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Thursday, July 27, 2017 - 10:16

legislative update summary for april—june 2017

Every year, The Williamson Group publishes its Guide to Canadian Benefits Legislation and Guide Supplement. Together with monthly updates on our blog, these documents offer a high level overview of some of the benefits currently available through various Canadian government programs and legislation.

Below you will find a quick summary of noteworthy legislative changes that have occurred since the last update.

 

Federal

Canada Human Rights:  New genetic non-discrimination law will promote privacy and human rights in Canada.  The Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, which received Royal Assent on May 4th, prohibits genetic discrimination across Canada.  It bars any person from requiring individuals to undergo a genetic test or disclose the results of a genetic test as a condition of providing goods or services, or entering into a contract.  For further details visit the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Bill C-44 Received royal assent on June 22, 2017.  This bill includes changes to caregiver tax credits, expansion of courses eligible for the tuition tax credit, expansion of EI benefits, as well as other measures.  For details visit the Parliament of Canada website.

 

Prince Edward Island

The 2017 PEI budget. The budget includes the largest increase in health care spending in nearly a decade, and includes:

  • a universal influenza immunization program;
  • increase the comfort allowance for subsidized residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
  • additional emergency room doctors to reduce wait times;
  • new neurology services;
  • a geriatrician to support the senior’s strategy; and
  • new supports to prevent and assist Islanders living with cancer.

For more information visit the Government of Prince Edward Island website.

 

Nova Scotia

Changes to Occupational Health & Safety Act. Changes took place on June 12, 2017 which better define when, how, and which injuries and incidents must be reported. For more information visit the Government of Nova Scotia website.

 

Quebec

RAMQ announces updated public plan rates for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.  Private plans in Quebec that provide drug coverage must offer coverage that is at least equivalent to the public plan. Visit the Government of Quebec website for details.

 

Ontario

The Ontario 2017 Budget. Changes included:

  • Beginning January 1, 2018, all children and youth 24 years of age or younger will be able to get their prescription medications for free by simply showing their OHIP card number and a prescription. Coverage will be automatic, with no upfront costs.  For more information visit the Government of Ontario website.
  • Ontario also proposed to replace the provincial caregiver and infirm dependant tax credits with a new Ontario Caregiver Tax Credit (OCTC), similar to the Canada Caregiver Tax Credit, beginning in the 2017 taxation year. 

See the Ontario website for the complete Ontario 2017 Budget.

Ontario proposes raising minimum wage to $15 per hour. The plan is to increase the minimum wage to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018 and $15 per hour on January 1, 2019 followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation. Visit the Government of Ontario website for details.

Expanding Service Options for Children and Youth with autism.  A direct funding service option will be offered in new Ontario Autism program. This will allow all families to choose between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase services for their child. Visit the Government of Ontario newsroom for more details.

Ontario passes legislation on medical assistance in dying.  On May 9th Ontario passed legislation that will support the implementation of medical assistance and provide more protection and greater clarity for patients, their families, health care providers, and health care institutions.  Visit the Government of Ontario website for details.

Bill 148, Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.  Ontario is proposing casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are paid the same wage for doing the same job as full-time workers. Public hearings will be held July/August; government is expected to pass the legislation September 2017, and is expected to take effect January 1, 2018. For more information visit the Government of Ontario newsroom.

Bill 127—Stronger, Healthier Ontario Act 2017. WSIB New legislation receives royal assent to better support injured workers. Legislation has been passed that will allow the WSIB to enhance support for workers suffering from work-related chronic mental stress. The legislation adds a provision to allow benefit entitlement for chronic mental stress arising out of and during the worker’s employment (not including mental stress caused by an employer’s decision or action relating to the worker’s employment such as changes in the work to be performed, working conditions, employee discipline and termination.)  The new legislation will come into effect January 1, 2018. Amendments are not retroactive. See WSIB Ontario for more information.

Ontario Transforming Autism services for children and their families. The province is transforming the way that children and youth with autism, and their families, receive services and supports through the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP) beginning late June 2017. Source: the Government of Ontario News page.

 

Manitoba

WCB MB.  For 2018, WCB MB will be introducing a new feature called the experience factor, which will help to more fairly balance individual and collective risk based on relative size.  Visit WCB Connect for more details.

 

Saskatchewan

The 2017 Saskatchewan budget.  The 2017 Budget included:                        

  • A proposed increase to provincial sales tax, from 5% to 6%, and expanded PST to include insurance premiums.  All insurance premiums payable on or after July 1, 2017 (except for annuities and reinsurance) will be affected.  PST will not apply to ASO agreements.
  • Changes to EI benefits—Extension of Parental Leave and New Caregiver Benefit, including extending employment insurance parental benefits to 18 months and creation of a new 15-week benefit for caregivers (unpaid leave).  Parents will be able to receive parental benefits for up to 18 months (at a lower benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings) up to the EI benefit maximum.  Parental benefits will continue to be available at the existing rate of 55% up to the EI benefit maximum period of 12 months.
  • Also included: extended health benefit program changes for orthotics, chiropractor services, CPAP machines, hearing aid plans and podiatry services.

For more information visit the Government of Saskatchewan Finance.

Date extended, changes made to PST on insurance premiums.  Following discussions with insurance industry associations, the government of Saskatchewan has extended the effective date for the application of PST to insurance premiums from July 1 2017 to August 1, 2017.  The news release also clarifies that PST will now be applied to self-insured group arrangements or Administrative Services Only arrangements. Visit the Government of Saskatchewan website for more details.

Saskatchewan announces minimum wage increase. Effective October 1st, 2017, minimum wage will increase from $10.72 an hour to $10.96 an hour. Source: Government of Saskatchewan website.

 

Alberta

The Alberta WCB announced recent changes to the Policies to their Information Manual. The Board of Directors has approved changes to two policies – expanding and clarifying the circumstances in which cost relief may be considered when a worker’s period of disability is prolonged because of a concurrent condition.   For more information visit the Alberta WCB website.

Bill 17—The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, 2017, was passed on June 5, 2017 and received Royal Assent on June 7. The Act will impact all provincially regulated employers and address leave of absence, terminations, and temporary layoffs, as well as governing statutory holiday pay, overtime, and youth employment. Changes will take effect January 1, 2018. Visit the Government of Alberta website for more details.

photo of a gavel on top of a stack of papers and rows of books in the background

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