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How to manage your debt and finances during COVID-19

Manage debt during virus

During these increasingly difficult and uncertain times, the financial impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has been overwhelming with no clear end in sight. Ongoing layoffs and the shutdown of non-essential services has caused many in Kelowna to lose their jobs or experience reduced incomes while essential expenses, including servicing debt, remain the same. 

These circumstances are dire for many, causing stress and uncertainty about their financial future. It’s no wonder why the majority of Canadians are more concerned about their financial health over their physical wellbeing. 

Here are five ways Canadians can help manage debt during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Build an emergency budget

While it might be too late to save for this emergency, it’s not too late to create a new budget based on a reduced level of income and existing monthly expenses. Talk to your family about where it would make sense to reduce spending and monthly costs. Consider cancelling or temporarily cancelling non-essential monthly fees like subscription services as these expenses can add up. 

While self-isolating, you will not be able to use your parking passes or gym memberships, so consider eliminating these monthly expenses for the time being as well. 

Apply for the help you’re eligible for

Losing any amount of your income can be frightening. Not knowing when you will be able to earn an income again is even worse. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve, there are several resources available to eligible Canadians to help relieve some financial burden. Financial assistance can come from traditional Employment Insurance, municipal and provincial rental assistance programs for tenants, the Emergency Care Benefit program, or extended benefits at work, if available.

Submit any applications promptly as processing times may be longer due to the sheer number of applications submitted, reduced staff numbers and reduced hours of operations during the pandemic.

Look to your bank for assistance

Most of Canada’s major banks have implemented changes to lending rules in response to COVID-19 to help lessen the financial burden Canadians are facing. These changes are designed for people experiencing loss of income and businesses experiencing profit loss.

Mortgage payment deferrals, skipping payments, loan extensions, revised terms or even reduced interest rates are all things your lenders can consider. 

Contact your bank, financial advisor or credit union for further information and assistance. 

If you can, use deferred payments to create or deepen your emergency savings for the future. 

Consider a personal loan in an emergency

Personal loans don’t require any security and can be used for any expenses, making them an ideal financial resource in the face of an emergency. A personal loan is a flexible form of financing that allows you to access a lump sum of money with a fixed repayment schedule. This type of loan can be obtained quickly, especially through a licensed online lender. 

Seek Advice

If you are uncertain about your financial options, there’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re experiencing looming debt issues as a result of COVID-19 or other circumstances, consider seeking the advice of a credit counselling service. Credit counsellors can offer tailored advice or enrol you (if you qualify) in a Debt Management Program (DMP) to consolidate unsecured debts into one, affordable, monthly payment that many find easier to manage. Creditors are more likely to accept a DMP in a financial crisis because some payment will be collected.

“Times are really tough right now, and what we are seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic is completely unprecedented”, explains Loans Canada Chief Technology Officer, Cris Ravazzano.

“We are seeing a lot of volatility in the lending space, with some lenders slowing or even temporarily stopping their operations. On the other hand, many lending institutions are designated as essential services and are choosing to keep their doors open. As Canada's first and largest loan comparison website, our close relationship with these institutions enables us to continue to provide Canadians with the emergency financial solutions they need. We have also made it a priority to maintain up-to-date information on COVID-19's effect on the credit industry and invite Canadians to visit www.loanscanada.ca for the latest information.”

While the impacts of COVID-19 are widespread and affecting all Canadians, it does not have to mean financial ruin. If you’re experiencing financial hardship and are coping with debt during these unprecedented times, utilize the tools and forms of relief are available to manage your circumstances. Although this is undoubtedly an overwhelming and uncertain time, the first step to addressing financial debt is to come up with a plan that will help put your mind at ease.

Valley Pool & Spa makes its safety app free for hot tub owners

Stay water safe with Spa Star

Valley Pool & Spa does not want to see an already tough situation get worse.

That’s why the Kelowna business has decided to share—for free—new technology with the public it had originally created for only its customers in an effort to ensure hot tub water remains balanced, clean and safe.

The Spa Star app allows those with hot tubs to test their water at home instead of bringing it into a store to have it tested. Valley Pool & Spa remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic since it’s an essential service, but the fewer people who have to leave their homes, the better.

