Highlights of the federal, provincial and territorial budgets for 2013

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Every year we publish an overview of the federal, provincial and territorial budgets, with an emphasis on measures that could potentially affect group benefits plans.  Very similar to last year, the focus of all budgets has been on sustaining the momentum for economic recovery and introducing measures to return to balanced budgets, while maintaining or enhancing vital public services.

Here’s a look at the 2013 budgets, by jurisdiction: Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Alberta – March 7, 2013

Generic pricing

As part of budget 2013, the Alberta Government is lowering the price it pays for generic drugs, from 35% to 18% of the brand-name equivalent. This change is effective as of May 1, 2013. The new 18% will apply equally to public and private payers.

In order to help pharmacists transition into this new business model, the government will continue to pay the current price for generic drugs for 30 days after May 1, 2013. This will help pharmacies dispense their inventory at the price for which they purchased the medication.

Also, since April 15, 2013, the government has reinstated for one year a $1.00 per prescription allowance to pharmacies. About half of the cost of this benefit to pharmacies will come from the government, while the other half will come from employers and private insurance programs. 

We are working through the impact of this announcement and will provide you with an update, as soon as further information becomes available.

Pharmacare program

To ensure comprehensive drug and supplementary health benefit coverage for all Albertans, a PharmaCare program will be introduced. Currently, 20% of Albertans have no drug coverage of any kind. Through this new program, all Albertans, regardless of age, will have access to comprehensive drug and supplementary health benefit coverage. The program will start on January 1, 2014.

Details on the PharmaCare program are still in development, but it will be an income-based program.

We are working through the impact of this announcement and will provide you with an update, as soon as further information becomes available.


Insulin pump program

Alberta announced its intention to fund an insulin pump program with no age restrictions.

Anyone with Type 1 diabetes who needs an insulin pump will be eligible to get one pump as well as supplies under the new program. 

We are working through the impact of this announcement and will provide you with an update, as soon as further information becomes available.

For more information you can visit the Government of Alberta website.

Manitoba – April 16, 2013

Provincial sales tax rate increase announced 

As part of the budget 2013, the Manitoba government announced, that effective July 1, 2013, the provincial sales tax of 7% will increase to 8%.  Transition rules have been established explaining when the current and new rate will apply on insurance premiums.  

We will communicate more information about the implementation of this change in a separate Focus Update.

For more information you can visit the Government of Manitoba website.

New Brunswick – March 26, 2013

When delivering the province’s annual budget, New Brunswick announced their intention to reduce the price of generic drugs by 10%, to reach 25% of the brand price. This will take effect on June 1, 2013.

We are working through the impact of this announcement and will provide you with an update, as soon as further information becomes available.

For more information you can visit the Government of New Brunswick website.

Quebec – November 20,  2012

Change in compensatory tax rate

In our December 18, 2012 Focus Update, we provided information regarding the implementation of the tax changes that are effective January 1, 2013 and impacts Group Benefits.

For more information about the implementation of these changes, please refer to the above mentioned Focus Update.

For more information about the 2013-2014 budget, please visit the Government of Quebec website.

Other budgets

Although the remaining provinces and territories are directing money to health care initiatives, committing to decreasing wait times, and increasing access to health professionals, their budgets do not contain any issues relevant to group benefits.

More to come

We will send out updates as we work through the impact and implementation of the changes included in each budget listed above.           

Questions?

Please contact your Client Service Administrator at 1-877-786-7227.