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How waivers of liability could be harder to enforce Canadian Underwriter

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The Supreme Court of Canada could make a landmark decision on whether clients facing personal injury lawsuits can enforce waivers in court.

In Schnarr v. Blue Mountain Resorts Limited, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled in early 2018 that two plaintiffs who were injured while skiing are bound by waivers to which they agreed.

Those plaintiffs – David Schnarr and Elizabeth Woodhouse – submitted last month their application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, said Shantona Chaudhury, partner with law firm Pape Chaudhury LLP, which is representing Schnarr and Woodhouse.

The next step is for a three-judge panel (Rosalie Silberman Abella, Clement Gascon and Russell Brown) to decide whether or not Canada’s top court will hear the appeal.

“Whatever the Supreme Court would have to say about this will affect other provinces,” Chaudhury told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday.

The outcome will affect sports and recreation clients – such as those who provide facilities for mountain bike riding, rock climbing, scuba diving and paintball, lawyer John Olah told Canadian Underwriter earlier. Olah is one of the Beard Winter LLP lawyers defending Blue Mountain Resorts in Schnarr’s lawsuit.

When the Supreme Court will make decide whether to hear the appeal is not clear. It normally it takes four to six weeks for the court to decide whether or not to hear an appeal, Chaudhury suggested. The timeline depends on several factors including holiday schedules.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court says, both lawsuits are expected to go to trial, Chaudhury said Wednesday.

The question before the Court of Appeal for Ontario was not whether the plaintiffs are bound by the waivers. Instead, the question was whether the waivers are invalid due to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act.

If the Supreme Court of Canada rules that the Ontario Consumer Protection Act makes waivers invalid, clients could look at what Quebec businesses are doing to manage liability risk, Chaudhury suggested.

This, Chaudhury added, is because under Quebec law, defendants cannot use waivers to avoid liability for negligence or wrongful conduct that causes personal injury.

“The ski industry in Quebec is huge,” Chaudhury said. “They obviously have a means of dealing with whatever claims are brought against them. The industry hasn’t collapsed because they can’t rely on waivers.”

In Ontario, Schnarr and Woodhouse are alleging that the defendants failed in their duties under both the Occupiers Liability Act and the Consumer Protection Act. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act stipulates that consumers’ rights apply “despite any agreement or waiver to the contrary.” It also stipulates that suppliers’ goods must be of a “reasonably acceptable quality.” An agreement between buyer and seller is not enforceable if that agreement “purports to negate or vary any implied condition or warranty under the Sale of Goods Act” or any “deemed condition or warranty” under the Consumer Protection Act.

If the Supreme Court of Canada hears the appeal from Schnarr and Woodhouse, they will be “dealing with a fundamental issue, which is the intersection of consumer protection law and occupiers liability law,” Chaudhury said. “What they say about that is going to affect the law in the courts in every province, even though there may be differences in the specific laws.’’

Schnarr was hurt Mar. 26, 2011 while skiing on a trail at the Blue Mountain resort near Collingwood. He hit a piece of debris and struck a tree.

Woodhouse was hurt Dec. 23, 2008 at Snow Valley Ski Resort near Barrie while using a tow rope.

Initially in 2017, Ontario Superior Court of Justice judges Ria Tzimas and John R. McCarthy made separate rulings in favour of Woodhouse and Schnarr respectively. Tzimas and McCarthy found that under the Consumer Protection Act, waivers are void if they negate a requirement, under the Consumer Protection Act, to provide a product of “reasonably acceptable quality.”

The Court of Appeal for Ontario disagreed.

It is “absurd” to tell the ski resorts that waivers protect them from negligence claims but not from warranty claims, Judge Ian Nordheimer wrote for the Court of Appeal for Ontario in its unanimous ruling. As a result, the appeal court ordered that the Superior Court of Justice proceed on the basis that the waivers apply not only to negligence allegations under the Occupiers’ Liability Act but also to breach of warranty allegations under the Consumer Protection Act.

“The Consumer Protection Act – by having this non-waivable warranty of quality of good or services – also has that implication that you can’t force people to give up their right to sue, so that’s really what’s at play here,” Chaudhury said.

In the ruling that Schnarr and Woodhouse are appealing, Judge Nordheimer argued that the Occupiers Liability Act conflicts with the Consumer Protection Act.

