hearing.

 

April 15, 2020

Ford government calls for auto insurance breaks due to coronavirus

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Thursday he wants to see insurance companies giving drivers breaks on their premiums that reflect the “devastating impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
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Insurance companies cutting rates for some drivers but not everyone qualifies

The bureau represents more than 90 per cent of insurance companies across Canada. It said measures announced on Wednesday could help save drivers $600 million over the next three months.  
 
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UPDATED: What emergency relief will insurers offer customers? Here’s what they told us

Canada’s six biggest banks released a joint announcement on Mar. 17 that identified some solutions for customers feeling the financial pinch, after “social distancing” caused some businesses to shut down in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. In that statement, the banks confirmed they would “work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.” 
 
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Supreme Court of Canada declines to hear insurance company appeal on dirt bike pay-out after two Ontario courts ordered insurer to pay

In 2006, Chris Perneroski from Fenelon Falls, Ontario, was involved in a terrible accident while riding his dirt bike during a vacation in Georgia, USA. Chris suffered a catastrophic brain injury in the accident, he was 21 years old at the time. His injuries were so severe that his doctors were not sure he would survive. 
 
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Opinion: Maybe COVID-19 is what it will take to modernize Canada’s antiquated courts

In Ontario, the court suspended regular operations on March 17. Aside from some very narrowly defined “urgent” and other specified matters, the courts are simply not available. Most criminal matters have been adjourned until at least June. Almost everything in the civil courts has been postponed until further notice. All limitation periods have been suspended. The timelines for doing things like issuing a statement of defence or disclosing documents have been paused. If you are a litigant with an ongoing matter in the court system, there is almost nothing you can do right now except sit tight and wait. 
 
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Is The CERB Basically An Interest-Free Loan Anyone Can Apply For?

OTTAWA — Like thousands of Canadians, René Baron is wondering whether to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit — quick, needed cash — even though he knows he doesn’t qualify for it. 
 
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Part-time, contract and seasonal workers now qualify for COVID-19 emergency benefits

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced more flexible rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) in response to critics who pointed out the initial rules excluded too many people, including those working reduced hours. 
 
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Looking for Help

211 is an award winning helpline and website that provides information on and referrals to Ontario’s community, social, health-related and government services. 
 
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Painkillers and sedatives may reach ‘critical shortage’: emergency physicians’ group

TORONTO — As governments attempt to address the dwindling stock of masks, tests and ventilators needed during the COVID-19 pandemic, a national group of physicians is warning of another supply threat. 
 
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Ontario’s Social Assistance Deductions Policy Puts ODSP Recipients At Risk

As it stands, families that receive Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) assistance have income from support programs such as Employment Insurance (EI) deducted dollar for dollar from their ODSP income, while earned income is deducted at a rate of 50 cents on the dollar. With our new reality, the math doesn’t add up for families trying to make ends meet. 
 
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Backgrounder : COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group

During this time of public health and economic crisis, in the spirit of “Nothing Without Us” and the Accessible Canada Act, and in recognition of Canada’s domestic and international human rights obligations, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that it considers, respects and incorporates the interests and needs of persons with disabilities into its decision-making and pandemic response. 
 
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Statement by Minister Qualtrough on Canada’s Disability-Inclusive approach to its COVID-19 pandemic response 

We recognize that some groups of Canadians are significantly and disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, in particular Canadians with disabilities.  For some persons with disabilities, underlying medical conditions put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19.  Others face discrimination and barriers in accessing information, social services, and health care.  For others, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing create additional challenges. 
 
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Activists fear for safety of people with disabilities after funding for mobility and medical devices deemed non-essential

Thousands of Ontarians with disabilities may end up in hospital — or not be able to return to the community safely — because the Ford government has temporarily shuttered a provincial program that helps pay the cost of specialized mobility and medical devices, disability activists say. 
 