The spring is a busy time for pool and hot tub openings, and it is critical that the water is balanced. The last thing anyone needs is waterborne illnesses compounding the health problem that is ravaging the globe right now.

“It’s almost coincidental that it came out at the same time that everyone’s been quarantined,” Valley Pool and Spa business development and sales manager Sean Colluney says. “We were just basically going to offer it just for our customers only. However, at this point, let’s just do it as a community service type thing, and anybody can download the app and use it.

“People can test it a lot easier from their house with their new app.”

The Spa Star app can be downloaded here through a scanning application or through the Android and Apple stores. It conducts a variety of tasks, including:
• water testing and chemical balancing without hassle or complex calculations;
• diagnosing water issues quickly and easily with concise, easy-to-follow corrections;
• setting reminders to notify you when it’s time to check your water or replace your filter or any other required maintenance;
• troubleshooting spa issues with ease that you can fix yourself or receive complete information for the service technician;
• requesting service or repair of your spa from a professional service technician with just a few clicks.

Valley Pool & Spa is taking the necessary pandemic precautions for its customers who still want to bring in a water sample. Customers simply need to call 250-860-2266, let the employees know they are in front of the store, and they will come out to you and get your water sample. They will then return with the results and bring any water care products you may require.

In addition, Valley Pool & Spa is now offering home delivery. It is free with any purchase of more than $100.

Even if people continue to use the app once the pandemic is over, Colluney recommends customers bringing a sample to Valley Pool & Spa once per month as the app cannot test for metals or TDS (saturation index).

Okanagan company brings unique product to pathogen battle

New tool in pandemic fight

In 2019, IWG Corporate Services joined efforts with Rod Ferguson, president of Voran Group Ventures Ltd., a Kelowna company at the forefront of disinfection technology.

Ferguson, who holds the rights for manufacturing, sales and distribution in North and South America, also received Health Canada drug identification number certification for an advanced cleaning product. Bacoban DLUS is a multi-surface cleaner/disinfectant with 99.99% efficiency against viruses, bacteria and fungi.

It has been approved for use and is available now on Voran Group's website.

Bacoban DLUS is a water-based formula, making it safe for use on all surfaces. Zero volatile organic compounds, fragrance-free and manufactured in the Okanagan are other benefits of Bacoban DLUS.

Over the course of the last 12 months, IWG Corporate Services has used its considerable expertise to build out Ferguson’s company, giving direction regarding corporate structure, business modelling and marketing. In collaboration with IWG Services, Voran Group Ventures Ltd. and Bacoban DLUS are now poised for national distribution.

Since the original DIN was issued, additional testing results have proven that Bacoban DLUS is the only product in the world with patented controlled release technology, allowing pathogens to be destroyed on surfaces for up to 10 days.

IWG Corporate Services has been working tirelessly with Ferguson on another DIN certification which would allow Bacoban DLUS’s label to be updated to include these new claims. COVID-19 came onto the world stage three months after this new application was already in the works.

Manufacturing of Bacoban DLUS was scaled back in preparation of these label updates when COVID-19 arrived. Bacoban DLUS has since greatly increased manufacturing to provide relief to hospitals, institutions, corporations and homeowners who are tirelessly fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently there is no vaccination available and no specific treatment protocol for the virus that has killed more than 19,000 people globally.

“The primary goal of Bacoban was to develop a hard surface disinfectant that not only kills bacteria, viruses and fungi but that helps to bridge the ‘hygiene gap’ between already scheduled cleaning times,” Ferguson says.

“Traditional disinfectants are effective immediately, but once they have evaporated or dried, the cleaned area is again subjected to pathogen settlement almost immediately.”

Bacoban DLUS can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The consequence of these unique research results is not meant to change hygiene plans and perform disinfection only every five or 10 days, but rather to utilize this advantage to the benefit of patients, staff members and to improve infection control. The real benefit of such a disinfectant, when integrated into already established disinfection plans, is that it ensures a significantly higher safety and efficiency against the spreading of germs and viruses, thus reducing cross contamination or re-infection.

This is exactly what Bacoban DLUS was developed for: to improve safety between the physical step of disinfecting surfaces and until the next time of day when disinfection is performed yet again. Bacoban DLUS gives people a new tool containing advanced technology in the control of germs and viruses.

“Fighting the cross-contamination battle without Bacoban is virtually impossible,” Ferguson states.

