Monthly Archives:December 2017

Bill Morneau insists Trudeau government has no plans for a Netflix tax

11 Dec 17
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Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the federal government still has no intention of imposing a Netflix tax because it would result in a financial hit for middle-class Canadians.

Morneau’s remarks about the online streaming giant come a couple of days after Heritage Minister Melanie Joly insisted she never agreed to exempt Netflix from any sales tax as part of a deal that has been a political nightmare in her home province of Quebec.

Pressed about the issue on Friday, Joly said anyone with concerns about the lack of federal taxes on online streaming services should talk to Morneau because he’s in charge of taxation.

Joly unveiled a cultural policy in September that secured a $500-million pledge by Netflix to set up a Canadian office and fund original homegrown content — but the plan did not include taxes on the company’s service.

The ensuing weeks have seen the provincial government in Quebec vow to tax foreign online businesses, including Netflix, if Ottawa didn’t do so.

The issue has sparked outrage from artists and producers in Quebec’s cultural industry who have described it as an unfair subsidy.

Morneau insisted Sunday that Ottawa has no intention of changing its promise not to tax Netflix.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself has repeatedly and categorically ruled out a Netflix tax.

Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said Sunday that he plans to raise the issue with Morneau when federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers meet for two days of talks in Ottawa.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

British customers could be ‘worst off’ after cap on bills 

10 Dec 17
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Centrica: The British Gas owner does not believe price caps will benefit customers

Centrica: The British Gas owner does not believe price caps will benefit customers

Energy firms have criticised government plans to introduce a price cap on gas and electricity bills.

Experts believe customers overpaid for energy by £1.4 billion last year because the market is not competitive enough.

Lawmakers have now introduced a bill for a temporary price cap to try and help reduce average bills by £100. It will last until the end of 2020 and could be extended by three years.

But in evidence to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, British Gas owner Centrica and other firms said they did not believe it would work. Centrica said: ‘We believe that the Government’s objectives are unclear and potentially contradictory.’ Price comparison firm uSwitch said the price cap ‘risks leaving consumers worse off overall’.


Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

An express university degree hopes to rid student debt

09 Dec 17
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  • A new degree will be offered to students in the UK wary of high tuition fees
  • The degree is two years long and is thought to be 20 per cent cheaper overall 
  • Universities Minister Jo Johnson hopes the degree will mean no student debt
  • But some say that high interests rates on student loans is what needs changing

High levels of student debt – on average £50,000 – force many young people to think twice about embarking on a university degree. 

But the launch of a new ‘value for money’ express degree that takes just two years to complete, rather than the standard three, is designed to attract those fearing high bills for tuition fees and living costs.

The so-called ‘accelerated degree’ will work out 20 per cent cheaper overall and save students thousands of pounds in borrowing costs, according to Universities Minister Jo Johnson.

Announcing the proposals today, Johnson told The Mail on Sunday he hopes universities will grab the opportunity to offer students more flexibility and choice by providing short-term degrees over a wide variety of subjects – in addition to traditional courses.

The new degrees are set to launch in 2019 and are expected to attract mature students and those who cannot afford thousands of pounds in borrowing costs

The new degrees are set to launch in 2019 and are expected to attract mature students and those who cannot afford thousands of pounds in borrowing costs

His proposition emerges against a backdrop of frenzied criticism of the higher education system. 

In the last week alone universities have been condemned for bosses’ fat cat pay, the loan system dubbed ‘diseased’ by Labour peer Lord Adonis – and the courses currently on offer denounced by watchdog the National Audit Office for providing poor quality for the price.

The new degrees, due to launch in 2019, are expected to attract mature students in particular who want to study but cannot justify the time or cost involved in a three-year pause from the workplace.

Johnson, says: ‘The aim is to break the current “one size fits all” model which I am concerned is squeezing out applicants. There has been a big decline in the number of mature students and I think that is why.’

But the planned scheme is not limited to mature students. He expects many school-leavers to seize the chance to pursue shorter courses. Johnson says: ‘There are plenty of young people who want a faster pace of learning and to get into the world of work more quickly. It will be the same degree with the same quality assurance.’

He says employers also like graduates with speedy degrees under their belt as it suggests they will make highly motivated, hard-working members of the workforce.

