MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
A New Year Brings New Federal Initiatives Made-for-Canadians
The start of a new year typically marks the implementation of a slate of new federal policies and regulations and there are a couple that you should know about.
Starting January 1st, the new Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), introduced in Budget 2008, was launched. TFSAs mean that Canadians 18 years and older can set aside up to $5,000 every year in a variety of savings options and never pay tax on the income earned or on withdrawals.
TFSA income and withdrawals will not affect eligibility for federal income-tested benefits or credits, such as the Child Tax Benefit, GST credit, Old Age Security or Guaranteed Income Supplement.
This new savings measure has been hailed by financial planners and tax specialists as a benefit for lower and middle income taxpayers who are looking to save for a specific purchase, such as a car or a house.
As an example of how much you can benefit, someone who contributes $200 a month to a TFSA for 20 years will end up with roughly $11,045 more in savings than if they had put that money away in an unregistered account.
Not everyone is able to save each and every year. Those who cannot contribute $5,000 into a TFSA in a given year will be able to carry forward their unused contribution room to future years. Individuals can also contribute to their spouse or common-law partner’s TFSA.
You can learn more about the new TFSAs at www.tfsa.gc.ca or by visiting your bank or financial advisor.
Product of Canada Labelling
Canadians want to know what they’re eating. Yet until the Government of Canada’s new food labelling regulations took effect on December 31, 2008, consumers could not be certain that a “Product of Canada” truly originated in Canada.
When Prime Minister Stephen Harper proposed the new stricter and clearer rules early in 2008, many Canadians were shocked to learn that ambiguous labelling meant some foods they thought were grown in Canada, were not. During consultations on the proposed regulations with more than 1500 Canadians, 90 percent endorsed the measures.
The new guidelines require that in order for a food item to be labelled “Product of Canada”, all or virtually all of the significant ingredients, components, processing and labour used, must be Canadian. These products must contain very little or no foreign content, such as minor food additives, spices, vitamins, minerals and flavouring preparations.
Alternately, a “Made in Canada” label indicates a food item has been manufactured or processed in Canada regardless of whether the ingredients are imported or domestic or a mix of both. However, the label must specify whether the food was “Made in Canada from domestic and imported ingredients” or “Made in Canada from imported ingredients”. This labelling option recognizes the importance of value added by Canadian ingredients and processing.
For more information to help ensure you know what you’re buying at the grocery store, go to: www.healthycanadians.gc.ca.
To keep up to date on all new Government of Canada initiatives and regulations, including the federal budget to be tabled later this month, go to www.news.gc.ca.