Jackson And Associates
Current Trends

Minimum Wage Increases

The changes to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 last year resulted in a number of changes to minimum wage across Canada.

  • Province
  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • NFLD/Labrador
  • Previous Minimum Wage
  • $10.20/hour
  • $10.20/hour
  • $10.70/hour
  • $11.00/hour
  • $10.25/hour
  • Effective Date
  • $11.20/hour
  • $10.50/hour
  • $11.00/hour
  • $11.25/hour
  • $10.50/hour

The intent is to announce minimum rates each April 1 and they will be effective the following October 1.

Employers are reminded to update their employment contracts and practices to ensure they reflect these changes.

Ontario Drug Benefit Act Changes

The Ontario provincial government made changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (ODB) on October 1, 2015. These changes included adjustments to some dispensing fees and dispensing practices.

These changes include:

  1. Reduction in the mark-up for high cost drugs. The mark-up will be reduced from 8% to 6% for drug costs equal to or greater than $1,000 per claim;
  2. Limit of the number of dispensing fees charged to a maximum of five per year, per patient for certain chronic care medications. The intent is to:
    • Optimize the quantity of medication dispensed for certain chronic conditions for patients who have been on the same medication for years,
    • Minimize unnecessary trips by patients to the pharmacy for the same prescription, and
    • Reduce co-payment costs to patients
  3. Require patients to try more than one generic drug before the brand name drug is reimbursed as a “no substitution” claim
  4. Reduction in dispensing fees paid to pharmacies that supply drugs listed on the ODB formulary to residents of long-term care homes by $1.26 across all categories of pharmacies, including hospital outpatient pharmacies as well as pharmacies in rural and remote areas

remote areas The impact on employer sponsored benefit plans is expected to be minimal.

Saskatchewan Dispensing Fee Increase

The Saskatchewan provincial drug plan increased the dispensing fee maximum from $11.25 to $11.40 effective October 1. 2015.

These dispensing fees are charged at the pharmacy to cover the professional services that a pharmacist provides when filling a prescription. Each pharmacy sets its own fees and they can range from $4 to $16.

For employer sponsored benefit plans, if the contract states only the Reasonable and Customary fee will be accepted, then any dispensing fee in excess of the new amount will be the responsibility of the employee.

AODA Deadlines Approaching

Most employers are aware of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which was passed in 2005 and brings a number of requirements for employers related to ensuring their workplace is accessible for employees, clients and the public at large. Another piece of legislation under AODA was passed by the Ontario government in 2011 – the Integrated Accessibility Standard Regulation (IASR)- which affects nearly all employers in Ontario that have at least one employee.

There are important deadlines approaching for small and large private sector employers in the beginning of 2016.

Small Employers (1-49 employees)

As of January 1, 2016 small employers will be required to adhere to two accessibility features of the IASR : training and feedback mechanisms.

(Large employers were required to comply by January 2015)

Large Employers (50+ employees)

As of January 1, 2016 large employers will be required to adhere to three new accessibility features of the IASR : accessible formats/communication support, accommodation during recruitment, and a process for accommodation during employment.

Prior to these deadlines for small and large employers, the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure has announced targeted audits this Fall. This blitz is targeted at retail companies with 500 or more employees and focuses on requirements of creating a public multi-year accessibility plan as well as customized emergency plans for employees with disabilitites.

For more information on IASR, please refer to www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/110191

Salary Adjustments for 2016

The Conference Board of Canada released the results of it's survey of Canadian employers which indicates average increases of 2.6% to the base salary of non-unionized workers.

The lowest average increases are expected in british Columbia at 2.3% and Alberta at 2.4%. The highest projected increases are for Saskatchewan at 3.2% and Manitoba at 2.9%.

The redcution in the number of employers providing any adjustment is expected to decline and continue the trend experienced in 2015 where 74% of employees saw any increase in salary compared to the 2014 where 86% of employees saw their salaries increase.