Legislative Update for November and December 2017

Cowan Insurance Group’s Guide to Canadian Benefits Legislation and Guide Supplement are valuable tools that help educate how changes in legislation may impact the benefits and insurance community. Along with the following monthly legislative news updates, these documents offer a high level overview of some of the benefits currently available through various Canadian government programs.



CPP contribution rates, maximums and exemptions for 2018. Maximum annual pensionable earnings $55,900. Basic exemption amount $3,500. Maximum contributory earnings $52,400. Employee and employer contribution rate 4.95%. Maximum annual employee and employer contribution $2,593.80. Maximum annual self-employed contribution $5,187.60. For details visit the Government of Canada website.

2018 EI maximum insurable earnings. The federal government announced the 2018 Employment Insurance (EI) premium rates and maximums. New rates effective January 1, 2018. Maximum insurance earnings $51,700. Maximum EI benefit $547. For details visit the Government of Canada website.


British Columbia

Medical Services Plan premium cut starts Jan.1, 2018. MSP premiums will be cut by 50%. Source: BC Government News.

BC releases first decisions on cannabis regulation after public engagement. The province has announced a number of key decisions related to the anticipated legalization of non-medical cannabis in July 2018. Source: BC Government News.

Employers inclusive of people with disabilities to benefit from program extension. British Columbia extends the Technology@Work program which has provided assistive technologies including mobility supports, alternative keyboards, voice input equipment and workplace modifications to people province wide. Source: BC Government News.



A new fee guide will give Albertans an additional tool to help save money and get better value during their next trip to the dentist. The new dental fee guide suggests an 8.5% drop in prices for 60 common dental procedures. Source: Government of Alberta website.

Bill 23, Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2017 was passed by the Alberta Legislature on November 14, 2017. Source: Alberta Human Rights Commission website.

WCB 2018 premium rates. The average industry rate will remain flat at $1.02. Source: WCB-Alberta (opens as PDF).



WCB has approved the 2018 average employer premium rate of $1.19, a decrease of four percent from the 2017 rate o $1.24. Source: Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board.



The average WCB assessment in Manitoba will drop to $0.95 from $1.10 per $100 of assessable payroll in 2018.  Source: Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba website.



Ontario Creating Fair Workplaces by Expanding Personal Emergency Leave – Bill 148.  Ontario is creating more fairness and opportunity for workers by proposing paid personal emergency leave for every worker and banning employers from requiring the provision of a doctor's note for taking personal emergency leave. If passed, these changes would be in effect on January 1, 2018. For details visit the Province of Ontario website.

Ontario launches new tool to check if prescriptions are covered with OHIP+. Source:  Province of Ontario website.

Ontario Passes Legislation to Create Fairness and Opportunity.  Ontario passed legislation that will create fairness and opportunity for people across the province by furthering the economic plan set out in the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. For highlights of the Budget Measures Act visit the Province of Ontario website.

Ontario passes legislation to ensure safe transition to federal cannabis legalization. Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017 will: create a new provincial retailer; protect youth; ban the use of cannabis in public places, workplaces and motor vehicles; focus on harm reduction; regulate the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis; help eliminate the illicit market; and keep Ontario roads. For details visit the Province of Ontario website.

Changes Include Greater Oversight of Long-Term Care Homes and Pharmaceutical Companies. Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Ontario has passed The Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients Act, 2017 to enhance transparency, accountability and the quality of care across the health care sector. For details visit the Province of Ontario website.

Ontario’s minimum wage increased to $14 on January 1, 2018. Increased Paid vacation and new personal emergency days also came into effect. Other changes effective January 1, 2018, include:

  • Ensuring workers are entitled to at least three weeks’ vacation after 5 years with the same employer, bringing Ontario’s vacation time in line with the national average.
  • Expanding the 10 days per calendar year for personal emergency leave to employees in workplaces with fewer than 50 employees, with at least two paid days per year for employees who have been employed for at least a week.
  • A new domestic or sexual violence leave of up to 10 individual days and up to 15 weeks of job protected leave, the first five days of leave in every calendar year would be paid
  • Increased family medical leave from 8 to 28 weeks per year
  • A new child death leave from any cause up to 104 weeks and increased crime-related disappearance of a child leave from 52 to 104 weeks
  • Changes to make forming a union and reaching a first collective agreement easier.