The teaching of the degrees will typically take 45 weeks a year over two years instead of 30 weeks a year over three.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson, pictured, has launched a new ‘value for money’ express degree that takes just two years to complete

Universities Minister Jo Johnson, pictured, has launched a new ‘value for money’ express degree that takes just two years to complete

Some smaller universities and colleges, such as Hertfordshire and Coventry, already offer two-year degrees but just 2,500 students are enrolled in such courses out of a total 1.5 million undergraduates in England. 

The Government hopes traditional universities will see the benefit of offering shorter courses as a flexible option alongside three-year arrangements.

Universities will be allowed to charge 20 per cent more than the current £9,250 annual cap for tuition fees – making the teaching bill £11,100 a year or £22,200 for the whole course. That compares to £27,750 for a three-year degree – a student saving of £5,550.

Johnson says: ‘They will be the same programmes, same degrees, same quality but less debt and more value for money.’

He believes these courses plus newer arrangements from the likes of UK vacuum cleaner giant Dyson, which has set up its own engineering university in Wiltshire are set to shake up the system. Johnson says: ‘There is an appetite for something different as shown by the fact Dyson’s courses are oversubscribed by 20 or 30 times.’

Staffordshire University is another institution already offering fast-track degrees in subjects such as English, journalism and law (costing £18,500 in fees over two years).

Karl McCormack, who teaches two-year degrees in accounting and finance, says: ‘They offer students extra focus, the drive and immersive experience of learning over two years.’

Student Laura Montague, taking a two-year finance course at Staffordshire, says: ‘It prepares you well in terms of what the working environment will be like when you finish.’

The Office for Students, a new watchdog that will be in place next year, will support the provision of the new degrees. Government research suggests more than 70 per cent of universities report a craving for shorter courses among students and employers.

For many students a £5,550 reduction in the overall cost of a degree will only make a fractional dent in the giant debt they will carry for years. 

Fees on standard degrees have trebled since 2012 and students can now expect to graduate with debts of at least £50,000 – or nearer £57,000 for those from poorer families who borrow extra to cover living expenses.

For full-time students in England, repayments equivalent to 9 per cent of income over £25,000 only begin once they have left university and are earning £25,000 or more a year.

Jake Butler, pictured, of the website Save The Student is calling for lower interests rates

Jake Butler, pictured, of the website Save The Student is calling for lower interests rates

But interest racks up at March’s Retail Prices Index measure of inflation (3.1 per cent) plus 3 percentage points while at university.

So on graduation those earning more than £25,000 pay on a sliding scale of up to 6.1 per cent where income reaches £41,000 or more.

The Government plays down the impact of the debt. After 30 years, any outstanding student debt is written off though for many thousands of pounds of interest will have been paid along the way.

Danny Cox, of financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘Reducing a course by a year might bring the cost down a bit, but it is still an astronomical amount of money to saddle young graduates with as they head into the workplace.

‘The student loan system teaches young people that unaffordable debt is perfectly acceptable and you do not need to worry about repaying it – which is a terrible money life lesson.’

Liz Emerson, of the Intergenerational Foundation think-tank, says: ‘Graduates who make repayments are effectively paying a tax of 41 per cent. Jo Johnson is in the age group who got their degrees for free and does not pay extra tax for it. The Government needs to rethink the interest on these loans.’

Jake Butler, of website Save The Student, says: ‘Would students on a two-year course really get the same value as those on a three-year course? Given the fact many students already feel their contact time is too limited, I am not so sure.’

He calls for an end to the high rates of interest charged to all students, particularly since the highest rate applies while they are studying and unable to make repayments.

He says: ‘After graduation the interest drops to just 3.1 per cent if they earn below £25,000 from April 2018. Why can it not be this low when studying?’

Johnson told The Mail on Sunday that student funding, including interest rates, is still under review. He said: ‘Details will be set out in the coming weeks.’ 

No loans, a salary, student digs… welcome to the Dyson university 

Sir James Dyson, pictured, launched the Dyson Institute in September

Sir James Dyson, pictured, launched the Dyson Institute in September

A desire to introduce innovation into the nation’s provision of university degrees was behind the launch of the Dyson Institute, which opened to its first students in September.

British technology tycoon James Dyson launched his own university in a bid to help plug the huge gap in the country’s engineering skills. 

About 850 school leavers applied for 33 places on the four-year course. Unlike most other undergraduates, the successful applicants have their £9,250 annual tuition fees met by the company – plus they receive an apprentice salary of £15,500 a year.

