Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada


Feds table budget legislation

The federal government recently put forward legislation to implement measures proposed in this year’s budget, including allowing employers to issue T4s electronically as a standard method of delivery.

Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, which the government tabled on April 11, would amend the Income Tax Act and its regulations to allow employers to distribute T4s electronically to employees without first obtaining their consent.

To do so, employers would have to meet Canada Revenue Agency criteria, including providing a secure portal and site for employees to access and print T4s and giving employees the
option to receive paper T4s upon request.

Despite the change, employers would still have to provide an employee with two paper copies of the form if the employee requested it, if the employee could not reasonably be expected to have access to an electronic T4, or if at the time the employer issued the T4, the employee was on an extended leave or was no longer employed.

Other amendments to the Income Tax Act would eliminate a deduction for eligible home relocation loans in 2018 and replace the current caregiver credit, infirm dependant credit and family caregiver tax credit claimed on a federal TD1 with a new Canada caregiver credit beginning this year.

The bill also proposes amendments to the Employment Insurance Act, including changes that would:

• allow eligible EI claimants the option to receive parental benefits over a longer period (61 weeks versus 35 weeks) at a lower benefit rate (33 per cent versus 55 per cent)

• allow maternity benefits to be paid as early as 12 weeks before a claimant’s expected due date, rather than the current eight weeks

• create a new 15-week benefit for family members who care for a critically ill adult

• expand eligibility for benefits for a critically ill child to include other family members and not just parents.

To align federal labour standards with the EI changes, the bill proposes to amend the Canada Labour Code to:

• increase the maximum length of parental leave from 37 weeks to 63 weeks

• extend the period when an employee may take a parental leave from 52 weeks to 78 weeks after a baby is born or a child comes into the actual care of the employee

• extend the period for when a maternity leave may begin from 11 weeks to 13 weeks before the estimated date of birth

• create a new 17-week unpaid leave for family members to care for a critically ill adult requiring their care or support

• allow employees to take time off work to care for a critically ill child if they are a family member (not just the parents).

The bill also proposes amendments to the Canada Labour Code’s compliance and enforcement mechanism to help employees recover unpaid wages more easily. 

New Brunswick

Province creates February holiday

Beginning next year, there will be a new statutory holiday in New Brunswick.

The provincial legislature recently passed a bill that creates a new paid statutory holiday called Family Day under the Employment Standards Act. The holiday will be celebrated on the third Monday in February every year, beginning in 2018.

The day will also be a prescribed day of rest under the Days of Rest Act.

The bill included amendments that affect entitlement to paid holidays for employees covered by a collective agreement.

Currently, employees working under a collective agreement or employment contract that requires their employer to pay vacation and statutory holiday benefits together, with the combined benefit equaling at least three per cent of wages, are exempt from paid statutory holiday requirements.

The bill will change the requirement to four per cent, beginning in 2018.

The Employment Standards Act also exempts from statutory holiday requirements employees covered by a collective agreement that came into effect after July 16, 1976 if it provides for at least seven paid holidays, including New Brunswick Day. The bill will change the number of holidays to eight.

Gallant said the new holiday would put New Brunswick in line with other Canadian jurisdictions that provide a statutory holiday in February. Other provinces providing a version of the holiday include Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.

Province proposes ESA exemptions for amateur athletes

New Brunswick’s government is proposing regulatory amendments that would exempt amateur athletes playing on provincial teams from some provisions of its Employment Standards Act.

Donald Arseneault, minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, said the amendments would exempt amateur athletes from vacation, statutory holiday, minimum wage, hours of work, weekly rest periods, and termination standards while they are engaged in activities related to their athletic endeavours.

He did not say when the amendments would take effect.

Review of workers’ comp scheduled

The New Brunswick government is examining the province’s workers’ compensation system.

Donald Arseneault, minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, said the government is setting up a task force to review workers’ compensation legislation and the overall objectives and effectiveness of the province’s workers’ compensation system.

The task force will also examine WorkSafeNB’s current financial situation.

Arseneault also announced that the government has asked the province’s auditor general to audit WorkSafeNB to ensure it is administering programs in the most efficient way possible.

The announcements come in response to employer concerns about rising premiums costs for workers’ compensation coverage in the province. 


Electronic RL-1 to become standard delivery method

Employers with Quebec payrolls will soon be allowed to provide RL-1s to employees electronically as the standard method of delivery, the Quebec Finance Ministry announced.

The ministry said it would amend provincial tax legislation and regulations to harmonize its rules for delivering RL-1s to employees with a recent federal proposal affecting T4s.

In this year’s federal budget, the government announced that it would allow employers to issue T4s to employees electronically without first having to obtain their written consent, as long as certain conditions apply.

The change would affect T4s issued for 2017 and later tax years.

The Quebec Finance Ministry also announced that it would eliminate a deduction that employees may claim for taxable home relocation loans that they receive from their employer.

The federal government had previously announced that it would eliminate the federal deduction for 2018 and later tax years. 


New statutory holiday in territory

This month, Yukon will celebrate a new statutory holiday called National Aboriginal Day.

In May, the territorial legislature passed Bill 2, the National Aboriginal Day Act.

It amended the Employment Standards Act to add National Aboriginal Day as a holiday on June 21 every year, beginning this year.

With the new holiday, Yukon joins the Northwest Territories as the only other Canadian jurisdiction that has National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday.

It’s the first piece of legislation to be passed under the new Liberal government led by Premier Sandy Silver, according to the Canadian Press.

Based on figures from Canada Day in 2016, the government said the holiday would cost them an estimated $1.28 million. The figure includes $1.16 million for payroll and an additional $116,700 in overtime pay for essential service providers.

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