New taxes, wage hikes and more: 49 new laws across Canada in 2019

A ban on plastic bags, Inuktut language classes, edible marijuana rules and more
Steve Brearton
Marc Garneau
Transport Minister Marc Garneau waits to speak about passenger rights during a news conference at the airport in Ottawa, Monday December 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Some changes are tiny and bureaucratic. Others will fundamentally change the country. The federal and provincial governments have announced numerous new rules for 2019. Most federal, provincial and territorial laws come into force immediately after their passage and assent. But legislation requiring greater planning or notice is typically delayed to allow affected parties time to prepare. Here are 49 new laws that come into effect across Canada in 2019. They range from the arrival of a federal carbon-tax plan to a fee for plastic bags in Prince Edward Island.

January 1, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (Canada)
For provinces that either did not adopt Prime Minister Trudeau’s carbon pricing system or failed to develop their own pricing plan—that’s Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan—the legislation institutes a fee on carbon pollution beyond a certain threshold for larger industrial facilities.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018 (Canada)
The small business tax rate is reduced from 10 per cent to 9 per cent.

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Canada)
Requires organizations to obtain “meaningful consent” for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has detailed necessary practices including making information collection easily understandable and allowing consumers to opt-in or opt-out.

Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act (Canada)
Anyone convicted of distracted driving will automatically have their driver’s licence suspended for three or 30 days. ‘Distraction’ ranges from holding an electronic device in your hands to eating.

A Better Deal for Consumers and Businesses Act (Alberta)
Consumer lenders providing loans at annual interest rates exceeding 32 per cent require licenses and are subject to more stringent reporting requirements.

Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (Alberta)
Requires owners of contaminated land—including oil and gas sites—seeking remediation certificates to report “new information” as well as meet specific timelines and instructions to remediate land and prevent further adverse effects.

Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2018 (British Columbia)
As part of B.C.’s 2018 budget, businesses with a payroll exceeding $500,000 will begin to pay an Employer Health Tax.

Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act (Manitoba)
Manitoba’s Social Responsibility Fee is a 6 per cent tax on revenues of licensed cannabis retailers “to ensure they share in the social responsibility costs of cannabis legalization.”

MORE: Canada isn’t ready for legal weed

An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, 2018 (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Eligible residents can claim a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit on their provincial income tax through the government’s new Search and Rescue Volunteer Tax Credit.

Residential Tenancies Act (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Provision to allow landlords to get immediate approval to evict a tenant in extreme circumstances and for victims of domestic violence escaping an unsafe situation to terminate a lease with only 30 days notice without financial penalty.

Environment Act (Nova Scotia)
Cap and trade pricing comes into effect in the province, a system that costs carbon and allows producers polluting above a certain threshold to buy credits from firms that burn less.

Corporations Registration Act and Companies Act (Nova Scotia)
Reduces incorporation fees from $336.40 to $200—the lowest in Canada—and waives the annual registration fee for firms in the first year of incorporation.

Safer Ontario Act (Ontario)
Recognizes police forces in Ontario First Nations’ territory as fully-fledged and guarantees support, standards and resources to undertake their work.

MORE: Inside the impossible work of Canada’s biggest Indigenous police force

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (Ontario)
Requires hunters to report hunting activity and “harvests” and allows the on-line purchase of hunting dog licenses.

Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act (Ontario)
Requires collection agencies with ten or more collectors to record certain calls relating to their activities; those not in compliance subject to fine.

Employment Standards Act (Ontario)
Excludes those working in the film and television industry from compensation for work shifts cancelled within 48 hours and also denies those employees the right to refuse unscheduled work with less than four days notice.

Child and Family Services Act (Ontario)
Requires new complaint and licensing procedures for child welfare residences as well as clinical oversight and approval of mechanical restraints in secure treatment programs.

An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance (Quebec)
Requires employees to adopt a ‘psychological harassment prevention and complaint processing policy’ with a section defining sexual harassment as “behaviour that manifests itself in the form of verbal comments, actions or gestures of a sexual nature.” More generous leave entitlements also come into effect.

MORE: Canada should elect a gender-balanced Parliament in 2019

An Act to improve the performance of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, to better regulate the digital economy as regards e-commerce, remunerated passenger transportation and tourist accommodation and to amend various legislative provisions (Quebec)
Among many changes to the regulation of Quebec’s insurance industry, allows life insurance policy holders to sell an existing policy to a third party for a value determined by an independent appraiser.

January 15, 2019

Safe Food for Canadians Act (Canada)
Significantly expands the list of individuals and firms required to hold a Canadian Food Inspection Agency license, a ‘food safety preventive control plan’ as well as a food tracking and tracing process.

February 1, 2019

Safe Body Art Act (Nova Scotia)
Requires permits for those selling body art services—tattoo and piercing studios, for instance—and demands operators meet standards for infection prevention and records management.

February 18, 2019

Family Day Act (British Columbia)
British Columbia transfers Family Day from the second Monday in February to the third Monday to move the holiday in line with other Canadian provinces.

March 1, 2019

Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act (Ontario)
Among various changes, makes codes of conduct mandatory for members of council and local boards. The Act also expands the role of Integrity Commissioners to advise and educate politicians and board members regarding conduct and conflict of interest.

April 1, 2019

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act (Canada)
Allows Canada Health Transfer deductions to be reimbursed when provinces and territories have taken the steps necessary to eliminate extra-billing and user fees in the delivery of public health care.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017 (Canada)
Eligible veterans and Canadian Armed Forces members will begin to receive Pension for Life, a monthly payment to compensate ill or injured soldiers for pain and suffering resulting from service-related disabilities.