Dyson is also in the process of building student accommodation. These few lucky students will have no massive debt to carry with them – and there is no obligation to stay with the company.

The students spend three days a week working on projects and the remaining two studying at the Wiltshire campus.

The first students will have their degrees awarded by Warwick University. 

Inside the Dyson Institute, pictured, in Wiltshire, which was launched in a bid to help plug the huge gap in the country’s engineering skills

Inside the Dyson Institute, pictured, in Wiltshire, which was launched in a bid to help plug the huge gap in the country’s engineering skills

Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Somalia veterans’ malaria drug case is too old to proceed, National Attorney argues

09 Dec 17
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Veterans of the Somalia mission who say they had been permanently damaged by the anti-malarial medication they had been forced to take during that installation have waited too long to proceed with a class-action lawsuit launched almost 18 years ago, the federal government says

Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards advised the Ontario Superior Court on Friday that the lawyers for Ronald Smith, a former member of this now-disbanded Airborne Regiment who’s the lead plaintiff in the case, have provided no reasonable excuse for the amount of time it has taken to move the situation forward.

It would not be possible now, Ms. Richards told Justice Robbie Gordon, for the authorities to call witnesses who may provide accurate testimony around how mefloquine was doled out to the troops who participate in the Somalia mission of the early 1990s. That means, she said, there can’t be a fair trial. Justice Gordon has been asked to determine whether the case can be certified as a class action a lot of years after the initial documents were filed in the court.

Ms. Richards said the judge has to balance the possible unfairness of this delay, which both she and Wayne Stickland, the attorney for Mr. Smith, concur was surplus, and the right of Mr. Smith and the other specialists to receive justice for the harms they say they’ve suffered.

Mr. Stickland told the court that his office has been contacted by hundreds of Somalia specialists who state mefloquine left them with long-term emotional issues. Whether this case is thrown out, he said, another plaintiff will immediately step ahead to launch an identical lawsuit.

But Ms. Richards stated that could run against the principle that defendants are entitled to a finality of justice. “We say nobody could deliver a subsequent class actions,” if Mr. Smith’s case isn’t allowed to move, she told the court. “Once it has been dismissed for flaws, it has been dismissed.”

That seemed to concern Justice Gordon, who requested both sides to return after Christmas to present their arguments about whether this class action is the end of the line for Somalia veterans who wish to sue for the damages which they blame on mefloquine.

According to Mr. Smith’s statement of claim, the medication he was obligated to take in Somalia as part of a badly implemented clinical trial left him with a plethora of residual mental-health difficulties, including depression, aggressive behavior, poor concentration, social isolation and suicidal ideas. He states his Charter rights were breached and is alleging negligence and battery.

His lawsuit, which premiered in 2000, sat almost dormant before being taken over and restarted last year by Mr. Stickland.

In explaining the delay to Justice Gordon, Mr. Stickland said there was a lengthy debate between attorneys about who was best positioned to represent Mr. Smith in court.

Additionally, he said, the situation was hampered by Mr. Smith’s own psychological condition, a lack of scientific proof in the first years to link mefloquine into the kinds of symptoms suffered by the veterans, and a lack of expert witnesses.

That evidence has become more solid and he’s procured an expert witness, Mr. Stickland said.

However, Ms. Richards said none of these explanations are reasonable. Concerning the scientific evidence, she said “a plaintiff does not get to sit back until they receive the best possible evidence to proceed.”

And even when Mr. Smith’s mental state improved in 2010, the prior attorneys for Mr. Smith did nothing to move the situation forward, she said.

Regardless of the amount of vets who say mefloquine caused severe difficulties, Ms. Richards said, “the conclusion so far is that there’s not any conclusive scientific evidence” to connect mefloquine into the permanent psychiatric ailments they’ve described.

A couple of the soldiers on the Somalia mission were charged in the beating death of a Somali teenager, and lots of others complained of alarming dreams, depression and hallucinations.

Health Canada upgraded the warning labels for the medication in 2016 to highlight that certain side effects may persist for months or years after the medication is stopped, and some can be irreversible in some patients.

