Ontario’s minimum wage increase and other legal changes take effect Jan. 1

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Ontario residents can expect plenty of changes once 2018 arrives.

As of Monday, the general minimum wage will increase to $14 from $11.60. It will then rise to $15 in January 2019.

Also beginning next year, employees who have been with the same company for five or more years will be entitled to at least three weeks of vacation, up from the current statutory minimum of two weeks.

A new pharmacare plan will also be introduced called OHIP+, covering four million children, teens and young adults under the age of 25.

As part of the plan, the first of its kind in the country, they will get free access to 4,400 medications simply by presenting a health card and a valid prescription at any pharmacy.

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Staff in provincially regulated industries get 10 days of personal emergency leave, with two days paid. This is for those who have been with an employer at least one full week, with a notable exception of seven days leave for automotive sector companies. The one-week employment requirement is in place to prevent people hired for a few days from calling in sick and getting paid.

Municipalities will have more say in where payday loan shops can operate, and limit the amount of storefronts. The cost of borrowing for payday loans is capped at $15 per $100 borrowed, down from $18.

Ontario is cutting its corporate income tax rate for small businesses to 3.5 per cent from 4.5 per cent. The province is also linking with Quebec and California in the largest carbon market in North America in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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