Source: Province of Ontario website.

WCB 2018 Indexation changes.  Effective Jan. 1, 2018, WCB has changed the way benefits are indexed by applying a single indexing factor (the Consumer Price Index) to the amount payable for all indexed benefit types. For 2018, the WSIB CPI is 1.5%. For details visit WSIB Ontario.

Update on Non-Economic Loss (NEL) award review. Starting December 15, 2017, WSIB is no longer reducing benefits for people with an asymptomatic pre-existing condition if it is non-measureable. Decisions about benefits that were made between January 2012 and December 15, 2017 may be reconsidered. For details visit WSIB Ontario.



Key Data for 2018 Quebec Pension Plan, Child Assistance, and Public-sector pension plans (RREGOP, PPMP, etc.) Benefits amounts. Pensions and benefits paid by Retraite Québec are indexed annually on January 1. For more details visit Retraite Quebec.

Quebec Parental Insurance Plan premium rates to remain the same in 2018. The premium rate (as a percentage of insurable income) is 0.548% for salaried workers, 0.767% for employers and 0.973% for self-employed workers. For details visit the Province of Quebec website.

Quebec Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation 2018 pooling terms and conditions. Pursuant to section 43 of the Act Respecting Prescription Drug Insurance, all group insurers in Quebec must contribute annually to a pooling plan that protects sponsors of private-sector benefit plans against the financial impact of large drug cost claims. Pooling parameters are adjusted annually. For details visit Quebec Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation.


New Brunswick

Legal age for recreational cannabis announced.  The provincial government announced the legal age for the purchase, possession and consumption of cannabis will be 19. This will harmonize with the legal age for alcohol and tobacco. For details visit the Province of New Brunswick website.

Legislative framework concerning cannabis introduced. The provincial government’s legislative framework for recreational-use cannabis was introduced in anticipation of the federal government legalizing such use by July 2018. For details visit the Province of New Brunswick website.

WorkSafeNB 2018 assessment rate. The 2018 rate has been set at $1.70. This represents a 15% increase over the 2017 rate of $1.48. For a full list of assessment rates visit WorkSafe NB.


Prince Edward Island

PEI minimum wage announced. PEI’s minimum wage will remain the highest in Atlantic Canada when it increases by 30 cents to $11.55 per hour on April 1, 2018. Source: Provice of Prince Edward Island website.

Employers Assessment Rates announced for 2018. The WCB has once again reduced the average assessment rate for Island employers.  The average assessment rate for 2018 will be $1.60 per $100 of payroll which is 10% decrease from the 2017 rate. Source:  Workers Compensation Board of PEI.

First directions set on cannabis regulations.  Directions have been made around legal age, public consumption and distribution. For details visit the Province of Prince Edward Island website.


Nova Scotia

WCB Nova Scotia has announced the employer assessment rates for 2018. At $2.65 per $100 of payroll, the average rate remains unchanged For details visit Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia.

Province announces first decisions on legalization of cannabis. Key policy decisions on cannabis concerning legal age and distribution were announced. For details visit the Province of Nova Scotia website.

Changes to Special Protection.  Starting Jan.1st its easier for employers to extend WCB coverage to workers who are also family members and live at home.  Employers can choose to include these workers under their regular WCB coverage. Source:  Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Health and Community Services introduces new prescription monitoring program legislation to address drug abuse and inappropriate prescribing and dispensing of at-risk drugs such as opioids. For details visit the Province of Newfoundland website.

2018 Workers’ compensation rates announced. Effective January 1, 218, the average assessment rate for workers’ compensation coverage will be lowered from $2.06 to $1.90 per $100 of payroll for employers in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Maximum Compensable and Assessable Earnings (MCAE) will increase to $64,375. Source: Workplace NL.



Yukon WCB 2018 maximum rate.  The 2018 maximum wage rate, also known as the maximum assessable earnings rates, is $86,971. Source:  Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board.                                                                                                                       


Northwest Territories

The Government of the NWT proposes a way forward for the legalization of cannabis in the NWT.  For details visit the Government of Northwest Territories website.

Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission releases assessment rates for 2018. The average provisional assessment rate will be $2.05 per $1100 assessable payroll. Source:  Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.