6 things that will change on Canada Day weekend
As the midpoint in the calendar year, and a nationally symbolic one at that, June 30 and July 1 are dates on which new regulations or tax changes often come into effect or current ones expire and quarterly adjustments are made to some government programs.
This year, Canada Day weekend will see some of the country's richest people (at least in Ontario) get a little poorer, the poorest seniors get a tiny bit richer, refugees and would-be immigrants perhaps a little frustrated and MPs come out ahead, as usual.
Here's a look at some of the changes coming into effect this holiday weekend:
1. Seniors get a bit more money
The maximum basic Old Age Security benefit paid to people age 65 or older rises $4.86 a month to $544.98 for people making less than $69,562 a year.
Guaranteed Income Supplement payments for low-income seniors also increase, by $6.60 to $738.96 a month for a single person or the spouse of a non-pensioner, and by $4.37 a month to $489.98 for the spouse of a pensioner. And the monthly allowance for low income seniors between the ages of 60 and 64 rises by about $10 a month.
2. Rich Ontarians' pay cheques shrink
As part of a budget deal between the minority Ontario Liberal government and the NDP, Ontarians face a new marginal tax rate of 13.168 per cent on income over $500,000. The "tax on the rich" means more tax will be withheld from pay cheques for those upper-income earners effective July 1.
3. Refugees lose some health benefits
With cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program, announced by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, refugees will no longer receive dental and vision care and will have reduced prescription drug coverage. The government says the cuts will bring refugees' health-care coverage on par with what is paid to other Canadians and will save $20 million a year over the next five years. Critics, including doctors who work in community health, say the changes threaten the health of some of the world's most vulnerable people.
4. MPs' pension fund will be $23M richer
A quarterly interest payment of 10.4 per cent will be paid into the parliamentary pension fund on June 30, adding $23 million to the fund, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Changes are coming that will see MPs paying more for their pensions and waiting longer to collect, but the CTF says Canadians still pay more than $100 million annually into the fund through set quarterly interest payments and annual contributions, while MPs themselves contribute about $4.5 million. The fund now stands at $950 million.
5. New immigrant workers face language tests
Starting July 1, most applicants for semi- and low-skilled professions under the Provincial Nominee Program will have to undergo testing and meet mandatory minimum language standards in English or French. The PNP, which is managed by the provinces in accordance with federal guidelines, is the second-largest economic immigration program in the country and is expected to bring 42,000 people into Canada this year.
6. Foreign skilled workers and entrepreneurs need not apply
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney this week announced an immediate freeze on applications under the Skilled Worker Program and the Immigrant Investor Program to reduce the backlog of applicants seeking to come to Canada under those programs. Kenney had already announced that applications from skilled workers made before 2008 would be cancelled and fees returned. New applications for skilled workers will be accepted again in January, but the investor program freeze is indefinite as the government overhauls a program some see as a way to buy entry to Canada.