New laws and regulations that will significantly impact Canadian newcomers in 2024

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: January 12, 2024

Throughout this year, Canadian newcomers can expect to see several new regulations and laws implemented at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels.

These changes, ranging from employment and taxes to international student tuition, are likely to impact international students, temporary foreign workers and permanent residents across this country.

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The following will provide an overview of these changes, beginning with a discussion of federal regulations set to effect the entire country before addressing province/territory-specific amendments newcomers can expect in 2024.

New tax rules taking effect across Canada

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is altering several tax rules this year, all of which will impact Canadian permanent residents.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

On January 1, the CRA increased the annual contribution limit for TFSAs by $500 – from $6,500 to $7,000 per year. This type of savings account is important for all residents of Canada, including permanent residents, as it allows account holders who contribute money into the account to avoid being taxed on capital gains and withdrawals.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

Although the annual percentage of income that RRSP holders can deposit into their account (18%) remains steady in 2024, the CRA has increased the maximum contribution that account holders can make this year. Up from $30,780 in 2023, RRSP holders can now contribute $31,560, a bump that will be beneficial to Canadian permanent residents saving for their long-term future.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI)

Every month, most members of the Canadian workforce have CPP and EI payments deducted from their paycheques. In 2024, corresponding with an increase in the maximum CPP contribution across Canada - including the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP), the province’s own pension plan – more money will be deducted from paycheques accordingly. Specifically, employees in Canada will now have to pay $3,867 towards the CPP in 2024, a year-over-year increase of $113 for those earning at least $68,500 annually.

This means, in the short term, that employed persons across Canada will take home slightly less money every month.

A second CPP tax, also set to begin this year, was recently announced by the federal government. However, this tax will only impact “workers whose income is above the first earnings ceiling”, according to the Globe and Mail. More information on this tax can be found here.

As it relates to EI, premiums paid by employed residents of Canada are increasing this year similar to CPP. From a maximum contribution for federal EI of $1,002.35 last year, the 2024 maximum contribution will be $1,049.12 in 2024.

Note: According to a Globe and Mail story from December, QPP tax rates are also being increased this year, as employees will be required to “pay $4,348 into the QPP in 2024”

Increase coming to the federal carbon tax

As a result of an increase in Canada’s federal carbon tax, one recent Globe and Mail story says that residents of Canada who use personal vehicles as transportation “will pay 17.6 cents a litre of gasoline in fuel charges in 2024. [This represents an increase of] about 3.3 cents” compared to 2023.

This means that Canada’s carbon tax increase will have a significant impact on household expenses, as the Globe and Mail recently suggested that the tax “will cost the average household between $377 and $911 in 2024-25, even after rebates.”

Taxes withheld from paycheques may increase for some remote workers

Although the details have yet to be finalized, according to a recent Globe and Mail story, remote workers across Canada “could be subject to more or less payroll tax withholdings” in 2024 if they reside in a province that is different than their province of employment. This will impact where an employee files their income taxes, pension and EI.

New financial requirements for international students

For all international students with study permit applications received/submitted as of January 1, the federal government has now more than doubled the cost-of-living financial requirement that applicants must display during the application process.

More: Other new requirements for international students across Canada

In other words, Canadian study permit applicants must now display that they have $20,635 in savings – a significant increase from the $10,000 that international study permit applicants had to display prior to the start of this year.

Note: The new cost-of-living financial requirement must be shown alongside additional funds for covering the cost of first-year tuition and travel

New changes at the provincial level

Broken down by province, the following will outline changes coming to laws and regulations around Canada that are expected to have a significant impact on newcomers in this country.

Ontario

Minimum Wage Increase: Currently set at $16.55 per hour, the province is expected to increase its minimum wage rate on October 1.

New Licensing Procedures for Employment Agencies: Beginning on July 1, temporary work agencies and recruiters will need a license to assign employees to work. This is a measure that is intended to prevent the exploitation of temporary and vulnerable workers in the province. More information is available here.

Quebec

Out-of-Province Tuition Hike: Beginning this Fall, out-of-province English-speaking students looking to study in undergraduate or professional graduate programs at Quebec’s three English-language institutions – Bishop’s, McGill and Concordia – will see their tuition increase by around $3000. In a move that will not impact students pursuing research-based graduate degrees, affected students will see their tuition increase "from $8,992 to around $12,000" according to the Globe and Mail.

Note: The Government of Quebec also announced minimum tuition fees of $20,000 for international students, noting that “universities will retain the right to charge additional discretionary fees” according to the same Globe and Mail story

Stricter Language Criteria: As of November 23, the Government of Quebec will require temporary foreign workers and international students* applying through the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) to reach new French-language proficiency levels – specifically, at least seven for speaking and five for writing. Additionally, the PEQ will now require temporary foreign workers to pass a French test to renew their work permits. International students applying for immigration through the PEQ will soon* be required to have either “completed a program of study in Québec [in French] or … completed at least three years of full-time secondary or post-secondary studies” (in French).

Note: The PEQ is an immigration program for international students who have graduated from an institution in the province

*This requirement will officially take effect on November 23, 2024.

Prince Edward Island

Minimum Wage Increase: Currently set at $15 per hour, the province will increase its minimum wage rate to $15.40 on April 1 and then to $16 per hour on October 1.

Nova Scotia

Minimum Wage Increase: Currently set at $15 per hour, the province will increase its minimum wage rate with inflation on April 1. Nova Scotia’s government has also indicated a plan to further increase the provincial minimum wage by an additional one percent annually.

Northwest Territories

Update to Health Benefits for Low-Income Residents: Including such things as an income assessment to determine benefit eligibility (full details here), the territorial government has announced that a new extended health benefits policy will take effect on April 1.

Nunavut

Minimum Wage Increase: Previously set at $16 per hour, Nunavut has increased its minimum wage rate to $19 per hour effective January 1.

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