Check this space often for updates, resources, and tools that will help you navigate these challenging times.View our FAQ
Safety of our Employees
With the ongoing global impact of COVID-19, Benefits by Design (BBD) Inc. is doing our part to help protect our employees, their families, and our communities. To encourage social distancing, our staff will primarily be working from home. We are moving all meetings to either telephone or video conferencing format, and all business travel has been postponed until further notice.
These measures have been proactively put in place to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and lessen the burden on the Canadian healthcare system.
Green Shield Canada (GSC) Support Centre
Updated daily with the latest COVID-19 related information, pertinent to plan members.Support centre
Telehealth Resources from GSC
A one-pager of online health resources available through Green Shield Canada and BBD.Download the resource
- Business Relief Measures
- BEACON Digital Therapy
- General Questions
- Going Digital
- Personal Protective Equipment Charges
Business Relief Measures
Businesses may have significantly reduced income during this time and struggle to pay their group insurance premiums. Is BBD prepared to extend the premium grace period and not impose claim suspension?
We will extend our existing grace period by 30 days. Our new standard premium grace period during COVID-19 will be 60 days.
Can a group reduce or remove coverage for certain benefits (i.e., paramedical or dental) while they can’t access those services?
BBD is committed to helping working Canadians retain their benefits coverage however, we understand that many businesses may be experiencing financial hardship. In those cases, feel free to reach out to your BBD Client Manager about specific plan amendments.
BEACON Digital Therapy
If you are feeling stressed or worried or are having difficulty sleeping, BEACON digital therapy could be for you.
BEACON is a personalized Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program that connects users with a registered therapist to help them work through a variety of issues, including the stress, social isolation, and anxiety as a result of the pandemic.
BEACON: Supported by the Government of Ontario
As part of its provincial support for COVID-19, the Government of Ontario is currently funding the standard BEACON service in full for residents of Ontario age 16 or older, making BEACON free of charge for stress and mental wellbeing concerns during COVID-19. Ontario residents can click here for more details.
For all other provinces, visit mindbeacon.com and click on “Start My Assessment” to find out whether BEACON is right for you. You’ll be guided through the steps to complete your personal assessment.
An employee has tested positive for COVID-19. What does an employer need to do?
The employee should not be permitted to return to the workplace until they are free of the COVID-19 virus, a minimum of 14 days, and showing no signs for 24 hours after that.
The current advice from health authorities is that all employees who worked closely with the infected employee should also be removed from the workplace for at least 14 days to ensure the infection does not spread in the workplace.
What constitutes “closely” will depend on the workplace and the nature of interactions between employees. Employers should err on the side of caution.
Employers should also take reasonable measures to protect, to the extent possible, the identity and confidentiality of any employee who contracts COVID-19.
An employee has an unconfirmed case of COVID-19. What does an employer need to do?
As with a confirmed case, the employee should leave the workplace.
The Public Health Agency of Canada encourages any person who has even mild symptoms to stay home and call the public health authority in the province or territory they are in to inform them. They will provide advice on what the employee should do.
Other employees who worked closely with the infected employee should also leave the workplace for at least 14 days, or until the diagnosis of COVID-19 is ruled out.
One of our employees told us that they came into contact with someone who has COVID-19. What should we do?
Once contact is confirmed, the employee should leave the workplace for at least 14 days. Coworkers who may have come into close contact with the employee should also leave the workplace for at least 14 days.
What if an employee has COVID-19 and cannot work?
Where an employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work, an employer must grant any applicable legislative leave to the employee, in addition to meeting any sick leave obligations outlined in employment agreements or collective agreements.
If the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, there might be additional reporting obligations under workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety legislation.
What happens to employees if an organization is ordered to close their business by the government?
If an employer is ordered to close by health or other authorities, employers may be able to layoff employees without liability under provincial employment standards legislation or the common law. Each case will be different, and you should contact a lawyer for advice.
For new groups in installation, do you have the ability to send the Plan Admin digital copies of employee benefit cards since all employees do not necessarily register to the plan member portal?
Yes, when implementing new employee benefits plans, we can send a digital PDF copy of the ID to the Plan Administrator of the group for distribution to employees. Please inform us if this is something you require when implementing a plan.
Can an employer temporarily lay off employees?
Yes, but employers should be mindful of the legal rules and requirements that protect employees. A layoff can be treated as a termination of employment under employment standards legislation or the common law depending on the circumstances. There may be exemptions in many jurisdictions due to the pandemic and forced closures. Each case may be different, and you should contact a lawyer for advice.
Does an ROE (Record of Employment) have to be issued for a temporary layoff?
A Record of Employment must be issued for each of the employees that are on a temporary layoff.
What happens if an employer wants to continue benefits during a temporary layoff?
Coverage without disability insurance (except as required by law) can be extended for up to 6 months. All benefits (except disability) must be extended – there can be no picking and choosing of benefits offered during the layoff. No prior notice of the layoff is required. Layoff period will be terminated on the earlier of:
- Confirmation of return to work by the employer
- End of 6 month extension period
Collection of Premiums
If Plan Sponsors cannot collect employees’ premium contributions at this time, they can pay the full premium and collect back when the plan member is back at work. This will not affect benefit taxability.
