OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare
Starting January 1, 2018, Ontario families welcomed OHIP+, a new pharmacare plan that extends free prescription drug coverage to everyone under the age of 25, regardless of their socio-economic status. More than 4,400 eligible medications will be covered under the new Ontario Drug Benefit Program, and is expected to come at a cost of $465 million per year, according to the Liberal budget. These changes are the first the province has ever seen. Until now, the current Ontario Drug Plan only provides prescription drug coverage for seniors and citizens on social assistance.
New Rules for Maternity and Parental Leave
A new offer is on the table for parents of children born after December 3, 2017. The Liberal government’s extended parental leave rules have officially come into effect, allowing new parents the option to extend their Employment Insurance (EI) benefits to 18 months, at a weekly rate of 33% their eligible salary. This is compared to the standard rate of 55% per week over the course of 12 months. Furthermore, expectant mothers are also eligible to start receiving EI maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their anticipated due dates.
While it doesn’t mean more money in Canadian pockets, having these choices can mean significant relief for expectant mothers wishing to start their leave earlier for a number of physical or mental reasons. As for new parents, the option to spend a longer period of time with their children after the one year mark can also have a large impact on Canadian families.
Consolidating Ontario’s Child and Family Centres with EarlyON
The New Year will appoint a new title to Ontario’s child and family centres. Starting January 2018, Ontario will transform and integrate four existing Early Years Child and Family Programs under the new EarlyON umbrella. This single system will provide young children (ages 0-6) and their families access to high-quality early years programs, and a network of resources through local Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres (OEYCFCs). In addition, 100 more EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be created over the next three years as a result of the province’s $140 million investment in Ontario’s early years system. These new centres will provide one centralized space for essential programs to be accessed, so that children and families can grow and adapt to the shifting trends they face.