The miscellaneous statutes amendment act (No. 2) was introduced in the legislature on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019.
If approved by the legislature, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes.
Amendments would include solar power plants in the definition of power plants, allowing them to be assessed in the same way as other independent power producers and ensure they are eligible for the same exemptions. These changes will encourage the future development of solar power plants and tie into government’s CleanBC goals of using more clean and renewable energy.
Carbon Tax Act, Provincial Sales Tax Act, Motor Fuel Tax Act, Tobacco Tax Act, and Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act
The proposed changes to the Carbon Tax Act, Provincial Sales Tax Act, Motor Fuel Tax Act and the Tobacco Tax Act will bring greater clarity and consistency across the four tax acts on how and when documents or notices are provided by a tax director to a taxpayer. The proposed changes to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act are minor language changes that will ensure the act is consistent with other tax statutes.
Child, Family and Community Service Act
Minor amendments would clarify the intention that Indigenous communities have the ability to plan for all their children and youth in care and are able to deliver a broad range of supports and services to their children and families, as well as to children who identify as non-Indigenous or members of other nations.
Employment and Assistance Act and Employment, and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act
Proposed amendments will support TogetherBC, the Province’s poverty reduction strategy. They include:
- ending the need for people to pursue early Canada Pension Plan retirement benefits before age 65;
- protecting vulnerable youth by eliminating the two-year independence rule as a barrier to receiving income assistance;
- better support changing relationships by increasing the amount of time people can live together before being considered common law, and providing the singles assistance rate to two married but separated people living in the same residence;
- eliminating the practice of cutting people off from assistance who are homeless or at risk of homelessness if they are unable to provide documentation for eligibility, and replacing it with a modest monetary penalty; and
- ensuring that repayments of amounts owing to the ministry is consistent by creating a more fair and flexible monthly deduction for clients.
The proposed amendments also include administrative changes to support better services, such as helping people receive eligibility assistance sooner by aligning the Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal with other tribunals in B.C. This will allow for new evidence in an existing appeal process and removing the requirement for updates to the income and disability assistance monthly report form to be regulated, so that changes can be made more efficiently.
Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
This proposed amendment supports families by clarifying that child and spousal support provisions in a family law arbitration award can be enforced through the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program. Family law arbitration awards are arbitrators’ decisions regarding parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, and property division under the Family Law Act. Arbitration provides families with a way to obtain a final determination of a family law dispute without going to court. The amendment clarifies that arbitration awards can be filed with the director of maintenance enforcement, leading to better enforcement, less cost to individuals and no duplication of resources.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
The Province is making targeted changes to keep up with modern technology, while retaining B.C.’s leading privacy protections. These amendments will allow for the use of basic office productivity tools, including email services and spam filters, which have specific functions that require temporary processing outside of Canada. Technology is changing, and these amendments will allow for a business-as-usual approach for public bodies, while bringing B.C. in to alignment with other jurisdictions in Canada.
Health Care Costs Recovery Act
Proposed amendments would clarify that the Health Care Costs Recovery Act does not apply to a driver who is insured by ICBC when their use or operation of a motor vehicle causes personal injury or death. Limiting the extent of the exemption would protect government’s right of recovery from other wrongdoers who were involved, but who are not insured by ICBC. Amendments would also require defendants in class action proceedings initiated in jurisdictions other than B.C., that include a health-care services claim, to provide written notice to the provincial government. This would allow government to be aware of class actions, including those launched outside of B.C. that include personal injury claims of B.C. residents.
Judicial Compensation Act
Proposed amendments align language in the act with pension-related recommendations from the 2016 Judicial Compensation Commission, which reported on matters respecting the remuneration, allowances and benefits of provincial court judges and judicial justices. The commission’s recommendations were enacted by the legislative assembly in 2017.
Motor Vehicle Act
Proposed amendments would establish a regulatory framework that will enable the use of increasingly diverse modes of personal transportation and will create regulations for communities to test pilot projects surrounding emerging mobility technology, such as e-scooters, Segways and more. These changes would clarify how devices are to be regulated and are in alignment with the government’s Active Transportation Strategy (Move.Commute.Connect.) aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting multi-modal forms of transport.
Proposed changes also include a minor amendment clarifying how the presence and visibility of speed limit signs relate to the prosecution of automated speed enforcement offences.
Professional Governance Act
The proposed amendment will provide regulatory bodies with the interim authority to increase annual membership fees to ensure they have the resources to transition to the new professional governance legislation during the next year. The Professional Governance Act was passed in 2018 and is coming into force in stages.
It will initially govern five regulatory bodies:
- the Association of Science Technologists and Technicians of BC
- the Association of BC Forest Professionals
- the British Columbia Institute of Agrologists
- the College of Applied Biologists and
- the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, also known as Engineers and Geoscientists BC.
Provincial Court Act
Proposed amendments relate to the reappointment and term lengths for judicial justices who hear matters such as traffic tickets, municipal bylaw violations, small claims issues, bail hearings and search warrant applications.
Public Interest Disclosure Act
Amendments would enhance whistleblower protection for public servants and government contractors by clarifying what constitutes a reprisal and confirming the act’s paramountcy over the disclosure provisions of other legislation. The bill will also add the new Office of the Human Rights Commissioner to the definition of “office” and correct cross-referencing errors.
Adds “aircraft” to the definition of “premises” to make the legislation consistent with the Occupiers Liability Act and similar legislation in Ontario and Saskatchewan. “Aircraft” will be added to a definition that includes ships, trains and other vehicles.