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Desjardins offer all members free, lifelong protection

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Desjardins Group president Guy Cormier said Monday morning the credit union will offer free, permanent data protection to all its members in the wake of last month’s data breach.

The protection will be rolled out for all clients, not just the roughly 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses affected by the data breach.

Cormier said, effective immediately, all Desjardins clients, including business customers, will have access to data protection for life and in-house services to help address identity theft.

He said clients who are victims of identity theft in the future will have free access to lawyers specializing in identity theft and will be compensated for any losses.

Cormier said it won’t just be a matter of directing clients to services; they’ll be accompanied during every step of the process, from filing a police report to contacting federal government agencies.

The protection plan includes up to $50,000 for clients who experience identity theft, including loss of salary or fees associated with filing legal documents.

Desjardins had already announced it was offering everyone affected — about 40 per cent of Desjardins customers — five years of free credit monitoring with Equifax.

Registering for that service has proved difficult. Cormier said only 360,000 affected members — or 13 per cent — were signed up as of Monday morning.

Few sign up

The Equifax website has frequently crashed due to the demand, and some customers reaching the company by phone have waited for hours on hold. Customers have also reported having trouble getting service in French.

Cormier said that they expected only a small portion of customers would actually complete the process of signing up with Equifax, leaving the majority of clients unprotected.

That’s why the group decided to bring in sweeping protections for everyone.

Cormier, who also was affected by the data breach, said the goal is to reassure all Desjardins members.

“People with money invested at Desjardins should be able to sleep easily,” he said.

He said the credit union’s commitment to offer protection for businesses was “a first in Canada.”

Unlike with Equifax, Desjardins customers won’t have to sign up for this service. Every member is covered automatically, Cormier said.

Clients eligible for five years of coverage with Equifax can and should continue to sign up for that service, Cormier said.

An emergency meeting of the House of Commons public safety and national security committee that is happening later Monday will look into whether issuing new social insurance numbers to affected people would be feasible, and examine ways to prevent future data breaches.

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CPPIB posts 2.3-per-cent return in second quarter

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CEO Mark Machin walks through the CPPIB office in Toronto in this file photo.

By Mark Blinch

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board posted a 2.3-per-cent return in the quarter ended Sept. 30, helping it maintain double-digit long-term returns and add nearly $10-billion to its total assets.

CPPIB, the investment manager for the Canada Pension Plan, said its five-year and 10-year returns through Sept. 30 averaged 10.3 and 10.2 per cent over the period, and it closed the quarter with assets of $409.5-billion.

CPPIB posts 2.3-per-cent return in second quarter

CPPIB didn’t break out returns by asset class, but said the group that actively manages its equity investments, as well as its private-equities division, were “strong contributors.” The Active Equities department picks specific stocks with an aim to outperforming the market, while private equity is the ownership of private companies, often aided by substantial borrowing.

It received “modest gains” from its passive portfolio, a style of investing designed to match the overall market. CPPIB also said it had positive performance in other asset classes, including its bonds, aided by declining interest rates.

A little less than one-third of the fund’s assets are in stocks traded on the public markets. A quarter of the portfolio is private equity.

All return percentages are net of costs, CPPIB said. Because the CPP must serve plan members for decades to come, CPPIB says long-term results “are a more appropriate measure of CPPIB’s investment performance compared to quarterly or annual cycles.”

Canada Pension Plan, founded in 1966, is the primary retirement-security program for working Canadians. The government created CPPIB in 1999 to professionally manage the Plan’s money. The past two decades have seen a shift first from bonds to stocks, then to assets like real estate, infrastructure and private equity. The government projects the CPP Fund will grow to $545-billion in assets by 2025 and $1.5-trillion in assets by 2040.

Major deals in the quarter included buying publicly traded Pattern Energy Group Inc. for US$2.3-billion in cash, valuing the company at US$6.1-billion, including debt. It also struck a deal to merge data-information provider Refinitiv into the London Stock Exchange, valuing Refinitiv at US$27-billion.

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Trade mission seeks to calm concerns about forestry downturn

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Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says he’s in Asia trying to calm investor concerns about reduced supplies of British Columbia timber for major residential developments and tourism-resort projects in China and Japan.

Donaldson, in a teleconference from Tokyo, says he and 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations are on a five-day trade mission to Asia that concludes Friday.

He says the Chinese and Japanese are keenly aware of the toll pine beetle infestations and massive wildfires have taken on B.C.’s forests, but business leaders and forests ministry officials are reassuring potential customers the province has abundant supplies of timber.

The Opposition Liberals recently released a document detailing ongoing forest industry struggles, listing almost 60 examples where companies have implemented cost-cutting measures that range from harvest reductions to permanent mill closures.

The detention of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada prompted the minister to postpone his planned participation on a forestry trade mission to China last December.

Donaldson says this week’s trade talks in Japan and China focused only on business.

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Union representing SkyTrain workers considers possible strike action

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SkyTrain in Vancouver/Shutterstock

CUPE Local 7000, the union representing 900 SkyTrain workers, says negotiations with the BC Rapid Transit Company (SkyTrain) have reached a deadlock.

CUPE Local 7000 says that there have been more than 40 sessions at the bargaining table since the beginning of May, and that talks broke down Tuesday, Nov. 12. It says that both sides were unable to reach an agreement on several key issues.

“The Company has failed to offer fair wages or address the sick plan, inadequate staffing levels, forced overtime, and other issues important to our members,” said CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo.

“We have been more than proactive and flexible in trying to reach solutions to improve the service, but the employer’s latest package failed to address the key issues. They are simply not interested in bargaining seriously, so we’re left with little choice but to go to our members and seek direction for next steps.”

CUPE 7000 represents approximately 900 SkyTrain workers who provide service as SkyTrain attendants and control operators as well as administration, maintenance, and technical staff.

Vancouver Is Awesome reached out to TransLink for comment and will update the story when they have provided comment.

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