May 07, 2010

Nova Scotia Legislative Report - Spring Sitting May 7, 2010

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The 2nd Session of the 61st General Assembly of the Nova Scotia legislature began on Thursday March 25th, 2010 with a speech from the throne.  As of May 7th, 30 Government Bills, 37 Private Members Bills and 2 Private Bills have been introduced during this sitting of the House of Assembly. 

Below is a summary of those bills introduced between May 3rd and May 7th, and a the status of legislation introduced since the beginning of this session current to May 7th, 2010.

GOVERNMENT BILLS
Bill No. 58 – Powers of Attorney Act (amended) – Hon. Ross Landry
This amendment aims to rectify a gap in the current legislation with respect to joint attorneys.  The Bill provides that, where two or more persons are appointed as attorneys and one or more of the attorneys are unable or unwilling to act, the remaining attorneys may continue to act.  Status: Passed second reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 61 –Non-essential Pesticides Control Act – Hon. Sterling Belliveau
This proposed Act is meant to curtail the use of certain pesticides, primarily on residential lawns.  The Act provides that no person may use, sell, or supply a pesticide unless it is included on the list of allowable pesticides as defined in the regulations.  Persons using, selling or supplying pesticides for forestry or agricultural purposes or for use on golf courses are exempted. The Act also provides for inspectors to enforce the provisions of the Act.  A person who contravenes any section of the Act will be liable on summary conviction for a fine of up to $2,500; corporations face fines of up to $15,000.  Where an offence is committed over a period of time, each day represents a new offence; persons may incur cumulative fines for each day they are in contravention of the Act.  The Court is also provided with the authority to make a number of incidental orders to prevent or remedy any adverse effects resulting from the use of prohibited pesticides.   Status: Passed second reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 62 – Nova Scotia Hospital Foundation Act (repealed) – Hon. Maureen MacDonald
This Bill repeals the Nova Scotia Hospital Foundation Act.  This Act had created a Foundation to assist the Nova Scotia Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with Dalhousie University, in the attainment of its objectives of patient care, teaching, and research as well as to provide financial assistance to the Hospital staff and others engaged in activities on behalf of the Hospital.  Status: Passed by the Law Amendments Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Bill No. 63 –Legal Professions Act (amended) – Hon. Ross Landry
These amendments make a number of substantive changes to the Legal Profession Act.  The changes come after recommendations by the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society to improve the five-year old law. 

First, the Council of the Society is modified by removing the Attorney General of Canada (or his representative), the President of the Canadian Bar Association (Nova Scotia Branch), the President of the Association des juristes d'expression française de la Nouvelle-Écosse, and the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers' Insurance Association of Nova Scotia from the Council.

Second, the Bill would extend the professional responsibility mandate of the Society to include capacity.  The amendments provide authority to require a member to undergo a medical assessment to determine his or her capacity.  The Bill also establishes a Fitness to Practice Committee to oversee and determine issues of capacity.

Third, the Bill provides that the Hearing Committee may sit as a credentials appeal panel to hold hearings concerning the admission or re-instatement of persons as members of the Society. 

Fourth, the amendments provide confidentiality and privacy protections with respect to complaints brought to the Society against a member.  Specifically, members of the public may be excluded from any proceeding where the matter involves information subject to solicitor-client privilege or where the public interest in disclosure does not outweigh the interests of the public or a specific individual in preventing disclosure.   As well, the amendments provide that employees or agents of the Society or members of committees or panels constituted pursuant to the Act are not compellable in any legal proceedings; the same is true for any reports obtained in connection with any disciplinary proceeding under Part III of the Act. 

Finally, the mandate of the Lawyer’s Insurance Association of Nova Scotia is expanded to include the administration of the Lawyer’s Assistance Program. Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.
 
