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The fine line of “Use it or Lose it” when it comes to your Group Benefits Plan

Health and Wellness
This time of year, we are receiving notices from our dentist, optometrists, and other healthcare providers reminding us that our benefits plan will renew in January.  They advise us that since we are paying for our benefits, we should maximize our usage to ensure nothing is left over as the funds will not carry over into the New Year.  They say “use it or lose it”; however, there are a few things you should be aware of with this way of thinking. If you pay a premium towards your benefits plan it makes sense that you would want to get your money’s worth out of your benefits.  You...

Employer–Paid Benefits to be Subject to New B.C. Health Tax

Payroll
The B.C government will be implementing a new employer health tax (EHT) in January 2019.  This tax notice is being implemented as part of the plan to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums. For over a decade British Columbia has been the only province to maintain MSP fees and the move to the EHT plan is part of an effort by the B.C. government to make life more affordable for its residents.  By moving to an EHT plan, families will save as much as $1,800.00 per year and individuals will save as much as $900.00 per year.  As administration of MSP premiums is costly and inefficient the transition...

What is an EFAP or EAP?

Health and Wellness
EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) or EAP (Employee Assistance Program) are generally provided in conjunction with your employee benefits package.  They are confidential services that you or your family members are able to connect with at any time to discuss a wide variety of personal, family, or work related issues that you may be struggling with. There are many different topics that these programs can assist with; a few include: Work/Life Balance and other workplace challenges Weight Management and Nutrition Addiction Issues Financial Guidance Relationship Issues and Parenting   Most EFAP providers no longer require you to place a phone call to start receiving support.  Many have...

The Cannabis Act and Benefits Plans

Health and Wellness
With the Cannabis Act coming into force on October 17th, 2018, many insurers are in the process of determining how to best fit medical marijuana into current plan offerings.  To be eligible for reimbursement under a group benefits plan, a drug must have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). Currently, marijuana is not an approved drug in Canada and does not have a DIN, so this poses a challenge to insurers. While it isn’t currently considered an eligible expense under the extended healthcare plan, it is an acceptable expense for a healthcare spending account (HSA), as the guidelines for HSA expenses are provided by the Canada Revenue Agency. Your...

Alberta Minimum Wage Increase

Payroll
In 2016, the Alberta Government made a commitment to increase the minimum wage to $15.00. Workers will see an increase in their hourly pay from $13.60 to $15.00 starting October 1st, 2018. This is the third and final pledged hike implemented by Premier Notley’s government to increase minimum wage to $15.00. The new wage increase being in effect will also remove any lower minimum wage brackets for liquor servers and adolescents.  Minimum Wage Rates for 2017-2018 Most employees (general minimum wage) - from $13.60/hour to $15.00/hour Salespersons (including land agents and certain professionals) - from $542.00/week to $598.00/week Domestic employees (living in their employer's home) - from $2,582.00/month...