October 05, 2009

NS Legislative Report, Fall Sitting

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Following the change of government this past June, the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature began on Friday, September 17 with a speech from the throne. During this Fall sitting, 16 government bills and 11 private member's bills were introduced in the House of Assembly as of September 30. The following is a summary of those bills.

Government Bills

Bill No. 1 - Motor Vehicle Act (amended)
This Bill prohibits drivers from driving a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than 60 kilometres per hour when passing a stopped emergency vehicle with its lights are flashing, unless the passenger car is travelling on the other side of the median.  If a passenger car is travelling on a divided highway and is passing an emergency vehicle whose lights are flashing, passenger cars must, if it is safe to do so, leave a completely empty lane between their car and the emergency vehicle.  If this is not possible, the passenger car must move to the next lane if it is safe to do so.  Increased fines will be given out to drivers who fail to leave an empty lane when it is safe to do so. Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act (amended)
This Bill increases the roadside suspension for a blood alcohol level of .05 or more from 24 hours to 7 days for a first suspension, 15 days for a second suspension and 30 days for a third suspension, within ten years.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 

Bill No. 4 - Engineering Profession Act (amended)
This Bill addresses general housekeeping issues on the legislation, including changes to defined terms as well as substantive changes.  Professional development programs and a code of ethics must be adopted by all member of the Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Nova Scotia.  The amendments also address permission to delegate the authority to register members, and provides a process to deal with the resignation of members.  Finally, this Bill seeks to improve the current complaint and disciplinary process contained in the Act.  This Bill will come into effect upon proclamation.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 

Bill No. 5 - Halifax Regional Municipality Charter Act (amended)
This Bill amends the sections of the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter Act which deal with funding to the Halifax Regional School Board by making them apply to the whole municipality as opposed to only the territory of the former cities of Halifax and Dartmouth. The amendments also add a section from the Municipal Government Act allowing HRM Council discretion to levy a rate or an area rate to provide additional funding to the Halifax Regional School Board.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 

Bill No. 6 - HRM by Design, An Act to Implement (amended)
This Bill deals with general housekeeping issues in relation to the numbering of references to the Halifax Regional Municipality Charter.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 

Bill No. 7 - Trade Union Act (amended)
This Bill provides additional protection to those who perform dispute-resolution roles under the Trade Union Act from being compelled to give evidence in Court in regards to information they’ve gained through the completion of their dispute-resolution duties.  The amendment also provides parties with a new mediation-arbitration option which can be used to resolve grievances made pursuant to the Act.  Finally, the amendment addresses some housekeeping issues related to incorrect cross-referencing in the act, and states that the Act comes into force upon proclamation.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 9 - Assessment Act (amended) and Municipal Grants Act (amended)
This Bill removes court houses from the list of property in the Assessment Act not liable to municipal taxation and amends the Municipal Grants Act to phase in a grant in lieu of taxes for court houses.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 10 - Personal Property Security Act (amended)
This Bill amends the Personal Property Security Act to correct a cross-reference and to provide revised wording for amendments made to the Act in 2003 or to provisions related to those amendments. Replacing the wording enacted in 2003 is intended to promote continued uniformity in the personal property security legislation used in most of Canada.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 14 - Judicature Act (amended)
The purpose of this Bill is to empower the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to prevent individuals found to be abusing the Court process from starting new proceedings or continuing existing proceedings.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 15 - Beneficiaries Designation Act (amended)
This Bill corrects an error in terminology.  Rather than using the term “savings plan” in s. 9(1)(b), the Act will now refer to a “savings account”.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 16 - Motor Vehicle Act (amended)
This Bill amends the Motor Vehicle Act to authorize regulations to broaden the classes of people licensed outside of Nova Scotia who are allowed to drive a motor vehicle upon a highway in Nova Scotia without having to obtain a Nova Scotia driver's licence.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 17 - Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act (amended)
This Bill addresses administrative changes with respect to the removal of the words “and Fisheries” from the Department’s title.  The Bill introduces a requirement that an executive committee of a marsh body must submit an annual report. The Bill also modifies the timelines involved in making and issuing a decision on a variance permit, as well as the expiration period for such a permit. Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 20 - Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act (amended)
This Bill addresses some general housekeeping issues in regards to the definition of “Agreement” as well as updating references to the Minister responsible for the Act.  The Bill allows for hearing costs to be included in the amount that can be paid under the Agreement. The Bill amends the authority to appoint persons to dispute resolution panels. As well, the Minister’s powers were expanded to appoint persons to the board of directors of the secretariat that governs the Agreement, as well as the Province’s internal trade representative. The Bill also addresses the effect of a monetary penalty awarded against the Province. Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 24 – Pipeline Act (amended)
This Bill expands the powers of the Utility and Review Board and gives the Board more options to ensure compliance with the Act.  Some of the new amendments will increase the Board’s authority with respect to permit and licence applications and the monitoring and enforcement of orders around pipelines and public safety.  The Bill also adds sections to provide for entry on lands for the purpose of assessing the practicality of installing a pipeline route.   The Bill amends the long title of the Act from “An Act Respecting the Transmission of Oil and Gas” to “An Act Respecting the Transportation of Oil and Gas”.  Finally, the definitions of “gas pipeline”, “installation” and “transmission” are repealed, the definitions of “oil” and “pipeline” are changed, and definitions for “pipeline system”, “transportation” and “well” are added.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 25 – Motor Vehicle Act (Amended)
This Bill amends the Motor Vehicle Act to require dealers to pay an appropriate fee for the issuance of a Certificate of Registration in the dealer's name or for the transfer of a motor vehicle permit registration number plate to a licensed dealer. Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 27 – Occupational Health and Safety Act (Amended)
This Bill amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act and changes the appeal process with respect to discriminatory action decisions. The amendments eliminate the initial appeal to the Director of Occupational Health and Safety. Appeals go directly to the Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Private Member's Bills

