A new year brings more than the promise of a fresh start. New regulations and legislation often take effect starting Jan. 1. Here’s a list of changes Albertans can expect to see starting Friday.
1. Expiry date stickers no longer required for licence plates
On Jan. 1, vehicle owners will no longer be required to put a sticker on their plates to show their vehicle registration is up-to-date. Alberta is switching to new high-definition reflective plates which will allow police to check registration using an automated reader. The transition to the high-tech plates is expected to start in the fall once the supply of old ones runs out.
2. Cap on maximum compensation for workers compensation claims
The previous NDP government removed the cap in 2017 because it believed the measure unfairly penalized high earners, particularly those in the oil and gas industry.
Bill 47, which passed earlier this month in the Alberta legislature, put the cap back in place. Stating Jan. 1, insurable earnings for injured workers will be limited to 90 per cent of their net income, to a maximum of $98,700.
The United Conservative Party government made the move to contain costs and maintain the sustainability of the WCB system.
3. Limits on presumptive workers compensation coverage for PTSD
Bill 47 reversed another change made by the NDP government.
Presumptive coverage for psychological injuries — where the condition is automatically assumed to be incurred at work — is now limited to first responders, correctional officers and emergency dispatchers. Workers in other jobs can still qualify for WCB coverage but would have to provide proof the injury occurred while at work.
4. Campaign period starts for fall 2021 local elections
Albertans will elect new municipal councils and school boards on Oct. 18.
Jan. 1 marks the first day candidates can start filing their nomination papers — although realistically, they won’t be able to do it until the first business day of the year, which is Monday, Jan. 4. The campaign period also officially starts on Friday and runs until Dec. 31.
Controversial new election financing rules passed earlier this year by the Alberta legislature means donors can contribute $5,000 per candidate to as many candidates as they want.
5. Limits on donations to third-party advertisers
Third-party advertisers or political action committees (PACs) are allowed in local elections for the first time this year. Unions and corporations are prohibited from donating to political parties, but they can still donate to PACs. Starting Jan. 1, donations are restricted to $30,000 per donor per PAC.
6. CPP contributions take a bigger bite out of paycheques
The changes are part of a plan agreed to in 2016 by the federal and provincial governments to boost contributions to the Canada Pension Plan.
Starting Jan. 1, the employee and employer contribution rate is jumping to 5.45 per cent in 2021, up from 5.25 per cent in 2020. That will be calculated on higher yearly maximum pensionable earnings which increases to $61,600 from $58,700 in 2020.
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