Ontario is making a number of changes in the new year that could impact your wallet and business.
Here are some that you should be aware of:
New insurance rules for drivers
In January, motorists will have the option not to buy into direct compensation property damage (DCPD) coverage, which protects car owners from costs related to vehicle damage from a collision if they are not at fault.
The provincial government says the change is meant to increase consumer choice and could be useful for drivers of older cars that are worth less than the insurance cost.
Experts warn that by opting out of DCPD coverage, drivers will be on the hook for vehicle repairs or the loss of a vehicle.
Morgan Roberts, director of RH Insurance, told CTV News Toronto the savings aren’t worth the tradeoff.
New rules for temp agencies
New legislation will make it illegal for companies to use unlicensed businesses for staffing as of July 1. This means that temporary help agencies and recruiters must be licensed. This will include a background check.
The government has said these agencies will be subject to “massive fines” if they break the rules.
The Minister of Labour at the time said the penalties could be as high as $50,000 or a “lifetime ban of operating in Ontario.”
Gas tax cut extension
Ontario’s gas and fuel tax rate cuts were extended until June 30, 2024.
The tax cut, which reduces prices at the pump by about 5.7 cents per litre, was first announced in July 2022 and has been repeatedly extended by the Doug Ford government.
Gas prices are displayed in Carleton Place, Ont. on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The Progressive Conservatives estimate the legislation has saved the average household $260 annually.
Child-care safety rules
Child-care operators in Ontario must have a policy in place for what to do if a child does not arrive or is not picked up as expected.
The safe arrival program is meant to prevent rare cases in which a young child is accidentally left in a hot car.
In 2022, an Ontario mother started a petition asking the government to direct child-care operators to come up with a similar program after a 23-month-old boy was accidentally left in a hot car and died in Bancroft, Ont.
School boards across the province have implemented safe-arrival programs since 1999.
Pay increases for early childhood educators
Ontario is boosting the minimum wage of early childhood educators in most licensed child-care centres to $23.86 an hour.
The change is part of a provincial strategy meant to retain staff in the sector as Ontario works towards establishing $10-a-day child care.
After 2024, the wage floor will increase by $1, up to $25.86 in 2026.
Minimum wage increase
The minimum wage will go up in October 2024, although it’s unclear by how much.
Last year the Doug Ford government bumped up the minimum wage by a full dollar, from $15.50 to $16.55.
One province and one territory have higher minimum wage rates than Ontario. Despite this, the Ontario Living Wage Network says it’s not enough for individuals to cover their cost of living.
More cannabis retail stores
Ontario will increase the number of storefronts a cannabis operator can manage in 2024. Previous legislation capped the number of stores per operator at 75, while legislating the stand-alone stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools.
The new laws allow licensed cannabis retailers to operate up to 150 storefronts.
Signage for a Cannabis dispensary is seen amongst other shops on Queen St. in Toronto, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Cole Burston)
The province has also banned the growing of cannabis in homes offering child care.
Fines for sharing patient information
New laws will impose fines on individuals and organizations that inappropriately access or share personal health information.
These penalties will be handed out by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
The price of vaping products in Ontario will likely go up due to a provincial duty that would see manufacturers and importers pay $2 per two millilitre of vaping liquids for the first 10 millilitres, then $2 per 10 millilitres for volumes beyond that.
This will double the current federal duty rates on vaping products.
Faster licencing for international teachers
The Ontario government is requiring the Ontario College of Teachers to decide within 60 days of an application whether to accept an internationally trained teacher. The goal is to encourage faster hiring during a time at which staff retention is challenging.
The province’s Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, which streamlines processes for building schools on shared-use sites and disposing of surplus school board property, goes into effect in the new year.
Changes for tow truck industry
As of Jan. 1, the province will become responsible for certifying tow operators, drivers and vehicle storage operators.
As part of the certification, individuals will have to meet certain training, insurance and vehicle safety standards—as well as get a criminal record check. It also means that these individuals will be exempt from municipal business licensing by-laws.
New customer rights will also be introduced that include providing consent to tow, choosing where a vehicle is towed, and rules surrounding accessing and paying for a vehicle.
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