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Allstate tried to cut off auto insurance sales to drivers in Brampton, lawsuit claims

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An Ontario woman is taking one of the province’s biggest insurance providers to court, alleging she was fired for pushing back on the company’s « discriminatory » effort to stop selling plans to drivers who live in Brampton. 

« It’s just wrong. There is no other word for it, » said Medha Joshi. « I said it was wrong, and I was reprimanded for it. »

Late last month, Joshi and her legal counsel, Andrew Monkhouse, filed a suit in Ontario’s Superior Court against Allstate Insurance Canada. Until October, Joshi held the position of agency manager at the company, where she presided over a sales team working out of Allstate’s Milton location.

She was initially hired by Allstate in 2012, though she left for number of months in 2014 to live in the U.K. 

Joshi says that in the late summer, after returning to work from a medical leave for treatment of a number of health conditions diagnosed several months earlier, she learned of an unwritten managerial directive to stop offering auto insurance policies to residents of Brampton. 

« It was very clearly said, in so many words, that there is a lot of fraud that happens in Brampton. That there is a very high number of claims and a very high number of fraudulent claims, » she said in an interview from her home in Rockwood, Ont., near Guelph. 

The explanation did not add up to Joshi. As a veteran in the industry, she had previously worked in downtown Toronto, Kingston and Brampton, before ending up in Milton.

« People are people. There was nothing that walked in through the door in Brampton that was different than any place else, » she said. 

It was clear, she alleges, that the directive targeted visible minorities.

« We know the community that resides in Brampton, and they are visible minorities, » Joshi said. 

The all-comers rule

Relatively high auto insurance are a perennial political issue in Brampton. According to insurance comparison site Kanetix.ca, drivers in the city regularly pay higher premiums for their policies than surrounding jurisdictions. In 2017, for example, Brampton drivers paid 70 per cent more per month for their insurance than the provincial average. 

And it is true that insurance companies have the prerogative to charge varying premiums for people of different ages and genders. However, increases and decreases to insurance premiums are regulated by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FISCO) — a company cannot unilaterally change rates. 

But what Allstate was trying to do was different, according to Joshi and Monkhouse. 

Insurance companies operating in Ontario follow what is known as « the all-comers rule. » If an applicant meets a set of criteria laid out by providers and approved by FISCO, they cannot be denied insurance, regardless of where they live or their ethnic background. 

Lawyer Andrew Monkhouse said the case could encourage individual residents in Brampton to launch their own human rights complaints against Allstate Insurance Canada. (Michael Cole/CBC)

« I think it is wrong to be so brazenly biased toward an entire community, » Joshi said. « I didn’t know how, in good faith, to go deliver this direction to my team, to deliver this message that I couldn’t stand behind. »

Those above her in the company made a point not to write any of the new policy down, she alleges. The harder she pushed to get clarification, or to have a manager put into words how the policy should be communicated to staff, the more isolated she became, Joshi said.

« I could not seem to get meetings with my manager, I could not seem to have weekly discussions with my manager. He ‘wasn’t available.’ He wouldn’t respond to emails. »

‘I also needed my benefits’

She admits that despite her own reservations about the alleged decision to cut off new policies in Brampton, she did try to compromise with her superiors. 

« While I was having conversations, I also needed my benefits. I also needed my company, my organization, to support me in my time of need. And not for a second did I think I would be penalized in such a manner. »

Finally, at what was supposed to be a routine meeting with her manager, her job was terminated. Joshi alleges she never received any prior warnings and that she was given no possible recourse after the fact.

Allstate claimed that she had taken part in an underhanded effort to have another employee transferred to a different location — an allegation that Joshi denies. 

She and Monkhouse are seeking some $600,000 in total damages from Allstate for wrongful dismissal and violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code. 

Allstate Insurance Canada did not respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment. The company has, however, indicated to the court that it intends to mount a defence. Monkhouse said he expects Allstate to file a statement of defence, laying out its case against Joshi early in the new year. 

Monkhouse said the case would lead individual Brampton residents to launch their own human rights complaints against Allstate. 



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Anglais

Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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