Resources & Insights

Federal Data Breach Regulations Take Effect Nov. 1, 2018

Starting Nov. 1, 2018, Canada’s federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) will require organizations that suffer a data breach involving personal information to:

  1. Report the breach to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
  2. Give notice of the breach to affected individuals.
  3. Maintain records of data breaches that affect personal information

In order to avoid fines and penalties, organizations will need to understand the basic requirements of PIPEDA.

Learn more and download the Compliance Bulletin today.

The State of Cyber Security in Canada

In today’s hyper connected business climate, cyber attacks are no longer a question of if, but when. This is especially true in Canada, which remains one of the most wired countries in the world.

In fact, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, 89 per cent of Canadian businesses use the internet, while nearly 100 per cent utilize some form of information technology (IT) in their daily operations. It’s no surprise that cyber security was ranked the third most important issue facing the property and casualty insurance industry today.

As technology develops, cyber threats will continue to evolve and become more advanced. When cyber attacks (such as data breaches and hacks) occur, they can result in devastating damage. The costs associated with business disruptions, revenue loss, legal fees, and customer or employee notifications caused by a cyber attack can cripple even financially sound organizations. It is important to remember that no organization is immune to the impact of cyber crime. As a result, cyber liability insurance has become an essential component to any risk management program.

In addition to arming yourself with adequate coverage, it’s critical to be aware of the cyber threat landscape, both on a global and national scale.

This report outlines the current state of cyber security in Canada by examining key indicators. If you would like to discuss cyber insurance for your organization, contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services today.


B.C. Winter Driving Rules Are Now in Effect

As of Oct. 1, 2018, a number of winter driving rules are in effect in British Columbia for both passenger and commercial vehicles. Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in B.C. from Oct. 1 to March 31, and those who fail to comply may be issued significant fines.

This News Brief provides an overview of the requirements and a number of additional safety considerations to keep in mind.

Tire Requirements for Passenger Vehicles

In B.C., winter tires on passenger, four-wheel or all-wheel vehicles must have tread depths of at least 3.5 millimetres. Specifically, winter tires must be labelled with either of the following:

  1. The letters “M” and “S”, which signify the minimum legal requirements for all-season tires
  2. The three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol

It should be noted that drivers must have two matching winter tires on their primary drive axle. For added safety, drivers should use four winter tires of equal tread type and depth.

Experts recommend that drivers install mountain snowflake tires for cold weather driving. Summer tires are not recommended for driving between Oct. 1 and March 31. Chains on summer tires are not an acceptable substitute for legal winter tires on B.C. highways.

If you are renting a vehicle and travelling outside the Greater Vancouver or Victoria areas, it’s a good idea to request a vehicle with winter tires.

Chains, Traction Devices and Safety Considerations for Passenger Vehicles

In addition to requiring a specific tread depth on winter tires, the B.C. government encourages drivers to keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Air pressure—The government recommends that drivers check the air pressure in their tires at least once a month. This is because maintaining proper air pressure extends the tread life of tires and improves overall safety.
  • Traction devices—Passenger vehicles may use alternative traction devices with their winter tires. However, you should only use these devices if they have been tested for performance in winter conditions. Traction devices to consider include:
    • Chains—When installed properly, chains can provide additional traction in snow and ice and minimize drifting. For the best results, chains should be placed on a vehicle’s primary drive axle.
    • Studded tires—While useful in improving traction, studded tires may only be used on B.C. highways from Oct. 1 to April 30. Additionally, studs should not protrude more than 2 millimeters from the tread or traction surface of the tire. If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction.
    • Textile tire cover—Similar to chains, a textile sheath placed over a winter tire can improve traction. However, these devices work best on snow and ice and degrade quickly when used on asphalt.

Tire Requirements for Commercial Vehicles

Commercial drivers who travel outside the Greater Vancouver and Victoria areas in the winter are required to:

  1. Use the appropriate tires. Commercial trucks weighing between 5,000 to 27,000 kilograms primarily use chains for additional traction, but may use tires with the three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol or the “M” and “S” symbols if available for their vehicle class.
  2. Carry chains or be equipped with other traction devices, particularly if the vehicle weighs 27,000 kilograms or more.
  3. Obey winter tire and chain signs throughout the province from Oct. 1 to March 31. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date is extended until April 30 to account for early spring snowfall.

Commercial drivers should keep chains on hand at all times and understand how to install them.

Chains, Traction Devices and Safety Considerations for Commercial Vehicles

Commercial drivers are encouraged to use alternative traction devices so long as they have been tested for performance in winter conditions. The following are some safety considerations to keep in mind for such devices:

  • Chains—Experts recommend that commercial vehicles use steel chains to improve traction and prevent lateral slippage. Cable-style chains are permitted if used in conjunction with steel-link chains. However, these chains do not provide adequate traction on roads with banked curves and can actually cause a vehicle to slide. Drivers may also install automatic tire chains, which are activated and retracted from the safety of the driver’s seat.
  • Studded tires—While useful in improving traction, studded tires may only be used on B.C. highways from Oct. 1 to April 30. Additionally, studs should not protrude more than 2 millimetres from the tread or traction surface of the tire. If you are using studded tires, you should have them on all four wheels for even traction.
  • Wheel sander systems—These systems can help add grit to tires, increasing overall traction.
  • Textile tire cover—Similar to chains, a textile sheath placed over a winter tire can improve traction. However, these devices work best on snow and ice and degrade quickly when used on asphalt.

