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Canadians with health issues face difficulty finding affordable life insurance – Lake Cowichan Gazette

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Like millions of Canadians, Tim Potter is living with a serious medical condition that has made it difficult, if not impossible, to secure meaningful life insurance.

The Halifax father of seven was diagnosed 26 years ago with Type 1 diabetes.

While his wife quickly obtained insurance coverage a decade ago, the stay-at-home dad was denied coverage. It has left him worried about his wife and young family’s welfare when he’s no longer around.

“I feel like I would be leaving her and the kids quite empty-handed if anything were to happen to me,” he said.

Potter feels stressed because all he’s been able to secure is a couple of policies that will pay just enough to cover his funeral expenses.

Securing affordable life insurance is a growing problem as more Canadians are diagnosed with serious ailments.

Half of Canadians will develop cancer at some point in their lives, the Canadian Cancer Society says. The Heart and Stroke foundation points to an increase in the number of people with heart conditions and strokes. And about eight per cent of Canadians have been diagnosed with diabetes, a condition that’s growing in frequency amid an aging population.

“It’s an epidemic,” said Joan King, director of government relations for Diabetes Canada. The number of Canadians with diabetes has doubled since 2000, she noted.

As well as diabetes, people with severe mental illness, HIV, heart conditions and other serious ailments can be left in the lurch. Other red flags for insurers can include travel to certain parts of the world or risky recreational activities.

There’s also a trend of people needing insurance for a longer period because they have families later in life or haven’t paid off their mortgage yet.

“The issue of pre-existing conditions is a bit of a growing issue because people are needing term insurance longer in their life because of the financial pressures today,” said Kevan Penonzek, manager of Insurance Direct Canada in Vancouver.

“They’re working later, they’re carrying debt longer, mortgage longer so they feel like they need term insurance to cover off that risk. And so it becomes harder when you’re 60 to 70, because people then have health issues.”

It’s a definite problem, says Michael Aziz, co-president of Canada Protection Plan, which seeks to fill the void left by traditional insurers by offering coverage that doesn’t require a medical examination.

Aziz said more carriers are adopting its simplified approach that offers certain coverage within days of answering a detailed questionnaire.

“We’ve seen our premium numbers or policies grow by 40 to 50 per cent for the last five years so that’s a good sign and we’ve seen other carriers starting to look at the non-medical space as well,” he said.

But the simplified coverage comes at a price. Premiums can be 50 to 300 per cent higher than traditional term policies and coverage limits are lower.

Insurance companies have become much more liberal about covering people with health issues, said Lorne Marr, director of new business for LSM Insurance, which owns No Medical Exam Life Insurance.

“Years ago if you had diabetes … you were declined for insurance, but now most, almost all, diabetics can get some form of life insurance,” he said.

Marr said the situation changed because insurance companies have more data to evaluate life expectancy while medications and treatments have also improved.

“There used to be only one or two companies offering these type of policies, now there’s probably 10 different companies.”

ALSO READ: 10 ex-NFL players charged with defrauding healthcare program

No Medical Exam Life Insurance offers two forms of term insurance — Guaranteed Issue for people facing, for example, a serious cancer diagnosis; and Simplified Issue, a less expensive policy used for people with more manageable and less severe conditions.

With new and better treatments come changes from insurers. Canada Protection Plan has followed Manulife and Sun Life, which in 2016 began to offer insurance to some HIV-positive clients.

Traditional carriers require these patients have five years of stability on anti-retroviral therapy, an undetectable viral load and receive treatment by an HIV expert. Manulife precludes those with hepatitis, a history of intravenous drug use or other substance abuse, history of coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and AIDS-defining illness.

Canada Protection Plan doesn’t have these restrictions and offers $50,000 of coverage. That’s much less than the million-dollar limit by Sun Life and up to $2 million for Manulife applicants aged 30 to 65.

Still, not everyone benefits from the insurers’ more open approach. Intravenous drug users, for example are denied coverage, which can be a problem for some people living with HIV, said Tammy Yates, executive director of community advocacy group Realize.

She argues that insurance companies should shorten the five-year treatment requirement to two years since medical advancements have improved life expectancy.

The history of the illness and the public stigma towards those living with HIV has ensured that very few people even contemplate seeking insurance coverage, said Shaun Proulx, a Realize board member.

In the early days of the illness, there was no chance of even considering insurance, he said.

“But there was a frustrating period after that when people were living longer and having healthier lives and were still being denied insurance as well and it made no sense.”

Proulx says the insurance companies aren’t doing enough to educate those living with HIV about availability.

“That’s an enormous amount of business that they’re leaving behind on the table.”

Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press


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Canadian Press NewsAlert: Quebec reaches more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 – Airdrie Today

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MONTREAL — Quebec reached more than 100,000 total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, becoming the first province in Canada to hit the somber milestone since the pandemic began in March.