The Canadian army conducted a review of the medical literature this year and concluded there’s not any evidence that the drug causes long-term issues. However, it now says choice drugs are the preferred choices for soldiers who deploy to countries where malaria is a risk.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Parents will ‘skip meals’ in order to buy Christmas gifts

08 Dec 17
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  • Many parents do not save for Christmas causing financial strain
  • Would happily pay a 30% premium to secure sold out toys for their children
  • Expert says too many people are ‘under social pressure’ to buy festive gifts 

The true cost of Christmas for some has been laid bare by research showing some parents are willing to skip meals and sacrifice holidays in order to buy gifts.

Revealing the pressure that parents feel under at this time of year, one in three admit to dipping into their overdrafts and savings to finance presents, with a fifth admitting it is a huge financial burden.

One in five also do not save any money at all for Christmas gifts, according to the research from Barclays, despite some of the most sought after toys costing hundreds of pounds.

Toy trouble: Research suggests that parents are under social pressure to buy 'must have' toys - and will pay a 30% premium to secure them

Toy trouble: Research suggests that parents are under social pressure to buy ‘must have’ toys – and will pay a 30% premium to secure them

In the survey of 1,000 parents, on average respondents admitted they’d be happy to spend up to 30 per cent more on sold-out gifts their children wanted through resale websites.

Even more extreme, one in 10 said they would be prepared to spend as much as 80 per cent more than the recommended retail price.

A 30 per cent premium would make the Anki Cozmo Robot £259.99 rather than £199.99 and Hatchimals Surprise £97.49 compared to £74.99.

The cheapest item on the list – the LOL Big Surprise Ball- would be £77.99 instead of the RRP of £59.99, showing that a lack of preparation can mean a far more costly Christmas. 


The most popular 2017 Christmas toys and how much some parents are prepared to spend on them. 

Recommended retail price vs 30% premium:

Anki Cozmo Robot £199.99 – £259.99 

Lego Boost £149.99 – £194.99 

FurReal Roarin’ Tyler £134.99 – £175.49 

Little Tikes Princess Cozy Chariot £109.99 – £142.99 

Luvabella Doll £99.99 – £129.99 

FurReal Proto Max £89.99 – £116.99 

Barbie Dreamhorse £89.99 – £116.99 

Zoe Enchanted Unicorn £89.99 – £116.99 

Micro Scooter Mini Deluxe £79.99 – £103.99 

Star Wars Lego BB-8 £84.99 – £110.49 

Hatchimals Surprise £74.99 – £97.49 

Paw Patrol Sea Patroller £69.99 – £90.99 

NERF Modulus Regulator £65.00 – £84.50 

Power Rangers Megazord £59.99 – £77.99 

LOL Big Surprise Ball £59.99 – £77.99


This year is set to be the most expensive Christmas for present buying on record according to Barclays, with parents expected to fork out an average of £128.80 per child on presents during the festive season.

Although, for many, the total bill is likely to be far higher, with data from eBay suggesting we are likely to spend an incredible £748 each on up to 48 different gifts this year – with toys, clothes, gadgets and perfumes the most popular purchases. 

The Barclays research also shows that one in three parents leave Christmas shopping until the very last minute.

Clare Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, said: ‘Spending more than you can afford at Christmas can lead to serious problems down the line, and it’s something we – as a nation – need to get out of the habit of.

‘Too many of us are being moved into action by social pressures to spend huge sums of money on Christmas presents.

‘If that sounds like you, decide to do it differently next year. 

‘Set a budget in January and set up savings goals which can help you start contributing monthly instalments to a set pot of money and stick to your limit.’

Showing just how pressure-laden many find the festive season, two-fifths of respondents admitted to adopting extreme measures to cut back on spending after Christmas.

This includes skipping meals, saying no to school trips and cancelling holidays.


It is possible to recoup the full cost of Christmas by kicking off a pre-holiday review of all our other regular expenses. 

You may need to wait until some annual insurance policies and contracts expire to make the biggest savings.

But get ready now and experts say most of us can knock at least £1,000 off our bills in 2018.

Read our guide on how to save on your mortgage, car insurance, home cover, life protection, utility bills and phone and TV. 



Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Senate not in rush to pass airline passenger-rights bill despite Liberal frustration

08 Dec 17
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The Liberal government is expressing frustration with the Senate for flaws in pushing through legislation which would give airline passengers rights, but senators say they will not be hurried into rubber-stamping the invoice.

The Trudeau government’s Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, sets out, among other things, national standards for the treatment of air passengers in Canada.

It’ll be up to the Canadian Transport Authority to write regulations outlining the details after the bill passes in the Senate and receives royal assent.