“Under the OLA, an occupier can obtain a waiver of liability (within limits as defined by the common law) from any person coming onto their premises. However, that same occupier, if they are also a supplier under the CPA, cannot obtain an equivalent waiver,” wrote Nordheimer. He added the Occupiers Liability Act was “intended to be an exhaustive scheme at least in relation to the liability of occupiers to entrants on their premises flowing from the maintenance or care of the premises.” The purpose of the OLA “would be undermined if the CPA were allowed to reintroduce another novel contractual duty that purports to subject occupiers to an obligation to warrant that their premises are of a ‘reasonably acceptable quality,’” Nordheimer wrote.

Section 1474 of the Civil Code of Quebec stipulates: A person may not exclude or limit his liability for material injury caused to another through an intentional or gross fault; a gross fault is a fault which shows gross recklessness, gross carelessness or gross negligence. He may not in any way exclude or limit his liability for bodily or moral injury caused to another.

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The Best Credit Cards for Students in 2019

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The Best Credit Cards for Students 2019

If you’re a student in college or university, you understand that every penny counts. Tuition is high, textbooks are expensive, and it’s hard to maintain healthy eating habits while living off-campus when all you can afford are those packets of Sidekicks pasta for $1.

This is where a good rewards credit card can come in handy. Not only can you earn points, merchandise or cash-back for you purchases, but you’re also given the opportunity to start building your credit. And this is important if you’re a young adult who doesn’t have any credit to your name. If used responsibly, having a credit card will start you off on the right foot so you are eligible for other types of credit in the future, like personal loans or a mortgage. And there’s a great chance you’ll need one of these things eventually.

Rewards cards generally offer different amounts of points or cash-back for particular spending categories (gas, grocery, pharmacy purchases, etc.). Whether it’s rebating you in points, a statement credit, or cash-back in your bank account, a good rewards card maximizes on your everyday purchases and ultimately helps you save, and if you’re a student, you’re likely looking for a card with little-to-no annual fee.

But with so many options available, it may be hard to choose the exact credit card that’s right for you.

RateSupermarket.ca makes it easy with our card comparison tool. And with all things considered, from sign-up bonuses to earning rates, we used our Best of Finance methodology to rank the cards that provided the most cash value.

These are the best credit cards for students that offer rewards:

The Top 3 Credit Cards for Students in 2019


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Why it’s an awesome card

With no annual fee, the BMO®* CashBack Mastercard®* offers those with a limited budget a decent amount of cash-back if used to its full potential. The card offers 5% cash-back in the first three months of cardmembership up to $2,000 in spending, with no restrictions on where you can earn cash-back. So you’re already entitled to earn $100 in cash-back in just a few months. Eligibility requirements are also pretty low, which makes this card appealing for students with no or low income. After you’ve reached the $2,000 spending cap, you only receive 1% cash-back on your purchases, which is standard for a no-fee card.

Cash-back is applied to your account annually, and while it is detailed on your statement monthly, you’ll receive your cash-back in the form of a credit to your account in January of the following year.

Earning rate*

  • Other: 1% cash-back on all purchases.

Earning potential

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Sign-up bonus: 5% cash-back in the first three months of cardmembership (up to $2,000 in spending).
  • Rewards earned over a 24-month period: $373.51** 

RSM-022_2018_Best_Of_Finance_2018_Campaign_BlogPost_800x180_BMO_SPC_FINAL

Why it’s an awesome card

Identical to the BMO®* CashBack Mastercard®*, the BMO SPC®** CashBack® Mastercard®* yields a fair amount of cash-back for a no-fee card – 5% in the first three months of having a card (up to $2,000 in spending), and 1% thereafter. However, it also comes with the added benefits of a Student Price Card (SPC) membership, offering 10% to 15% off at hundreds of stores.

The over 450 participating stores include Adidas, Taco Bell, Koodo Mobile, Forever 21, and Victoria Secret – providing you with deals on everything from shoes to tacos to your phone plan – and the SPC membership renews automatically every year.

This card won Best Card for Students in the past at our Best of Finance Awards, as its designed specifically for students and their specific needs – qualification is based on lower earning requirements, and a third-party or parental authorization isn’t needed to sign up.

Cash-back accumulated over the year is awarded to your account as a credit every January, after which your cash-back balance reverts to $0.

Earning rate*

  • Other: 1% cash-back on all purchases.

Earning potential

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Sign-up bonus: 5% cash-back in the first three months of cardmembership (up to $2,000 in spending).
  • Rewards earned over a 24-month period: $373.51**

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Why it’s an awesome card

This credit card is a cool option if dining out and movies are your thing, as you earn SCENE points for purchases. SCENE points can be redeemed for free movie tickets, discounts on concessions, or discounts at some popular Canadian restaurants (Kelsey’s, Swiss Chalet, Milestones, and East Side Mario’s, to name a few). And since SCENE points are applied to your account automatically, you can use them anytime – great for those Friday night hangouts.