But despite remaining the country’s coronavirus epicentre, public health experts say a recent downward trend of infections is an encouraging sign.

“It’s a moment where we all sit up and say wow, 100,000 – that’s a lot of zeroes,” said Erin Strumpf, an associate professor at McGill University specialized in health economics.

“But again I think the more important thing to be paying attention to is the trend that we’ve been seeing recently in the province.”

The province reported 879 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 100,114 infections since the start of the pandemic.

The curve of new infections appears to have flattened over the past few weeks though, Strumpf said in an interview.

That downward trend, she said, coincides with stricter public health guidelines that aimed to stem the spread of the virus.

The government ordered the closure of bars and gyms, among other places, in hard-hit areas and advised residents to limit their contact with people who do not live in their households.

Montreal and Quebec City are among several Quebec regions that remain under the highest COVID-19 alert.

Strumpf said it is hard to pinpoint what exact measures are responsible for flattening the curve, however.

She added that she expects to see many public health restrictions remain in place moving forward. “It’s very difficult to know right now or to predict how long those closures may stay in place,” she said.

Still, the high COVID-19 infection numbers bring up painful memories for Quebecers who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

July Mak, whose 68-year-old father Paul contracted COVID-19 in a long-term care home in Montreal and died at the end of March, said the pain of her father’s death has not eased with time.

“To see these numbers this high… it blows my mind,” Mak said in an interview Sunday.

She said she wants the Quebec government to recognize that its COVID-19 data is more than just numbers — and thousands of people across the province have been directly affected.

“They mattered,” Mak said, about the thousands who have died.

On Sunday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said on Twitter that the number of new infections is “stable but remains high.”

Those cases can turn into hospitalizations and deaths, Dube warned, urging Quebecers to remain vigilant to reduce transmission.

Quebec health officials also reported 11 additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 6,143.

Five of those additional deaths took place in the past 24 hours, five were reported between Oct. 18-23 and one occurred at an unspecified date.

Hospitalizations went up by two across the province, for a total of 551. Of those, 97 people were in intensive care — an increase of four compared to the previous day.

The province said it conducted 25,378 COVID-19 tests on Friday, the last date for which the testing data is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours, The Canadian Press

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With 879 new COVID-19 cases, Quebec passes grim 100,000 milestone – Timmins Times

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The province also reported 11 more deaths as the cumulative total of cases reached 100,114.

With Quebec surpassing the 100,000 mark in new COVID-19 cases Sunday, it’s clear the winter ahead will be challenging, two epidemiologists said.

“I’m concerned that we’ve reached the 100,000 mark,” said Catherine Hankins, a professor of public health at McGill University and co-chair of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

“We’re just at the start of what will be a cold winter, so we really need to ramp up our public health response,” she said.

A major challenge will be to achieve a balance between distancing measures to check the virus’s spread and mental-health issues caused by loss of social contact, especially as winter weather forces people indoors, Hankins said.

We should take inspiration from the Scandinavian saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” she suggested.

“We should be able to get out in all types of weather and keep active if we dress appropriately, with the layers that we need,” she said.

Hankins proposed that the phrase “social distancing,” should be replaced by “physical distancing.”

There are still ways to connect with others while practising safety measures like avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, keeping a two-metre distance from people outside our household and hand washing, she said.

“One thing that’s important is that people continue to exercise,” she said.

“For our own mental health, we do need to keep physically active and, although physically distanced, we need to keep socially active, even if it’s by phone or online.”

For people who aren’t comfortable with videoconference apps, the good, old-fashioned telephone is a great way to stay in touch, she said.

“Pick up the phone. Don’t hesitate to call somebody. Don’t feel like you’re interrupting or bother them. Just pick up the phone and give them a call,” Hankins added.

Quebec reported 879 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 1,009 new cases Saturday, bringing the total to 100,114 since the first case was reported on Feb. 29.

Infections from Quebec continue to account for nearly half of Canada’s total, which stood at 213,959 on Saturday night.

Ontario, the province with the second-most infections, topped 1,000 cases for the first time on Sunday to reach a total of 70,373.

“I’m concerned to see that Ontario is getting up to our levels now. And I am really concerned when I look at places in Europe that thought they had it under some kind of reasonable control,” Hankins said.

Quebec has recorded more than 1,000 cases in seven of the last 10 days.

The province reported 11 more deaths on Sunday. Five of those fatalities occurred in the last 24 hours, another five occurred between Oct. 18 and 24 and one was from an unknown date.

The number of deaths associated with the virus now stands at 6,143.

The number of hospitalizations increased by two to 551. Of the patients hospitalized because of the virus, 97 are in intensive care, an increase of four from Saturday.

Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 146 were in Montreal, where a total of 40,869 have now been reported.