According to the invoice, airlines will not be permitted to bump passengers from a flight against their own will and would need to give compensation for overbooking, damaged or lost luggage, and for delays and cancellations which are inside the air carrier’s control.

The bill passed in the Commons and has been delivered to the Senate five months ago, but it has yet to move past the second-reading stage of disagreement in the Red Chamber. This week, Senator Terry Mercer, deputy leader of the Senate Liberals, revived debate on the bill and said he would resume his part of the discussion later this week or next.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he expects senators will send the bill to committee before Parliament takes its winter break at the end of next week.

“The Senate is obviously master of its destiny. At exactly the exact same time, I’m really hoping they can deal with this absolutely as soon as possible,” Mr. Garneau said in an interview. “Canadians have certainly suggested their high degree of interest in getting something as soon as possible.”

Mr. Garneau said the bill failed “extensive” research in the Commons, once the transportation committee held hearings for a week until Parliament returned in September. “I hope the Senate will take that into account and not always think, ‘Oh, we must start over at point zero.'”

However, some senators say the 74-page piece of legislation, which many are calling an omnibus bill, is much more complex than it seems.

The bill raises foreign ownership limits for drivers, requires railways to set up video and voice recorders in locomotives and overhauls the grain transportation system. Unions have lobbied heavily against installing video recorders.

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk, who chairs the Senate’s transport committee, said he doubts the bill will get through committee before winter break. The Senate is scheduled to sit until Dec. 22, but Mr. Tkachuk said he expects to be gone by next week, when the House rises.

“I don’t have any intention of holding up the bill. But at exactly the exact same time, I have no any intention of rushing the bill through,” he said. “There is a whole lot of people who I know of who have called me and composed letters and e-mails, that would like to come before the committee. I am not going to tell them they can not come.”

Mr. Tkachuk added, “There is something about the Liberals that is really strange. They need an independent Senate till they do not want one.”

For his part, Mr. Mercer said it had been a part of his job as a Nova Scotia senator to attend the 100th anniversary of the Halifax explosion.

He said he hopes to talk to the bill shortly and denied that he is holding it up. “The Senate needs to do its due diligence. It should do what we always do, call witnesses, hear testimony and determine if we could agree with this. And if we can not agree with it, then let us fix it and send it back to the House of Commons.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

First Nations Require control over cannabis sales

07 Dec 17
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First Nations leaders say they must be given the right to govern the sale and distribution of legalized marijuana within their communities and to set the laws that will oversee its use by their people.

Chiefs attending an annual conference of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on Wednesday expressed wide-ranging views on the federal Liberal government’s plan for legalizing cannabis by next July 1.

Some told the assembly they have not had enough time or money to prepare for the change and urged the AFN to ask for a delay in the implementation of Bill C-45, which would make marijuana legal in Canada for the first time in 94 years. Others said they embraced the legalization of the drug and are looking forward to sharing in the wealth that will be generated by the cannabis industry.

But there was widespread agreement that it is the First Nations, and not the federal or provincial governments, that will determine the rules around the use and sale of marijuana on reserves.

The AFN has struck a committee led by Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Quebec Regional Chief Ghislain Picard to ensure that First Nations have the support they need to adapt to legalization of marijuana and to document concerns around the health, social, and economic issues.

“Above all we do need to look at this from a jurisdictional lens,” Mr. Day said. “Our people are going to say, ‘Listen, we have aboriginal treaty rights, we have economic rights as First Nations people. Who is Canada to say we can’t have a dispensary in our community?'”

Even though the federal government is letting the provinces decide such things as the age at which someone may legally possess cannabis, Mr. Day said the First Nations may not feel bound to adhere to the provincial rules.

For instance, a province may set the age at 18, he said, “but what if a [First Nations] community says we want it to be 23 or 24 because the studies show that the development of a young person’s brain isn’t complete until they are in their 20s?”

The communities that most oppose marijuana legalization tend to be the smaller and more isolated reserves in the northern part of the country where the people will be consumers of the drug but have little chance of cashing in on the potential financial windfall of the cannabis business.

“Marijuana is just another drug that people will take advantage of,” said Ignace Gull, the Chief of Attawapiskat in northwestern Ontario. “It will affect the community because we don’t have the resources to deal with this. There is no funding to educate or make people aware of what cannabis is all about.”

