Part 4: Various Measures
Employment Insurance Act
The Employment Insurance Act (EI Act) has had long-standing provisions which create an obligation for an Employment Insurance (EI) claimant to actively look for, and be willing to accept, “suitable employment”. The concept of “not suitable employment” was included in the EI Act prior to 2013, and considerable jurisprudence was established through time to inform how this term should be interpreted.
Budget 2012 announced the Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs (CCAJ) initiative. Under the CCAJ initiative, provisions specifying what is not suitable employment in the EI Act were repealed and the questions of suitable and not suitable employment were established in regulation instead. The Employment Insurance Regulations (EI Regulations) were amended to prescribe criteria for determining what constitutes the suitable employment that a claimant is expected to search for and accept through the duration of their claim.These criteria introduced a different treatment for EI claimants depending on their work history (i.e., long-tenured workers, frequent claimants, and occasional claimants), and related to daily commuting time and the type of employment and earnings that claimants were required to search for and accept.
As part of the Budget 2016 initiative to simplify job search responsibilities for EI claimants, these criteria were reversed in the EI Regulations. More specifically, criteria relating to the length of commuting time, the offered earnings and the type of work were repealed and replaced by provisions specifying what is not suitable employment, as set out in the EI Act prior to their repeal under CCAJ.References to the claimant categories with respect to job search responsibilities were also removed from the criteria for determining what constitutes suitable employment. These amendments to the EI Regulations came into force on July 3, 2016.
Subsequently it was determined that the specific concept of “not suitable employment” would be better established in the legislation versus regulation.This would align more directly with previously existing jurisprudence established when this concept was previously established in legislation. As such, limited technical amendments are proposed to legislate the provisions relating to the definition of employment that is not suitable in the EI Act.Provisions related to the criteria for determining what constitutes suitable employment will remain in the EI Regulations.
The proposal to adopt the provision in legislation versus regulation does not alter the policy intent in any way and is intended to strengthen the initial regulatory implementation of this important element of the Government’s Budget 2016 commitments on EI.Elements introduced in 2013 that are favourable to the EI claimant’s personal circumstances – such as health and family obligations – continue to be considered in determining whether a job is suitable for them.
Old Age Security Act
Senior couples who must live apart for reasons not attributable to either of them, for example where one spouse or common-law partner must move into a nursing home, face higher costs of living and are at an increased risk of living in poverty.
The Old Age Security Act already contains a provision to allow senior couples where both members are Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) recipients to receive the GIS on the basis of their individual income instead of their joint income, if the couple is living apart for reasons not attributable to either of them.
The proposed amendments to the Old Age Security Act will allow couples, where one member receives the GIS and the other receives the Allowance, that the Allowance be calculated on the basis of the income of only the Allowance recipient if the couple is living apart for reasons not attributable to either of them. The Allowance is provided to low-income individuals aged 60‑64 whose spouse or common-law partner is eligible for the GIS.
Canada Education Savings Act
The Canada Education Savings Program offers two education savings incentives: the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB).
Until June 2016, CLB was payable for a beneficiary in respect of whom the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) was payable. Budget 2016 announced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), which replaces the Canada Child Tax Benefit, including the NCBS, a supplement for low-income families. With the elimination of the NCBS, ESDC is required to amend the eligibility criteria for the CLB.
Division 3 of Part 4 amends the Canada Education Savings Act to replace the term “child tax benefit” with “Canada child benefit”. It also amends the Act to change the manner in which eligibility for the CLB is established, including repealing the definition “national child benefit supplement” and incorporating a formula designed to measure low-income status in a manner similar to the NCBS. A transitional measure is also included for the 2016-17 benefit year, the final year in which the calculation exists in the Income Tax Act, as for this year eligibility for the CLB will continue to be determined based on the criteria that determined receipt of an NCBS payment by reference to this calculation in the Income Tax Act.
Canada Disability Savings Act
The Canada Disability Savings Act (CDSA) contains the framework which governs the payment of Canada Disability Savings grants and bonds into a Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP).An RDSP is a savings plan that is intended to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a person with a severe or prolonged disability.