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Disabled population left out of emergency funding, advocate says

A Sudbury advocate believes people with disabilities have been forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nadine Law, co-founder of the group Access2All, says people with disabilities have largely been forgotten in conversations around the effects of the virus, particularly in emergency government funding.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/disabilities-covid19-no-emergency-funding-1.5530405

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Disability community feeling left out

The government needs to step up and recognize that the disability community in Ontario is part of the vulnerable population, according to Nadine Law.

April 8, 2020

Left behind financially in the Emergency Response Benefit?

Here’s where to reach your Ontario MPP https://ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information  
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How COVID-19 is probably affecting your auto claimants

“People will regress rather than being able to maintain whatever progress they have made past an accident,” said Rhona DesRoches, chair of the board of FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform, in an interview. 
 
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Advocates pushing for this temporary accident benefit reform

FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform has heard that some motor vehicle accident victims are reluctant to have a team of healthcare providers at their homes while social distancing precautions are in effect, Rhona DesRoches, FAIR’s chair of the board told Canadian Underwriter. This in turn highlights an existing insurance regulation around how insurance reimburses attendant care by non-professional providers (such as a family member of the victim, for example). 
 
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National class action lawsuit launched against insurers refusing to pay coronavirus-related claims

A law firm in Regina, SK has filed a national class action lawsuit against some of Canada’s largest indemnity insurers for their refusal to pay business owners for losses sustained due to the coronavirus outbreak. 
 
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Desjardins to offer a refund to auto insurance clients driving less

The refund will be offered to clients whose commuting habits have “significantly changed” and who only use their vehicles for essential trips (i.e., going to the pharmacy or grocery), a release said. Desjardins’ refund program is open to anyone who has lost their job, working from home, or is otherwise self-isolating. 
 
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Allstate to return $600 mln in auto premiums as coronavirus cuts driving

Allstate Corp, one of the largest U.S. auto insurers, said on Monday it would return more than $600 million in premiums to customers as many Americans drive less due to stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak. 
 
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Cost Of Catastrophic Impairment Assessment Paid Outside Of Person’s Medical And Rehab Limits – RB v. RSA

RB was involved in a car accident in April 2017 and sougth benefits pursuant to the SABs. He was denied certain benefits and cost of examinations by RSA and applied to the LAT. 
 
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COVID-19 Financial Supports

The public health measures enacted to protect Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic is having major impacts on individuals and businesses. Both the Canadian and Ontario government, along with the private sector, have introduced measures to assist those who are facing challenges, outlined below. 
 
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NOTICES AND ORDERS – COVID-19

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Information on COVID-19

As COVID-19 evolves, the provincial and federal government continue to update their resources.

We encourage you to regularly review the websites of the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario (PHO) for the most accurate, up-to-date information. 

 
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Guidance for the Health Sector

The case definition for COVID-19 has been updated and is current as of March 30 2020. This information may change frequently, please check back often for updates. 

 
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Ottawa’s COVID-19 benefits program opens for applications 

OTTAWA — Applications open today for the new federal emergency aid benefit for Canadians who lost their income because of COVID-19. 
 
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Questions and Answers on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit 

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Canada’s emergency relief leaves out those on social assistance

The federal government is providing financial relief for Canadians laid off amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but some groups are finding themselves excluded. 
 
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Open Letter urges Ontario to boost support for people on social assistance

A coalition of more than 130 health care workers, community agencies and Ontarians living in poverty is urging Queen’s Park to increase benefits immediately to almost one million residents on social assistance struggling to survive during the COVID-19 crisis. 
 
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To survive we need rent cancelled and basic income, people on social assistance say

While most Canadians are struggling under COVID-19, with many businesses shut down, local advocates argue that those at, or below, the poverty line will be hardest hit.  
 
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CANADA: Financial inequality ‘staggering’ for Canadians with disabilities, expert says

In Ontario, Doug Ford’s Conservative government has been toying with cutting benefits and other supports, including in education. While the government has since backed off cutting Ontario Works, Ontario residents with disabilities continue to live under the persistent threat of losing whatever little economic independence they have. 
 