Not only does the SCENE®* Visa* Card reward you for your pastimes, but it helps build your credit score and you don’t have to pay an annual fee. It was also the winner of the Best Card for Students award at our last Best of Finance Awards.

Earning rate*

  • Entertainment: 5 SCENE points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex Entertainment theatres or online at cineplex.com.
  • Restaurants: 1 SCENE point per $3 spent at CARA restaurants, with some exceptions.
  • Other: 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Earning potential

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Sign-up bonus: 2,000 SCENE points (if you charge $500 to the account within the first three months of cardmembership).
  • Rewards earned over a 24-month period: 36,151.04 SCENE points
  • Monetary worth: $361.51

 


Notes: 

*Earning rate up to card’s annual spending cap, if applicable.

**Assuming $1,222.96 is spent on the card monthly at eligible retailers, in the following categories: Pharmacy ($55.33), Food ($758.53), Gas: $155.72, Travel ($151.21), Other ($102.17).

The post The Best Credit Cards for Students in 2019 appeared first on MoneyWise.

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This area could get half a metre of snow Canadian Underwriter

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FREDERICTON – An intense winter storm is forecast to descend on the Maritimes on Sunday, and the New Brunswick government is warning residents to prepare for power outages.

Environment Canada says a low-pressure system approaching from the southwest will track across the Bay of Fundy, dumping between 20 and 60 centimetres of snow across much of the province.

In Nova Scotia, between 10 and 20 centimetres of snow is in the forecast for much of the province, with the higher amounts expected in northern Nova Scotia.

Residents of Prince Edward Island are being told to brace for between 20 and 40 centimetres of snow and rainfall amounts reaching 40 millimetres.

The storm is also expected to deliver strong winds and freezing rain, particularly in southern New Brunswick and along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast.

New Brunswick’s Department of Public Safety says residents should have well-stocked, 72-hour emergency kits in their homes and vehicles.

The kits should include food, water, batteries, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, first-aid supplies, cash in small bills in case ATMs are unavailable, prescriptions, infant formula and equipment for people with disabilities.

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Why Canada’s largest mutual insurer is not demutualizing Canadian Underwriter

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Unlike Economical Insurance, Canada’s largest mutual insurer plans to stay that way.

“Everybody says, ‘Because of what Economical is doing, are you going to demutualize?’ No,” Carol Jardine, president of the Canadian property and casualty operations of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, said Thursday during a luncheon hosted by the Insurance Brokers of Toronto Region (IBTR).

Wawanesa, which was founded in the Manitoba community of the same name, is Canada’s largest mutual P&C insurer. Among Canadian P&C carriers, Winnipeg-based Wawanesa and Waterloo, Ont.-based Economical rank fifth and seventh respectively by premiums written in 2017.

Economical Insurance submitted a proposal this past June to the federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions that would convert the mutual insurer to a stock company. If successful, Economical would become publicly traded. Several more hurdles remain to be cleared before Economical can demutualize.

One reason Economical officials want to demutualize is to raise money from capital markets to help pay for mergers or acquisitions.

Wawanesa has previously indicated that it has no demutualization plans, but Jardine gave brokers some insight into why on Thursday. Put simply, a mutual insurer has a different mandate than a publicly-traded insurer.

“There are very successful mutuals in the United States and we think that is the best offering for Canadians and their community,” Jardine said, citing State Farm and Liberty Mutual as examples. “We don’t have shareholders. We just have ourselves, and we are kind of a break-even insurance company. We are very happy with [a] 100[%] combined [ratio].”

In contrast, publicly-traded insurers may be hard-pressed to keep their combined ratio around 93% so they can give their shareholders a return on their investment.

Canada has seven federally-regulated property and casualty mutual insurers. Four life insurers (Manulife, Clarica, Sun and Canada Life) demutualized nearly 20 years ago. In 2015, Canada passed regulations allowing federally-regulated P&C mutuals to demutualize. The only one to start the process has been Economical.

Economical’s proposal, sent to OSFI in June 2018, includes a recommendation on how to allocate financial benefits resulting from demutualization, as well as opinions from actuarial and financial experts. OSFI “will be diligent and they will be thorough” in reviewing Economical’s conversion proposal, Economical chairman John Bowey said in May 2018 at the insurer’s annual general meeting. “We expect this to be a lengthy review.”

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