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Payroll News Canada

January 2017 - Welcome to the latest edition of The Payroll News! As always, please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and associates who are interested in keeping up with the latest changes in Canadian Payroll and Employment News. Federal and Provincial news items are listed immediately below followed by our Featured Article.


Tip of the Month Federal News Provincial News
Featured Article Software Updates Newsletter Archive


Tip of the Month

January 2017 - Payroll Podcasts From the CRA - Did you know that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) now provides a podcast series? Tune in to (or download) the very first podcast and hear from a CRA expert as she talks about taxable benefits and the key concepts employers need to understand to determine if a benefit they give their employees is taxable. Additional electronic CRA services are highlighted, including Direct Deposit, My Business Account, and help for persons with visual impairments. Click Here to learn more about this exciting new information series.

Looking for past tips? Please visit our Tip of the Month archive for historical tips other useful information that will assist with your payroll and HR tasks.

Canadian Federal Payroll and HR News

January 19, 2017 - Canada Summer Jobs 2017 application period for employers extended - The Federal Government announced that the employer application period for the 2017 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program is being extended until February 3, 2017, to allow more employers to apply for funding to hire summer students.  Employers who haven’t already applied are invited to do so today. All small businesses, not-for-profit organizations and public-sector employers are encouraged to apply for funding from the Government of Canada to hire summer students. The CSJ program creates summer job opportunities and valuable work experience specifically for students ages 15 to 30. (Full Story)

January 11, 2017 - Canada’s Labour Market Ended 2016 on a High Note - Canada added more than 50,000 jobs in December, bringing the total for 2016 to 214,000. The total for last month was 54,000, according to Statistics Canada. The economy actually added 81,000 full-time jobs during the month, but that was slightly offset by a loss of 27,000 part-time positions. The results were a positive surprise to economists, who had been expecting a slight loss of jobs during the month. Because more people were looking for work, too, the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.9 per cent. The year 2016 was the best for job creation in Canada since 2012, the data agency said. (Full Story)

January 9, 2017 - Doctors frustrated workers’ compensation boards seem to ignore medical opinions, report says - They are the first port of call for workers hurt on the job. But when decisions are made about accident victims with complex injuries, a new study suggests doctors feel sidelined by workers’ compensation boards. The report, conducted by the independent, Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health, examined the role of doctors and other health care professionals in workers’ compensation across four provinces, including Ontario. It found doctors treating workers with complicated or prolonged conditions were frustrated by an “opaque and confusing” system where their views on a safe return to work after an accident appeared to sometimes be ignored by case managers with no medical training. (Full Story)

January 8, 2017 - Canada adds 54,000 jobs in December - Canada added more than 50,000 jobs in December, bringing the total for 2016 to 214,000. The total for last month was 54,000, according to Statistics Canada. The economy actually added 81,000 full-time jobs during the month, but that was slightly offset by a loss of 27,000 part-time positions. The results were a positive surprise to economists, who had been expecting a slight loss of jobs during the month. Because more people were looking for work, too, the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.9 per cent. The year 2016 was the best for job creation in Canada since 2012, the data agency said. (Full Story)

January 3, 2017 - CTF Reviews Canada's New Year Tax Changes - The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) has released a report on the impact of the federal and provincial tax changes that have now entered into force. The CTF said that the two main federal measures are changes to Employment Insurance (EI) premiums and the first full-year of the means-tested Canada Child Benefit (CCB). For the last four years, the EI rate has been 1.88 percent for employees and 2.63 percent for employers on insurable wages. From January, EI rates will fall to 1.63 for employees and 2.28 percent for employers. According to the CTF, this payroll tax cut is worth up to CAD132 (USD98) for employees and CAD185 for employers. (Full Story)

December 31, 2016 - Payroll deduction changes - Canadian employees will see some differences on their first pay stub in 2017. Employment insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deductions will reappear on the paycheques of workers who maxed out their deductions part way through 2016. But the move to a new, seven-year "break-even" calculation for EI premiums could bring savings worth up to $118.85 annually for those making $51,300 or more. Previous premiums, set at $1.88 per $100 earned, were delivering more revenue to the government than it required to administer and pay benefits. A new, lower premium was announced in September for workers ($1.63) and employers ($1.63 x 1.4 = $2.28). Some small employers qualify for an additional premium reduction. (Full Story)

December 30, 2016 - Government Announces the 2017 Automobile Deduction Limits and Expense Benefit Rates for Business - Finance Minister Bill Morneau today announced the income tax deduction limits and expense benefit rates that will apply in 2017 when using an automobile for business purposes. Although most of the limits and rates that applied in 2016 will continue to apply in 2017, there is one change taking effect as of 2017. The general prescribed rate that is used to determine the taxable benefit of employees relating to the personal portion of automobile operating expenses paid by their employers will be reduced by 1 cent to 25 cents per kilometre. For taxpayers who are employed principally in selling or leasing automobiles, the prescribed rate used to determine the employee’s taxable benefit will be reduced by 1 cent to 22 cents per kilometre. (Full Story)

