Don’t miss these important pension and benefits dates for 2018

With 2017 coming to a close and 2018 on the horizon, professionals in the pension, investment, benefits and human resources industries have a number of dates to add to their calendars for the new year. 

Jan. 1:

  • Ontario’s new youth pharmacare program takes effect. It will provide universal coverage of all medicines listed in the Ontario Drug Benefit formulary to those under age 25.

Read: Ontario pharmacare program provides some relief to plan sponsors

  • Ontario’s new administrative monetary penalty regime takes effect. It will change the risk profile for plan sponsors and administrators, necessitating a review of governance and compliance policies.

Read: Incoming monetary penalties for Ontario pensions put spotlight on plan governance

  • The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is expanding its work-related mental-stress policy following decisions at the appeals tribunal that found the limits currently placed on entitlement criteria are unconstitutional.

Read: Sounding Board: How will the WSIB’s mental-stress changes affect employers?

  • Amendments in Ontario’s Bill 148 taking effect on Jan. 1, include: an increase in paid vacation to three weeks per year after five years of service; a new formula calculating holiday pay; and an increase in the minimum wage to $14 per hour. A number of extended leaves will also come into effect, including: 10 days of personal emergency leave, two of which will be paid; a new domestic violence leave of up to 10 days in each calendar year, five of which will be paid; an increase in family medical leave to up to 28 weeks in a 52-week period to provide care to a family member; an increase in pregnancy leave for employees who experience a still birth or miscarriage to 12 weeks; and an increase in leave for a crime-related child disappearance to 104 weeks.

Read: Sounding Board: Ontario’s Bill 148 adds administrative burdens, costs for employers

  • In Alberta, changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act take effect. Under the changes, Alberta employers will have to continue providing group benefits plans to injured workers under existing coverage for a year following an injury and support the return to work of employees who suffer injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

Read: Return-to-work plans, coverage for mental-health injuries among proposals in new Alberta bill

  • Alberta is also making changes with a new provision for five days of unpaid leave per year. The personal and family responsibility leave will provide for “personal emergencies and caregiving responsibilities related to education of a child,” according to a release. And the province will also introduce bereavement leave, unpaid for three days, for the first time.

Read: What do Canadian provinces offer around sick, emergency leave?

  • Also in Alberta, the province’s new dental fees guide takes affect. It provides for an 8.5 per cent cut in suggested prices for 60 common procedures.

Read: Alberta touts 8.5% price cut under updated dental fee guide

  • In Quebec, the default contribution rate for voluntary retirement savings plans will rise to three per cent of gross salary. Also, as of Dec. 31, 2017, employers in the province with 10 to 19 employees must have set up a VRSP or equivalent retirement savings plan for employees. Employers with 20 or more employees had to do so as of Jan. 1, 2017. 

Read: 2015 CAP Suppliers Report: Provinces hold the keys to CPP expansion

  • Morneau Shepell Ltd. takes over the continuing administration of Stelco Inc.’s five existing defined benefit pension plans.

Read: Morneau Shepell appointed administrator of Stelco’s five DB pension plans

  • The Canada Labour Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act will be revised to make it illegal for employers and insurance companies to ask for the results of genetic tests for life insurance policies under $250,000. They account for approximately 85 per cent of policies, according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association.

Read: Does this genetic testing bill threaten the insurance industry?

April 1:

  • New legislation in Ontario will require equal pay for casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees when performing substantially the same job for the same employer as full-time workers. Employees will also be able to ask an employer to review their wages if they believe they aren’t receiving equal pay for equal work.

Read: Highlights of Ontario’s labour law changes

July 1: 

  • Recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada, which could have a number of repercussions for employers.

Read: Tips for employers to prepare for legalization of recreational marijuana


  • The year’s maximum pensionable earnings under the Canada Pension Plan will rise by $600.

Read: YMPE to rise by $600 in 2018

  • The employment insurance premium rate will increase for both employees and employers, while maximum insurable earnings will increase to $51,700 from $51,300 in 2017.

Read: Government releases new EI premium rates, maximum insurable earnings for 2018

  • While the government hasn’t announced an exact date, Ontario’s new pension regulator — the Financial Services Regulatory Authority — is to be operational in 2018, according to the province’s Ministry of Finance.

Read: Ontario announces plans for new pension regulator

  • British Columbia’s pharmacare program will provide coverage for anyone in the province living with chronic hepatitis C, regardless of the type or severity of their disease.

Read: B.C. to expand drug coverage for hepatitis C patients