New laws coming into effect on January 1

Several new laws and modifications to existing laws come into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, so here’s a rundown of the provincial and federal changes likely to impact your life – in a large or small way – in the New Year.

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Income tax cuts for the middle class

Justin Trudeau’s promised federal tax cut for the middle class (and tax hike for top earners) comes into effect on Jan. 1. The income tax rate will drop to 20.5 per cent, down from 22 per cent, for taxable earnings between $45,282 and $90,563. At the same time, the rate on all income earned beyond $200,000 will rise from 29 per cent to 33 per cent. An estimated 319,000 Canadians will fall into this upper tax bracket.

Easing student debt burdens

Starting Jan. 1, the Canada Student Loan Program will no longer cut support to working students for every dollar they earn over $100 a week.

TFSA dollar limit decreased

The federal limit for tax-free savings accounts will drop to $5,500 from $10,000, and will be indexed to inflation, as part of the Liberals’ new budget.

Quebec: Stylish Montreal cabbies

Taxi cab drivers in Montreal will have to follow a dress code beginning Jan. 1, in accordance with a new law passed by city council. Cabbies will have to wear dark pants or shorts and a white shirt when they’re on the job.

The dress code is part of Montreal’s efforts to emphasize the professionalism of its licensed cabbies, who are facing competition due to the cheaper rates offered by unregulated Uber drivers.

Ontario: Winter tire tax break

Insurance companies will be required to offer some form of discount to Ontario drivers who install winter tires on their cars, in accordance with new legislation from the province’s Liberal government.

Manitoba: Broadens access to worker’s compensation for PTSD

Effective Jan. 1, the province of Manitoba will recognize post-traumatic stress disorder as a work-related illness, meaning employees diagnosed with PTSD will have access to coverage under the Workers Compensation Board. The new legislation extends to all workers in province, so nurses and retail employees will be allowed to seek the same coverage as firefighters and first responders.

Ontario: Driver fines at crosswalks

Starting Jan. 1, drivers in Ontario will have to wait until a pedestrian has reached the other side of a designated crosswalk or school crossing, or face a fine between $150 and $500. The new law that is coming into effect will essentially require drivers to yield the entire width of the road to the pedestrian, instead of half the road, as was previously the case.

Alberta: Tougher distracted driving penalties

Distracted drivers caught using a phone in Alberta will face a maximum penalty of three demerit points and a fine of $287, under new legislation that comes into effect Jan. 1.

Ontario: Nuclear plant charge comes off hydro bills

Residential hydro customers will see a fee of about $5.60 a month removed from their bills beginning Jan. 1, as the Ontario government scraps a tax it was using to defray the cost of old nuclear plants. However, businesses will still be required to pay the fee.

B.C.: Health-care premiums going up

Health-care premiums in B.C. will rise by four per cent on Jan. 1, as part of the province’s latest budget.

New Brunswick: No more flavoured tobacco sales

The government of New Brunswick’s ban on the sale of flavoured tobacco products, including menthol, comes into effect Jan. 1. The province has also prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes and e-juices to people under the age of 19. 1.2397231


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