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Ontario Getting Ready to sue Tobacco Companies
Keeping Your Life Insurance Coverage


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# Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 2:35:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life )
Legislation was proposed on March 4, 2009 that would give Ontario the legal standing to sue cigarette companies in order to recover the money spent on tobacco related illnesses in Ontario. Approximately $1.6 billion dollars is spent every year by Ontario tax-payers in relation to smoking related illnesses. The new legislation introduced by Attorney General Chris Bentley would allow the Ontario government to seek billions of dollars in damages from the 3 biggest Canadian cigarette manufacturers: Imperial Tobacco, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges, and JTI-Macdonald. British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have all passed similar legislation. JTI-Macdonald is currently under bankruptcy protection which means Ontario has to act now or they lose their opportunity to sue this company. British Columbia has to get permission from the court to pursue this company in their claim.

The proposed legislation would allow Ontario to sue the tobacco companies for alleged wrong-doings by the companies and holding them accountable. British Columbia already has a bill that suggests the tobacco companies marketed light cigarettes as safer than the regular ones, as well as targeting their advertising towards children. It is also alleged that the companies conspired to hold back research regarding the harmful effects of smoking tobacco and undermining the health warnings that had been issued. These allegations have not been proven yet in court. Premier McGuinty has stated that Ontario is ready to sue the tobacco companies due to British Columbia's successes.

The proposed bill would give the Ontario government the right to sue the companies directly for any alleged wrong-doing as well as to allocate liability by market share and measure the health-care cost to taxpayers regarding tobacco-related illnesses. A successful lawsuit could potentially bring in a settlement as much as $60 billion dollars. The lawsuit could also bring about protective changes, i.e. no longer being able to use cartoon characters in their advertising that are targeted towards young Canadians, as well as other restrictions. A successful lawsuit would hold the companies accountable for health-care costs, which currently are estimated at $1.6 billion per year. Deaths due to tobacco related illnesses in Ontario are estimated at 13,000 per year or almost 36 deaths per day and almost 500,000 hospital days annually. The amount of money spent by the government in providing health-care for smoking related illnesses could provide funding for 8 large community hospitals or a year's funding for 2,000 MRI units.

4 U.S. states pursued the first lawsuit against tobacco companies in the mid-1990s, which ultimately led to a 50-state Master Settlement Agreement in 1999 with the tobacco industry. In this settlement, the tobacco industry agreed to pay $246 billion over a 25 year period for health-care costs incurred from use of their products. It also led to restrictions regarding advertising that was directed towards minors.

This proposed legislation follows other government initiatives to prevent Canadians from being exposed to second hand smoke. Currently in Ontario smoking is banned in all workplaces, as well as public areas such as bars and restaurants. A very recent ban made it a finable offence to smoke in a vehicle when minor passengers are present. As well, higher taxes for tobacco products are a deterrent for those who are unwilling to pay as much as $8 for one pack of cigarettes. Smokers also pay higher premiums for their health and life insurance policies, due to the increased health risk. Smokers who have quit for a year are entitled to have these premiums reassessed due to being eligible for a better health status. If you have recently quit smoking, consult with your broker to see when you can apply for a decrease in your premiums. For those who want to quit, consult websites such as the Canadian Cancer Society for help as well as support.

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# Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:43:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life | Mortgage Insurance | Term Life | Whole Life )

As the economy is still dramatically fluctuating, people are now looking at ways to save money. It has been confirmed that the last three months of 2008 Canada did indeed experience a recession, and continues to do so. However, it is important for Canadians to ensure that short-term savings do not impact long-term financial goals and protection.

Some people may find it tempting to cancel their life insurance coverage in order to save on paying the premiums. This 'solution' however can lead to financial consequences later on. Should your health status change, you may find that in the future premiums will be more expensive, and can potentially cost more than what was initially saved; especially for those who purchased their coverage when they had excellent health status.

Financial protection, especially in regards to the wage-earners in the family are even more essential now. Should an unexpected death occur, it is important to have coverage in order to cover not only the funeral expenses, but to make sure that the family has enough money for living expenses, paying off debt, etc. For families with children, the remaining parent may want to take an extended leave from their employment, as well as have the financial resources to pay for additional expenses such as childcare, nanny, etc.

Health insurance is also a wise financial move at the current time. Sudden expenses, i.e. prescription medications, can quickly add up. This total amount per month can easily exceed your premiums, especially with the high prescription costs in some provinces. This coverage is also contingent on health status as well; should a health problem occur you may not be entitled to the same premiums as you once were should you cancel your existing coverage.

For Canadians who insure their mortgage through the lender, consider using term life insurance instead. Choose a term life policy that is compatible with the amount of time that is owed on your mortgage. Not only is this generally a less costly expense, but it offers added benefits. Most mortgage insurance policies only cover the existing balance that is owed; a term life policy retains its full value throughout the duration. Term life also gives the financial control to the policy owner; mortgage insurance is only used to pay off the mortgage should the mortgagee die. Term life offers the beneficiary full control of the money; this can be used to pay off the mortgage, pay off other debts, etc. Especially at a time of need, this flexibility can be essential. There is term life policies that can be converted into whole life insurance once the term has expired, thereby giving the policy holder continuing protection. Many of these policies do not require a new medical questionnaire to be filled out; therefore the rates will be consistent with the health status provided originally. This can be a great way to not only save money at the present time, but also in the future when the rates will possibly be higher.

Go through your monthly budget carefully when decided when and/or where to economize. Any items that are essential to your financial security and well-being should not be cut from your budget if at all possible; try and find other ways to save money. This can include not spending as much on items such as entertainment, clothing, vacations, etc. which, while possible causing inconvenience, will not impact your long-term goals.

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