News in Brief

Finance Department announces 2016 auto-related rates; CRA announces 2016 ceilings for housing benefits; U.S. employers increasing starting salaries to lock in new hires: Survey
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 02/01/2016

Finance Department announces 2016 auto-related rates

OTTAWA — The government-prescribed rate that employers use to calculate the operating expense benefit portion of an automobile taxable benefit for an employee is 26 cents per kilometre for 2016, the federal Finance Department announced late last year. The rate is one cent lower than it was in 2015.

The prescribed rate for calculating the operating expense benefit for employees whose principal job is to sell or lease automobiles is 23 cents per kilometre in 2016, down from 24 cents last year.

The automobile expense deduction limits that employers can use as a guide when determining if an automobile allowance is reasonable have also gone down for 2016. The limit that applies for the first 5,000 kilometres driven in all parts of Canada, except the territories, dropped by one cent to 54 cents per kilometre. The limit that applies for each additional kilometre beyond 5,000 went down from 49 cents per kilometre to 48 cents.

For the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the limit is down one cent to 58 cents for the first 5,000 kilometres driven and 52 cents for each additional kilometre.

CRA announces 2016 ceilings for housing benefits

OTTAWA — The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has announced the 2016 ceilings that apply for housing benefits that employers provide to employees in prescribed zones without a developed rental market.

For 2016, employers should use the following allowable ceiling amounts when calculating the housing benefits:
For common shelter: $188/month.

For an apartment or a duplex: $508/month for rent only, $247/month for utilities only, and $755/month for rent and utilities.
For a house or a trailer: $850/month for rent only, $376/month for utilities only, and $1,225/month for rent and utilities.

The changes reflect an increase in the shelter portion of the consumer price index. For a listing of communities that qualify as prescribed zones, see the CRA website at

U.S. employers increasing starting salaries to lock in new hires: Survey

MENLO PARK, Calif. — American employers are willing to pay a premium for top talent, a recent survey by staffing firm Robert Half shows.

More than one-half (54 per cent) of 2,200 CFOs polled in the United States said they increased new hires’ starting salaries from what they made in their previous job, with the average increase being 10 per cent.

“Employers who want to improve their odds of securing skilled talent are offering highly attractive starting salaries right now,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “Companies are competing not just with other businesses that are hiring, but also with the applicant’s current employer, who may make a counteroffer to retain the services of a valued employee.”

When asked how the pay increases compared to what they offered two years ago, 68 per cent of CFOs said today’s salaries were at least somewhat higher.

“Professional job seekers with in-demand skills are receiving multiple job offers,” McDonald said. “Employers need to put their best bid on the table—and do so quickly—or they risk losing good talent.”

Average weekly earnings up in October: StatsCan

OTTAWA — Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $959 in October, up from $954 in September, Statistics Canada reports. Statistics Canada revised the September numbers from the previously reported $955.

On a year-over-year basis, weekly earnings increased 1.9 per cent in October. The increase in weekly earnings during the 12 months to October reflected a number of factors, including wage growth, changes in the composition of employment by industry, occupation and level of job experience, as well as average hours worked per week. Non-farm payroll employees worked an average of 33 hours a week in October, unchanged from September.

Year-over-year earnings of non-farm payroll employees increased in all provinces in October, but Alberta, where they declined 1.8 per cent.

Unemployment rate unchanged at 7.1 per cent in December: StatsCan

OTTAWA — Canada’s economy gained about 23,000 jobs in December, but the country’s unemployment rate remained at 7.1 per cent, Statistics Canada reports.

Industries where employment increased included health care and social assistance, educational services, and finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Employment was down in accommodation and food services, as well as agriculture.

On a provincial basis, Newfoundland and Labrador continued to have the highest unemployment rate at 14.4 per cent, up from 13 per cent in November. The unemployment rate also went up in British Columbia (from 6.2 per cent to 6.7 per cent), New Brunswick (from 8.7 per cent to 8.9 per cent) and Quebec (from 7.5 per cent to 7.8 per cent).

The unemployment rate went down in Manitoba (from 6.1 per cent to 5.9 per cent), Ontario (from 6.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (from 10.4 per cent to 9.7 per cent). The rate was unchanged in Alberta (seven per cent), Nova Scotia (8.6 per cent) and Saskatchewan (5.5 per cent).

In the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the American economy added 292,000 jobs in December, but the unemployment rate remained unchanged at five per cent.