For the first time in a week, Montreal was not the region with the most new cases. Montérégie, with 162, reported the highest total.

Jay Kaufman, an epidemiologist at McGill University, said that with 800-1000 cases a day for almost three weeks now, “Quebec is not doing so badly” compared to many European countries and the United States.

However, with Quebec continuing to have the worst case counts in Canada, “there is still lots of room for concern,” he said.

The fact cases have plateaued in Quebec show distancing measures are working, he said.

“The cases are not declining, however, and hospitalizations are way up, and so I suspect that we will not be able to reopen closed businesses for some time still, which is terrible news for those businesspeople,” he added.

Hankins said there should be more emphasis on the contact-tracing cell phone app to fight the virus’s spread.

Additional measures to protect vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities that were hard hit during the first wave are essential, she added.

“We know that they’re an Achilles heel,” she said.

“This is the most vulnerable population and we really need to make sure that we get it right this time as best we can.”

mscott@postmedia.com

With additional reporting by David Rudin

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All our coronavirus-related news can be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.

Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.

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With 879 new COVID-19 cases, Quebec passes grim 100,000 milestone – The Sudbury Star

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The province also reported 11 more deaths as the cumulative total of cases reached 100,114.

With Quebec surpassing the 100,000 mark in new COVID-19 cases Sunday, it’s clear the winter ahead will be challenging, two epidemiologists said.

“I’m concerned that we’ve reached the 100,000 mark,” said Catherine Hankins, a professor of public health at McGill University and co-chair of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

“We’re just at the start of what will be a cold winter, so we really need to ramp up our public health response,” she said.

A major challenge will be to achieve a balance between distancing measures to check the virus’s spread and mental-health issues caused by loss of social contact, especially as winter weather forces people indoors, Hankins said.

We should take inspiration from the Scandinavian saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” she suggested.

“We should be able to get out in all types of weather and keep active if we dress appropriately, with the layers that we need,” she said.

Hankins proposed that the phrase “social distancing,” should be replaced by “physical distancing.”

There are still ways to connect with others while practising safety measures like avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, keeping a two-metre distance from people outside our household and hand washing, she said.

“One thing that’s important is that people continue to exercise,” she said.

“For our own mental health, we do need to keep physically active and, although physically distanced, we need to keep socially active, even if it’s by phone or online.”

For people who aren’t comfortable with videoconference apps, the good, old-fashioned telephone is a great way to stay in touch, she said.

“Pick up the phone. Don’t hesitate to call somebody. Don’t feel like you’re interrupting or bother them. Just pick up the phone and give them a call,” Hankins added.

Quebec reported 879 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 1,009 new cases Saturday, bringing the total to 100,114 since the first case was reported on Feb. 29.

Infections from Quebec continue to account for nearly half of Canada’s total, which stood at 213,959 on Saturday night.

Ontario, the province with the second-most infections, topped 1,000 cases for the first time on Sunday to reach a total of 70,373.

“I’m concerned to see that Ontario is getting up to our levels now. And I am really concerned when I look at places in Europe that thought they had it under some kind of reasonable control,” Hankins said.

Quebec has recorded more than 1,000 cases in seven of the last 10 days.

The province reported 11 more deaths on Sunday. Five of those fatalities occurred in the last 24 hours, another five occurred between Oct. 18 and 24 and one was from an unknown date.

The number of deaths associated with the virus now stands at 6,143.

The number of hospitalizations increased by two to 551. Of the patients hospitalized because of the virus, 97 are in intensive care, an increase of four from Saturday.

Of the new cases reported on Sunday, 146 were in Montreal, where a total of 40,869 have now been reported.

For the first time in a week, Montreal was not the region with the most new cases. Montérégie, with 162, reported the highest total.

Jay Kaufman, an epidemiologist at McGill University, said that with 800-1000 cases a day for almost three weeks now, “Quebec is not doing so badly” compared to many European countries and the United States.

However, with Quebec continuing to have the worst case counts in Canada, “there is still lots of room for concern,” he said.

The fact cases have plateaued in Quebec show distancing measures are working, he said.

“The cases are not declining, however, and hospitalizations are way up, and so I suspect that we will not be able to reopen closed businesses for some time still, which is terrible news for those businesspeople,” he added.

Hankins said there should be more emphasis on the contact-tracing cell phone app to fight the virus’s spread.

Additional measures to protect vulnerable residents of long-term care facilities that were hard hit during the first wave are essential, she added.

“We know that they’re an Achilles heel,” she said.

“This is the most vulnerable population and we really need to make sure that we get it right this time as best we can.”

mscott@postmedia.com

With additional reporting by David Rudin

Related

All our coronavirus-related news can be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.

Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.

Help support our local journalism by subscribing to the Montreal Gazette here.

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