What happens if an employer wants to terminate benefits during a temporary layoff?
We strongly recommend that plan sponsors maintain coverage for their employees during a temporary layoff and that they seek the professional advice of an employment lawyer before making a decision to terminate benefits for employees during a temporary layoff (see Benefits by Design’s Business Assistance Program).
Plan sponsors should be aware of the potential risks of terminating coverage including:
- No life or disability coverage
- Employees currently out of country
- Stockpiling of medications prior to termination
What coverage options are available if an employee no longer has group coverage?
Health & Dental Options
If you are between the ages of 18 and 79, we have a fantastic solution available through Green Shield Canada’s (GSC) Health Assist ZONE and LINK individual health and dental programs.
LINK plans offer guaranteed coverage for you and your family for day-to-day medical, dental and travel expenses, as well as unforeseen health expenses and must be applied for within 90 days of losing coverage. Choose from four pre-designed plans.
ZONE plans cover you and your family for day-to-day medical dental and travel expenses, as well as unforeseen health expenses. ZONE offers eight pre-designed plans (four guaranteed issue) and has more affordable options if you have no outstanding ongoing or medical issues.
Personal Protective Equipment Charges
Per the Government, regulatory bodies, and governing associations, many health and dental practitioners are required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for in-person appointments. Many health and dental providers are adding the cost of PPE to their fees.
Green Shield Canada Extended Health and Dental Clients
Taken from the GSC: Update distributed on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
PPE fees are not a standard eligible expense under GSC health and dental plans. As a result, the portion of claims related to PPE fees will not be reimbursed – though plan members can be reimbursed for these fees through health care spending accounts (HCSA) or personal spending accounts (PSA), where applicable.
When dental claims are submitted with PPE fees, the entire claim will be entered as billed and reimbursed according to plan design so that eligible procedure codes continue to be reimbursed.
When health claims are submitted with PPE fees noted on the receipt or invoice, GSC is taking the following approaches:
- If the PPE fees are clearly indicated, that portion of the claim will be processed separately using an ineligible procedure code, meaning it is denied
- If the claim shows that the cost of an item or service has been combined with a PPE fee (but not broken down), the entire claim will be denied. A breakdown of charges is required and will be requested before the claim can be reprocessed.
Some plan sponsors may, in fact, wish to enhance their plans to include coverage for PPE costs – and, depending on their current funding arrangement, there may be options to do so. This will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Standalone® Spending Account Clients
PPE equipment does fall under CRA Personal Health Spending Product guidelines. As such fees are covered to an amount of not more than 10% of the total of the eligible service fee.
For example, if a $50 dental service is being claimed on your Health Care Spending Account (HCSA), and is accompanied by a $10 PPE fee, only $5 of the $10 PPE fee can be claimed.
What tools or resources are available through BBD’s group benefits plans to assist us during these uncertain times?
If the employee benefits plan includes an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), this program is available to provide support to employees and their families during these challenging times.
For clients with HumanaCare’s EAP, HumanaCare’s best-in-class services are available through a host of mediums, including e-counselling and telephone counselling, to encourage social distancing. Contacting HumanaCare is easy – simply call 1-800-661-8193 24 hours a day, anywhere in North America, or email email@example.com
If the employee benefits plan includes Life Insurance through BBD & Empire Life, they have access to a Business Assistance Program (BAP). A BAP helps employers access accredited legal, financial, and human resource professionals to navigate the complex problems arising within their business. Contacting HumanaCare is easy – simply call 1-800-661-8193 24 hours a day, anywhere in North America, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
As a way to encourage social distancing, what telemedicine or telehealth resources are available?
Green Shield Canada has many telehealth resources available to get employees through during this time. A complete list is available here.
HumanaCare also offers counselling service through a host of mediums, including e-counselling and telephone counselling. These services extend to both their EAP and BAP.
Telehealth resources have been ramped up across Canada to ensure access to medical professionals. BBD compiled a list of the large provincial providers, which is available here.
Information for plan members with Green Shield Canada (GSC) standard travel benefit.
What if a plan member’s travel is deemed essential?
If a plan member left before or after the advisory was issued, and they are crossing the border for work purposes deemed “essential” travel (e.g., truck drivers, airline workers, and health professionals), they can use their travel coverage for any unforeseen medical emergency, including treatment required for the coronavirus. All other limitations and exclusions of the travel plan remain in place.
GSC Update on Out-of-Country Travel
For the period of August 15, 2020, through December 31, 2021, all standard GSC travel plans will include coverage for emergency medical expenses related to COVID-19, up to the existing maximums of each plan.
If your out-of-country travel coverage is under a pure ASO funding arrangement or you have an out-of-country pooling limit, GSC will also extend the COVID-19 coverage to your plan. Plan members are encouraged to visit the GSC Support Centre for more details on the prudent steps to take before booking or undertaking travel.
COVID-19 Travel Update: Testing Rules
The Federal Government recently announced that anyone arriving in Canada after January 7, 2021, will need to have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a plane. Flyers aged five and up will need to have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their scheduled departure and must show the results to their airline before they board the flight.
COVID-19 tests may be covered for plan members taking the test abroad. Plan Members looking to claim a COVID-19 test should speak to their BBD Client Manager.Back to Top