Thursday, March 27, 2014

Take the Time. Report the Crime. - IBC asks Kitchener/Conestoga residents to help "put the car accident business out of business"

Staged collisions, unscrupulous auto repair shops, fraudulent medical clinics
KITCHENER, OntarioMarch 27, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - Although Fraud Prevention Month is winding down, Insurance Bureau ofCanada (IBC) is continuing to take a proactive role in alerting Canadians about the different types of insurance fraud that exist, and asking them to report any suspected incidences.
Insurance fraud is a huge problem that is estimated to cost Ontarians up to $1.6 billion per year by wasting resources and adding to the price tag of insurance premiums, health care, emergency response services and court costs.
Rick Dubin, Vice-President of IBC's Investigative Services, was in Kitchener to speak about this issue. "Fraud is a serious offence that affects us all. Being aware that fraud exists and that we could become victims is the first step to reducing fraud," said Mr. Dubin. 
Mr. Dubin heads up IBC's national investigative team that works with, and on behalf of, IBC's member companies to investigate the involvement of organized crime rings in insurance fraud. IBC also partners with law enforcement, government agencies across the country to identify suspected insurance crime, investigate fraudsters and scam artists, and bring these criminals to justice.
In his presentation, Mr. Dubin explained that insurance crime is often the work of organized criminal groups who are involved in auto theft and/or staged collisions, then file fraudulent injury and accident benefit claims. Unscrupulous auto body shops intentionally cause additional damage, then bill insurers for services that were never rendered. Fraudulent medical clinics request that a person injured in a motor vehicle collision sign blank forms. After the person has completed treatment, the medical clinic, having the person's name and signature on the blank forms, continues to submit invoices for additional treatment and assessments never carried out to their insurance company. Mr. Dubin also made reference to the fact that insurance fraud can involve normally law-abiding citizens who see a chance to make a few extra dollars by padding an otherwise legitimate claim.
"Insurance criminals take money right out of our pockets – when they cheat, we all pay" said Mr. Dubin. "When someone makes a false or exaggerated claim, honest policyholders pay more than they should for insurance." 
During his presentation, Mr. Dubin also made mention of the involvement of IBC's participation with law enforcement agencies in several recent fraud busts in the Greater Toronto Area. As a result of Project 134, three Toronto-area rehabilitation clinics were convicted of multiple Insurance Act offences with fines as high as $100,000 were imposed per conviction. In Project 92, members of a staged collision ring that operated across the Greater Toronto Area, were arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. IBC estimates the impact to the insurance industry from the fraud flowing from the staged collisions could be as high as $25 million. Finally, as a result of Project 147, numerous charges were laid against individuals involved in nine alleged staged collisions that occurred in York Region along with suspected associated false medical billings from several medical rehab and assessment centres located in Brampton,Toronto and Mississauga.  Many of the individuals involved in this prosecution are still before the courts.
"IBC has long advocated for increased penalties as a way to reduce organized fraud, and we continue to lobby for legislative changes that will increase the risk and decrease the profit associated with fraud," said Mr. Dubin. "Higher penalties and hefty fines are the right way to stop these criminals."
IBC and its members are committed to putting an end to insurance fraud by investigating reported crimes and educating consumers about the cost and consequences of insurance fraud. IBC hopes that by working together, the insurance industry, consumers and governments will make it more difficult for organized criminal groups to operate.
"It's important that we move forward from knowing about the problem to doing something about it," stressed Mr. Dubin. "The more people who become aware of fraud and report it, the more investigations can be undertaken to help bring insurance criminals to justice. We urge Ontarians to help fight insurance fraud by reporting any suspicious activity by calling IBC's confidential Tips Line at 1-877-IBC-TIPS (877-422-8477) or by going online at and following the links. Or they can contact the Crime Stoppers anonymous tips line at 1-800-222-TIPS. 
About Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)
IBC is pleased to celebrate 50 years as a valuable resource for insurance information. Since 1964, IBC has worked with governments across Canada to make our communities safer, championing issues that directly affect Canadians and the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry. IBC is the national industry association representingCanada's private home, car and business insurers. Its member companies represent 90% of the P&C insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 118,600 Canadians, pays more than $7 billion in taxes and levies to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, and has a total premium base of $46 billion.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bees Capable of Learning Feats with Tasty Prize in Sight

