Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada


Government tables budget legislation

The federal government has tabled legislation that would implement payroll-related measures proposed in this year’s budget. 

In late April, Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented Bill C-15, Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1, for first reading.

The bill proposes changes to the federal Income Tax Act that would eliminate education and textbook tax credits that employees may claim on a TD1, Personal Tax Credits Return, beginning next year. 

It would also amend the act to increase the maximum amounts individuals can claim if they live in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon or another prescribed northern zone for more than six months. 

Effective for 2016 and later, the maximum per-day amount individuals may claim would increase to $11 from $8.25. The maximum for individuals who are the only one in the household claiming the deduction would rise to $22 from $16.50. 

The bill would also reinstate a 15 per cent tax credit that applies to the purchase of shares of provincially registered labour-sponsored venture capital corporations (LSVCCs). The change would apply for 2016 and later. The previous Conservative government announced in 2013 that it would phase out the LSVCC tax credit by 2017.  

Bill C-15 would also implement a proposal announced in last year’s budget to exempt some non-resident employers from withholding and remitting income tax source deductions from payments made to qualifying non-resident employees who are covered under a tax treaty. 

The bill also proposes amendments to the Employment Insurance Act to implement a number of budget proposals, including reducing the waiting period for employment insurance benefits to one week from two. 

British Columbia

Minimum wage going up in B.C.

The minimum wage in B.C. is going up to $10.85 from $10.45 on Sept. 15, the provincial government recently announced.
The rate hike includes a 10 cent increase, based on British Columbia’s 2015 consumer price index (CPI), as well as an extra 30 cents to account for strong economic growth in the province. 

Last year, the government announced that beginning on Sept. 15 this year, it would index minimum wage rates using increases in the province’s CPI for the previous year (rounded to the nearest nickle). With B.C. expected to lead the country in economic growth this year and next, the government decided it could raise minimum wage rates beyond the CPI increase.

The government also announced it plans to raise rates in 2017 to take into account the province’s CPI (estimated to be 10 cents) and economic growth (30 cents). Effective Sept. 15, 2017, the minimum wage rate will increase to $11.25 an hour. 
The minimum wage rate for liquor servers is also going up. On Sept. 15, it will increase to $9.60 an hour from $9.20. A year later, it will rise to $10. 

The government will also increase the daily rate for live-in home-support workers and live-in camp leaders, as well as the monthly rates for resident caretakers and the farm-worker piece rates proportionate to the general minimum hourly wage increases.


New domestic violence leave standards in effect

As of June 1, eligible employees who suffer domestic violence may take a job-protected leave.

The province’s Legislative Assembly passed amendments to The Employment Standards Code allowing for the leave earlier this year. The following requirements apply to the new leave:

The leave consists of two parts: up to 10 days per year and one up to 17 weeks per year. Employees may take the first leave in consecutive or intermittent days as needed, while the 17-week leave must be taken in one unbroken period.
Most of the leave is unpaid, but employers are required to pay up to five days if the employee notifies the employer of which days are to be paid. The amount of pay must equal regular wages for regular hours of work. If hours of work or wages vary, the employer must pay five per cent of total wages, excluding overtime, for the four weeks immediately before the day of leave.

Employers with paid sick leave benefits or other paid leave benefits may require employees to use those for paid days unless a collective agreement provides otherwise. 

To be eligible, employees must be victims of domestic violence and be employed for at least 90 days. 

Employees may only take the leave to seek medical care (for the employee or the employee’s child) caused by the domestic violence; obtain help from a victim services organization; obtain psychological or other professional counselling; temporarily or permanently relocate; and seek legal or law enforcement assistance.

When the leave is over, employers must allow employees to return to their job or to a comparable one with at least the same pay and benefits. 

Employers are prohibited from dismissing or laying off employees entitled to take the leave solely because they take the leave or intend to take it. 

Employers must keep records of the leave, including the dates and number of days taken and the amount paid for each day of paid leave. 

Employers are also prohibited from disclosing information unless the employee consents. Exceptions apply where disclosure is required by law or necessary for individuals to carry out their job duties.

More information is available on Manitoba’s Employment Standards website at www.gov.mb.ca/labour/standards/doc,domestic_violence_leave,factsheet.html. 

Nova Scotia

Bill proposes electronic pay statements

Proposed changes to the province’s labour standards law would allow employers to provide employees with their pay statements electronically, beginning next year.

The amendments are part of Bill 168, the Labour Standards Code (amended), which Labour Minister Kelly Regan tabled in the provincial legislature in late April. The bill proposes to harmonize labour standards record-keeping rules in Nova Scotia with those in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. 

The amendments would allow employers to use electronic statements as of Jan. 1 if they provide employees with confidential access to the statements and a way to make a paper copy of them at the workplace. Both New Brunswick and P.E.I. permit electronic pay statements.

Other changes proposed would add more detail to record-keeping provisions. For instance, when it comes to records related to pay, the bill would require employers to keep records on gross earnings, the amount and purpose of each deduction and the net amount paid to an employee each pay period. 

Currently, the code only states employers must keep a record of an employee’s wage rate and a record of all pay paid.


New tip rules coming into force

Beginning June 10, new employment standards rules in Ontario will regulate when employers may withhold tips or gratuities from employees or deduct amounts from the payments. 

The changes are part of Bill 12, the Protecting Employees’ Tips Act, 2015. It received royal assent on Dec. 10, but the government delayed implementing it for six months to give employers time to adjust to the change.

Once the rules are in force, employers will be prohibited from withholding tips or gratuities, deducting amounts or causing employees to return their tips or gratuities unless allowed by a law or a court order or because the employer collects and redistributes them among some or all of the employees. 

Employers, directors and shareholders will also be prohibited from sharing in redistributed tips or gratuities unless they regularly do the same work as their employees or as employees of other employers in the same industry who commonly receive or share tips or gratuities.

Prince Edward Island

Minimum wage rate going up

The P.E.I. government increased the minimum wage rate on June 1 to $10.75 from $10.50. The government will raise it again on Oct. 1 to $11 an hour. 

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