Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

Feds and some provinces reach PRPP agreement
The federal government and four provinces have entered into a multi-lateral agreement for licensing and setting up pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) and voluntary retirement savings plans (VRSPs). 
The agreement among the governments of Canada, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan will simplify the licensing and registration process, says Saskatchewan Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant. 
He added that the agreement will “pave the way for employers to set up a pooled registered pension plan for their employees.”
The federal government and a number of provinces, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, have passed legislation to allow for PRPPs in recent years. The retirement savings plans are not mandatory; it is up to each employer to decide whether to sign up for one. 
Employers are not required to contribute to PRPPs, but can do so if they so choose.
VRSPs, which operate in Quebec, are similar to PRPPs. Unlike PRPPs in other provinces, though, the Quebec government is requiring employers to offer VRSPs to employees. The requirement applies to employers who have at least five employees with a minimum of one year of uninterrupted service and who do not already offer payroll deductions for a registered retirement savings plan or tax-free savings account or registered pension plan. 
Employers that had 20 or more eligible employees as of June 30 have to sign up for a plan by Dec. 31. Employers with 10 to 19 eligible employees as of June 30, 2017, have until Dec. 31, 2017, to offer a VRSP to employees. 
The government has not yet set a date for when employers with five to nine employees must comply, although it has said it would not be before Jan. 1, 2018.

Minimum wage going up 

The general minimum wage rate in Alberta will rise from $11.20 an hour to $12.20 on Oct. 1, Labour Minister Christina Gray recently announced.
She also confirmed that as of Oct. 1, the government would eliminate a separate minimum wage rate for liquor servers. 
In addition, Gray announced that other minimum wage rates would also go up at the beginning of October. 
The rate for certain salespersons specified in provincial regulations will rise from $446 per week to $486 on Oct 1.
The rate for domestic employees who live in their employer’s residence will increase from $2,127 per month to $2,316.
Gray also announced that the government would keep an election promise to raise the general minimum wage rate to $15 per hour by 2018. 
To achieve this, she said the government would increase the rate to $13.60 on Oct. 1, 2017 and to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018. 
The weekly and monthly rates that apply for salespersons and domestic employees would increase by equivalent amounts.

British Columbia
Reminder: Minimum wage increasing in September

The provincial government will raise the province’s general minimum wage rate from $10.45 an hour to $10.85 on Sept. 15, Shirley Bond, minister for jobs, tourism and skills training, and minister responsible for labour, recently announced.
The rate hike will include 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, 2016, it would index minimum wage rates using increases in the province’s CPI for the previous year (rounded to the nearest nickel). 
With British Columbia expected to lead the country in economic growth this year and next, the government said it decided that it could raise minimum wage rates beyond the CPI increase.
Bond says the government also plans to raise rates in 2017 to take into account the province’s CPI (estimated to be 10 cents) and economic growth (30 cents). 
As a result, effective Sept. 15, 2017, the general minimum wage rate is expected to increase to $11.25 an hour. 
The minimum wage rate for liquor servers is also going up. On Sept. 15, it will increase from $9.20 an hour to $9.60. A year later, it is expected to rise to $10.00. 
Bond says 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. 
The changes will take effect on the same dates as the other wage hikes. 

Nova Scotia
Athletes exempted from some LSC requirements
Beginning July 4, the provincial government exempted athletes playing on Nova Scotia-based teams from a number of labour standards requirements.
Athletes who are taking part in activities related to their athletic endeavour are no longer protected under the Labour Standards Code for minimum wage, vacation pay, statutory holiday, hours of work and termination of employment requirements. 
They continue to be covered under the code for other standards.

New Brunswick
ESA amendments receive royal assent
New Brunswick’s Legislative Assembly has passed amendments to employment standards legislation that affect compassionate care leave, employee pay statements and payroll records.
Bill 30, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, received royal assent on June 28.
It increases the number of weeks that an employee may take for a compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 28 weeks and extends the period within which employees may take the leave from 26 weeks to 28 weeks. 
The bill also amends the act to specify that employers may only provide employees with electronic pay statements if the employees have a way to make a paper copy of them. The new requirement will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. 
The amendment will apply in addition to current provisions in the act that require employers that want to use electronic pay statements to provide employees with confidential access to them in the workplace. 
The bill will also amend the recordkeeping standards to specify that employers must retain records on the date employees’ employment ends. The change will take effect on Jan. 1, 2017. 

Minimum wage going up

The minimum wage rate in Saskatchewan will rise from $10.50 an hour to $10.72 on Oct. 1, Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan recently announced.
Under Saskatchewan law, the government uses annual changes to the province’s consumer price index and average hourly wage to set the minimum wage rate.

Government moves forward with compassionate care amendments
The Saskatchewan government is proposing to increase the amount of unpaid time off work employees may take for a compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 28 weeks.
Don Morgan, minister of labour relations and workplace safety, tabled Bill 28, The Extension of Compassionate Care Act, 2016, in the provincial legislature on June 9. 
At publication time, the bill was still before the Legislative Assembly. 
Besides increasing the period of time off, the bill would amend the Saskatchewan Employment Act to stipulate that employees may only take one compassionate care leave in a 52-week period. 
The leave would continue to apply to family members with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks from the date an employee begins the leave.

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