In a bid to streamline operations, Montreal-based Optimum General is cutting 45 jobs across its five Canadian subsidiaries. “The insurance industry is undergoing difficult times at present and our Company is no exception,” says David B. Liddle, president and COO of Optimum General. He notes the company’s bleak financial picture as the culprit. In the second quarter of 2002, Optimum reported a net loss of $2.3 million, and a claims ratio of 87.9%, leading rating agency A.M. Best to downgrade the insurer’s financial strength rating to C++ (Marginal). Saying he regrets having to cut the company’s workforce, Liddle adds, “Looking forward, we believe this measure will place our company on solid ground for fiscal 2003 without compromising the quality of our client service.” The company, which has about 300 employees, says the job cuts, in addition to other moves such as withdrawing from Atlantic Canada, will result in annual savings of $4 million.