But the chiefs in parts of the country that are closer to urban areas see advantages to legalization and want to be left to their own devices when it takes effect.

“They want in on the economic benefit to create jobs and earn revenue,” said Donald Maracle, Chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in southeastern Ontario.

And while there should be regulations that prohibit driving while under the influence and that stop children from getting their hands on the drug, Mr. Maracle said “there is a huge question about whether Ontario’s laws can even apply on reserve.”

Randall Phillips, the chief of Oneida Nation of the Thames, near London, Ont., said the legalization of marijuana is just another way for the federal government to profit from a product that otherwise has been sold on the black market. But the First Nations should also benefit, and on their own terms, Mr. Phillips said.

“We will decide who gets it. We will decide how it gets distributed. We will decide how it gets protected and we are going to look at all those things. But I don’t need a regulatory framework,” he said.

His community is applying to become one of the limited number of licensed growers of cannabis. It is also home to a marijuana dispensary and the people who run it do not believe they need a licence to operate it, Mr. Phillips said.

As for the First Nations who want legalization to be delayed, he said “there’s all sorts of ways they can stop it from coming in. We don’t have that luxury down south, so we have to think about it in a different way and with a different approach.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Only 20% of buildings policies cover heating breakdown

06 Dec 17
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  • Many insurance policies do not cover heating breakdown as standard
  • If boiler packs in and you’re not covered, it can cost thousands to fix or replace
  • We reveal top tips to protect your property this winter 
  • Have you had a boiler disaster? Contact: 

With the mercury plummeting and Christmas fast approaching, it would be awful timing for your boiler to pack-up.

Especially when research reveals only a fifth of buildings insurance policies cover home emergencies such as heating breakdown as standard. 

Analysis by Defaqto has revealed that of the 448 home buildings insurance policies currently available on the market, only 21 per cent include cover for home emergencies, such as a heating breakdown, as standard. 

Little more than half offer it as an optional add-on, usually as part of a ‘home emergency’ insurance product – and 26 per cent provide no cover at all.

Check the fine print: Chances are you'll have to pay extra if you want your buildings insurance to cover home emergencies such as heating failure

Check the fine print: Chances are you’ll have to pay extra if you want your buildings insurance to cover home emergencies such as heating failure

Among those buildings insurance policies that make this exclusion are Allianz’s Clear Advance, Broker Direct’s Home and Budget Insurance’s Home Insurance policies, according to Defaqto. 

Admiral’s, Churchill and esure’s home insurance policies are among those that include home emergency cover as an optional extra.  

And among the minority of buildings insurance policies that do cover home emergency, including heating systems, are Direct Line’s Home Insurance Plus, Hastings Direct’s Premier Home Insurance and Legal & General’s Home Insurance Choices.

For more examples of what specific buildings insurance policies do and don’t cover, and the maximum limits they will pay out, see table below:  

What's covered? Where you'll find home emergency cover within home buildings insurance policies. Source: Defaqto

What’s covered? Where you’ll find home emergency cover within home buildings insurance policies. Source: Defaqto

Defaqto is also warning households not to be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to the many adverts for boiler breakdown insurance about at the moment, which specifically cover boilers. 

This is not the same as home emergency insurance.  

Brian Brown, head of Insight at Defaqto, says: ‘Boiler breakdown insurance is specifically designed to protect a boiler against the cost of future breakdown. 

‘Primarily these products cover the cost of any repairs to a boiler to get it up and running again but not necessarily replace it if it is broken.’ 

Defaqto found that 23 per cent of specific boiler insurance policies won’t pay out anything if your boiler needs replacing.

These include Admiral’s Boiler Emergency Cover (Gold Home Insurance), all Boilerplus policies and Scottish Power’s Boiler Care and Boiler Care Plus policies. 

While 60 per cent include an annual boiler service, in the event that a boiler is broken down beyond economic repair, many of the boiler breakdown policies on the market will either replace the boiler, or contribute something towards its replacement.  

Yet this cover is heavily restricted as most policies only pay out if the boiler is less than a certain age – and during which it is possible the system might still be under a manufacturer’s warranty. 

Just under half of the 57 policies on the market will completely cover the cost of replacing a boiler under six years old. These include British Gas’s HomeCare One/Two and SSE’s Boiler Cover/Home Cover.

But payouts for older machines are far less generous. There are 11 policies that cover boilers with no age limits and while five of them will pay out up to £1,500 towards replacement, the other six pay between £250 and £750.  