December 21, 2016 - Change to the Employment Insurance waiting period begins January 1, 2017 - Starting next month, the Employment Insurance (EI) waiting period will be shortened from two weeks to one week. This measure is part of the Government of Canada’s robust plan to improve the EI program and help Canada’s middle class and those working hard to join it. The waiting period acts like the deductible that must be paid for other types of insurance. Shortening the waiting period is expected to ease the financial strain for EI claimants and will put an estimated additional $650 million in the pockets of Canadians annually beginning next year. (Full Story)

December 16, 2016 - Interest rates for the first calendar quarter - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) today announced the prescribed annual interest rates that will apply to any amounts owed to the CRA and to any amounts the CRA owes to individuals and corporations. These rates will be in effect from January 1, 2017, to March 31, 2017. There have been no changes to the prescribed interest rates since last quarter, except for the interest rate for corporate taxpayers’ pertinent loans or indebtedness. (Full Story)

December 13, 2016 - Government of Canada takes early action to improve the Temporary Foreign Worker Program - The Federal Government has announced first steps as part of the Government’s commitment to bring forward a suite of meaningful changes to make the Temporary Foreign Worker Program work for workers, for employers and for the Canadian economy. These initial improvements are being taken now while the Government continues to work on the development of a more comprehensive policy. In order to prevent unnecessary hardship and instability for both workers and employers, the four-year cumulative duration rule will no longer apply to temporary foreign workers in Canada, effective immediately. (Full Story)

Provincial Payroll and HR News (Choose a province to expand the articles)


January 20, 2017 - STEP 2017 creates jobs for Alberta’s students - Thanks to recent improvements to the application process, it’s now easier than ever to apply for STEP. The program provides funding to eligible Alberta employers to hire summer students. Employers receive a $7-per-hour wage subsidy to provide students with work experience from May to August. Last year, STEP helped approximately 2,700 students connect to valuable work experience with more than 1,200 employers across the province. The program is available to small businesses, non-profit organizations, public libraries, school boards, publicly funded post-secondary institutions, municipalities, First Nations and Métis settlements. (Full Story)

January 18, 2017 - Number of people getting EI benefits in Alberta hits near-record levels - New data shows nearly 100,000 people in Alberta were receiving employment insurance benefits as recently as November, giving a clearer picture of the damage done by the recent recession. The number of people receiving EI benefits rose to 97,000 in November, which is almost a 60 per cent increase from 2015. In December 2014, that number was below 30,000. The amount of people receiving benefits in November was up 3.4 per cent from the previous month. Most other provinces saw those rates staying steady or showing modest declines. (Full Story)

January 18, 2017 - Latest Employment Insurance numbers show continued tough trend in Alberta - The latest numbers from Statistics Canada showed nearly 97,000 Albertans received Employment Insurance last November. Across Canada, the numbers remained relatively unchanged at 574,500 people, but Alberta's figures showed a 3.5 per cent bump over the previous month, and a 57 per cent increase over the same period in 2015. Most of those EI recipients were in Alberta's cities. In Calgary, the November EI number was just over 32,000 people. Edmonton saw nearly a five per cent increase in the number of people receiving EI benefits. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - Alberta unemployment falls to 8.5% as Calgary rate remains highest among major cities - Alberta's unemployment rate fell to 8.5 per cent in December as the province gained thousands of full-time jobs. That's down from a peak of nine per cent in November, which was the highest unemployment rate Alberta had seen in 22 years. The latest data from Statistics Canada, released Friday, shows an increase of 18,500 full-time jobs in December compared to the previous month. Part-time employment, over the same time, was down by 11,600 jobs, although that was within the margin of error of the Labour Force Survey. In Calgary, specifically, unemployment remained the highest of any major city in the country at 10.2 per cent. (Full Story)

December 16, 2016 - WCB 2016 annual return - The Alberta Worker's Compensation Board has posted a notice that if you have workers, you're required to report your insurable earnings by February 28, 2017. The notice also states that your annual return PIN letter will be mailed to you at the end of December/early January 2017. Businesses are encouraged to log in and submit their annual returns starting on January 1, 2017. (Full Story)

January 23, 2017 - WorkBC’s Find Your Fit to showcase B.C.’s in-demand jobs in Nanaimo - Young people of Nanaimo will have an opportunity to learn the skills they will need for tomorrow’s in-demand occupations. WorkBC’s Find Your Fit tour will be making its next stop at the Island ConnectED School, Jan. 24, 2017. Find Your Fit is an interactive event where individuals of all ages can learn about B.C.’s in-demand careers and test out some of the skills they would need for those occupations. Participants will also get to know career planning tools – such as Blueprint Builder and Career Trek videos - and the job resources and labour market information WorkBC.ca offers. (Full Story)