GUELPH, Ontario March 18, 2014 - University of Guelph News Release - They may have tiny brains, but bumblebees are capable of some remarkable learning feats, especially when they might get a tasty reward, according to two studies by University of Guelph researchers.
PhD student Hamida Mirwan and Prof. Peter Kevan, School of Environmental Sciences, are studying bees’ ability to learn by themselves and from each other.
In the first study, published in February in Animal Cognition, the researchers found bees capable of learning to solve increasingly complex problems.
The researchers presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required ever-more challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.
When inexperienced bees encountered the most complex flower first, they were unable to access the syrup reward and stopped trying. Bees allowed to progress through increasingly complex flowers were able to navigate the most difficult ones.
“Bees with experience are able to solve new problems that they encounter, while bees with no experience just give up,” said Mirwan.
She and Kevan consider the study an example of scaffold learning, a concept normally restricted to human psychology in which learners move through increasingly complex steps.
In a second study recently published in Psyche, the researchers found bees learned by watching and communicating with other bees, a process called social learning.
Mirwan made artificial flowers requiring the bees to walk on the underside of a disk to get a sugar syrup reward. These experienced bees foraged on the artificial flowers for several days until they became accustomed to feeding at them.
To see whether other bees could learn from the experienced foragers, Mirwan confined inexperienced bees in a mesh container near the artificial flowers where they could observe the experienced bees. When the naïve bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they took just 70 seconds to get the reward.
Control bees that had not observed the experienced bees could not access the syrup.
“Social learning in animals usually involves one individual observing and imitating another, although other kinds of communication can also be involved,” said Mirwan.
“They could try for up to 30 minutes, but most gave up before then.”
In a final test, Mirwan placed experienced bees in a hive with naive bees. When the naive bees were allowed to forage on the artificial flowers, they gained the syrup in just 3.5 minutes.

Behavioural scientists usually assume that observation and imitation are at the heart of social learning, but social insects such as bees can also transmit information through touch, vibration and smell.
The researchers said the communication method used by the bees is still a mystery.
“We can’t quite explain how bees that had never even seen an artificial flower were able to become adept so quickly at foraging on them, but clearly some in-hive communication took place,” said Kevan.
“It suggests that social learning in bumblebees is even more complex than we first expected.”

The Co-operators grants $35,110 to students hungry to promote sustainable food systems

GUELPH, OntarioMarch 20, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, The Co-operators announced a total of $35,110 in funding to seven IMPACT! alumni who are leading innovative sustainability projects. The latest round of grants from the IMPACT! Fund supports initiatives focused on sustainability and food systems, from creating garden spaces to aquaponics.
Since its inception in 2009, the IMPACT! Fund has supported alumni from IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership as they work to make their campuses and communities greener and more sustainable. Through the IMPACT! Fund, The Co-operators has granted $323,860 to IMPACT! alumni from across Canada.
"Many of the young people participating in the IMPACT! program are already sustainability leaders in their communities," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "I'm very impressed by their knowledge, skills and passion, and we're pleased to provide financial support to their innovative projects, so they can create a more sustainable future."
Funding was announced today for the following:
Colin Sober-Williams, Huntsville, Ont. – Muskoka-North Community Greenhouse
Colin's project is focused on reconnecting people with food. The $5,750 grant will cover equipment and material for building a greenhouse in collaboration with Common Roots Food collective, a not-for-profit organization in Huntsville, Ontario, and conducting educational workshops with local schools about plant biology, including growing seedlings for school gardens.
Danielle Prapauessis, National – Seed by Seed 
Seed by Seed is a non-profit organization and educational partner that empowers communities to reconnect with their food. This project will include a cross-Canada speaking tour focusing on young people and their ability to impact the food system. The $3,850 grant will cover the creation of a website, social media presence, technical equipment and workshop equipment.
Evan BownessWinnipeg, Man. – Enhancing Community Capacity and Resilience: Building Stronger NetworksGarden Share connects available garden space to aspiring gardeners. With the help of the team at the South Osborne Community Co-operative, Garden Share will build onto existing garden plots along with building new ones and build interpersonal community relationships through workshops, garden tours and consultations to enhance participation and increase volunteer involvement. The $6,000 grant will cover educational workshops, materials and supplies.
Jack Terrion, Ottawa, Ont. – Aquaponic Experimentation and OutreachThis project includes aquaponic (raising aquatic animals while cultivating plants in water) experimentation and outreach. The $2,995 grant will cover equipment and materials of the construction of four aquaponic systems, some of which will be in classrooms. These systems will increase the overall understanding of aquaponics and educate students on sustainable farming methods.
Jenny MaVancouver, B.C. – Vancouver HoneybeesJenny will use her $5,750 grant for Vancouver Honeybees. This project helps hive owners feel empowered and confident keeping bees in their backyards, rooftops, work place, community gardens and public education facilities. The project will supply local bees that are well adapted to the local climate and advocate sustainable, chemical free beekeeping. The project will also provide supplies, support, educational opportunities and natural management of honey bees and beehives. They aim to increase urban biodiversity, community engagement, growing local foods and cultivating real honey from floral sources in local neighbourhoods.
Laura CicciarelliMontreal, Que. – For Better and For Green The $5,265 grant will be used for materials and equipment to build two small boxes that will be installed for a community garden and the fruits and vegetables will be available to the entire community. The garden will be maintained by community members and at-risk young people from Innovation Jeunes, an organization that supports youth in downtown Montreal. Small-gardening workshops will also be offered to the community.
Wesley Loke, Vancouver, B.C. – Treehouse TreatsTreehouse Treats is a social enterprise with a mission to raise awareness of food wastage and security. The organization harvests neighbourhood fruits to make pies, jams and other products to sell at local markets. The $5,500grant will be used to purchase equipment, ingredients, and promotional materials.
For more information on each project, please visit
About The Co-operators:The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $34 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt; Corporate Knights' Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada; and the Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada by Sustainalytics and Maclean's magazine. For more information visit

