As 2022 gets under way, Ontarians are preparing for new laws to take effect.
Below are the new rules and regulations, both federally and provincially, that are set to begin in the New Year.
Federal Legislative Changes
Ban on conversion therapy
As of January 7, conversion therapy will be banned across the country. The practice seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or their gender to cisgender. Individuals promoting or providing the practice will face up to two years in prison.
Employment Insurance changes
On January 1, the maximum insurable earnings rose from $56,300 to $60,300. As a result of the increase, the maximum weekly EI benefit rate increases from $595 to $638. Despite the changes, the employee EI premium rate will remain unchanged at $1.58 per $100.
Changes to carbon tax refunds
Carbon tax rebates will be issued quarterly instead of annually beginning in July. This is due to increased costs of carbon pricing.
End to fossil fuel financing
The federal government will be shifting their investment of direct public finance from coal, gas and oil development to renewable energy projects. They announced the decision at last year’s COP26, alongside 23 other countries.
Ban on single-use plastics
The ban on single-use plastics was originally scheduled to begin at the end of 2021, but was delayed in November until 2022. No date has been set for the ban to take effect. The ban includes six single-use plastic items, like straws and cutlery.
Provincial Legislative Changes
Minimum wage increase
On January 1, minimum wage in Ontario rose from $14.35 to $15 per hour. The new wage includes bartenders and alcohol servers, who were making $12.55 hourly before the increase. Students under the age of 18 had their pay raised from $13.50 to $14.10 per hour. Homeworkers (those who do paid work out of their own homes for employers) had their pay raised from $15.80 to $16.50 per hour. Hunting, fishing and wilderness guides had their pay raised from $71.75 to $75.00 when working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and $143.55 to $150.05 when working five or more hours in a day
Ontario’s rent freeze was not renewed when it expired on December 21, meaning landlords can now raise rents. This year, the maximum allowable increase amount is set at 1.2 per cent.
Gas tax cut
While gas prices in the province continue to climb, Premier Doug Ford promised a cut to the gas tax of up to six cents per litre. The cuts are said to come into effect by March 31.
Working for Workers Act
Ontario passed the Working for Workers Act, 2021 on November 30. This act brings two notable changes for employees in 2022. First, the right to disconnect policy kicks in. The policy mandates businesses of 25 employees or more to have a written policy for disconnecting from work at the end of the day. The act also bars businesses from using non-compete clauses in their contracts.
Higher fines for dangerous driving
The province is raising fines for careless and stunt driving in 2022. The first offence will cost $250, the second will be $350 and the third within five years will be $450 and the loss of their license.
Mandatory sex abuse prevention training for teachers
As of January 3, all Ontario teachers must complete a three-hour online sexual abuse prevention program designed by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Teachers have until the end of August to complete the program and must pass with a grade of at least 80 per cent.
“Staycation” tourism initiative
Ontario is providing a 20 per cent tax credit to encourage local tourism. Ontarians can receive up to $200 for individuals and $400 for families by visiting hotels, campgrounds and cottages.
The “Rowan’s Law” legislation comes into effect on January 1 and covers concussions and player safety in youth sports. The law makes it mandatory for sporting clubs to have policies in place regarding removal and return to play in regard to head injuries.