January 18, 2017 - B.C. tech sector now employing more than 100,000 people - BC Stats’ latest figures confirm jobs and wages in B.C’s technology sector have broken a new record as B.C.’s technology industry continues to flourish. BC Stats’ Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition shows B.C.’s technology sector remains a top provincial performer; employing 101,700 people earning a weekly average salary of $1,590 - 75% higher than the average wage in B.C., and higher than the Canadian technology sector average of $1,480/week. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - Employer sponsors keep B.C.’s apprenticeship system humming - With almost one million job openings anticipated between now and 2025, British Columbia wants to encourage employers to sponsor apprentices and help build and expand the province’s skilled workforce to meet this growing labour demand. The B.C. government has extended its Training Tax Credit program to 2017, giving refundable tax credits to employers who hire apprentices, and providing apprentices with personal income tax credits. Sponsoring an apprentice is a key way for employers to guarantee they have skilled, prepared workers to meet future labour demands. According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, for every dollar an employer invests in apprenticeship training, there is an average return on investment of $1.47. (Full Story)

January 1, 2017 - Start the year with a new career in the trades - The start of a new year marks a fresh beginning full of opportunity. If a new job is on your "to-do" list, the BC government is encouraging you to consider a future in a rewarding career in the trades. The British Columbia 2025 Labour Market Outlook ranks a career in trades, transportation and related occupations among the top opportunities in B.C., with approximately 123,000 job openings forecasted over the 10-year outlook period. Training for a career in the trades is valuable. The 2015 Apprenticeships Student Outcomes Survey indicated that 98% of employed former traditional apprenticeship students are working full-time with a median hourly wage of $31. (Full Story)

December 16, 2016 - FACTSHEET: Single Parent Employment Initiative - The Single Parent Employment Initiative (SPEI) removes barriers to employment for single parents on income and disability assistance, providing them with the training and supports they need to secure long-term employment. Among a number of benefits, single parents on income or disability assistance may be eligible for up to 12 months of training for an in-demand job, or a paid work experience placement. Single parents will be able to remain on income assistance if they attend a training program. (Full Story)

January 3, 2017 - Four-year rule for TFWs tossed out - Federal officials recently announced that temporary foreign workers (TFWs) will no longer be required to leave Canada after four years’ employment. The government will also begin paving the way for more to remain in Canada permanently. The "cumulative duration" or "four-in, four-out rule", was a requirement that these workers could only work here four years then had to leave the country. The federal government also says it is now committed to further developing pathways to permanent residency for eligible applicants among temporary foreign workers. (Full Story)

January 2017 - The Workers Compensation Act Legislative Review - Manitoba businesses have until February 15, 2017 to submit their ideas about how to improve The Workers Compensation Act. In 2016, The Manitoba government wishes to ensure that the act meets the needs of injured workers, their families and employers. The last review of the Act took place in 2005 and had 100 recommendations. From November 15, 2016 to February 15, 2017, the Workers Compensation Act Legislative Review Committee 2016 (LRC) is looking for input from workers, employers, labour unions, industry and safety associations, key stakeholders and interested Manitobans. The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) covers approximately 75 percent of our workforce and serves over 34,000 employers. (Full Story)

December 20, 2016 - Province Announces Support For Training-To-Employment Initiative In Swan Valley - The provincial government is providing support to help unemployed or underemployed individuals in northern Manitoba work toward certification as heavy-duty technicians, agricultural equipment technicians, and truck and transport mechanics. The province will provide almost $250,000 for the initiative, which takes candidates through the Level 1 accredited pre-employment training and industrial experience needed to progress toward Red Seal Certification. Red Seal Certification allows qualified tradespeople to work anywhere in Canada where their trade is designated, without having to write further examinations. (Full Story)

January 20, 2017 - Saint John business services centre to create 350 jobs - Sears Canada is opening a business services centre in Saint John this spring, creating 350 new jobs. Combined with Wednesday’s announcement of a similar centre in Edmundston, the company is adding 530 jobs in New Brunswick. The jobs at the Saint John centre will include business services agents, team leads, information technology support, human resources personnel, administrative support and managers. Recruitment and training will begin in early March, with the centre scheduled to begin taking calls this spring. (Full Story)

January 19, 2017 - 'Significant' hike in WorkSafeNB rates likely in 2018, employers told - Employers in New Brunswick should expect another "significant" increase in the rates they pay in 2018, on top of the 33 per cent hike they were hit with at the start of January, says WorkSafe NB. The Crown corporation appeared before a committee of MLAs Thursday, with acting president and CEO Tim Petersen offering a detailed explanation of why the rates are going up. Employers started paying $1.48 per $100 of assessed payroll on Jan. 1, up from $1.11 last year. Petersen told MLAs the increases come in part from appeal tribunal decisions that rewrite WorkSafe policy and must be implemented, increasing benefits that are paid out to workers injured on the job. (Full Story)