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Caregiver Advisory Panel 

This province-wide online discussion forum is an ongoing opportunity for caregivers to provide regular input and feedback on some of our caregiver-focused ideas, tools and programs, and be surveyed on different aspects of the caregiving experience on a regular basis. 
 
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Why COVID-19 has personal support workers feeling uneasy during home-care visits

Personal support workers who care for clients inside their homes are among the essential service providers who don’t feel safe on the job due to a lack of personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
 
 

April 1, 2020

How Car Insurers Can Help Accident Victims During The COVID-19 Crisis

We are in the midst of an unprecedented COVID-19 Crisis, and while everyone is facing challenges, individuals who were already recovering from traumatic injuries face unique challenges. 
 
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Thousands of Canadian dentists who followed industry recommendations to shut down their practices nearly two weeks ago because of the COVID-19 outbreak have still not received insurance payments despite taking out business interruption policies that include pandemic coverage. 
 
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Insurers are under the gun as coronavirus claims mount — but will those claims be covered?

When Dr. Michael Duchnay had to close his west end Toronto dental practice due to the pandemic, it was catastrophic, but there was one stroke of good luck: He had insurance. In fact, his business policy explicitly mentioned pandemic-caused closures. 
 
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COVID-19 and your insurance

On March 23, Ontario announced the closure of non-essential business. “We’re prepared to extend the order if necessary,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at the time. The closures took effect March 24 at 11:59. Quebec has also shut down business until at least April 13. 
 
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Changes to Our Courts: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Landscape 

“How will COVID-19 change the legal industry and what will it look like After Coronavirus? Short answer: the coronavirus will turbocharge legal industry transformation. It will propel law into the digital age and reshape its landscape. The entire legal ecosystem will be affected—consumers, providers, the Academy, and the judicial system.” – Marc Cohen in the article “COVID-19 Will Turbocharge Legal Industry Transformation” 
 
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There’s a time limit in my legal case that I can’t meet because of COVID-19. What can I do?
 
There are rules about how much time you have to start a legal case or when steps in your case must be taken. As of March 16, 2020, all time limits to start a case in Ontario law have stopped running. This is because of an emergency government order (link is external)
 
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Courts scramble to modernize to keep the system working in a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Canada’s court system to operate as it never has before to adapt to the demands of physical distancing. 
 
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About the LAT

On March 20, 2020, the Government of Ontario issued an Emergency Order (O.Reg. 73/20) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. 

The order suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods relevant to tribunal proceedings. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020. 

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Ontario Protecting Critical Front-Line Justice Services in Response to COVID-19

“The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority. This commitment extends across the vast network of justice partners and individuals who interact with the justice system on a daily basis. 
 
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RE: FSRA’S GUIDANCE AND PROMPT RESPONSE SOUGHT RE PANDEMIC RELATED ISSUES
 
Along with all healthcare providers we’ve been asked to do our part and help mitigate the impact of this pandemic on our most vulnerable populations and onour acute care sector. We are ready and anxious to do so. Help us do our part. 
 
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The biggest economic policy challenge we face during COVID-19 is addressing the massive and widespread loss of work prompted by government-mandated physical distancing. That’s not to minimize other such challenges, but the loss of work is vast and unprecedented. 
 
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Ellen Roseman: Financial resources you can turn to in the COVID-19 crisis

Are you anxious and confused about the far-reaching effects of the new coronavirus on your finances? You’re not alone.

In a recent survey by financial technology company Borrowell, 74% of Canadians report feeling stress brought on by the health crisis. More than 40% say their biggest financial worry is how to pay for necessities, such as food and rent. And 32% have no plan in place if funds run too low to pay bills.

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Canadians who didn’t have a job even before coronavirus: what help can they get?

The coronavirus pandemic has attracted a historic response from the federal government, with Ottawa pledging around $200 billion to rescue the economy. But across the country, Canadians who already didn’t have a job when the pandemic struck are wondering what support, if any, they’ll be able to access. 
 
