Legislative Updates for July & August 2018

Benefits

British Columbia

No age restrictions on insulin pumps.  Effective July 3rd, 2018, people of B.C. will have coverage of insulin pumps for Type 1 diabetes, regardless of age. Source: The Government of British Columbia website.

Eligibility assessment and requirements for cannabis retail licenses available online.  Detailed information regarding eligibility requirements for prospective non-medical cannabis retail license applicants is now available online. Source: The Government Of British Columbia website.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (formerly the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch) has established regulatory requirements for private cannabis retail store licenses, which will allow licensees to sell non-medical cannabis in B.C. The regulatory framework for private cannabis retail stores focuses on meeting government’s goals for legalized cannabis that prioritizes public health and safety, including keeping cannabis out of the hands of minors and reducing the illegal market. By early August 2018, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch will open its application process. For more information visit: The Government of British Columbia website.

Employer-paid benefits to be subject to new BC health tax.  The B.C. government will begin levying the new health tax in January 2019 as it moves to eliminate the province’s medical services plan premiums. Employers with B.C. payroll costs below $500,000 won’t have to pay the tax. Those with payroll above that amount but less than $1.5 million will pay 2.95 per cent on the portion exceeding $500,000. Employers with payroll above $1.5 million will pay the tax at a rate of 1.95 per cent. The change will relieve individuals from having to pay the medical services premium while applying the new employer health tax in its place. Source: Benefits Canada.

The general minimum wage in British Columbia will increase from 12.65 per hour (effective June 1, 2018) to $13.85 effective June 1, 2019. General minimum wage will continue increasing annually. Source:  BC Employment Standards Branch factsheet (Opens as PDF).

 

Alberta

Maximum Assessable Earnings.  Legislation effective September 1, 2018 removes the cap on compensable earnings. The cap remains on assessable earnings for employers reporting their 2018 earnings. It is confirmed that there will continue to be a cap on assessable earnings for 2019 and the dollar amount for the will be announced around rate-setting time later this year. Source: Workers Compensation Board – Alberta (opens as PDF)

WC legislative changes come into effect on September 1, 2018.  Under the new legislation, offering an injured worker modified work is no longer an option for employers, it’s now their responsibility after a workplace accident.  New interim relief legislation will also come into effect, along with enhanced benefits for injured workers. For more information on these changes, visit: The Workers Compensation Board of Alberta website.

 

Saskatchewan

Applications open for Autism Spectrum Disorder individualised funding.  The Government of Saskatchewan is fulfilling its commitment to provide individualized funding for children under the age of six who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The program will provide parents with funding for therapeutic interventions and family supports that best suit their child’s individual needs. ASD Individualized Funding is a joint Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services program. For more information, visit: The Government of Saskatchewan website.

 

Manitoba

Cannabis retailer social responsibility fee and wholesale markups.  The social responsibility fee (SRF) is a regulatory fee to be paid by all provincially-licensed cannabis retailers to ensure they share in the social responsibility costs of cannabis legalization. The SRF will be applied to total annual revenues from the sale of recreational cannabis. Source: Manitoba Backgrounder.

Minimum wage: as of October 1, 2018, minimum wage will be $11.35 per hour, up from $11.15 per hour.  Source:  The Government of Manitoba website.

Effective August 18, 2018, Manitoba will be introducing a cap on dispensing fees.  Pharmacies will be able to charge provincial drug programs up to $30 per prescription, regardless of the base cost of a drug or how a drug is packaged, such as in a pill bottle or blister pack.  In addition, pharmacies will be able to charge up to $30 for compounding services in a pharmacy – when medicinal ingredients are mixed and prepared to meet an individual patient’s clinical needs. Pharmacare benefit. Source:  The Government of Manitoba – Health (Opens as PDF).

