Ontario WSIB can be extremely expensive. But abandoning your own, private, individual sickness and disability insurance - just to help pay for hour WSIB - is going to absolutely kill you financially if you get cancer or another critical illness
July 23, 2014 by Alec Caldwell
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE on a jobsite can be hazardous to your health. Every lungful can contain dust particles laced with toxic chemicals, flooring particles, asbestos and more. These pollutants, over time, will affect anyone’s health. It’s hard to prove where any individual’s cancer has come from, but working on construction jobsites for 10 to 20 years can most definitely play its part.
Worksafe BC says you can find asbestos in over 3,000 construction and industrial products. Over 500 asbestos claims are filed each you in British Columbia. Worksafe BC prevention officers, in cooperation with the industry, are heading up a province-wide anti-asbestos initiative from now until the end of the year.
Peter, a contractor I’ve known for years, called me this week and asked me if it was worth him “also” keeping his individual accident/sickness/disability income policy – one I’d arranged for him years ago – now that Ontario’s WSIB has been forced on him as part of their sweeping new mandatory contributions policies.
Peter’s mandatory new WSIB payments were costing him $303.00 monthly. His wife wanted him to cut his private insurance policy to cut costs.
Peter is 44. Last year, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, after an annual check up returned abnormal blood tests. He underwent chemotherapy but kept working.
Now, the cancer has returned and Peter will need more aggressive cancer treatment. This time around, he’ll be off work during this treatment. And this is what made his call really disturbing to me. He was thinking of cancelling his private insurance, since his WSIB insurance was so expensive.
I had to explain to Peter that his private accident/sickness/disability policy is precisely what he needs during his current health challenges. Peter didn’t fully understand his policy. He thought it was all about accidents, not something as common as cancer.
Luckily, having retained his policy, Peter will be able to make a claim on this policy and he will be paid a monthly income while he’s recovering.
Two months ago, Paul, 54, another self-employed Toronto contractor called me. He, too, had been diagnosed with cancer. After getting his diagnosis, for the next 30 days he logged his work activity and during that time he only managed to turn up for work for three days. Sadly, he had to let his workers go and have someone else finish his jobs – he was rendered, in such a short time, too – totally disabled.
Paul is now receiving disability payments through his private insurance while he awaits surgery.
It’s absolutely vital for Ontario contractors to full understand that WSIB does not cover these sort of claims! WSIB ‘s new, mandatory coverage has led many contractors, for budget reasons, to abandon their personally-owned disability insurance coverages. They are then left vulnerable when a serious illness like cancer strikes.
This makes for hard reading, perhaps, but let’s look at the facts. In Ontario last year, more men died of cancer than women. The top three cancers were (1) Prostrate Cancer (2) Breast Cancer (3) Colorectal Cancer. A staggering 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. One in 4 Canadians will contract heart disease – half of them under the age of 65. One in 3 strokes happen to people under age 65.
If you still own an individual sickness disability income insurance policy, but are worried about all those other government agencies putting their hands in your pocket in Ontario and elsewhere, think twice about giving such a policy up. It could be your only financial lifeline when these illnesses strike suddenly, as they did for these two unsuspecting contractors.
If you don’t have an individual plan like this, look around for a policy. And I heartily recommend you look at critical illness insurance. It pays you a one time lump-sum amount, tax-free, 30 days after a diagnosis of cancer, heart attack or stroke. The cancer has to be invasive, so skin cancer does not count. The idea is to get enough money to cover your income for three to six months, while you go through treatments. It’s well-worth checking out now.
By providing education and training, CARAHS reduces your risk of fines, jobsite closures and prosecution under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
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