Bill 41, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2012, was introduced in the legislature today by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond. If passed, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes:
Election Act - These amendments are being introduced to address the B.C. Court of Appeal's ruling that upheld the earlier trial court's decision permitting third parties to spend unlimited sums of money on election advertising outside of the designated 28-day campaign period. The amendments aim to foster further confidence in the electoral process by ensuring that public debate prior to a provincial election cannot be dominated through unlimited paid advertising. The amendments would shorten the pre-campaign period - from 60 days to a maximum of 40 days - during which spending limits would apply. They would also ensure that spending limits do not apply when the House is in session or for at least three weeks after it adjourns.
Consequential amendments to the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act are also being introduced, which would provide the flexibility to introduce the budget and estimates "on or before" the third Tuesday in February to align with the timeframes envisioned in the Election Act amendments. The changes would continue to see a budget and estimates introduced no later than the third Tuesday in February, as required by the current legislation.
If passed, the amendments will not be brought into force immediately, but will first be referred to the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Engineers and Geoscientists Act - Amendments to the act will enable the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) to admit qualified professionals trained outside of British Columbia to practise engineering and geosciences in B.C. The amendments also provide additional disciplinary tools such as practice reviews and conduct reviews, and makes minor changes to APEGBC's governance to improve fairness and efficiency.
Forest Act - There are two proposed amendments. The first enables flexibility in the minister's authority to delegate an authority under the act to officials in the ministry. The amendment was previously approved, but contained a minor typographical error that needs to be corrected. The second re-instates the requirement for a deposit to be made at time of application for forest tenure to prevent speculative bidding.
Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District Act - These amendments will enable the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) to become a member of the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District. Membership in the district will enable the TFN to secure long-term and cost-effective waste management services and to proceed with development of TFN land in accordance with the treaty.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements) Act - These amendments will provide new tools that will strengthen B.C.'s leadership in the adoption of renewable and low-carbon fuels and in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The amendments are based on recommendations from consultation with over 39 fuel providers. One of the main recommendations is to change the way carbon credits are earned.
Health Professions Act - This bill includes minor amendments to the Health Professions Act and the Labour Mobility Act to ensure that all nurse practitioners wishing to enter practice in B.C. in the future have passed the same rigorous clinical practice exam before being permitted to practise autonomously and to the full extent of the nurse practitioner scope of practice under B.C. legislation.
Land Title Act - These amendments will ensure that party wall agreements transfer with the sale of property. Owners sharing a wall, such as in row-house construction, will now have greater certainty regarding their joint interests in the wall, and any agreements on wall maintenance will transfer with the sale of property.
Liquor Control and Licensing Act - This legislation will allow caterers to offer inclusive food and beverage service, while also expanding the range of catering services offered by existing establishments such as restaurants, hotels and conference centres. The change will bring B.C. in line with other provinces, support job creation and allow the tourism and hospitality sector to compete more effectively as a destination location for conferences, conventions and special events.
Local Government Act - These amendments to the Local Government Act clarify government's authority to incorporate a mountain resort municipality whether or not there are residents in the area at the time of incorporation. This legislation is consistent with existing government policy in the area of mountain resort development and will ensure that all forms of governance are available for consideration.
Police Act - Proposed amendments will help to strengthen provincial standards for co-operation and intelligence-sharing among police agencies in complex, multi-jurisdictional cases. The changes will enable the provincial director of police services to set these standards, in turn ensuring police adopt common approaches that help to speed identification and apprehension of dangerous, repeat criminals. As well, consultation with the civilian director of B.C.'s new Independent Investigations Office, appointed in December, has led to amendments that will enhance police co-operation with that office's investigations.
Public Sector Pensions Plan Act - Proposed amendments will streamline the act by removing provisions no longer necessary and clarifying language to simplify it and reduce regulatory requirements. It will also create a separate joint-trust agreement for the College Pension Plan that will create consistency with similar public sector pension plans such as the Public Service Pension Plan. Orders in Council will no longer be required for each change made to the plan rules or joint trust arrangements.
Statute Revision Act (validation of corrections made to statutes) - This act permits certain errors in the statutes, including errors arising from the 1996 Statute Revision Act, to be corrected by regulation. Examples of errors to be corrected under this power include typographical errors, cross-reference errors, formatting errors, punctuation errors, duplicated numbering and minor grammatical errors, such as repeated words, missing articles and misplaced conjunctions. This correction power is not to be used to change the intended policy or legal effect of a statute. Corrections are made by regulation. To continue to have legal effect, the corrections made by the regulation must be confirmed by the legislature within the next session of the legislative assembly.
Wildfire Act - The proposed changes will protect government employees and officials from civil litigation who act in good faith when exercising powers and duties under the act.
Engineers and Geoscientists Act
Ministry of Advanced Education
Joanne Whittier, Communications Manager
Local Government Act
Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Jeff Rud, Communications Director
Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements) Act,
Liquor Control and Licensing Act
Ministry of Energy and Mines
Public Sector Pension Plans Act
Ministry of Finance
Jamie Edwardson, Communications Director
Forest Act, Wildfire Act, Land Title Act
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources
Vivian Thomas, Communications Manager
Health Professions Act
Ministry of Health
Manager, Media Relations and Issues Management
250 413-7121 (cell)
Statute Revision Act, Police Act,
Ministry of Justice
250 889-5945 (cell)