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New Ontario Works payment pickup procedures in Toronto during coronavirus outbreak

Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program cheques and payment cards will be distributed beginning Monday under new social distancing protocols. 
 
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Nonvisible disabilities: How to accommodate workers’ limitations

One in five Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 has at least one disability, according to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability. That’s about 4 million adults who experience limitations, many of which are not immediately apparent to others. 
 

March 26, 2020

UPDATED 3/25: Plain language guide to federal and provincial income benefits for people struggling to make ends meet  
I need to take sick leave because I’m ill or self-isolating or have to quarantine.
 
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North Bay father calls for EI changes

Johnny Demerse of North Bay is calling for changes to Employment Insurance (EI) which, he believes, penalizes his daughter and others on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). 
 
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ABI Info Series Week 4 – Community and Government Resources

BIST Transitional Support Coordinator Laura Bellon discusses how non-profit community and government resources can help after #braininjury. This is part of our 5 Session ABI Info Series held in March 2020. The session was held as a webinar due to the COVID-19 Outbreak 
 
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ABI Info Series

TOPIC: Implementation of Compensatory Strategies after a Brain Injury
Speakers: Speech Language Therapist Simone Friedman & Occupational Therapist Natalie Kalymon
 
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COVID-19 and Ontario’s courts

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice have taken the necessary and unprecedented step of shuttering their courtrooms to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. 
 
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Optional Accident Benefits

When you renew your automobile insurance policy, you have a variety of options to increase your coverage in the event that you are injured. The basic policy may seem appealing to most, as it has the lowest premiums. However, if you ask anyone who has been injured in an accident, the standard coverage is simply not enough. 
 
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Why it matters that insurance is declared to be an “essential service”

The insurance industry will continue to operate as an essential service after Quebec and Ontario issued orders for many companies to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And that’s a relief for consumers, brokers and insurers, say industry leaders. 
 
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Driver’s Licence Check

Use this service to obtain information on the status of an Ontario Driver’s Licence.

March 24, 2020

How your personal injury case is impacted by COVID-19

This installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is intended to focus specifically on the impact which COVID-19 will have on your personal injury case. 
 
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Demand a COVID-19 Emergency Basic Income in Canada

Canadians across the nation are in dire need. Many of us cannot afford basic needs while following the best available medical advice. We are worried for our families, neighbours, and friends as government supports will be unable to cover everyone’s unique circumstances.The measures announced to date still leave far too many Canadians at risk of falling through the cracks or unable to navigate the many conditions these programs impose. 
 
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Your guide to COVID-19 and its impact on life in Canada

Travel restrictions, school closures and event cancellations are the new normal in Canada, and phrases like “self-isolation” and “social distancing” are now part of the collective lexicon. 
 
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Changes to Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program in Response to COVID-19

Vulnerable Ontarians, including those who live in poverty, are homeless or unemployed, face even more significant impacts as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 
 
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Accessing Income Support in the wake of COVID-19

This document lists several income support programs that may be available to Ontario residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. This information is changing rapidly and we recommend that you check with the relevant government’s website for updated information. 
 
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Doctors turn to phones to fulfill patients’ non-virus needs

The University Health Network (UHN) says the phone is the new normal for hooking up with a doctor. But they are also online for advice. 
 
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Ontario Family Doctors now offering OHIP covered phone consultations in response to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, family doctors are now offering OHIP covered phone-in appointments to all Ontario residents. Check with your family doctor to see if they are participating in this form of patient care. If they are not available or you do not have a family doctor, we are here to help!
 
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“An auto-insurance policy is a contract.” said Malon Edwards, spokesman for the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) in an e-mail. “Both the policyholder and the auto insurer are bound by it.”

FSRA couldn’t immediately provide recent statistics on the amount of insurance fraud in Ontario every year.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/drive/mobility/article-if-ive-told-a-few-small-white-lies-to-my-auto-insurance-company-can/

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RSA Canada: “We are all victims of insurance fraud”

Insurance fraud costs Canadian consumers upwards of $1 billion annually. The math is simple. When one person cheats the system by making a false or exaggerated claim, everybody pays the price. 
 
