January 4, 2017
Legislation Across the Country
Legislation affecting benefit programs changes from time to time. Here’s a quick update on some recent issues from across Canada:
Bill 92, an Act to extend the powers of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) will, in part, help to increase transparency with respect to costs at the pharmacy.
Other provinces already require the pharmacist’s fee (also known as the dispensing fee or filling fee) to be separated from the actual drug cost on the prescription receipt. In Quebec, only the total cost is shown making it difficult for patients to know what they are paying for and for insurance companies to limit mark-ups for services and/or ingredient costs. Bill 92 will require pharmacists “to separately detail on their invoices the price billed for each drug … the wholesaler’s mark-up, the various professional fees claimed and insured person’s contribution.”
This change is expected to come into effect September 1, 2017.
In all provinces, except Alberta, the provincial/regional governing body for dentists publishes a dental fee guide which is adjusted each year for inflation and changes to service costs. The guide outlines the reasonable and customary costs for each procedure. Dentists may charge more for a procedure but government and private plans will only pay up to the amount listed in the fee guide.
Up until 1997, Alberta also had a Fee Guide but decided to remove it hoping that it would lead to increased competition and thereby lower costs. However, 20 years on, Albertans are faced with fees that can vary widely and costs that are higher and increasing faster than in the rest of Canada.
The Minister of Health has asked the Alberta Dental Association and College to develop a new Fee Guide to help standardize costs and increase transparency. This fee guide is expected to be released soon.
Prince Edward Island
The Premium Tax Act was amended to increase the premium tax rate for Life, Accident & Sickness insurance to 3.75% effective January 1, 2017. This tax is embedded in your monthly rate. The impact to the premium for this change is minimal. Do not expect to see a rate change until your next renewal.
Pension advisory committees will have broader powers effective January 1, 2017. If a plan administrator of a pension plan with at least 50 members (including retirees) is petitioned by a least 10 members (or a union representing at least 10 members) to form a member pension advisory committee, the plan administrator must take certain steps to inform all members of the desire to create a committee and take a vote. If the vote passes, there are new regulations to which the plan administrator must abide including holding at least annual meetings with an actuary and providing administrative support to the committee. All costs relating to the establishment and operation of the committee are paid out of the pension fund.
If you would like to learn more about the new steps or if you have been approached by your members about creating a committee, please contact your GMS associate for assistance.
New Form: FSCO has released a new Form 7 that will need to be used effective January 1st. Form 7 is used for Summary of Contributions/Revised Summary of Contributions. Please destroy any old forms and use the new one going forward.
We first told you about the changes to the EI program coming into effect January 1, 2017 in our September newsletter
. Under the new program, EI benefits will include a one-week waiting period (vs. two-weeks prior to the change) followed by 15 weeks of benefit payment for a total of 16 weeks.
Short-term disability plans with waiting periods longer than 7 days will no longer qualify for the EI premium reduction program unless they are amended to at least match the new EI benefit. The government has allowed a four-year transition period (until January 2, 2021) for employers to make the necessary changes.
Your GMS associate will be reviewing your plan with you to ensure it remains eligible for the EI premium reduction program.
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