MORE: The Trudeau government’s education plan for veterans is stingy

An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act and the Income Tax Act (Canada)
Annual CPP contributions will increase over the next seven years. An individual with earnings of $54,900 will contribute about an additional $75 per year in 2019.

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act (Canada)
Under federal legislation, a charge on fossil fuels paid by producers and distributors goes into effect for provinces that haven’t passed their own legislation. In Yukon and Nunavut fuel charges begins July 2019

An Act to implement the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (Canada)
Among the impacts of this trade agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam is a lowering of the Japanese tariff on Canadian fresh beef to 26.6 per cent from a pre-pact level of 38.5 per cent.

MORE: The Liberal Party insider who helped save the TPP deal

Local Food Sector Act (Alberta)
Establishes an Alberta local food council, create a local food week and establishes new organic certification requirements for products sold within the province.

Medicare Protection Amendment Act (British Columbia)
Extends provisions that protect residents against unlawful charges for medical services to include diagnostic services. Doctors can be fined $20,000 for breaches and potentially “de-enrolled” from billing the public health system after multiple violations.

Insurance (Vehicle) Act (British Columbia)
B.C. Residents making injury claims following a motor vehicle accident will now be limited to $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims, with resolution of disputes through a tribunal, rather than the courts.

Cannabis Act (Ontario)
Private retailers can now sell marijuana in bricks-and-mortar shops.

Occupational Health and Safety Act (Ontario)
Harassment and violence are now defined as workplace hazard that affect health and safety. Workplaces with 20 or more employees must develop a code of practice on managing violence in the workplace.

Nunavut Elections Act (Nunavut)
Municipal elections now overseen by the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections Nunavut and election rules harmonized. Previously, local authorities were responsible for running elections.

MORE: As Nunavut turns 20, Inuit rethink their own governance

April 6, 2019

The Mines Regulation Act (Saskatchewan)
Introduces mine safety, inspection and management requirements for employers and owners, including more stringent fire and airborne contaminant standards.

June 1, 2019

Employment Standards Act (British Columbia)
Minimum wage in the province rises from $12.65 per hour to $13.85.

Act Respecting Children, Youth and Families (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Prioritizes keeping families intact, expands permanent options for children and youth in foster care, develops a licensing regime for out-of-home care placement and strengthens service delivery for Indigenous youth and children and their families

June 16, 2019

An Act to amend the Civil Code and other legislative provisions as regards adoption and the disclosure of information (Quebec)
Individuals adopted in Quebec now have the right to know their original first and last names, the first and last names of their biological mother or father (if consent provided) and the potential to contact their biological parents.

June 21 or September 30, 2019
An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day) (Canada)
Federal NDP member Georgina Jolibois’ private members bill will create a statutory holiday marking Canada’s residential school legacy. Federal government expected to announce choose between the two dates in time for 2019.

July 1, 2019

Canada Business Corporations Act (Canada)
The elimination of bearer shares and bearer share warrants or options. Bearer shares allow for complete anonymity of share ownership and transfer. Changes won’t impact existing bearer shares.

Environmental Protection Act (Canada)
Sale of toiletries containing microbeads – miniature manufactured solid plastic particles – prohibited except in natural health products or non-prescription drugs. Microbeads, often used in skin cleansers, are characterized as toxic and can harm aquatic organisms

Education Act and Inuit Language Protection Act (Nunavut)
Requires the implementation of Inuktut instruction in Grade 4 to Grade 9

Prince Edward Island • Plastic Bag Reduction Act (Prince Edward Island)
Consumers will no longer receive plastic bag at checkouts or with take-out food orders. Recyclable paper bags can be provided at a cost of no less than 15 cents and reusable bags at no less than $1.

July 25, 2019

Consumer Protection Act (Quebec)
Places limits on loyalty card providers’ ability to place expiry dates on rewards or change terms for exchanging points for goods or services, requires greater transparency regarding billing errors and tightens rules for merchants offering high-cost credit to assess a consumer’s ability to pay before extending loans.

August 1, 2019

Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada)
Expands requirements for truck tractors manufactured in Canada to have electronic stability control systems. The technology is designed to reduce rollover and loss-of-control crashes.

October 1, 2019

Construction Lien Amendment Act (Ontario)
The legislation sets out timelines for payment to building contractors and subcontractors in order to significantly reduce payment delays. Owners will have 28 days to pay a contractor, while contractors must pay subcontractors within seven days of receiving their payment.

October 17, 2019

Cannabis Act (Canada)
The sale of cannabis edible products and concentrates are legal “no later than 12 months following” Canada’s Cannabis Act coming into force on October 17, 2018.

TBD 2019

Trademarks Act (Canada)
Among amendments are the registration term for trademarks to be reduced from 15 years to 10 years and the definition of a trademark broadened to include nontraditional items like smells, tastes, textures, and moving images

An Act to Enable Clean Energy Improvements (Alberta)
Allows municipalities to establish Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs that pay for energy-efficient upgrades or renewable energy systems for home and business owners with financing repaid through property tax bills.

Transportation Modernization Act (Canada)
Expected to come into force Summer 2019, will approve an air passenger ‘bill of rights’ guaranteeing consistent protections expected to include minimum compensation for flight delays and lost luggage as well as clear guidelines for tarmac delays.