Beaconsfield, QC hires consulting firms for climate change planning

30 November 2018

The Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield has announced that it will create plans to reduce greenhouse gas emission, adapt to climate change hazards, and implement community energy planning. The i3P Project, starting in 2019, will be headed by environmental non-profit SIE, with central contributions from consulting firms Carbon Consult Group and YHC Environnement.

Beaconsfield is an affluent suburban community on the West Island part of the Greater Montreal region. The city has a population of about 19,000, and is home to a number of notable residents, including politician Thomas Mulcair, the Molson family, and NHL player Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

As part of its commitment to the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program – which includes over 350 Canadian municipalities seeking to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – the City of Beaconsfield has announced the upcoming launch of the i3P Project. The project includes an inventory of GHG emissions from municipal activities and the community, an action plan for reducing GHGs, an adaptation plan for helping the community face the hazards of climate change, and the implementation of community energy planning.Beaconsfield, QC hires consulting firms for climate change planningAccording to a release from the city, the i3P Project will identify innovative and model projects, accelerate the undertaking of sustainability projects, and build partnerships with local experts to fight climate change.

"Municipalities play a central role in climate protection because they have a direct or indirect impact on almost half of Canada's GHG emissions,” said Georges Bourelle, Mayor of Beaconsfield. “The City of Beaconsfield joined the collective effort to fight climate change by joining the Partners for Climate Protection program of the FCM in 2006. Thanks to the i3P Project, this unique initiative in Quebec allows us as a City and community to consolidate our efforts in this fight against climate change."

Starting in 2019, i3P will begin consultation with stakeholders and the community, including information and working sessions. Citizens and various groups within the public and private sectors will also surveyed.

Non-profit organization Société d'innovation en environnement (SIE) will act as the project manager for i3P. Meanwhile, Carbon Consult Group will be responsible for delivering the climate change adaptation plan, while YHC Environnement will be responsible for the development of the GHG reduction action plan as well as the community energy planning.

Verdun, QC-based Carbon Consult Group (CCG) provides consulting services in the areas of carbon management and valorization, verification (e.g. for Cap and Trade and Green Fund programs), climate change adaptation, and sustainable finance. The firm is led by co-founders Pascal Geneviève and Jean Paquin.

St-Lambert, QC-based YHC Environnement, meanwhile, provides consulting services in the areas of greenhouse gas emission reduction, renewable energy, and sustainable urban development. The firm has been supporting government and business clients since 1998.

"Faced with the climate emergency, reducing GHG emissions is one of the most effective measures to be put forward, along with actions aimed at preventing local consequences of climate change, such as increasing the resilience of the community in terms of energy," commented CCG’s Pascal Geneviève.


Buck illuminates federal budget's impact on employee benefits

01 April 2019

The Canadian federal budget for 2019 ushered in a raft of new program spending. According to human resources consulting firm Buck, the two most central announcements related to employee benefits were the budget’s concrete moves toward a national pharmacare plan, as well as changes to protect employees in the case of an employer’s insolvency.

"While Budget 2019 provides many details regarding a range of measures, we are particularly encouraged by progress toward a national pharmacare program, covering high cost drugs and rare diseases, as there are many cases where such coverage is needed," Karen DeBortoli, director of the knowledge resource centre at Buck, said. "Although the success of the program will ultimately hinge on how it balances coverage with cost, we saw good progress in the new budget this week."

The budget outlined the creation of three national pharmacare projects: a Canada Drug Agency (CDA), a National Drug Formulary, and a National Strategy for High-Cost Drugs and Rare Diseases.

The CDA will work on assessing the effectiveness of new drugs, while serving as the single negotiator for drug prices. The newly created agency will also develop the national formulary – an evidence-based list of prescribed drugs for patients nationwide.

The budget also introduced the creation of a strategy to gather and evaluate evidence on high-cost drugs for rare diseases, while working to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers.

Buck illuminates federal budget's impact on employee benefits

"Canada is currently home to a patchwork of federal and provincial pharmacare programs," DeBortoli said. "The replacement of the current patchwork of prescription drug benefit programs, which provide what Budget 2019 acknowledges as 'inadequate and inconsistent coverage,' will be welcomed by most Canadians. In order for the CDA to operate effectively, all provinces and territories must participate. A single negotiating entity will have greater bargaining power, and a single formulary will be of greatest benefit to all Canadians."

Buck hopes that the evidence-based drug formulary will include certain expensive but high-benefit drugs that have a high impact on quality of life and overall healthcare cost reduction. An example is PEI’s Hepatitis C Program, which is providing drug treatment to all provincial resident despite high drug costs to eradicate the destructive liver disease by 2025.

The consulting firm would also recommend the coverage of high-cost “orphan” drugs to ensure affected Canadians don’t fall through the cracks, as well as the institution of low deductibles and no income or coverage cut-offs to maximize the national plan’s utilization rate. The scope of the formulary, coverage restrictions, and any interactions with existing employer programs for now remains unclear.

Protecting pensioners

In the wake of a number of high-profile insolvencies such as Sears Canada and Wabush Mines, the 2019 budget sought to better protect employees and pensioners in the case of an employer’s insolvency. Employees will benefit from proposed changes to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). New measures will allow courts to investigate payments to executives before an insolvency, while requiring that participants in insolvency proceedings “act in good faith.”

Employees of federally incorporated business will also benefit from proposed changes to the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) and the Pension Benefits Standards Act (PBSA). The changes would require publicly traded companies to disclose policies on workers, pensioners, and executive compensation, while also requiring that a wound-up pension plan “provide the same pension benefits as when it was ongoing.”

The budget outlines are, however, more of a foggy outline of good-natured intentions than concrete policy. "The vagueness of the announcements on pensioner protection raise a number of questions, such as how CCAA and BIA changes will protect member and retiree pensions, what is meant by acting 'in good faith,' and the details on forthcoming PBSA requirements on the continuity of pension payments, among others," DeBortoli said.

Buck expects the CBCA changes which require the disclosure of executive compensation policy at publicly traded firms to generate some controversy. And while the measures only apply to federally incorporated businesses, they could eventually serve as a template for broader legislation, according to Buck.