January 12, 2017 - Minimum wage to increase in April - The provincial government reiterated its commitment today to increase the minimum wage from $10.65 per hour to $11 per hour. The increase will take effect on April 1. This marks the third increase to the minimum wage in New Brunswick since December 2014. Over the last several months, the province has consistently been among the growth leaders in average weekly earnings, and continues to lead the country in growth on a year-to-date basis. These minimum wage increases have contributed to that growth. (Full Story)

December 19, 2016 - Second-language training for eligible unemployed adults to begin in January - Free second-language training for eligible unemployed adults will begin in January 2017. In September, the provincial government announced a $1 million investment for this initiative. The training will be open to unemployed New Brunswickers who have identified second-language training in their Employment Action Plan with an employment counsellor. The initiative will be open to New Brunswick residents who fit a number of criterion, including; being currently unemployed; 18 or older; not a full-time student; and working with an employment counsellor to develop an Employment Action Plan. (Full Story)

January 18, 2017 - Occupational Health and Safety Awareness Survey - The Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, Department of Finance, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is now conducting an Occupational Health and Safety Awareness survey on behalf of WorkplaceNL. This survey will assess the level of health and safety awareness in workers, supervisors and employers in our province. The injury rate is at an all-time low in our province, at 1.5 lost-time incidents per 100 workers, after remaining stable at 1.6 for the previous three years. We recognize that further reductions in the injury rate will be increasingly challenging to achieve. Your feedback, via the survey, will provide us guidance to focus our efforts. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - N.L. bucks national trend, ends 2016 with 5,700 fewer working people - Thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are entering the new year without a job, according to Statistics Canada. Data released Friday show that 5,700 fewer people were working in December 2016 than 2015 in the province. The 2.5 per cent decrease in overall employment is the biggest drop in any of the five provinces that saw a decline in 2016. Across Canada, there were 218,000 more people working by the end of 2016 than in 2015. (Full Story)

December 21, 2016 - Strengthening the Workers' Compensation Appeals Process - The Provincial Government has appointed one full-time and two part-time review commissioners to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division. The appointments were made through the merit-based appointment process established by the Independent Appointments Commission Act and are effective immediately. (Full Story)

December 12, 2016 - Provincial Government Introduces Presumptive Cancer Coverage for Firefighters - The Provincial Government has advanced an amendment to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act and Regulations to provide presumptive cancer coverage for the province’s career and volunteer firefighters. With the legislative amendment, qualifying firefighters will receive wage-loss benefits, medical aids, and certain other benefits through WorkplaceNL, while health care costs associated with firefighters’ cancer treatment will be paid through the Medical Care Plan. (Full Story)

December 5, 2016 - Provincial Government Enhancing Compassionate Care Leave - The Provincial Government is announcing enhancements to Compassionate Care Leave under the Labour Standards Act to bring provincial legislation in line with recent changes to the federal Employment Insurance (EI) Program and the Canada Labour Code. Today the Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour, introduced an amendment to the Labour Standards Act to increase Compassionate Care Leave provisions from eight to 28 weeks. (Full Story)

January 9, 2017 - Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Launches new e-Services on WSCC Connect - The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) has announced the release of new e-Services, added to WSCC Connect. "Report Payroll" allows businesses to submit and revise their annual payroll reports online. There are two options to submit; Fast File, aimed at single-industry employers to report in one sitting; and Advanced Payroll Reporting, which provides a full range of payroll e-Services and allows users to save information before completing and submitting their reports. WSCC Connect launched in October 2015, to provide Northerners with fast, convenient access to WSCC services. (Full Story)

January 5, 2017 - 2017 automobile deduction limits announced - Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced the income tax deduction limits and expense benefit rates that will apply in 2017 when using an automobile for business purposes. Most of the limits and rates that were in effect in 2016 will continue to apply this year, but the taxable benefit rate on the personal use portion of an employee's automobile operating expenses will be reduced by 1 cent to 25 cents per kilometre. The prescribed rate used to determine the taxable benefit for those employed principally in selling or leasing automobiles will also be reduced by 1 cent, down to 22 cents per kilometre. (Full Story)

January 3, 2017 - Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Announces New Workers’ Advisor - The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) has welcomed the appointment of Mr. Patrick Scott of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, as the new Worker’s Advisor for the Northwest Territories & Nunavut. The Workers’ Advisor acts independently and impartially from the WSCC, helping injured workers and their dependants through every step of the claims process, such as: Getting information from the WSCC;
Talking with the WSCC about the claim and trying to work out a solution to areas of disagreement; and Explaining the WSCC process and decisions. (Full Story)

