Canada's new rules: Here's what changed for 2014
Published Thursday, January 2, 2014 11:14AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 3, 2014 7:24AM EST
A new calendar year means some new rules are in effect across Canada. Here's a look at what's changed.
As of Jan. 2, Canadians with parents or grandparents overseas can apply for them to become permanent residents in this country.
Applications were halted in 2011, to clear an eight-year backlog. Now that the Family Reunification Program has begun again, Ottawa says it will limit the number of applications to 5,000 annually.
"You can imagine that the race is on," CTV's Mercedes Stephenson said from Ottawa Thursday, noting that the applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
"I imagine that the Citizenship and Immigration Department is going to be seeing quite a lot of applications for this."
If you've got a light bulb that needs replacing, you'll soon discover that the federal government's ban on incandescent bulbs went into effect Jan. 1.
Retailers can continue to sell their existing stocks of the old-fashioned light bulbs, but manufacturers won't be sending them any new ones. Instead, consumers will find store shelves taken over by more energy-efficient alternatives including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LED).
Sixty and 40-watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out next December.
New regulations designed to allay Canadians' fears their jobs are being filled by foreign workers are also in effect as of Jan. 1.
Under the new rules, for a period of six years, government officials do not need warrants to conduct surprise workplace inspections, interview foreign workers and demand documentation from employers -- all to prove whether they are in compliance with conditions of the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
The new regulations make it illegal for employers to pay foreign workers 15 per cent less than the standard rate for a position, and include the introduction of a new $275 fee for each TFW permit application.
The fact that employers in Canada's sex industry will no longer be able to apply to bring foreign workers to fill their jobs has grabbed the most headlines, however.
"Some people here in Ottawa have joked that this means more Canadian-based strippers," Stephenson told CTV News Channel, explaining that the rules first announced in 2012 as a means of protecting "vulnerable" foreign workers, is expected to mean more employment opportunities for Canadians to fill those jobs.
Businesses now face stiffer fines for using so-called "zapper" software to dodge taxes by erasing sales from the company ledgers. A first offence will now net the company a $5,000 fine, while subsequent infractions would be punished with a $50,000 fine.
Anyone in possession of the software could be fined up to $50,000, while those who develop or sell such programs could be hit with a $100,000 fine.
A freeze on Employment Insurance premiums takes effect this week, meaning the rate will remain at the 2013 level of $1.88 per $100 of the $47,400 in maximum insurable earnings.
Higher-income Canadians will pay a little more, however, as maximum insurable earnings rise to $48,600 in 2014.
Other tax changes include a new credit for charitable cash donations over $200 to $1,000, up from the previous 29 per cent to 54 per cent for first-time donors.
With files from The Canadian Press