October 16, 2008

NS Legislative Report, Fall Sitting - Update October 16

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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. As of October 16, 23 government bills and 17 private member's bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly. 

Below is a summary of the bills introduced between October 12-16 along with a status update on those bills introduced since the beginning of the 61st General Assembly as of October 16.

Government Bills

Bill No. 34 – Emergency Management Act (amended)
This Bill contains a number of amendments to the Emergency Management Act.  It confirms that the Emergency Management Act takes precedence over other Acts and regulations respecting emergencies and confirms the Minister’s authority over all matters dealing with emergencies in Nova Scotia.  It creates an Executive Emergency Management Committee that shall provide oversight and direction to the Minister regarding emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.  It imposes a requirement on municipalities to immediately inform the Emergency Management Office of any real or potential emergency that could affect Nova Scotians.  The Bill also increases the fine for failing to comply with the Act or its regulations, or obstructing the Minister, a municipality, the EMO, or a committee or person in the performance of any action authorized by the Act, to ten thousand dollars for an individual and one hundred thousand dollars for a corporation.  The court is given the authority to increase any fine by an amount equal to the financial benefit gained by the offender as a result of the offence.  Finally, the Bill strengthens the regulation-making authority of municipalities and allows regulation-making power respecting emergency planning, evaluation and reporting for non-governmental agencies. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 36 – Public Service Act (amended)
This Bill establishes the Office of Fire and Emergency Services, to be presided over by the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 38 – Condominium Act (amended)
This lengthy Bill contains a number of amendments to the Condominium Act.  These changes are intended to strengthen consumer protection for condo owners and potential buyers, and improve the administration of condominium corporations.  Among other things, the Bill includes a requirement to give prospective buyers more information about the condo corporation at the time of purchase, an extension of the cooling-off period after the agreement of purchase is signed to give the buyer more time to review the contract, a prohibition against developers forcing buyers to move into their units prior to completion of the building and closing of the sale, and a requirement that a report on the condition of the building is made for any building that is converted to a condominium in order to determine the amount of funds that should be kept in reserve for future repairs. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 39 – Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act
This Bill creates the Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act.  The purpose of the Act is to prohibit the exploration for or mining of uranium in order to protect the health and safety of Nova Scotians.  Those who contravene the Act are guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than two thousand dollars. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 40 – Labour Standards Code (amended)
This Bill creates an unpaid emergency leave for employees in cases of public health or other declared emergencies.  Emergency is defined as an emergency declared under the Emergency Management Act, a direction of a medical officer under the Health Protection Act, a public health emergency declared by the Minister under the Health Protection Act, an emergency declared under the Emergencies Act (Canada) and any other circumstance as prescribed in the regulations, that prevents an employee from performing his or her work duties. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Private Member's Bills
Bill No. 35 – Elections Act (amended) – Hon. Murray K. Scott (PC)
This Bill allows the Chief Electoral Officer, on the advice of the Election Commission, to make regulations to permit electronic and internet voting. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 37 – Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Hon. Karen Casey (PC)This Bill adds a definition of “grandparents” to the Act, provides for grandparent access orders and sets out the factors the court must consider when making a grandparent access order.  The Bill also provides that a person who has custody of a child shall not unreasonably stand in the way of personal contact between the child and his or her grandparents. Status: Passed on first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Government Bills
  • Bill No. 1 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee.
  • Bill No. 2 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading.
  • Bill No. 4  Engineering Profession Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 5 Halifax Regional Municipality Charter Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 6 HRM by Design, An Act to Implement (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 7 Trade Union Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 9 Assessment Act (amended) and Municipal Grants Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 10 Personal Property Security Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 14 Judicature Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 15 Beneficiaries Designation Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 16 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 17 Agricultural Marshland Conservation Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 20 Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 24 Pipeline  Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 25 Motor Vehicle  Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 27 Occupational Health and Safety Act  (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 28 Education Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 29 Financial Measures (2009) Act – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 30 Public Trustee Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 34 Emergency Management Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 38 Condominium Act (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 39 Uranium Exploration and Mining Prohibition Act – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 40 Labour Standards Code (amended) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.


Status Update on Private Member's Bills

  • Bill No. 3 Health Act (amended) – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 8 Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (Kings West) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 11 Provincial Finance Act (amended) – Leo Glavine (Kings West) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 12 Elections Act (amended) – Chuck Porter (Hants West) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 13 Sales Tax Act (amended) – Harold Theriault Jr. (Digby-Annapolis) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 18 Diabetic Persons Support Act – Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 19 Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act – Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House. 
  • Bill No. 21 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (Dartmouth East) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 22 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) – Chuck Porter (Hants West) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 23 Employment Support and Income Assistance Act (amended) – Chuck Porter (Hants West) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 26 Advisory Council on Mental Health Act – Diana Whalen – (Halifax Clayton Park) – Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 31 Uranium Mining Prohibition Act – Chuck Porter (Hants West) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 32 Education Act (amended) – Kelly Regan (Bedford-Birch Cove) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 33 Public Service Act (amended) – Alfie MacLeod (Cape Breton West) – Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading.
  • Bill No. 35 Elections Act (amended) – Hon. Murray K. Scott  (Cumberland South) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 36 Public Service Act (amended) – Hon. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
  • Bill No. 37 Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) – Hon. Karen Casey (Colchester North) – Passed 1st reading; is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

The Progress of Bills in the Nova Scotia Legislature

The 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 Jennifer Forster at coxandpalmer.com or by phone at (902) 491-4107.


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.