December 2, 2016 - WSCC Seeks Input on Proposed Legislative Changes and Safety Ticketing - The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) continues to seek feedback on the proposed changes to the Workers’ Compensation Acts (WCAs) of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and on the proposal to introduce a safety ticketing system. Last month the WSCC met with Stakeholders in Yellowknife and Iqaluit to discuss proposed changes to the WCA. The proposed changes will not alter the rights, duties, or obligations of employers and workers, but instead will make the Acts easier to understand and apply. The WSCC continues to engage with stakeholders about introducing a system of tickets and fines for non-compliance with some of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations. (Full Story)

January 17, 2017 - WCB introduces new fee structure for hearing health professionals and change to battery process for workers - WCB Nova Scotia has introduced changes to how they work with hearing health professionals in Nova Scotia, including a new process for workers to receive hearing aid batteries. The changes include a new process and fee schedule for hearing health clinics to follow, negotiating access to quality hearing aids directly with manufacturers, and introducing a new way for workers to receive batteries for their hearing aids.  Hearing loss due to workplace noise is one of the most common long-term workplace injuries in Nova Scotia. The changes provide greater clarity about the services covered by WCB Nova Scotia to help ensure a consistent level of service for all workers with hearing loss. (Full Story)

January 11, 2017 - Government Markets Public Service Jobs on New Site - Candidates seeking a job with the Nova Scotia public service can now find job listings on jobs.novascotia.ca. This change moves the hiring and application process almost exclusively online which means less paperwork and quicker internal processing. Nova Scotia government jobs will no longer be hosted on Career Beacon. Anyone with a current profile on Career Beacon can create a new account at jobs.novascotia.ca. Once a candidate has created a profile on the new system they can fill out government job applications more quickly. (Full Story)

January 5, 2017 - Government Works to Improve Health Care Workplace Safety - Occupational health and safety officers are working with health-care workers to raise awareness about strain, sprain and inflammation injury prevention. Officers visited 36 health-care facilities across the province between March and July of 2016. The goal was to engage workers in discussions about health and safety programs. The steps to improve workplace safety are part of a larger initiative with a number of stakeholders in the health-care sector. Stakeholders include WCB Nova Scotia, AWARE-NS, the Department of Health and Wellness, the Health Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and others. (Full Story)

January 25, 2017 - Employment Assistance Services (EAS) - The Government of Nunavut website provides a page for Employment Assistance Services (EAS). The Career Development division and local Career Development Officers are available to help residents connect to a number of career services including labour market information, employment and career counseling, career action planning, resume writing workshops, interview skills and more. Anyone looking for information about the local labour market or who may need assistance in looking for or applying to jobs is welcome to apply for this service. (Full Story)

December 1, 2016 - Call for proposals - training and employment initiatives - The Department of Family Services is now accepting proposals for targeted employment and training initiatives to be delivered in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Training providers, including non-profit organizations and institutions, municipal corporations, Inuit organizations and societies can apply for funding to deliver programs in the following areas: employment readiness and preparation, essential skills, sector-specific training, training and employment programs for persons living with a disability, and training and employment programs for out-of-school youth aged 15-30. (Full Story)

January 24, 2017 - Ontario Helping Students to Gain Hands-On Job Experience - Ontario is helping students apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world challenges through a new fund that supports research and development projects. Some of the benefits of the fund include: allowing students to gain hands-on work experience in their field; and creating opportunities for students to act as consultants to companies, while receiving faculty mentorship and integrating these projects with their academic courses. This will help ensure that the skills students learn in the classroom match the jobs that employers are looking to fill. This will help to strengthen Ontario's highly skilled, market-ready workforce, which is a key driver in attracting investment to Ontario. (Full Story)

January 23, 2017 - Ontario Helping Keep Workers Safe on the Job - Ontario is helping to enhance the well-being of workers across the province by supporting projects that will help employees stay healthy and safe at work. The province will provide support to organizations creating innovative solutions to health and safety issues in today's changing workplace through its annual Occupational Health, Safety and Prevention Innovation Program (OHSPIP). Employers can apply to the program for support to implement their workplace health and safety projects. The deadline to apply for this year’s OHSPIP grant program is on April 25, 2017. (Full Story)

January 9, 2017 - WSIB Grants Program now accepting proposals for return to work and recovery and innovations in service - The 2017 application process for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Grants Program is now open. Through the Program, the WSIB invites proposals for highly practical expert research studies and training initiatives to achieve better return-to-work and recovery outcomes for injured and ill workers, and to deliver innovations in service within Ontario’s workplace compensation system. The WSIB accepts different types of proposals through the Grants Program, such as: workplace-based projects that establish partnerships between the workplace, researchers, and organizations; and training initiatives delivered by highly qualified professionals that resolve long-standing barriers or address emerging issues. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - Ontario Adds 9,100 Jobs in December - Employment in Ontario increased by 9,100 in December - bolstered by gains in construction and professional, scientific and technical services. On an annual average basis, the total increase in Ontario's employment in 2016 was 76,400. The majority of these new jobs are full-time positions, in the private sector and in industries that pay above-average wages. Ontario's unemployment rate was 6.4 per cent in December, and has been lower than the national average for 20 months in a row. (Full Story)

