ONTARIO ECONOMIC AND FISCAL UPDATE ACT, 2020 PASSED
Bill 188, Economic and Fiscal Update Act, 2020, has received Royal Assent and is now in force. It has amended the:
- Employer Health Tax Act to increase, retroactively for 2020, the EHT exemption amount, which is used in determining taxable total Ontario remuneration, from $490,000 to $1 million (returning to the current $490,000 exemption amount on January 1, 2021).
- Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income Act to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors between April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020
COVID-19 EMERGENCY LEAVE AMENDMENTS IN FORCE
Amendments, under Bill 186, to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), and O. Reg. 66/20 – Infectious Disease Emergency Leave, create a new unpaid statutory leave related to COVID-19, retroactive to January 25, 2020. Section 50.1 of the ESA is amended by adding a leave for an Infectious Disease Emergency (which includes COVID-19). An employee can take this leave for the duration of a declared infectious disease emergency, if the employee is:
- Under medical investigation, supervision or treatment
- In quarantine, isolation, or because of a control measure
- Providing care or support to a family member (the specific family members are broadly defined and include anyone who considers the employee to be like a family member)
- Affected by travel restrictions, or
- Under a direction given by his or her employer in response to a concern that the employee may expose others in the workplace
An employer can require the employee to provide reasonable evidence within a reasonable time but cannot require provision of a certificate from a qualified health practitioner as such evidence. A class of employees can be exempted from entitlement to this leave.
The same rules with respect to benefit continuation and pension accrual that apply to other statutory leaves apply to Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (generally, to be entitled to full benefit continuation or pension accrual, the employee must pay any employee or member contributions).
UNIVERSITY PENSION PLAN: TRANSFERRING PLANS EXEMPT FROM PBGF
The General Regulation under the Pension Benefits Act (PBA) is amended to exempt five plans from the PBGF as of March 1, 2020 as long as they convert to a jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) through a transfer of assets and liabilities to another JSPP under section 80.4 of the PBA. PBGF assessments will be pro-rated to include only the period from the first day of each plan’s current fiscal year to February 29, 2020. All five plans are sponsored by either the University of Toronto, Queen’s University or the University of Guelph) and will become part of the new University Pension Plan.