With a new year comes the usual host of changes to federal and provincial laws. Here's a quick overview to prepare for the coming year.
The base amount that Canadians can earn tax-free went up effective January 1, 2020. This upcoming tax season will see a base amount of $13,229. This is the first of a planned increase that is being phased in over four years, culminating at $15,000 in 2023. Whether this will ultimately lead to tax savings in 2020 is dependant on a person's income.
Employment Insurance premiums for individuals and workers are going down. The maximum annual EI contribution for a worker will fall $3.86 to $856.36. While employers' maximum contribution will fall $5.41 to $1,1198.90 for each employee on staff.
The majority of changes that were introduced to the divorce act with Bill C-78 will be coming into effect on July 1, 2020. The changes include new rules with respect to a child's best interest in custody cases, as well as measures to address family violence when discussing parenting.
January 1, 2020, also saw an overhaul to Canada's Indigenous child welfare system; legislation designed, according to the Assembly of First Nations, to be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As previously reported, the fines for distracted driving will more than double effective February 1, 2020. A first offence will soon cost the driver $580 dollars and a loss of four demerit points, an increase from the previous $280. A second offence in the same year will cost $1,400, a loss of four demerit points and an immediate seizure of the offender's vehicle for one week. A third offence in the calendar year will cost $2,100.
Everett Hindley, MLA for Swift Current, says that when they look at the statistics there are still far too many people who are texting while they are driving. He spoke of the reasoning for the increased fines.
"We did some of this with respect to impaired driving a little over a year or so ago, and with some very significant fines and penalties and we started to see some impact there, some positive impacts with respect to reductions of the number of incidents and the same would go for distracted driving, we need to make sure that the message is sent that it's not okay."
The biggest change in Saskatchewan however, in Hindley's view, is the changes to the carbon tax rebates for 2020.
The baseline amount for a family of four in 2020 is $809 dollars; $100 dollars less than 2019, the largest decrease in Canada. A single adult or the first adult in a couple will see a rebate of $405, while the second adult or the first child of a single parent will see $202. Each additional child under 18 will have a rebate of $101.
increasing the carbon tax and reducing the rebate is a decision that Hindley says he will continue to push against, saying:
"We're pretty directly involved in what we're actually trying to do in Saskatchewan with respect to climate change and a lot of that has to do with technology, with technological solutions with reducing our carbon footprint and there are ways to do that without implementing a carbon tax and I would argue more effective ways."
The federal government has committed to increasing the carbon tax to a limit of $50 per tonne by 2022