Designated Winter Tire and Chain-up Routes and More Information

In B.C., routes that require winter tires and chains are designated by signage. For maps of these routes, as well as more general information on winter driving rules, click here.

Are You Prepared? Earthquakes

The forces of plate tectonics have shaped the earth over many years, as the huge plates that form the earth’s surface slowly move over, under and past each other. Sometimes, the movement is gradual. At other times, the plates are locked together, unable to release accumulated energy. When the accumulated energy grows strong enough, the plates break free. If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it can cause many deaths and injuries, as well as extensive property damage.

While earthquakes are widely believed to be only a West Coast occurrence, there are actually areas all throughout Canada that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes.

Know the Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an earthquake hazard:

  • Aftershock – An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.
  • Earthquake – A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earth’s crust, causing a series of vibrations on the earth’s surface.
  • Epicentre – The place on the earth’s surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake began. Once fault slippage begins, it continues along the fault during the earthquake and can extend hundreds of kilometres before stopping.
  • Fault – A fracture in the earth’s surface where land slipped during an earthquake. The slippage may range from a couple of centimeters to more than 4 metres in a severe earthquake.
  • Magnitude – The amount of energy released during an earthquake. A magnitude of 7.0 on the Richter scale indicates an extremely strong earthquake. Each whole number on the scale represents an increase of about 30 times more energy released than the previous whole number represents. Therefore, an earthquake measuring 6.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 5.0.
  • Seismic waves – Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several kilometres per second. Although fault slippage directly under a structure can cause considerable damage, the vibrations of seismic waves cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.

Before an Earthquake

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of an earthquake:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communication plan.
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors securely to walls and away from beds, couches and any other places people sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures and top-heavy objects.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks. Get appropriate professional help. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Install flexible pipefittings to avoid gas or water leaks. Flexible fittings are more resistant to breakage.
  • Secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace and gas appliances by strapping them to the wall studs and bolting them to the floor. If your gas company recommends it, install an automatic gas shut-off valve that is triggered by strong vibrations.
  • Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
  • Be sure the residence is firmly anchored to its foundation.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products securely on bottom shelves in closed cabinets with latches.
  • Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Reinforce this information by moving to these places during each drill.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family. Remember to drop, cover and hold on.

During an Earthquake

Drop, cover and hold on. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place.

If Indoors

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Do not use a doorway unless you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.
  • Remember that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

If Outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.

If in a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

If Trapped Under Debris

  • Do not light a match.
  • Do not move about or kick up dust.
  • Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing, if available.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After an Earthquake

  • When the shaking stops, look around to make sure it is safe to move. Then exit the building.
  • Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks or even months after the quake.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, the elderly and people with access and functional needs. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called “tidal waves”). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home has been damaged and is no longer safe.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Be careful when driving after an earthquake and anticipate traffic light outages.
  • After it is safe to return, your safety should be your primary priority as you begin clean up and recovery.
  • Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that may fall off shelves.
  • Put on long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and work gloves to protect against injury from broken objects.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
  • Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
  • Inspect utilities.
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbour’s home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
    • Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

In addition to insuring your home, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services at (250) 595-5212 or today.

Employer Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Download the Employer’s Guide to Cannabis Legalization today.

Cannabis, often referred to as weed, pot or marijuana, is one of the most commonly used psychoactive drugs in the world. And while the medicinal use of marijuana has been permissible in Canada for some time, the Cannabis Act legalizes the drug for recreational use nationwide.

Among other things, the federal law, which has a target implementation date of summer 2018, allows provinces to create specific regulations for marijuana use related to impaired driving and workplace safety. While this may sound simple on paper, a 2017 survey of Human Resources Professionals Association members found that 45 per cent of respondents did not believe their current workplace policies effectively address issues that may arise with the legalization of marijuana.

How Will the Act Affect the Workplace?

While it is uncertain how much the legalization of recreational marijuana will impact the workplace, employers are concerned it will have a direct effect on:

  1. Workplace health and safety
  2. The use of motor vehicles for work purposes
  3. The scope and type of disciplinary procedures
  4. Work performance
  5. Work attendance

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, usage will no doubt increase across the country.

The increase in casual marijuana usage paired with the administrative burden and uncertainty of legalization is new ground for Canadian employers. As such, to adequately prepare, it’s crucial that businesses adopt clear policies on the use of drugs and alcohol to prevent workplace accidents, increases in sick claims and decreases in employee productivity. Now more than ever before, both employers and employees must know how to discuss and deal with marijuana and impairment.

This guide is designed to provide a general background on marijuana use in the workplace, specifically highlighting its uses and health effects, legislative requirements, and employer and employee obligations. This guide should not construed as legal advice, and employers will need to consult with their legal team before implementing workplace policies and procedures related to marijuana and drugs.