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April brings cannabis, carbon tax and OHIP+ coverage changes
Starting Monday morning the cost to heat a home and gas up vehicles will likely rise in Ontario.
Analysts say the implementation of the carbon tax could cost drivers between 5 and 6 cents more per litre.
“Not too excited about it,” said mother-of-four Tracey Going of Gatineau, “I have to drive, I have no choice. We've got 4 kids, so we do a lot of driving. It's not fantastic, but what can we do?”
Implementation of the carbon tax, opening of cannabis retail stores and amendment to Ontario’s Drug Benefit Program highlight several changes taking effect April 1, 2019.
The carbon tax, introduced by the federal government, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on pollution.
“That seems reasonable from the perspective of two things I guess; to incentivize people, to be clean and then we look after the future generation with respect to climate change.” said Tina Walter of Ottawa.
The government said a family of four will get receive an average of $307 in the form of its climate-action incentive payments.
Starting Monday, the Ontario Drug Benefit Program coverage for children and youth aged 24 years and under (OHIP+) will not include those who have a private insurance plan to access prescription medication.
Children and youth under the age of 24 who do not have a private plan for prescription drugs will continue to receive drug coverage through OHIP+ without co-payments or deductibles.
The Ontario government said changes will result in $250 million in savings. Prescription drugs like birth control, however, are no longer free for those 24 or younger; leaving many university and college students in Ottawa concerned, having to pay for prescriptions on their own or ask their payments to cover the cost.
“Friends are definitely getting a little bit nervous. What are we going to do?” said Emily Chackowicz, “A lot of my roommates; they pay for their own rent, they pay for their education, they pay for everything. And one thing they've really been lucky so far is not to have to pay for birth control.”
Monday morning also means the opening of three pot shops in Ottawa including Fire and Flower at 129 York Street in the ByWard Market.
“We're expecting a lot of very happy customers tomorrow. I think they've been waiting longer for this day than we have.” said Fire and Flower York Street Cannabis co-owner Michael Patterson.
Hobo Recreational Cannabis on Bank Street and Superette on Wellington Street West join Fire and Flower opening Monday at 10am.