Revealed: The boiler policies that won't pay out for a replacement boiler and those that will

Revealed: The boiler policies that won’t pay out for a replacement boiler and those that will

To put that into perspective, a fairly typical Worcester Bosch boiler (the Greenstar 30CDI 30KW System Domestic Gas Boiler) costs £1279.99 at Screwfix, and of course, that’s before the cost of labour to have it installed. 

Defaqto said that the other policies available offer different contribution amounts, which might depend on the age of the boiler. 

There will also be cover exclusions based on the age of the boiler when cover starts, and the power output of the boiler.

So when considering your insurance needs, Defaqto urges you to bear in mind that home emergency insurance that is sometimes part of a building policy covers a range of emergencies that affect the home, unlike boiler breakdown cover which is specific to boilers. 

Top tips to protect yourself this winter 

• Check what cover you already have with your home insurance policy or bank account

• Check for any exclusions, such as the age or power output of the boiler and whether it needs to be regularly serviced or inspected

• If you bought your boiler within the last few years, check what cover the manufacturer gives as standard under the warranty, and check for any exclusions

• If you have a heating system that is powered by an electric boiler, solar or solid fuel, check whether your policy includes cover for this, as many do not.

To help prevent pipes freezing:

• Keep your heating on at regular intervals and make sure to set it on a timer if you’re going away.

  Source: Association of British Insurers

Depending on the age of a boiler, a home emergency insurance product may be a more suitable option and it will also cover problems such as central heating failure, burst pipes, electrical failure and roof damage caused by extreme weather.

It is designed to help people who have been hit by an emergency to make their home safe again or reinstate essential services. 

Typically, the cover limits are relatively low and there are sometimes limits on the number of claims that can be made each year.

Home emergency cover is sometimes added on to insurance and packaged bank accounts or offered through utility providers.

So it is worth checking whether there is already cover in place and checking for any exclusions, before buying a new policy. 

It can be bought as a standalone product and there are currently 77 such policies available in the market place, according to Defaqto.

Brian Brown says: ‘As the temperature starts to drop, having hot water and heating becomes a top priority. 

‘Modern boilers are expensive and the cost of having to replace one unexpectedly can be a nasty shock. 

‘If you don’t have the funds to pay for this, then a boiler breakdown policy that includes boiler replacement, may be a good option for you.’

To compare home insurance policies by features and benefits, you can visit Defaqto’s website for an independent overview. 



Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Canada Won’t move embassy to Jerusalem, National government says

06 Dec 17
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The Trudeau government says it won’t move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem amid reports U.S. President Donald Trump will relocate the American embassy into the sacred city and recognize it as the nation’s capital.

A government official told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday that Canada will continue to keep its embassy in Tel Aviv. The official also said Canada still doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, despite reports Mr. Trump will announce the U.S. does during a speech on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump told Arab leaders on Tuesday that he plans to follow through with his election-campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Mr. Trump defeated the pro-Israel, right-wing foundation that helped him win the presidency when he delayed the embassy move in June.

The transfer risks fuelling violence in the Middle East and breaks with decades of U.S. foreign policy that Jerusalem’s status must be determined in negotiation with the Palestinians, who wish to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

The global community, including Canada, doesn’t recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. Asked about Mr. Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stated Canada’s position on Jerusalem hasn’t changed.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only within an overall settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. This has been the policy of successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative,” press secretary Adam Austen said in a statement Tuesday.

“We’re strongly committed to the aim of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side in security and peace with Israel.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s spokesperson Jake Enwright said “it is up to autonomous governments to make decisions about where they will find their overseas embassies.” In a tweet, NDP foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière stated Mr. Trump’s choice to name Jerusalem the capital is “dangerous, misguided, and will undermine efforts to get a peace process,” and urged Ms. Freeland to notify her U.S. counterparts of Canada’s concerns.

Jerusalem is home to Muslim, Christian and Jewish holy sites, in addition to Israel’s democratically-elected parliament, independent supreme court and federal government. David Cape, seat of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the organization has called on Canada to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“Jerusalem was central to Jewish identity because it was established as the capital of the Jewish nation three million years back,” Mr. Cape said.