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SAFER calls for minimum care, staffing standards to reduce violence in Long-Term Care Homes

TORONTO, Ontario March 19, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - A coalition of stakeholders in Ontario's long-term care sector is calling on the provincial government to address the increasing incidence of violence in long-term care homes by setting a minimum standard of care to be provided in all facilities.
Members of the recently formed group SAFER (Staffing Alliance for Every Resident) include seniors' advocates, non-profit and for-profit facilities, academic researchers and bargaining agents for nurses and personal support workers. This diverse group is united in calling for a fully funded minimum staffing ratio that will protect residents and support a safe environment.
Jane Meadus, a lawyer with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly and a member of the SAFER steering committee, said the government has to face the problem of inadequate staffing levels. "There is simply not enough staff to ensure the safety of residents. Because there are more people with dementia who need a higher level of care, there must be an enforced minimum standard of care that operators are required to meet."
SAFER is calling for a fully funded minimum staffing level to be set at four hours of direct care per resident, per day. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care estimates that long-term care homes are currently funded on average to provide 3.4 hours of direct care.
Paul Tuttle, President of Extendicare (Canada) Inc., said conditions in the sector are leading to greater risk of harm. "Due to the government's funding shift toward homecare, which we support as a response to the ageing population, long-term care is becoming the poor cousin in health funding. As people stay at home longer, our sector is seeing more residents with higher needs and a lot more incidents of aggressive behaviour."
Since 2002, the Chief Coroner has reported 29 homicides in Ontario long-term care homes. Recent evidence shows that among a population of about 80,000 residents in long-term care, 61% have a diagnosis of some degree of dementia, 47% have some degree of aggressive behaviour, and 24% have severe or very severe aggressive behaviour.
Beverly Mathers, RN, labour relations manager at the Ontario Nurses' Association, said the situation is urgent. "Nurses and Personal Support Workers are expected to perform extraordinary duties in providing quality care under very stressful conditions. We need a comprehensive approach to staffing and funding that is tied directly to front-line care."
SAFER is working to protect our parents and grandparents and all vulnerable residents, and to ensure a safe working environment for front-line staff.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

BASF Knowledge Harvest opens discussions on future of sustainable farming

MISSISSAUGA, OntarioMarch 13, 2014 /Canada  NewsWire/ - After three weeks, six cities and over a thousand attendees, BASF Canada's first Knowledge Harvest comes to an end today.
The event, an education-based series for growers and retailers across Western Canada, opened discussions on everything from the economics of farming to self-driving tractors and flying drones that monitor crops, to herbicide resistance.
"Knowledge Harvest smashed all of our expectations," says Howie Zander, National Sales and Accounts Manager for BASF Canada. "We loved being able to personally connect with so many growers and retailers. We learned as much from them as we hope they learned from us."
With stops in Lethbridge, Portage la Prairie, ReginaSaskatoonYorkton, and Edmonton, Knowledge Harvest was designed to share new ideas and perspectives for sustainable agriculture with BASF customers. Best-selling authorRichard Worzel was the keynote speaker and led a discussion of what the future of agriculture holds for elite growers.
"It has been a privilege to be able to talk with some of the best growers in the world over the past three weeks," said Worzel. "In particular, I have enjoyed our discussions about how global demand will create opportunities for Canadian growers and how smart technologies will affect the way they farm."
In addition to the keynote address from Worzel, breakout sessions provided attendees with information on how biologicals, inoculants, and seed treatments are opening new opportunities for crops; featured live plant demonstrations to show the effects and solutions on heat, drought and cold stress on crops; and offered strategies for managing herbicide resistance from industry experts.
"BASF pulled out all the stops with this one," says Casey Koomen, a grower from Taber, Alberta who attended Knowledge Harvest. "It was done very professionally and the screens, lights and live plants were a nice touch."
Follow the discussion on Twitter @BASFAgSolutions
© 2014 BASF Canada Inc.
BASF - The Chemical Company
BASF Canada, located in Mississauga, Ontario is a subsidiary of BASF SE, and an affiliate of BASF Corporation. BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has nearly 17,000 employees in North America, and had sales of $19.4 billion in 2013. For more information about BASF's North American operations, visit To find out more about BASF's activities in Canada visit or follow us on twitter:
BASF is the world's leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. Through science and innovation, we enable our customers in nearly every industry to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring nutrition and improving quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF had sales of about €74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year. Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ten Public Institutions Step-Up to the Plate For 2014 Local Food Challenge in Ontario