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Personal Injury Legal Report: Debate over capping damages rages on

In Canada, not all caps on pain and suffering are created equal. But what is constant is that, no matter what the regime, no matter where the jurisdiction, provincial governments are under constant pressure from insurance lobbies to cap the money paid to victims of car accidents, personal injury lawyers say — despite the fact there’s a clear relationship between increased government interference and higher costs to both sides.  
 
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Why Canada’s P&C industry is ready to absorb hit of pandemic-induced recession

Already under financial strain due to tightening markets in several lines of business, Canada’s property and casualty insurance industry nevertheless seems well-positioned to withstand a global recession triggered by the novel coronavirus pandemic — at least in the short term. 
 

March 19, 2020

Acts of kindness during a pandemic: How Canadians are helping each other amid COVID-19

More than 35 Facebook groups have been created in the span of just three days in places such as Toronto, Halifax and Ottawa with thousands of members, according to the BBC
 
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Editorial: Massive relief package is only the first step

Twenty-seven billion dollars will be direct support to citizens and businesses, while $55 billion is intended to help businesses maintain liquidity. The latter amount will come through deferred taxes. 
 
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Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses 

On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. 
 
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Coronavirus: Here’s how to apply for EI and the new COVID-19 emergency benefit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a sweeping economic aid package to help Canadians impacted by the new coronavirus pandemic, including direct financial support for workers who wouldn’t ordinarily qualify for employment insurance benefits. 
 
 
Government of Canada Information Hotline for EI claims related to COVID19
1(833)381-2725
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Ontario Extending Validation Periods for Driver, Vehicle and Carrier Products, Services and Health Cards

As part of the province’s enhanced measures, the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and ServiceOntario, is extending the validity period of driving products, services and health cards. These changes reduce the need for in-person visits to ServiceOntario, International Registration Plan offices and DriveTest centres during the COVID-19 outbreak, helping to promote social distancing and contain the spread of the virus.

https://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2020/03/ontario-extending-validation-periods-for-driver-vehicle-and-carrier-products-services-and-health-car.html

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Ontario Protecting Critical Front-Line Justice Services in Response to COVID-19

“The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority. This commitment extends across the vast network of justice partners and individuals who interact with the justice system on a daily basis. 
 
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Corporate Statement re: COVID-19

The Law Society of Ontario is supporting public health recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We have implemented a work at home plan for all employees through to Friday, April 3, at which time we will assess the situation.

We remain available to assist you as best we can. Our general phone line remains open at 416-947-3315, or you can contact us by email at lawsociety@lso.ca. Our response times may be slower than usual but we appreciate your patience.

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How COVID-19 is changing virtual medical assessments

“COVID-19 has brought this up to the surface in terms of how technology can be used for convenience, and for ensuring the insurance industry and claimants are getting the benefits they deserve,” said Gloria Rajkumar, CEO of SIMAC Medical Assessment Centre in Richmond Hill, Ont. “We’re living in a time of technology. We should be utilizing technology to the best of our advantages and for less exposure.” 
 
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What Intact is doing during COVID-19

“We are taking steps as needed to keep our people safe and make sure that everyone has all the information they need,” an Intact spokesperson wrote in an email. “We have a dedicated team monitoring this rapidly changing situation closely, as our priorities are the well-being of our employees and to be there for customers and brokers when they need us.” 
 

March 16, 2020

Tribunals Ontario’s New Policy for Hearings

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Tribunals Ontario is taking action to safeguard the health and well-being of front-line workers and Ontarians, while continuing to ensure access to justice.

