2016 New Laws and Government Policies
Several new laws, government policies, and modifications to existing laws come into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, so here’s a rundown of the provincial and federal changes likely to impact your life in the new year.
Income tax cuts for the middle class
Justin Trudeau’s promised federal tax cut for the middle class (and tax hike for top earners). The income tax rate will drop to 20.5 per cent, down from 22 per cent, for taxable earnings between $45,282 and $90,563. At the same time, the rate on all income earned beyond $200,000 will rise from 29 per cent to 33 per cent. An estimated 319,000 Canadians will fall into this upper tax bracket.
TFSA dollar limit decreased
The federal limit for tax-free savings accounts will drop to $5,000 from $10,000, and will be indexed to inflation, as part of the Liberals’ new budget.
Easing student debt burdens
Starting Jan. 1, the Canada Student Loan Program will no longer cut support to working students for every dollar they earn over $100 a week.
Alberta: Tougher distracted driving penalties
Distracted drivers caught using electronic devices (cell phones, GPS and cameras) in Alberta will face a maximum penalty of three demerit points and a fine of $287, under new legislation that comes into effect Jan. 1.
B.C.: Health-care premiums going up
Health-care premiums will increase by four per cent on Jan 1, 2016. Monthly rates for a single person will increase by $3 to $75 per month, while families will pay an extra $6 per month for a total of $150.
Ontario: Winter tire tax break
Insurance companies will be required to offer some form of discount to Ontario drivers who install winter tires on their cars, in accordance with new legislation from the province’s Liberal government.
Ontario: Driver fines at crossovers
Starting Jan. 1, drivers in Ontario will have to wait until a pedestrian has reached the other side of a designated school crossing or pedestrian crossover, or face a fine between $150 and $500. The new law that is coming into effect will essentially require drivers to yield the entire width of the road to the pedestrian, instead of half the road, as was previously the case.
Ontario: Nuclear plant charge comes off hydro bills
Residential hydro customers will see a fee of about $5.60 a month removed from their bills beginning Jan. 1, as the Ontario government scraps a tax it was using to defray the cost of old nuclear plants. However, businesses will still be required to pay the fee.
Quebec: Stylish Montreal cabbies
Taxi cab drivers in Montreal will have to follow a dress code beginning Jan. 1, in accordance with a new law passed by city council. Cabbies will have to wear dark pants or shorts and a white shirt when they’re on the job. The dress code is part of Montreal’s efforts to emphasize the professionalism of its licensed cabbies, who are facing competition due to the cheaper rates offered by unregulated Uber drivers.
Manitoba: Broadens access to worker’s compensation for PTSD
Effective Jan. 1, the province of Manitoba will recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a work-related illness, meaning employees diagnosed with PTSD will have access to coverage under the Workers Compensation Board. The new legislation extends to all workers in province, so nurses and retail employees will be allowed to seek the same coverage as firefighters and first responders.
New Brunswick: No more flavored tobacco sales
The government of New Brunswick’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, comes into effect Jan. 1. The province has also prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes and e-juices to people under the age of 19.