Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 13:34

legislative update summary for march 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.



Canada’s new parental leave benefits.  Changes to maternity leave periods were announced in the 2017 federal budget, including an extension of leave from 12 to 18 months and a change in maternity leave commencement—up to 12 weeks before the baby is born (originally 8 weeks). Parents will be able to split the leave as they choose once the mother has taken 15 weeks of designated maternity leave. Changes may not take effect until next year. For more details visit the Government of Canada website.



The 2017 Quebec Provincial Budget. Effective January 26, 2017, a majority of auxiliary health fees previously charged at medical practitioner’s office are prohibited in Quebec. Doctors who previously charged patients a supplementary fee for medical procedures/treatments covered by RAMQ (for example: colonoscopies, vasectomies, anesthesia drugs, pain injections, and liquid nitrogen). Doctors may continue to charge administrative fees but not for performing a RAMQ-covered exam/treatment. Also in the budget, the Quebec Government has decided to keep the corporate premium tax rate at 3.48% until March 31, 2022. For details on the budget, visit the government of Quebec website.



Minimum Wage will increase to $11.60, effective October 1, 2017. Source: the Government of Ontario website.



Expanded Hepatitis C Drug Coverage for Patients. Effective April 1 Saskatchewan is expanding coverage of six drugs that treat Hepatitis C. For more details visit the Government of Saskatchewan website.

PST on insurance premiums. The PST rate increased from 5% to 6%, effective March 23, 2017. The budget also includes an announcement that effective July 1, 2017, PST will by payable on insurance premiums that are due on or after July 1, 2017. PST will be payable on premiums for Life, Accident and Health insurance as well as Property and Agricultural insurance. The budget also includes the phasing out of certain health-related programs. A pdf of the full budget document is located here.


British Columbia 

MSP Premiums to be cut. Effective January 1, 2018, Medical Services Plan premiums will be cut in half for British Columbians with annual family net income up to $120,000. This is the first step in the process of eliminating MSP premiums. Assistance with MSP payment of premiums is available to Canadian citizens or a permanent resident status that have held that status for the past 12 consecutive months. For details on reductions visit the government of British Columbia website.




Definition of spouse. Effective January 1, 2017, the definition of “spouse” in section 1(1) of the Pension Benefits Act has been amended. Except where otherwise indicated in the PBA, spouse means either of two persons who are married to each other, or are not married to each other and are living together in a conjugal relationship, continuously for a period of not less than three years, or in a relationship of some permanence, if they are the parents of a child as set out in section 4 of the Children’s Law Reform Act (“conjoint”). For more information visit the Financial Services of Ontario webpage.


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