Effective today, Tribunals Ontario is implementing a new policy to postpone in-person hearings and reschedule to a later date. Where feasible, alternative hearing options such as written and telephone hearings will be considered to minimize disruption to hearings across the organization. In addition, all front-line counter services will be closed as of Monday March 16 until further notice.

https://slasto-tsapno.gov.on.ca/en/news/tribunals-ontarios-new-policy-for-hearings/

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Superior Court of Justice – Important Notices 
 
Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Civil and Family Proceedings | Superior Court of Justice

https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/covid-19-suspension-fam/

Canadian Process Serving Inc.
 
Ontario courts shutting down in a bid to slow coronavirus | Globalnews.ca
 
Coronavirus: Ontario’s justice system grinds to a virtual halt

https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/coronvirus-ontarios-justice-system-grinds-to-a-virtual-halt

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Provincial budget postponed; new legislation coming to help workers affected by COVID-19 measures

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips also said that instead of tabling the 2020 budget, which was set to be released next week, he will put out a fiscal update that is as “current as possible” and which includes a “realistic one-year outlook” given the present circumstances.

“In terms of a full budget, our plan would be by the fall at the latest to release that,” said Phillips. 

March 12, 2020

Plaintiffs’ odds improving in ‘David v. Goliath’ medical malpractice case

“The CMPA pays out more money than any other litigant in Canada a year on settlements because of the number of claims against doctors,” he says.
The association has more than 100,000 members — more than 40,000 of them in Ontario — and the doctors pay thousands of dollars in annual fees. It has also been funded by taxpayer money since 1987, a fact that has been criticized by lawyers and the public alike over the years
 
***
This CMPA issue was included in some of the public comments and in FAIR submission on the recent CPSO policy consultation. See:
***
Report to Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Re: Medical Liability Review

The ministry retained former Justice Stephen Goudge to conduct a  review of the medical liability system in Ontario

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/ministry/publications/reports/medical_liability/

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There’s a $40,000 deductible if you receive a pain and suffering award – What’s that you ask?

If you are hurt in a car accident and are awarded a pain and suffering payout your insurance company immediately takes $39,556.53 right off the top of the settlement. To be clear, they just take it. It’s taken before any other costs are deducted from the amount. The first deductible was set in 1993 at $10,000 with the intent of eliminating frivolous claims. In 1996 the government increased it to $15,000 and it has increased steadily ever since.
 
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Ford government’s legal aid plan will have ‘profoundly negative’ effect on low-income Ontarians, law professors say

The Ontario government’s proposed changes to the legal aid system “will have profoundly negative impacts” on the people served by the province’s community legal clinics, according to a report endorsed by more than 30 law professors from across the province.
 
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Exploring future spinal cord injury therapies

“We are the first to show that spinal cord injury results in an energy crisis that is intrinsically linked to the limited ability of damaged axons to regenerate,” said Dr Zu-Hang Sheng, study co-senior author, senior principal investigator at the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
 
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Vaughn Palmer: Cheaper, enhanced ICBC is more ‘framework’ than reality despite hype

VICTORIA — Attorney General David Eby tabled the enabling legislation Wednesday for his ambitious makeover of auto insurance, vowing it would transform the corporate culture at ICBC while delivering a 20 per cent reduction in rates.
 
 
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Take-All-Comers rule  

ID
2020-004
Type
Supervision
Sector
Auto Insurance Sector
Status
Open
Date
March 9, 2020
Comment Due Date
June 5, 2020
Have you had difficulty obtaining auto insurance?  Ontarians have the right to insurance quotes through a fair process and to receive coverage on fair terms.  If you have a good driving record and have been unfairly denied coverage, or have experienced unreasonable delay when requesting a quote, this survey is for you.
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3 FSCO hearings + at least one at LAT + 1 at Div Court = TTC pays out over $73,000 for victims legal costs + their own (unknown) costs to deny $185.00/week + medical expenses from car accident in 2012
 
TTC Insurance Company Limited v. Kolapully, 2020 ONSC 1105 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/j5ckr

[1]               TTC Insurance Company Limited seeks judicial review of an appeal decision of a Director’s Delegate of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (“FSCO”) dated February 8, 2019.  The Director’s Delegate’s decision upheld a March 9, 2018 arbitration decision awarding non-earner benefits to the Respondent, Shoba Kolapully, pursuant to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, O.Reg. 34/10 (the “SABS”).  We dismissed the application after oral argument, with these reasons to follow.

