Legislative roundup: Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

Alberta WCB policy changes for volunteers, unpaid workers • B.C. moving forward on pooled pension plans • Report recommends workers’ compensation changes in Newfoundland and Labrador • Nova Scotia minimum wage going up 10 cents an hour on April 1 • Quebec minimum wage rising 20 cents an hour on May 1 • Yukon minimum wage increasing April 1 – exact amount not yet known
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 03/10/2014

ALBERTA

WCB policy changes for volunteers, unpaid workers

Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has implemented policy changes it says will better distinguish unpaid workers from volunteers for workers’ compensation coverage.

As a result of the changes, the board now uses the term "unpaid workers" to describe individuals who provide services without pay for for-profit employers. For-profit employers in industries where workers’ compensation coverage is required must cover the unpaid workers and provide a "value of service" for them in their insurable earnings reporting. If individuals provide services without pay for a not-for-profit employer, the WCB considers them to be volunteers. Not-for-profit employers in industries where workers’ compensation coverage is mandatory are not required to cover the volunteers, but can choose to do so. If an employer opts for coverage, it must include a "value of service" for the volunteers in its insurable earnings reporting. To determine the value of service, the board says employers should use an amount that is consistent with the rate they pay for similar work.

See

www.wcb.ab.ca/public/policy/manual/policy_manual.asp

.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

B.C. moving forward on pooled pension plans

The British Columbia government has tabled a bill that would allow for pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) to be set up in the province.

PRPPs are defined contribution (DC) pension plans administered by a third party, such as a financial institution, rather than an employer. The plans are designed to provide a way of saving for retirement for individuals whose employer does not have its own registered pension plan or for those who are self-employed.

Bill 9, the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, is based on the federal Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, which generally applies to federally regulated workplaces.

If passed, the British Columbia legislation would allow private-sector employers in the province the option of signing up for a PRPP. Employers who opt to join a plan would be responsible for enrolling their employees, deducting PRPP contributions from employees’ earnings and sending them to the plan administrator. Employers would not be required to contribute to a PRPP, but could choose to do so.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Report recommends workers’ compensation changes

A committee reviewing the province’s workers’ compensation system recommends action be taken to ensure the maximum compensable assessable earnings and average assessment rate for employers in Newfoundland and Labrador are comparable to other Atlantic provinces.

The Review Committee on Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation made the recommendations in a report on the province’s workers’ compensation system called Working Together — Safe, Accountable, Sustainable.

The committee put forward 42 policy recommendations in the report covering areas such as financial sustainability, early and safe return-to-work, prevention, claims management and governance. The report also included 90 recommendations for amending the workers’ compensation legislation. Among the recommendations the committee made:

At the earliest possible time within the next five years, the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) should develop a plan to ensure that the province’s maximum assessable earnings achieve parity with the province in Atlantic Canada with the highest maximum assessable earnings. At the time the committee wrote the report, New Brunswick had the highest rate at $59,500. As of Jan. 1, 2014, Newfoundland has the highest at $60,760.

Also within the five-year timeframe, the WHSCC should come up with a plan to ensure the average assessment rate for employers in the province is on par with the average assessment rate for all provinces in Atlantic Canada. Last year, the average was $2.20. This year, it is $2.05.

The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act should be amended to allow the WHSCC to go to court to require employers to produce records showing their estimated annual payroll if an employer refuses to provide them.

The provincial minister responsible for the WHSCC, Dan Crummell, says the government is currently reviewing the recommendations. See