Bill No. 3 - Health Act (amended) - Hon. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)
This Bill authorizes regulations to designate 20 positions at Dalhousie University medical school for students who enter into a contract for tuition support in exchange for serving for five years in an under-serviced area of Nova Scotia.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 8 - Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (Kings West)
This Bill amends the Provincial Finance Act to require the Minister of Finance to table in the House of Assembly approved business plans for the district health authorities with the estimates for a fiscal year.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 11 - Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (Kings West)
This Bill amends the Provincial Finance Act to require the Minister of Finance to table a report setting out all departmental write-offs of more than one thousand dollars when the Minister tables the Public Accounts rendered annually for a fiscal year.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 12 - Elections Act (amended) – Chuck Porter (Hants West)
This Bill amends the Elections Act to provide that the expression "long-term care facility" includes a hospital, thereby permitting a mobile polling station to be established in a hospital under Section 91A of the Act.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 13 - Sales Tax Act (amended) – Herald Theriault Jr. (Digby-Annapolis)
This Bill provides a rebate of the Provincially designated portion of the Goods and Services Tax in respect of funerals.  Status:  passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 18 - Diabetic Persons Support Act – Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)
This Bill provides for the funding of insulin pumps under the M.S.I. Plan.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 19 - Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act – Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove)
This Bill requires the Minister of Education to establish and monitor the implementation of a life-threatening illness policy in schools.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 21 - Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Dartmouth East)
This Bill outlines the procedure for pedestrians to use crosswalk flags at designated crosswalks and the penalty for the unlawful removal of the flag for any purpose other than to assist the pedestrian when using the crosswalk.  The Bill also authorizes the traffic authority to install and maintain the flags for pedestrian use at crosswalks.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 22 - Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Dartmouth East)
This Bill amends the Act to prohibit the solicitation or sale of goods on 100 Series Highways.  It also gives the Governor in Council the authority to make regulations to designate certain areas as 100 Series Highways, to prohibit certain types of activities on 100 Series Highways, to define words not defined in the amended section of the Act, and to make regulations necessary or advisable in order to carry out the intention of the amended section of the Act.  The regulations made by the Governor in Council are to be made in accordance with the definition of “regulation” contained in the Regulations Act.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 23 - Employment Support and Income Assistance Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Dartmouth East)
This Bill allows the Minister to give financial assistance to disabled persons who do not qualify for Canada Pension Plan disability, or private or other disability plan, benefits.  Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 26 – Advisory Council on Mental Health Act – Diana Whalen – (Halifax Clayton Park)
This Bill creates an Advisory Council on Mental health. The Bill outlines the structure of the Council with respect to members, remuneration and term length.  The Bill establishes that the goals of the Council are to advise the Minister of Health and the Government with respect to mental health needs of all Nova Scotians and to consult with all relevant stakeholder organizations with respect to the development of policies, programs and priorities. Status:  Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

The Progress of Bills in the Nova Scotia LegislatureThe legislative process begins when a Bill is presented by a Member of the House of Assembly and is given First Reading by the House, without debate.

A Bill is given Second Reading after being debated in principle in the House.

Following Second Reading, Bills are referred to one of the legislative committees – the Law Amendments Committee or Private and Local Bills Committee – for detailed discussion in meetings outside the House.  Members of the public can attend the meetings of these Committees and make presentations respecting any Bill.  Amendments are frequently considered and may be adopted and included in the bill when it is reported back to the House.

Bills reported back from the legislative committees are debated, clause by clause, by the members of the House acting as the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.  The Bill is then reported back to the House.

The Bill receives Third Reading and the final approval of the House.  There may be some debate at this stage but usually the Bill is voted on with no discussion.

The Bill receives Royal Assent when the Lieutenant Governor signs the final version.  The Bill is then referred to as an Act, and is assigned a chapter number in the Statutes of Nova Scotia.

Commencement is the day on which the Act takes effect.  Ordinarily, an Act takes effect when it is given Royal Assent.  Sometimes, however, it provides that it will come into effect only when is it proclaimed to take effect by Order in Counsel to be made by the Cabinet.

Government Bills are introduced by the Minister of the department responsible for the legislation.  Private Member's Bills are generally introduced by a member of the opposition parties.  Government Bills have a higher likelihood of becoming law since the largest party in the Legislative Assembly supports the initiative. Except in a minority government, Private Member's Bills are unlikely to be brought forward for substantive debate or become law.

If you wish to be informed when a specific piece of legislation is scheduled to be heard by a legislative committee, please contact us and we will make arrangements for you to be so informed.

If you have questions regarding the legislation summarized above or would like to receive a copy of any bill, please contact Gavin MacDonald at coxandpalmer.com or by phone at (902) 491 4464.


Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.