[2]               On March 6, 2012, Ms. Kolapully was struck by a TTC bus while crossing a pedestrian crossway.  Ms. Kolapully suffered significant injuries, including breaking both her legs and suffering a traumatic brain injury.  The aspect of her claims at issue on this application is her entitlement to a “non-earner benefit” under the SABS.

[3]               Pursuant to s. 12(1) of the SABS, to qualify for a non-earner benefit, the person involved in the accident must show that she suffers a complete inability to carry on a normal life as a result of and within 104 weeks after the accident.  “Complete inability to carry on a normal life” is defined in s. 3(7)(a) of the SABS as where “the person sustains an impairment that continuously prevents the person from engaging in substantially all of the activities in which the person ordinarily engaged before the accident.”

[11]           The Applicant raised additional arguments in its factum which were not emphasized in oral argument because of the focus placed on its primary argument.  In short, the Applicant argued that (a) the Arbitrator made a palpable and overriding error in her credibility assessment of Ms. Kolapully, given her obvious unreliability; and (b) the Arbitrator’s finding that the degree of impairment met the test for a non-earner benefit was not supported by the record.  There is little merit to these submissions.  As found by the Director’s Delegate, the Arbitrator made her credibility findings after considering all the points raised by the Applicant, and she was entitled to come to the finding that she did.  The Director’s Delegate concluded that the Arbitrator did compare the claimant’s life before and after the injuries, as she was required to do by Heath, and that her conclusions were grounded in the factual record before her.  These findings – which concern questions of fact and findings of credibility – were open to the Director’s Delegate and are reasonable.

12]           The application is dismissed, with costs from the Applicant to Ms. Kolapully of $25,000, inclusive, as agreed between the parties.  There shall be no costs for or against FSCO.

March 10, 2020

LSO lawyer directory, Legal Aid Ontario and more 
 
There are resources for selecting a lawyer in Canada, including the LSO directory — but with more than 50,000 lawyers in Ontario alone, it can be a daunting task. Not to mention finding the right type of lawyer — be it a real estate lawyer or insurance lawyer — and figuring out legal aid. 
 
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When can a lawyer withdraw from a case?

“Lawyers are not free to ‘desert their clients at a critical stage of a matter or at a time when withdrawal would put the client in a position of disadvantage or peril,’” wrote Myers, citing commentary in the Rules of Professional Conduct.  “I cannot think of a more critical stage than 19 days before a six-week trial in a complex matter that is a decade old.”  
 
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Burden Reduction Progress Report
 
Since its launch, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has taken significant steps towards regulatory transformation that will reduce regulatory burden and protect the public interest. 
 
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Why Aviva Canada’s financial rebound gained momentum in 2019

Aviva Canada’s ongoing profit remediation plan — which took effect after disappointing results posted in 2017 — loomed large in the company’s improved financial results in 2019, the company reported Thursday. 
 
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Aviva plc 2019 preliminary results announcement

“Our return on equity was 14.3% and operating profit increased 6% to a record £3.2 billion. Our capital position remains strong and resilient at a 206% Solvency cover ratio. The Board has increased the full year dividend by 3% to 30.9 pence per share. 
 
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Investigation exposes law-breaking drivers, dangerous intersections

At Bay and Adelaide streets, we counted 90 offences in a one hour period, that included blocking intersections and crosswalks, forcing pedestrians and cyclists into live traffic, blowing through red lights, and even driving backwards. 
 
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Is pothole damage covered by insurers?

Pothole damage is covered under optional auto insurance policies and the municipality can be held liable, but it can prove difficult to be successful in a pothole damage claim against the city. If a personal injury results, then statutory accident benefits might be available. Drivers, of course, can opt to pay for the damage themselves if less than their deductible.