Bill No. 64 – Electricity Act (amended) – Hon. Bill Estabrooks
These amendments are designed to encourage consumer and community-based renewable energy production and establish the legal foundation for the Government’s Renewable Electricity Plan.  To accomplish this, the Bill allows electric utilities to establish a program whereby customers may generate electricity for their own use and sell any excess electricity to the utility at the same rate paid by the customer, provided that any electricity produced is from a renewable, low-impact source.  In addition, the Bill provides that electric utilities must allow other electricity “generators” to connect renewable low-impact electricity-generation facilities to the power grid.  Only First Nation councils, municipalities, non-profit corporations, co-operatives, and any other organizations as defined in the regulations may qualify as generators.  Finally, the Bill provides for the appointment of renewable energy administrators to oversee the procurement of renewable low-impact electricity on behalf of the utility. The Government expects to enact regulations in support of these amendments later this summer.  Status: Passed second reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 65 –Homes for Special Care Act (amended) – Hon. Denise Peterson-Rafuse
This Bill makes a number of revisions to the Homes for Special Care Act to address concerns raised in the last few years with respect to abuse and neglect in licensed residential homes for persons with disabilities.  The amendments are intended to hold facilities more accountable for their operations and the actions of their employees.  Pursuant to the amendments, most residential care facilities overseen by the Department of Community Services and Department of Health will require a license from the Minister to operate.  The Bill also amends the circumstances in which the Minister may suspend or cancel a license and provides authority to the Minister to appoint a temporary manager or administrator to oversee the operations of a facility whose license has been suspended or revoked until the facility’s license is re-instated or re-issued. Overall, the amendments are expected to affect some 219 homes and approximately 700 residents.  Status: Passed second reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

Bill No. 67 – Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (amended) – Hon. Ramona Jennex
This Bill makes a number of changes to the statutory authority of the Halifax Regional Municipality (“HRM”).  The Bill makes changes to the HRM’s by-law authority in respect of tree cutting, establishing street frontage, lot area, and lot density requirements; the Bill also increases the limitation period for the prosecution of land-use by-law and development agreement violations in support of protecting trees in serviced areas.   As well, the Bill allows the HRM to require a water supply evaluation for proposed subdivisions outside the water-service area.

In addition, the Bill incorporates the benefit of amendments to the Municipal Government Act passed in the Fall of 2008 whereby municipalities were entitled to receive a grant from the provincial government equivalent to taxes payable on exempt conservation properties.  A number of minor housekeeping amendments are also included.  Status: Passed by the Law Amendments Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Bill No. 68 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Hon. Ramona Jennex
These proposed amendments increase the maximum capital expenditures that may be made by a public utility without approval by the Utility and Review Board from $25,000 to $250,000.  In addition, this Bill authorizes public utilities, in addition to Nova Scotia Power Inc., to seek approval from the Utility and Review Board for an annual capital expenditure program to enable the utility to make capital expenditures without the approval of the Board.  The amendments are intended to make it easier for public utilities to proceed with capital projects by streamlining the investment process.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILLS

Bill No. 57 – Income Tax Act (amended) – Harold Theriault Jr. (LIB)
This Bill provides for an income tax credit for those over the age of 60 for the installation of an eligible life or medical alert system in their residences.  The credit is set at a maximum of $500.  The Governor in Council is given the authority to pass regulations defining eligible systems.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 59 – Public Utilities Act (amended) – Andrew Younger (LIB)
This Bill exempts the production and delivery of thermal or geothermal energy or heat by public utilities from oversight by the Utility and Review Board where such energy is provided to ten or fewer customers.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 60 – Green Energy Promotion Act – Andrew Younger (LIB)
This proposed Act would require the Ministers of Energy, Environment, and Finance to conduct a review of the implementation and success of the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit in Manitoba and consider the establishment of a similar tax credit in Nova Scotia.  The Act would also require consideration of tax credits for geothermal heat pumps and solar thermal energy systems.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 66 – Liquor Control Act (amended) – Diana Whalen (LIB)
This Bill reintroduces proposed amendments to the Liquor Control Act which were put before the Legislature during the previous Sitting.  The Bill provides for the issuing of permits to businesses which assist or participate in the making of beer, wine, or cider by another person, otherwise known as U-Brus or U-Vins.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Bill No. 69 – Public Highways Act (amended) – Kelly Regan (LIB
)
This Bill arises from concerns over aging transportation infrastructure in the province, particularly bridges and overpasses.  It amends to the Public Highways Act to require the Minister of Transportation to schedule a visual inspection of all bridges and overpasses in the province once every two years and underwater inspections of bridges every five years.  In addition, the amendments provide that an in-depth inspection is required immediately if any damage is discovered during a regularly scheduled inspection.  To keep the public informed, the amendments require the Minister to post the results of any such inspections on the Government website within 90 days of the inspection being completed.  Status: Passed first reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House.