December 20, 2016 - Regulation and Fee Changes Coming Into Force January 1, 2017 - Numerous legislation and regulation changes came into effect on January 1, 2017. Changes relevant to HR and employment include: The AODA requires that small businesses and non-profit organizations must make their HR practices accessible; WSIA will help firefighters and their families get the support and care they need by adding primary-skin cancer to the list of diseases presumed to be related to their work; an amendment to the Employment Standards Act will provide an alternative entitlement to personal emergency leave (PEL) for employees in the auto sector that work in an organization with 50 or more employees. (Full Story)

December 16, 2016 - Ontario Working with Federal Government to Protect Temporary Foreign Workers - The Ontario government is working with the Government of Canada to ensure temporary foreign workers are treated fairly and kept safe on the job through a new information-sharing agreement. The agreement allows the federal government and the province to exchange data, including the names of employers and recruitment agents seeking to hire temporary foreign workers. Last year, Ontario extended protections contained in the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 to all foreign nationals employed or seeking employment via an immigration of foreign temporary employee program. (Full Story)

December 7, 2016 - Ontario Helping People Facing Employment Barriers Get Construction Jobs: Supportive Quotes - The Ontario Government is looking at new ways to assist disadvantaged and equity-seeking communities with employment opportunities. This initiative is supported by working with industry to ensure all contractors working on AFP projects submit and implement apprenticeship plans. The community benefits declaration and the Public Infrastructure Construction Pathways Pilot Project is a promising example of innovative social policy. The aim is to provide practical training and create good jobs for individuals who are facing employment challenges, while also supporting business competitiveness and economic growth in Ontario. (Full Story)

January 13, 2017 - Employment assistance services to be modernized - It will soon be easier for Prince Edward Island employers and job seekers to connect with one another. The province’s employment assistance services are being integrated to make service more consistent, reduce duplication, and improve assessment tools and access to training. The new model of service delivery was developed with 11 existing service providers across the province. The Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning began reviewing employment assistance services several months ago after a recommendation from the auditor-general. The review identified a need to make services for job seekers more consistent, enhance service to employers, and better publicize the employment services. (Full Story)

January 13, 2017 - P.E.I. bringing employment services together, focusing more on employers - The P.E.I. government has announced major changes to the way it provides employment services through non-governmental groups. Currently the province contracts 11 different agencies to provide employment services. It will retain six of those, which provide specialized services. The main goal of the changes is to develop a workforce where employers' needs are better matched with workers' skills. Employers have identified that the availability of a trained workforce is their biggest challenge. The new amalgamated agency will work closely with Skills PEI, UPEI, and Holland College to ensure skills training meets the needs of Island employers. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - P.E.I. manufacturing jobs on the rise with increased revenues - P.E.I. manufacturers are making more money, and they are spending some of those growing revenues on more jobs. Manufacturing revenues on the Island were up 31 per cent from 2012 to 2015. Average annual jobs over that period saw an increase of 21 per cent. There was an average of 4,950 manufacturing jobs on the Island in 2012, and 5,970 in 2015. The growth levelled off somewhat in 2016, when there was an average of 6080 jobs. The manufacturing industry stands out from P.E.I.'s largest employment sector, retail and wholesale. While revenues are up in retail, the number of jobs in that sector has fallen. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - P.E.I. loses full-time jobs in 2016 - Job numbers on the Island were largely unchanged from November to December, finalizing a significant loss of full-time jobs over the course of 2016. The total number of jobs on the Island was largely unchanged from January to December, but there was a shift from full-time to part-time work. In all there was a loss of 1,600 full-time jobs, down 2.6 per cent. P.E.I. ended the year with an unemployment rate of 10.7 per cent. (Full Story)

January 5, 2017 - Training, support offered for female entrepreneurs - Female entrepreneurs hoping to start or expand a business in Prince Edward Island are eligible for a new internship program. The SYnC program, Supporting Youth in Careers, offers skills training, business support and guidance for women interested in entrepreneurship. It starts January 16 and runs until March 31 in Charlottetown and Montague. The intern positions are full time and available to youth between the ages of 15 and 30 who have some post-secondary education. Interns will work independently and collaboratively with peers in group workshops and will learn from community leaders, business people, and other mentors. (Full Story)

December 19, 2017 - P.E.I. groups call changes for temporary foreign workers 'encouraging' - Islanders involved with temporary foreign workers are encouraged by changes to the program announced last week by the federal government. The government has scrapped the cumulative-duration rule - also known as the "four-in, four-out" rule - which limited how long temporary foreign workers could stay in Canada. After four years, the worker would have to leave Canada for four years, or stay as a student or visitor. (Full Story)