TORONTO, Ontario  March 11, 2014 - ON YOUR MARK, GET READY, BUY LOCAL!

The Local Food Challenge, led by the Greenbelt Fund, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, is helping public institutions such as hospitals, schools, and childcare centres incorporate more Ontario food into their menus.

Funding of up to $15,000 is available for projects that help market more local food options to students, staff, and patients; educate people on the benefits of buying local; and connects them with local suppliers.

“From farmers’ markets to grocery stores, local food is everywhere. Regardless of the season, Ontario farmers are growing something close to home,” said Burkhard Mausberg, CEO of the Greenbelt Fund.

 “The Local Food Challenge gives institutions the opportunity to cook with more local food and explore their menus with the added incentive of having a little competition amongst communities across Ontario. We can all do more when it comes to buying local, even if it’s just one new item each week.”

The participating institutions from across the province include:
  • Centennial College (Scarborough Campus), Toronto
  • Health Sciences North, Sudbury
  • Lakehead District School Board, Thunder Bay
  • Niagara Health System, St. Catharines
  • Niagara Region Child Care Services, Thorold
  • Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, Orillia
  • St. James Catholic High School, Guelph
  • University of Guelph, Guelph
  • University of Toronto (Scarborough Campus), Toronto
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo
Keep track of the 2014 challengers by visiting or follow them on Twitter. Follow @ontariofresh for updates and use the hashtag #LFC2014.

About the Greenbelt Fund:

The Greenbelt Fund, a non-profit organization, supports and enhances the viability, integrity, and sustainability of agriculture in the Greenbelt and Ontario.

The Fund delivers support to farmers and local food leaders to ensure more of the good things that grow in Ontario are being served and distributed through our public institutions, retail, and foodservice markets. Helping to overcome challenges and support economic growth, the Fund’s goal is to create systemic change to permanently increase the amount of local food consumed in the province through grants, education, policy, and networking initiatives. The Fund is supported by public and private sources. 

For more information about the program and grants visit For more information on local food visit

For more information about the Ontario government’s new Local Food Act and broader local food strategy, visit the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food website.

Réseau Sélection and Revera enter into a new partnership agreement combining their retirement home portfolios in Quebec

MONTRÉAL, Ouebec March 11, 2014 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Réseau Sélection and Revera have signed a partnership agreement combining their retirement home portfolios in Quebec, resulting in a portfolio of properties valued in excess of $750M. Under the terms of the transaction, the two companies now jointly own 20 retirement homes across Quebec. The partnership covers the seven Revera residences along with the twelve properties already owned and managed by Réseau Sélection, as well as Le Cambridge, acquired in April 2013, and reflects the preferred partner relationship between the companies in Quebec.

As a result of this transaction and through its 2,000 dedicated employees, Réseau Sélection now assumes the daily management and operation of more than 5,200 units, looking after the well-being of over 6,000 residents across Quebec. This transaction positions the partnership as the third largest developer/operator within Quebec's retirement housing sector.

"Our companies share the same values when it comes to quality and customer oriented service, and we are mutually committed to offering an exclusive line of accommodation, health and wellness services. We are very proud of this partnership not only because it will sustain our growth in Quebec, but also because it confirms our leadership status among retirement residence complexes offering care and health services," explained Réal Bouclin, president of Réseau Sélection.

"As a leader in accommodation, care and service for seniors, we are pleased to partner with Réseau Sélection to further grow in Quebec," said Jeff Lozon, President and CEO, Revera Inc. "Our companies share a commitment to enhancing the lives of the residents we serve."

Réseau Sélection and Revera will continue to look for opportunities to jointly expand their presence in the province through the construction and acquisition of retirement homes to meet the growing need for safe, reputable and quality seniors' accommodation, care and services.

About Réseau Sélection
Réseau Sélection (
With a satisfaction rate of 95%, Réseau Sélection offers retirement homes that stand out for their welcoming, comfortable, stimulating and secure living environments. The company owns more than 5000 rental units in 22 retirement homes across Quebec, and is presently working on the construction of 1,500 additional units.