Health Canada is required to complete an entirely new 260-day application, should there be additional research claims or label updates to any DIN regulated product, even during a pandemic.

With the help of local MPs and government agencies, IWG Corporate Services is issuing a plea to Health Canada on behalf of Voran Group Ventures Ltd., pushing this new application to the front of the line given the status of COVID-19 across Canada. While Voran Group works with Health Canada on the updated DIN certification to include these new claims, Bacoban DLUS will still be increasing manufacturing and always available to Canadians.

“One of the main problems in the fight against this pandemic is that, globally, the market is currently extremely limited in alcohol,” IWG Corporate Services founder Jason Netherton says. “Most traditional disinfectants are alcohol based. Bacoban DLUS does not use alcohol in its formulation. It is completely water based. There will be very limited if any manufacturing of traditional disinfectants for the foreseeable future, which leaves us all in a precarious position without a lot of tools.”

Bacoban has an interesting story, as it has been used in Germany for more than a decade, and it was costly to bring to Canada to be certified and to go through all the requirements, but Voran did it.

Not only are they applying for a revised DIN for the patented controlled release technology; Bacoban DLUS has been proven to be food surface safe, biocompatible and has been dermatologically tested as well.

With more than 50 million people at risk, Bacoban DLUS can help to prevent the spread of infection to the public and keep North American citizens safe. This is the opportune time to introduce this product to the North American market.

More information about Bacoban DLUS can be found by contacting Voran Group Ventures Ltd. at [email protected] or by visiting www.VoranGroup.ca.

To learn more about how Insure Corporate Services can help your business in these uncertain and troubling times, contact [email protected] or visit www.IWGServices.ca.

Pool Patrol waiving labour fees to get your pool ready right now

Pool prep payback

The weather is starting to warm up, the kids are at home for an unknown period, and companies are trying to do whatever they can to keep the economy moving during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pool Patrol, the Okanagan’s locally owned and operated automatic pool safety covers, is doing what they can by offering free labour on all new swimming pool cover sales, replacement fabrics or fencing. It is their way of giving back and helping their community during these challenging times.

Considering the dynamic nature of this situation, Pool Patrol will offer this service as long as possible in an effort to aid their community. Until further notice, they will be offering this free labour until May 31, 2020.

“It’s our way of saying to the Okanagan that we’re investing in our community,” Pool Patrol owner Allan Horwood says. “And, as a community, this is when we need to come together the most. We want your kids to be safe, and we want everybody to enjoy their backyards. Self-isolation is pushing everybody into their backyards early. They’re not leaving their property.”

Horwood was inspired to do something for his community after Elephant Island Winery, which is near his home, started selling its wine for 30% off the retail price. He knows the margins are slim in the wine industry, so he saw no reason why he couldn’t give his customers a break, too.

“We need to keep the commerce wheels grinding away,” Horwood says.

Pool Patrol is one of the lucky companies that can keep their business running with minimal human contact. Their workers are always outside at the pool, and all payments are electronic. And, it goes without saying, they are fiercely following Canada’s health and safety regulations.

So even though those chilly early spring mornings would usually convince you otherwise, heating the pool up and getting the kids outside sooner than later might sound appealing. And given summer vacation—for unfortunate and unprecedented reasons—came early, Pool Patrol is doing what they can to get you in the pool safely.

“Kids are driving you crazy. They’re tired of the trampoline. It’s 14 degrees here in Naramata,” Horwood says. “We’re saying: Hey, why don’t we fire up the pool and try to keep the kids entertained?

“We have to look at this as an extended summer and treat it accordingly.”

Of course, the youngsters can’t cannonball into the pool without parent supervision, which is why Pool Patrol has included safety fencing as part of its free-labour initiative. Fencing is additionally important this year because your children will be outside and around the pool significantly more for the foreseeable future.

“The health and safety and well-being of your family are most important to us,” Horwood says, “and if you have any concerns about your pool not being safe, we’re here to help.”

The durable reinforced vinyl of a pool cover also acts as a horizontal fence, sealing off the pool and preventing accidental entry by children, pets and uninvited guests. The automated pool safety covers are made of reinforced vinyl that is strong enough for adults to walk across.

The covers provide not only safety but savings as well through heat retention—especially needed in early spring—and less chemical use that extends the life of the equipment.

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