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Federal budget to support healthcare initiatives; hepatitis C drugs become more affordable

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Corporate / Pension/Retirement / Canada

Federal budget to support healthcare initiatives; hepatitis C drugs become more affordable

An in-depth look at these and other subjects are covered in the current issue of the Morneau Shepell News & Views

TORONTO, April 12, 2017 /CNW/ - Morneau Shepell released the April 2017 issue of its monthly newsletter, News & Views, in which the company looked at a number of topics including the following: measures in the federal budget that enhance Employment Insurance (EI) benefits and healthcare initiatives; the delayed tax reductions for insurance premiums in Quebec; the PST increase in Saskatchewan; and the negotiated reduction in prices for high-cost drugs that treat hepatitis C.  

  • Federal budget confirms enhanced mental health support – Although the federal budget, which was released on March 22, 2017, did not include any direct changes to pension plans or employee benefits, it did highlight $5 billion over 10 years to fund mental health initiatives and $6 billion over 10 years to fund home care. Additionally, the federal government proposed some changes to EI in the budget, including an EI caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks and EI maternity benefits for pregnant women up to 12 weeks before their due date.
  • Quebec government delays tax reduction for plan sponsors – The Quebec government, which enforces the heaviest tax burden on group insurance plans across the country, announced that it has delayed a previously expected reduction in the compensation tax on insurance premiums. Some insurers had already incorporated the reduced tax in their rate renewal conditions, based on the anticipated 0.18 per cent decrease, but they will be required to wait for five years before an adjustment is made.
  • Saskatchewan increases provincial sales tax (PST) – As of March 23, 2017, Saskatchewan's PST increased by one per cent to six per cent. The increase will be charged on premium payments for life, accident and health insurance policies beginning July 1, 2017.
  • Prices reduced for hepatitis C drugs – Following an agreement between the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance and several drug manufacturers to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for hepatitis C, the Ontario, B.C. and Saskatchewan governments have expanded their provincial coverage for six high-cost drugs that fight the virus. These life-changing advancements will ease drug costs for an estimated 250,000 Canadians who are infected with hepatitis C.
  • Tracking the funded status of pension plans as at March 31, 2017 – Morneau Shepell shared the changes in the financial position of a typical defined benefit pension plan since December 31, 2016. The graph in the newsletter shows the impact of three typical portfolios on plan assets and the effect of interest rate changes on solvency liabilities of medium duration.
  • Impact on pension expense under international accounting as at March 31, 2017 – Morneau Shepell shows the expense impact for a typical pension plan that starts the year at an arbitrary value of 100 (expense index). Since the beginning of the year, the slight decrease in the discount rate has been offset by good returns, reducing the plan expense to the same level as the one determined at the beginning of the year.

About Morneau Shepell

Morneau Shepell is the only human resources consulting and technology company that takes an integrative approach to employee assistance, health, benefits and retirement needs. The Company is the leading provider of employee and family assistance programs, as well as the largest administrator of retirement and benefits plans and the largest provider of integrated absence management solutions in Canada. Through health and productivity, administrative, and retirement solutions, Morneau Shepell helps clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity and improve their competitive position. Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves approximately 20,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations in North America. With approximately 4,000 employees in offices across North America, Morneau Shepell provides services to organizations across Canada, in the United States, and around the globe. Morneau Shepell is a publicly-traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: MSI). For more information, visit

SOURCE Morneau Shepell - Corporate

For further information: Cathren Ronberg, Morneau Shepell, 416.355.5632,; Heather MacDonald, Kaiser Lachance Communications, 647.725.2520 x 207,