The Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2021, was introduced in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
If passed by the legislature, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes:
COVID-19 Related Measures Act
Amendments to the COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CRMA) will extend the act’s repeal date to Dec. 31, 2021. This will support government’s goal of enabling a smooth transition at the eventual end of the state of emergency declared under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). The CRMA is designed to prevent an abrupt end to COVID-19 provisions that British Columbians are relying on to alleviate the impacts of the pandemic. The act would have been originally repealed on July 10, 2021, one year after it was passed.
The proposed amendments will streamline processes for reporting to the Speaker of the legislative assembly on COVID-19 related regulations and ministerial orders made under the CRMA and the EPA.
The amendments will also clarify several cross-references and existing regulation-making powers.
Family Law Act
Amendments to the Family Law Act will clarify that when determining whether behaviour constitutes family violence, it is irrelevant whether the person responsible for the behaviour intended to harm the family member. The definition of “family violence” in the act is relevant to applications for protection orders, and in determining what is in a child’s best interest with respect to guardianship, parenting arrangements or contact with a child.
Amendments are also proposed to the definition of “domestic or sexual violence” in the Employment Standards Act and “household violence” in the Residential Tenancy Act. These definitions are modelled on the definition of family violence in the Family Law Act and the amendments will ensure they continue to align.
A separate housekeeping amendment will remove the parentheses from references to the Provincial Court (Family) Rules in the Family Law Act. This aligns with the updated title of the new Provincial Court Family Rules.
Clean Energy Act
An amendment to the Clean Energy Act will remove Burrard Thermal Generating Station from the list of BC Hydro heritage assets.
The natural gas-fired Burrard Thermal Generating Station in Port Moody was decommissioned in 2016. The station sits on 80.5 hectares (199 acres) of industrial-zoned land with port access. The site provides an ideal opportunity for redevelopment. However, the Clean Energy Act currently prohibits BC Hydro from selling, leasing or otherwise disposing of heritage assets – a list of about 30 dams and generating facilities that includes Burrard Thermal.
Removing Burrard Thermal from the list of heritage assets will allow BC Hydro to consider third-party use of the site. Third-party use of the site could generate new revenues for BC Hydro, benefiting ratepayers and supporting B.C.’s post COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs and contributing to the growth of the clean economy.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation has consulted with local First Nations. Those that have responded are supportive of the proposed legislative amendment.
Motor Vehicle Act
Amendments are being made to the Motor Vehicle Act to extend “refuse to issue” (RTI) on driver’s licences and vehicle licences to outstanding fines issued under the EPA and the CRMA. This will provide an additional debt collection tool that can be used to ensure that COVID-19 rule breakers are held accountable and will give further incentive for those who have received tickets to pay their fines.
Currently, RTI applies to fines under various statutes such as the Motor Vehicle Act and the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. To obtain relief from the RTI, a debtor must pay their outstanding fines in full or establish a suitable payment arrangement. Analysis indicates that RTI is an effective measure for collecting outstanding debts. Clear correspondence will be given by ICBC weeks in advance of people’s insurance or licence renewal deadline, as is standard practice with all outstanding fine debts. This will ensure customers are not caught off guard.
The new measures will come into effect retroactively on July 1, 2021.