Press Release: Salus’ claim against Intact Insurance


Ottawa Salus files lawsuit after Intact Insurance tries to force supportive housing charity into taking millions less than they are rightfully owed, leaving 40 people with severe and persistent mental illness in shelters

Intact Insurance delaying and operating in bad faith following a devastating flood at Salus’ affordable supportive housing

June 4, 2024 (Ottawa) — Salus today announced it filed a lawsuit and is taking Intact to court after the insurer failed to cover the reconstruction of its building on Athlone.

In 2023 Ottawa experienced its coldest February 4th in 100 years. A pipe froze and sent 20,000 litres of water cascading down walls and rendered Salus’ supportive housing building on Athlone unlivable for its 40 tenants with mental illness. 

For nearly a year and a half the building has remained vacant during a housing crisis while Intact Insurance has delayed and operated in bad faith – trying to bully and force us into taking $4.3M less than we’re rightfully owed – dollars we, as a charity, need to house and support people living with severe and persistent mental illness.

The independent building contractors that have examined the site say it will cost about $7.5M to restore the building, replace what was lost and ensure it meets the current code. Intact Insurance has sent Salus only $3.2M to rebuild, relying upon their assessors who visited only briefly. 

The insurance company openly acknowledges that its proposal will not meet the current code, which would never pass inspection.

Replacement cost policies are much better than any other policy and that’s what we paid for. Our $40M replacement cost policy means the insurer has to pay for whatever the cost of replacing the damaged property is — rather than paying a lower amount on an adjusted cost basis, which reduces the amount an insurer needs to pay.

Intact’s actions amount to a bullying form of financial blackmail. They lowballed offers, then created one delay after another, all to grind Salus down, attempting to make the charity desperate and left with no option but to give in. It’s wrong and it comes at enormous human expense. 

The previous tenants who were flooded out in February 2023 have settled into new permanent homes. Salus is ready to welcome 40 more people from the shelter system. If construction doesn’t start within a month, the building cannot be restored by this winter, leaving 40 people in the overloaded shelter system during the coldest days and nights of the year. 

Intact insurance is standing between 40 people with serious mental illness in shelters and the life-changing stability of supportive housing.

The longer Intact Insurance delays, the more pressure is exerted on Ottawa’s shelter and homeless infrastructure. This system is bursting at the seams. The demand for our 40 affordable supportive housing units is enormous. And Intact is the only thing standing in the way.

“For nearly a year and a half, Intact has operated in bad faith – trying to bully and force us into taking $4.3M less than we’re rightfully owed,” said Mark MacAulay, CEO of Ottawa Salus. “They don’t care that it could cripple our finances. They don’t care that it will keep 40 people in shelters and struggling on the street during a housing emergency. They don’t care at all. So we’re taking them to court. We’re going to make them pay up.” 

Salus incurs $45,301/month just in carrying costs every month this drags on — For the building’s mortgage, insurance, maintenance staff, etc. These are a mix of costs that would have been offset partially by tenant rent, rent supplements and program funding. Salus is paying $45,301/month for a building nobody can live in. They are slowly draining their reserves to cover it.

Salus needs and deserves action, so was left with no choice but to file a $55M lawsuit. Salus paid monthly premiums on a $40M policy and deserves to be treated fairly. And they want this $40B insurance company to step up and pay the claim. So that Salus can get 40 people out of shelters into the stable affordable supportive housing they desperately need and deserve.

About Salus

Salus has been an unwavering champion for people living with mental illness for more than 45 years. We provide a first step in the recovery process — a stable home environment — including a transitional rehabilitation program, shared homes and independent living. We also provide mental health programs and services that are customized to meet each of our clients’ unique needs on their journey to well-being and independence.

Media contact

Heather Badenoch, Village PR, 613-859-8232,