Status Update on Government Bills

  • Bill No. 1 House of Assembly Management Commission Act - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 7 Pharmacy Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 10 Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 13 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 16 Summary Proceedings Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 18 Vital Statistics Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 19 Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 22 Security and Investigative Services Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 23 Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 24 Financial Measures (2010) Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 29 Municipal Government Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 33 Securities Transfer Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 35 Finance Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 36 Engineering Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 38 Voluntary Carbon Emissions Offset Fund Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 41 Volunteer Fire Services Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 46 Appropriations Act, 2010 - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent. These amendments are effective as of April 1, 2010.
  • Bill No. 47 Education Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 51 Revenue Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 52 Insurance Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 53 Fur Industry Act - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 55 Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act (amended) - Passed 3rd reading and is awaiting Royal Assent
  • Bill No. 58 Powers of Attorney Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 61 Non Essential Pesticides Control Act - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 62 Nova Scotia Hospital Foundation Act (repealed) - Passed by the Law Amendments Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills
  • Bill No. 63 Legal Professions Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 64 Electricity Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 65 Homes For Special Care Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 67 Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (amended) - Passed by the Law Amendments Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills
  • Bill No. 68 Public Utilities Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in p principle by the House

Status Update on Private Members' Bills

  • Bill No. 2 Health Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 3 Provincial Finance Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 4 Electricity Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 5 Provincial Finance Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 6 Industrial Expansion Fund Transfer Act - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 8 Multi-Year Funding Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 9 Advisory Council on Mental Health Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 11 Diabetic Persons Support Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 12 Life-threatening Illness Student Support Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 14 Sales Tax Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 15 Viola Desmond Day Act - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 17 Public Highways Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 20 Health-care Sustainability Advisory Council Act - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 21 Income Tax Act (amended) and Motor Vehicle Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 25 Emergency Health Services Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 26 Elections Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 27 Elections Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 28 Fire Safety Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 30 Police Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 31 Employment Support and Income Assistance Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 32 Emergency Management Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 34 Motor Vehicle  Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading; debate was adjourned on 2nd reading
  • Bill No. 37 Workers’ Compensation Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 39 Coyote Control Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 40 Tidal View Manor in the Town of Yarmouth from Taxation, An Act to Exempt (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 42 Public Service Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 44 Maintenance and Custody Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 45 Day Care Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 48 Elections Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 50 Correctional Services Act (amended) and Police Act (amended) - Passed 2nd reading and has been referred to the Law Amendments Committee
  • Bill No. 54 An Act to Establish Joseph Howe Day - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 56 Special Places Protection Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 57 The Income Tax Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 59 Public Utilities Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 60 Green Energy Promotion Act - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 66 Liquor Control Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House
  • Bill No. 69 Public Highways Act (amended) - Passed 1st reading and is awaiting debate in principle by the House

    Status Update on Private Bills

  • Bill No. 43 First Cornwallis Baptist church Act (amended) - Passed by the Private and Local Bills Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills
  • Bill No. 49 Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club, An Act to incorporate (amended) - Passed by the Private and Local Bills Committee and referred back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills

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 Members 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 Members 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 any 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.