 

New Brunswick

Government encourages eye exams for children returning to school.The Healthy Smiles, Clear Vision program provides free eye exams and corrective glasses for all four-year-olds who are not covered by a public or private health insurance program.  For those with existing health insurance, the program will cover any difference between the amount covered by the insurance policy and the maximum allowed under the program. Source:  The Government of New Brunswick website.

Regulations providing workplace leave (paid leave) for individuals who experience domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence will take effect September 1, 2018.   The new regulations under the Employment Standards Act allow leave of up to 10 days to be used intermittently or continuously and up to 16 weeks could be use in one continuous period of which the first five days would be paid. Source: The Government of New Brunswick website.

 

Nova Scotia

Government adds HIV Prevention Drug to Public Health Plan, effective July 23, 2018.  Government is increasing access to HIV prevention medication by adding it as a benefit under provincial Pharmacare programs. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, involves daily dosing of antiretroviral medication taken by people at high-risk for HIV infection. Eligibility criteria is based on national guidelines and the national Canadian Drug Expert Committee recommendation. Source:  The Government of Nova Scotia website.

Changes to Income Assistance Program will help Nova Scotians living on low incomes.  Nova Scotians living on low incomes will soon be able to earn and keep more money thanks to a number of investments by government. The Department of Community Services is introducing the new Personal Items Allowance, to support people temporarily living in homeless shelters and transition houses. The allowance, which will be implemented in October, will provide $101 every month to help buy essential items, including those for personal hygiene. Effective October 1, 2018, the province will introduce part one of the Standard Household Rate, a wage exemption that will allow clients to keep more of the money they earn before seeing a reduction in their income assistance. Source: The Government of Nova Scotia website.

 

Prince Edward Island

The provincial government is hosting four focus-group conversations across the Island in July 2018, to seek input that will help Health PEI plan and implement future COPD programming and services. The four-year-old INSPIRED program was launched Island wide this past April to help patients transition from the hospital to home. It is a partnership with the Canadian Foundation for Health Care Improvement. For more information, visit: The Government of Prince Edward Island website.

Feedback wanted on changes to employee leave.  Government wants Islanders’ input on possible changes to the law involving different types of leave for employees.  Islanders can now provide feedback until August 27 on draft regulations to support the implementation of Employment Standards Act (Bill 116). The Bill was amended during the 2018 spring sitting of the provincial legislature, to provide up to three days of paid leave – and another seven days of unpaid leave – for employees to deal with the consequences of domestic violence. The public input gathered will be included in the final draft regulations that cabinet will consider. Source: The Government of Prince Edward Island website.

Province expands disability supports for Islanders.  Islanders living with disabilities will have more and better assistance from the Prince Edward Island government. Expansions to the Disability Support Program – now called AccessAbility Supports – will include a coordinator to help clients navigate the system, job coaching and skills training, increased financial help for home and vehicle modifications, and a toll-free number as single point of contact.  The changes are effective July 16, 2018. Current disability support clients will automatically be enrolled in AccessAbility Supports. For more information, visit: The Government of Prince Edward Island website.

 

Pension

Canada

Terminally ill Canadians face new rules in test for speedy CPP disability benefits.  The federal government will set a new test for fast-tracking disability pension requests from Canadians with terminal illnesses.  The government plans to change the rules in a few weeks to grant an expedited review to people whose doctors believe have just six months left to live. Source: Benefits Canada.

GIS for Canadian seniors and the Allowance.  For July 1 to September 30, 2018, the maximum combined payment from OAS plus GIS is $1,487.85 ($596.67 OAS and $891.18 GIS) per month, for a single person.  This maximum is reached if there is no income other than OAS and GIS.  The Liberal government’s platform includes increasing GIS for single low-income seniors by 10%.  For more information, visit: The Government of Canada website.

 

Alberta

Alberta common-law couples can now divide pensions upon separation.  Until recently, Alberta common law couples that were splitting up couldn’t divide their pension assets, even if both parties wanted to. Source: Benefits Canada.