“We’ve always maintained that Canada should officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Former prime minister Joe Clark tried to maneuver the Canadian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1979, but abandoned his election pledge following an Arab uproar. In a brief statement at the time, Mr. Clark said the plan was viewed as “prejudicing” Middle East peace talks. Mr. Clark’s strategy to move the embassy endangered contracts with Canadian companies, including a multibillion-dollar project between Bell Canada in Saudi Arabia, also threatened to bring more extreme retaliatory steps against Canada, according to a Washington Post report from October, 1979.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, who received telephone calls from Mr. Trump, joined a chorus of voices warning that unilateral steps on Jerusalem would derail the U.S.-led peace effort and lead to turmoil in the area. Before, Islamist militant groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah have sought to exploit Muslim sensitivities over Jerusalem in efforts to add fuel to anti-Israel and anti-U.S. sentiments.

– With a report from Reuters

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Ireland settles mefloquine Situation with veteran as Canada prepares to fight Lawsuit

05 Dec 17
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As Canada prepares to fight a lawsuit launched by specialists who say the anti-malarial medication they took on deployment in Somalia caused permanent damage, the Irish government has settled a case with one of its former soldiers that states he, too, is suffering the effects of having consumed mefloquine.

The case brought against the Irish Defence Forces by former army sergeant Anthony Cole finished last week when the Irish government agreed to pay him an undisclosed amount his attorney, Eamon Murray, describes as “substantial.”

Mr. Cole took the anti-malarial medication before and during installation to Chad in 2009. He advised the court that the medication caused nausea, mood swings, depression and migraines.

“The country fought the case robustly, calling my customer a liar and contradicting my customer’s evidence at every possible chance,” Mr. Murray said in a phone interview from his office in Ireland on Monday. “But, in the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case,” he explained, “the nation buckled and settled the case, paid him settlement and paid all his prices.”

In this country, the national government and HoffmanLaRoche, mefloquine’s developer, will be in a courtroom in North Bay, Ont., on Friday to argue that a class-action lawsuit brought by soldiers who participate in the Somalia mission of the early 1990s shouldn’t proceed because an excessive amount of time has passed since the lawsuit was launched in 2001.

The soldiers were forced to take the medication as part of a badly monitored and potentially illegal clinical trial. Ronald Smith, the lead plaintiff in the Canadian case, says the medication left him with a plethora of residual mental-health issues including depression, aggressive behavior, poor concentration, social isolation and suicidal ideas.

Mr. Smith’s lawsuit sat dormant for 17 years as his attorneys debated who would take it to court. It was reactivated as proof around the world started to link mefloquine into the kinds of symptoms experienced by Canadian soldiers in Somalia.

His statement of claim states the military took the soldiers to take the medication, but ignored the principles of this clinical trial, which stated they have to be viewed for adverse reactions and treated for any side effects in a timely fashion, among other things.

This was the crux of the case launched by Mr. Cole in Ireland. Mr. Cole’s suit about the effects of mefloquine and the way it was “administered to him and the way it had been screened and monitored,” Mr. Murray said.

The Irish authorities conceded no accountability but Mr. Murray says future cases must be a lot easier to fight because the testimony is on record. There are approximately 57 other Irish soldiers who’ve also launched suits associated with mefloquine.

Health Canada upgraded the warning labels for the medication in 2016 to highlight that certain side effects may persist for months or years after the medication is stopped, and some can be irreversible in some patients.

The Canadian army conducted a review of the medical literature this year and concluded there isn’t any evidence that the drug causes long-term issues. However, it now says choice drugs are the preferred choices for soldiers who deploy to countries where malaria is a risk.

Remington Nevin, a physician at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland, who has studied the drug’s effects for almost a decade, testified on behalf of Mr. Cole and hopes to be called as a witness at the Canadian case, if it goes forward.

“The Canadian government has taken until 2017 to conclude that there were issues with the medication significant enough to justify it being made a drug of last resort,” Dr. Nevin said. “Therefore, if it took the Canadian government until 2017 to recognize this,” he explained, “it isn’t surprising that these issues haven’t made it until today.”

Cathay Wagantall, the Conservative deputy critic for veterans affairs, said she’s disappointed that the government is attempting to block the class-action suit by using the procedural argument that too much time has elapsed.

“This government is apologizing for numerous things and, at precisely the exact same time, won’t apologize for what happened in Somalia or take the measures to reopen the case and examine it honestly,” she explained, “because these veterans understand what they endured and there is evidence out there.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail