Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

Federal

Stat holiday bill closer to becoming law

A private member’s bill proposing to make Sept. 30 a statutory holiday is a step closer to becoming law after recently passing third reading in the House of Commons.

Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation), which NDP MP Georgina Jolibois tabled in 2017, received third reading on March 20.

The bill proposes to make Sept. 30 a statutory holiday recognizing a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation under the Canada Labour Code, as well as other legislation.

The bill states that the federal holiday would “honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools, and other atrocities committed against First Nation, Inuit and Métis people, remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”

Before becoming law, the bill must pass in the Senate and receive royal assent.


British Columbia

Bill would eliminate MSP premiums

The provincial government has tabled legislation to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums on Jan. 1, 2020.

Bill 20, the Medicare Protection Amendment Act, 2019, received first reading on March 28. It would remove sections related to MSP premiums and premium assistance from the Medicare Protection Act.

Despite the elimination of premiums, individuals and employers who pay them on behalf of their employees would still be required to remit premiums owing up to the end of 2019.

It should be noted that interest would continue to apply to unpaid premiums.

Employers who have agreed to collect and remit premiums on behalf of employees would continue to be bound by the agreement until it was terminated.

They would also remain subject to Medical Services Commission audits and would be liable for penalties if they failed to pay, collect, or remit premiums owing.

Minimum wage rising in June

On June 1, the British Columbia government will raise the general minimum wage rate from $12.65 an hour to $13.85.

The increase is part of a plan to gradually raise B.C.’s minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021. The rate is scheduled to rise to $14.60 on June 1, 2020, and to $15.20 on June 1, 2021.

The government is also gradually eliminating the liquor server minimum wage rate. It will increase the rate from $11.40 an hour to $12.70 on June 1, and to $13.95 on June 1, 2020. On June 1, 2021, liquor servers will be entitled to receive the general minimum wage rate.

Other minimum wage rates are also going up. The rate for live-in camp leaders will rise from $101.24 for each day or partial day worked to $110.87 on June 1. The rate will increase to $116.86 on June 1, 2020, and to $121.65 on June 1, 2021.

The minimum rate paid to resident caretakers working in apartment buildings with nine to 60 suites will rise to $831.45 per month plus $33.32 per suite on June 1. It is currently $759.32 plus $30.43 for each suite.

The government will increase the rate to $876.35 per month plus $35.12 per suite on June 1, 2020, and to $912.28 per month plus $35.56 per suite on June 1, 2021.

For resident caretakers working in apartment buildings with more than 60 suites, the rate will rise from $2,586.40 per month to $2,832.11 on June 1. It will increase to $2,985.04 on June 1, 2020 and to $3,107.42 on June 1, 2021.

On Jan. 1, the government raised the minimum piece rates for farm workers who hand-harvest crops.

Manitoba

Minimum wage rising in October

The province’s minimum wage rate will rise from $11.35 an hour to $11.65 on Oct. 1, Manitoba Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen recently announced.

The increase is based on Manitoba’s 2018 inflation rate of 2.5 per cent and rounding up to the nearest five cents. Manitoba adjusts the minimum wage rate each year to reflect changes in the province’s consumer price index.


Ontario

New employment standards rules take effect

The Ontario government has eliminated requirements for employers to obtain Employment Standards’ permission before employees may work more than 48 hours a week or work under overtime averaging agreements.

The amendments were part of Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, which received royal assent on April 3.

Even though Employment Standards approval is no longer required, employers still need employees’ consent to work in excess of 48 hours in a week. Agreements with employees must specify the number of excess hours that the employees agree to work.

Similarly, employers continue to need employees’ consent to average their hours over two or more weeks to determine overtime pay entitlement.

Agreements with employees must specify the number of weeks over which the hours will be averaged.

The averaging period cannot be longer than four weeks or the number of weeks specified in the agreement, whichever is less.

Averaging agreements already in effect on April 3 remain valid until they are revoked, Employment Standards’ approval expires, or it is revoked, whichever comes first.


Quebec

Minimum wage increased May 1

On May 1, the Quebec government increased the province’s general minimum wage rate from $12 an hour to $12.50.

It also raised the rate for employees who receive tips from $9.80 per hour to $10.05.

In addition, it increased the rate for workers who pick raspberries from $3.56/kilogram to $3.71, and the rate for those who pick strawberries from $0.95/kilogram to $0.99.


Yukon

Bill proposes changes to unpaid leaves

The territorial government has tabled legislation proposing changes to some of the leaves of absence allowed under Yukon’s employment standards
legislation.

Bill 31, an Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, which received first reading on March 12, would increase the length of some leaves and expand others.

It would increase the length of parental leave from 37 weeks to 63 weeks. It would also extend the period within which employees would have to complete the leave from the first anniversary date of the birth or adoption to 78 weeks afterwards.

The amendments would also specify that the total amount of parental leave that one employee could take for a birth or adoption would be 63 weeks, while the total amount of parental leave that more than one employee could take for the same birth or adoption would be 71 weeks.

The bill proposes to increase the length of compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 28 weeks. The period within which employees must complete the leave would be extended from 26 weeks after it began to 52 weeks afterwards.

The bill would also expand eligibility for leave for a critically ill child to include family members beyond the child’s parents.

The period within which employees must complete the leave would be extended from 37 weeks after it began to 52 weeks afterwards.

In addition, the bill proposes to establish a new 17-week unpaid leave of absence for employees providing care or support for a critically ill adult family member. To be eligible for the leave, employees would have to be employed by their employer for at least six months of continuous employment.

The government said the amendments would more closely align Yukon’s leave standards with eligibility rules for employment insurance benefits.

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