After a delay, on Wednesday Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled a largely status quo budget as the Liberal government attempts to prepare for policy changes in the U.S.
Maternity leave top ups could be impacted
Among the announcements that could impact employers were an option for parents to receive EI parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33 per cent of average weekly earnings. EI parental benefits would continue to be available at the existing benefit rate of 55 per cent over a period of up to 12 months.
“For employers, a review of maternity and parental top up policies would make sense as the extended period at the lower rate could have an impact on the top up amounts,” said Tiina Liivet of Accompass. “Employer costs for these leaves could increase as a result of this change.”
Canadians can expect to see a five-cent increase in EI premium rates in fiscal 2018-19, up to $1.68 per $100 of insurable earnings, with some of that additional premium being used to fund expanded access to benefits.
In addition, as anticipated, Wednesday's budget did not include a tax on employer-sponsored health and dental benefit premium.
No more Canada Savings Bonds
As expected, the Liberals also announced that it would be phasing out the Canada Savings Bond program.
“These products have faced waning popularity amidst the availability of more innovative savings products,” explained Accompass consultant Mohamed Karmali.
The budget also introduced a new care giving benefit for up to 15 weeks to help Canadians care for adult family members.
Public transit, Uber, alcohol and cigarettes
The budget also included the phasing out of the 15 per cent public transit credit, and the introduction of GST and HST to ride sharing services such as Uber. In addition, increased taxes on alcohol and cigarettes was introduced.