January 17, 2017 - Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act to recognize psychological injury - If a person has incurred a psychological injury through a traumatic event or series of traumatic events at work, the injured worker should submit a Worker’s Initial Report of Injury (W1) with the WCB as soon as possible. Affected persons are also encouraged to participate with their employer, care provider and the WCB in setting up a personalized return-to-work plan. The plan usually includes treatment, employment services and suitable work duties. Saskatchewan will be the first jurisdiction to establish a presumption for all forms of psychological injury incurred through work, not just post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to apply this to all workers. (Full Story)

January 6, 2017 - Unemployment Rate Drops in December - Saskatchewan recorded a 6.5 per cent unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in December 2016, down from 6.8 per cent in November 2016.   There were 563,000 people employed in the province in December 2016.  Year-over-year, there was a decrease of 7,900 jobs. Over the same period, Alberta recorded a loss of 17,300 jobs, while Newfoundland and Labrador recorded a loss of 5,700 jobs.  All three oil producing provinces recorded the highest job losses in Canada. (Full Story)

December 20, 2016 - Workers' Compensation Act Amended to Support Workers with Psychological Injuries - Bill 39, an amendment to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013, becomes law on December 20, 2016. The amendment establishes a rebuttable presumption for all forms of psychological injuries, which means that if a worker has experienced a traumatic event or a number of events in the course of their work and has been diagnosed as having a psychological injury, it is presumed that the injury is the result of their employment. Workers with PTSD or similar injuries have been eligible to apply for Workers' Compensation Board coverage under a policy that has been in place since 1992. (Full Story)

December 13, 2017 - WCB’s 2017 Assessable Earnings - In 2017, the maximum assessable earning is $76,086. Employers are asked to provide a payroll estimate at the beginning of the year so the WCB can determine employers’ premiums. The payroll estimate should always be an accurate reflection of what an employer will be paying to their workers in the year. Employers only need to report wages for each worker up to the maximum assessable earnings each year. For example, if you have a worker who receives a T4 for $100,000, you are only required to report $76,086 for that worker. Make sure that this estimate is always current because employers will be charged a penalty if this is underestimated. Employers can revise their payroll estimate at any time throughout the year. (Full Story)

December 5, 2017 - WCB Approves 2017 Employer Premium Rates – Saskatchewan rates expected to be third lowest in the country - The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) approved the 2017 average employer premium rate for 48,357 employers covered by workers’ compensation. Employer premium rates have dropped from the 2016 average rate of $1.34 to $1.24, which is a 7.5 percent decrease. The decreases in the 2017 rates range from 1.8 percent to 18.6 percent. For the employers in these 43 rate codes, the average decrease is 7.6 percent. He noted there will be no change in the average premium rate for 2,367 employers in four industry rate codes. (Full Story)

December 2, 2016 - 2,400 New Jobs Created Last Month - In November 2016, there was an increase of 2,400 jobs in Saskatchewan compared to the previous month (0.4 per cent) on a seasonally adjusted basis, tied for the second highest percentage increase among the provinces. In the rest of Western Canada, Alberta's employment was down 12,800 (-0.6 per cent), B.C.’s was down 9,300 (-0.4 per cent) and Manitoba’s was down 900 (-0.1 per cent) from the previous month (seasonally adjusted). There were 567,800 Saskatchewan people employed in November 2016.  Year-over-year, there were 10,000 fewer jobs. (Full Story)

January 20, 2017 - Unions call for more enforcement of labour rules - Yukon union leaders say changes are needed to prevent contractors on government projects from paying workers too little or refusing to pay overtime. Jeff Sloychuk, a representative for the Yukon Carpenters Union Local 2499, said there's not enough enforcement of the territory's Employment Standards Act, and contractors in violation only get caught if an employee makes a formal complaint. The issue first made headlines in December, when local media reported that B.C.-based Pitt Meadows Plumbing and Mechanical Ltd. was trying to hire a plumber to work on the Whistle Bend continuing care facility for wages below the Yukon's fair wage schedule. The fair wage schedule sets out the minimum rates that tradespeople and other workers on Yukon government jobs must be paid. (Full Story)

January 17, 2017 - Tradespeople report not getting paid Yukon's Fair Wage by contractors - Yukon labour groups are advising tradespeople to know what they're supposed to be paid when they work on territorial public works projects and to file a complaint if they're offered less. The Fair Wage Schedule is published every year by the Yukon government. It sets pay rates for different levels of trades and it applies to general contractors and sub-contractors who employ workers on Yukon government public tender projects. (Full Story)

