Federal, Provincial and Territorial Budget Highlights for 2015

Below is an overview of the various federal, provincial and territorial budgets and highlights including changes in policies and regulations that might affect group benefits plans. In 2015 the provincial and territorial budgets have focused on maintaining the momentum in economic recovery. In addition, they have introduced measures that work towards achieving a positive fiscal balance while attempting to maintain and improve important and vital public services. At the federal level the Finance Minister has also introduced a federal budget that has a projected surplus, the first in the last eight years.

Here are some highlights of 2015 budgets that includes the Federal, Alberta, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Saskatchewan Budgets.

Federal Budget: April 21, 2015

One of the key benefit changes in the Federal Budget was the announcement that Compassionate Care Benefits under Employment Insurance (EI) will be extended from 6 weeks to 6 months. This is being introduced to assist workers and Canadians to better care for and support family members who are gravely ill. This does not apply however to the duration of job-protected leave under the Canada Labour Code which remains unchanged at 8 weeks. There are still some uncertainties regarding both employer and employee contributions under the Code and new details and information will be provided as it becomes available.

For more information, please visit the Department of Finance Canada website.

Alberta Budget: March 26, 2015

The Alberta budget increased the Insurance Premium Tax charged on premiums for life, accident and sickness insurance by one percent from 2% to 3%, effective April 1, 2016. But as no legislation was passed on this change, and the Alberta legislature was dissolved on May 5, 2015, these provisions did not come into effect.

Ontario Budget: April 23, 2015

The Ontario Budget contained some measures that might affect the cost of employee benefits, but there is not yet enough information to provide and comment on their full impact. They include changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, increasing the access to fertility treatments, more convenient access to travel vaccines and disability benefits under the Ontario auto insurance program.

For more information, please visit the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Finance website.

Newfoundland and Labrador: April 30, 2015

There is a proposal to increase the current HST rate by 2% from 13% to 15%, effective January 1, 2016. This will impact the purchase and provision of goods and services under group benefit plans. There are also a number or changes regarding access to drug therapies, cancer treatments and vaccines.

For more information, please visit the
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Finance website.

Quebec Budget: March 26, 2015

The Quebec budget implementation included legislation for Bill 28 which expands pharmacist powers in Quebec which was discussed in detail on the site recently.

For more information, please visit the Province of Quebec’s Ministère des Finances website.

Saskatchewan Budget: March 18, 2015

This Budget introduced a Seniors Drug Plan whereby people who are eligible and 65 years and older pay a maximum of $20 for prescription drugs. It also lowers the seniors’ income threshold to $65,515, aligning it with the provincial income tax credit.

For more information, please visit the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Finance website

Category: Legislative Updates