Consequential amendments must be made to the CDSA because Budget Implementation Act 2016, No. 1 replaced the Canada child tax benefit with the Canada child benefit (CCB).Also, “phase-out income” (the income threshold above which the bond amount begins to diminish) is being redefined as the income threshold established for the CCB. This income threshold is $30,000 at the present time.
Financial Consumer Protection Framework
The proposed amendments to the Bank Act modernize the financial consumer protection framework by consolidating existing consumer provisions of the Act into a new Part XII.2.
The proposed amendments include consumer-friendly principles that would guide the interpretation of the provisions, and targeted enhanced consumer protection measures.
The principles are:
- Basic banking services should be accessible;
- Disclosure should enable an institution’s customers and the public to make informed financial decisions;
- An institution’s customers and the public should be treated fairly;
- Complaints processes should be impartial, transparent and responsive;
- An institution should act responsibly, considering its customers and the public as well as the efficiency of its business operations.
The targeted enhancements address:
- Access to basic banking services, including allowing the use of a broader range of personal identification documents to open an account or cashing Government of Canada cheques;
- Business practices, including a new prohibition on applying undue pressure on a person, and adding cancellation periods to a wider range of products and services;
- Disclosure, including expanding the use of summary information boxes for banking products and services;
- Complaints handling, including requirements for banks and external complaints bodies to report on the number and nature of complaints received; and,
- Accountability, including requirements for banks to report on measure to address the challenges faced by vulnerable Canadians, and requirements on boards of directors to oversee a bank’s procedures to comply with the consumer provisions.
The proposed amendments also affirm that the Bank Act sets out a system of exclusive consumer protection rules for banks, in order to ensure an efficient banking system from coast to coast to coast.
The proposed framework would include a regulation-making authority and consequential amendments would be made to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act.
Royal Canadian Mint Act
The Royal Canadian Mint (the Mint) is a federal Crown corporation, wholly-owned by the Government of Canada and reporting to the Minister of Finance. The Mint’s operations are governed by the terms of the Royal Canadian Mint Act (the Act). The corporation’s mandate is primarily to mint coins; it also undertakes other related activities, including the production of domestic non-circulating and collectible coins, the production of blanks and foreign circulating and collectible coins, and gold bullion and refinery activities.
Amendments to the Act are proposed to facilitate effective and efficient operation of the Mint, including restoring the corporation’s ability to profit from its dealings with the Government and its agents and modernizing the Mint’s governance.
Division 6 of Part 4 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2., amends the Royal Canadian Mint Act to repeal subsection 3(2.1), which prohibits the Mint from anticipating a profit from the provision of goods and services to the Government of Canada and its agents; repeal subsection 12(1), to remove the requirement that the Mint’s directors must have experience in the field of metal fabrication or production, industrial relations or a related field; clarify in section 4 the specific types of incidental activities that the Mint may undertake; and, add provisions to ensure that $350 coins minted between 1999 and 2006 have legal tender status.
The authority for the Minister of Finance, the Bank of Canada and certain Crown corporations to engage in debt and treasury management activities is found in various parts of the Financial Administration Act, the Bank of Canada Act and enabling legislation for certain Crown corporations. These statutes, supporting the management of Canada’s finances and financial sector governance, are reviewed from time to time to ensure they remain up to date and appropriately enable the effective management of the Government of Canada’s treasury.
In Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced that it would review and potentially amend Part IV of the Financial Administration Act. The review has identified a number of legislative amendments to reduce legal uncertainty and support financial stability.
Division 7 of Part 4 of the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 amends the Financial Administration Act and related legislation by:
- Clarifying that the Minister of Finance may lend cash balances out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund by auction and may establish rules in relation to these auctions. The amendment also clarifies that the Bank of Canada can conduct these auctions, consistent with its role as the Government’s fiscal agent.
- Providing an explicit authority to permit the Minister of Finance to enter into arrangements or contracts designed to protect against adverse financial developments in relation to the management of federal assets (e.g., hedge currency risks).
- Clarifying the authority of the Minister of Finance to make payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund that are consistent with his powers in relation to the management of public debt.
- Broadening the authorities for the Bank of Canada to permit it to manage the operational activities related to the Government’s lending program to agent corporations, on behalf of the Minister of Finance.
- Permitting the Bank of Canada to provide the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with custodial services.