January 9, 2017 - December's jobless rate fell further - The territory's unemployment rate took another drop last month, falling to 4.6 per cent. The Yukon Bureau of Statistics released the data on Friday. The figure represents a decrease of more than a full percentage point from a year earlier, when there was a jobless rate of 5.8 per cent in the territory. Last month's unemployment rate marks the lowest rate for any month in 2016. May was just 0.3 per cent lower, at 4.9 per cent. The bureau noted "Yukon's seasonally adjusted employment in December 2016 was 20,800. The employment number increased by 1,300 or 6.7 per cent compared to a year ago in December 2015 (19,500)." (Full Story)

January 4, 2017 - Workers over 65 should be entitled to employer health plans - Imagine having your private health insurance - dental, vision, prescription drug, life, travel and disability coverage - terminated by your employer when you reach age 65, even though you're still working for them and just when you may really need it. Many employee benefit policies in Canada are null and void past age 65, regardless of a person's employment status. Many employer plans still use 65 as a criterion for ending insurance contracts instead of basing coverage on active versus retired status. (Full Story)

December 8, 2016 - Board Stays the Course with an Eye on Balancing the System - The Board of Directors of the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board will moderately increase some assessment rates in 2017, after it distributes another $10 million of its surplus reserves to employers as a rebate this year. Slightly less than half of Yukon's 3,576 registered employers will see a rate increase in 2017. The largest will be 5 per cent. Despite the increases, almost all rate groups will still pay less than they did from 2009 to 2015. (Full Story)

Featured Article: Be Careful Of Fixed Term Employment Agreements

On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to consider an appeal of an Ontario Court of Appeal decision. This decision is a useful reminder for employers about the care that needs to be taken with fixed term employment agreements.

An employee signed a five year fixed term agreement provided by the employer. The employee was dismissed, without cause, 23 months later. The employee then sued, claiming an entitlement to the remainder of the five year term.

The employer argued a provision in the agreement, which provided: Employment may be terminated at any time by the Employer and any amounts paid to the Employee shall be in accordance with the Employment Standards Act of Ontario.

Required only that termination pay be equal to the minimum standards in the legislation. The trial judge disagreed and ruled this provision was unenforceable because it was ambiguous, which is consistent with a decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal a few years ago which considered a contractual provision which said "you will be entitled to advance notice or severance pay thereof in accordance with the Employment Standards Act of Alberta." That determination was not appealed and the trial judge also ruled that the employee was entitled to common law damages.

The employee appealed and the Ontario Court of Appeal found that because the employee was hired under a fixed term agreement, the employee was entitled to more than common law notice, and he was entitled to be paid for the remainder of the five year term of the agreement. The appeal court also found that the employee was not required to take steps to mitigate these damages. The Supreme Court of Canada, by refusing to hear the appeal, approved this decision.

The principles applied by the Supreme Court are not new. However, this case is a useful reminder to all employers about the care that needs to be taken in drafting employment agreements. Employment agreements, and especially employment agreements for a definite term, must include clear and unambiguous termination provisions. The consequences of not doing so, as this case shows, can be very expensive.

We encourage all employers to have their employment agreements reviewed before they are signed. Circumstances like this demonstrate that an ounce of prevention is worth - and a lot less expensive - than a pound of cure.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Article presented by permission from Glenn D. Tait, of McLennan Ross LLP.

Software Updates

GrandMaster Suite

  • Year-End Release - The current release (v10.04) includes the 2017 CRA and Quebec Tax formula changes.
  • Enhanced PDF Reporting - The Exception Report (available from the Calculate Payroll screen) now prints directly to the Adobe PDF format.
  • Improved Windows 10 Support - To ensure optimal compatibility, we have moved our development platform to a Windows 10 platform. This change enables us to review new features and reported software issues in a live environment.
  • Pay Statement Enhancements - Pay Period start Dates now appear on employee Pay Statements.
  • Generic Pay Stubs - A generic Pay Stub PDF form has been created. You can now print your Pay Statements to this form by selecting “Print using Background PDF” option on the bottom of the Selects tab in the Payroll Statements dialog box.
  • Employee Earnings - A  change was made to increase the speed of retrieval for Employee Earnings list.

GrandMaster II

  • Year-End Release - The current release (v11.04) includes the 2017 CRA and Quebec Tax formula changes.
  • T4 in PDF Format - Fixed an issue where the T4 PDF form would not resolve if the option to print with background was not selected.
  • Pay Statements Enhancements - Pay Statements now allow you to save to any file location/name that you choose instead of enforcing the default.

eNETEmployer (Current Release)

  • Year-End Release - The current release (v10.04) includes the 2017 CRA and Quebec Tax formula changes.
  • Pay Period End Dates - Fixed an issue where the Pay Period End date was missing when you uploaded reports to eNETInbox.
  • Accumulator Totals - Optimized the final total for accumulators on the Pay Register report to better summarize values for current and inactive employees.

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