Highlights from the 2009 federal and provincial budgets

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We’ve reviewed the 2009 federal budget and all available provincial and territorial budgets. This year the focus of all budgets has been on economic recovery. The federal budget in particular has highlighted efforts to stimulate the economy through personal tax relief, assistance for workers, and funding relief for pension plan sponsors. While many other changes are also planned in the federal budget, we do not anticipate any impact to our Group Benefits plans. For more information, go to: Federal Budget 2009. The provincial budgets have also highlighted economic recovery, but while most do not have an impact on group benefits business, there have been changes announced for Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, which we outline below.

Here’s a look at the Ontario, Quebec and Alberta budgets

ONTARIO BUDGET – March 26

The Ontario budget proposes moving to a single, value-added sales tax at a combined rate of 13 % on July 1, 2010. This single, value-added tax structure will combine the Ontario Retail Sales Tax (RST) and the federal Goods & Services Tax (GST). We anticipate this value-added tax will be charged on our fees where GST currently applies.

Similar to GST, you may be able to recover this tax as an input tax credit.

The budget also stated that the existing 8% RST on group benefits insurance and ASO contracts will remain in place when the new harmonized tax comes into effect. 

We are continuing to monitor the development of this new tax structure, in order to fully assess the impact these changes will have on our group benefit products and services.

For more information, go to: Ontario Budget 2009.

QUEBEC BUDGET – March 19

The Quebec sales tax (QST) on goods and services will increase from 7.5 %to 8.5 % on January 1, 2011. The increase will have an impact on all group benefits goods and services where both GST and QST currently apply.

Note: The QST rate of 9% that is charged on group benefits insurance and ASO contracts will not change with this tax rate increase.

For more information, go to: Quebec Budget 2009.

ALBERTA BUDGET – April 7

Alberta announced they are eliminating the $200 per year coverage of chiropractic services and x-rays. While no date was included in the budget document, we understand the change will be implemented this summer. We plan to investigate the impact to plan sponsors with Alberta residents and will provide you with more details as soon as they are available.

For more information, go to: Alberta Budget 2009.

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?

Contact your Sun Life Financial group benefits representative.