Highlights from the Spring 2016 Legislative Session
June 28, 2016
BY Sebastian Ennnis
28 June 2016—In May 2016, the 40th Parliament of the BC Legislature completed its 5th Session. The legislative assembly passed 24 bills. In this blog post, you’ll find a brief summary of the laws that were enacted.
Two acts are particularly relevant to the work of BCLI and CCEL.
Leading up to the promulgation of the Miscellaneous Statutes (Signed Statements) Amendment Act, 2016, the BC Legislature recognized BCLI’s efforts in assisting with reform of the legislative requirements for sworn statements. Minister Suzanne Anton, who introduced the bill, remarked that the impetus for legislative reform in this area was the BCLI report titled Unnecessary Requirements for Sworn Statements (2006).
The full list of bills passed by the legislative assembly during the most recent session includes the following (for a summary of each bill, please see below):
- the Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act;
- the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Fire Safety Act;
- the Miscellaneous Statutes (Signed Statements) Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Industry Training Authority Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Mines Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Motor Dealer Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2016;
- the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act;
- the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Safety Standards Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Finance Statutes Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Supply Act (No. 1), 2016;
- the Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2016;
- the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act;
- the Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act;
- the Miscellaneous Statutes (General) Amendment Act, 2016; and
- the Supply Act, 2016-2017.
- The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act
The Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act applies to a 6.4 million hectare temperate rainforest in BC. On first reading, Minister Steve Thomson described the bill as an aspect of “ecosystem-based management”, that is, “an adaptive, systematic approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities.” The Act provides for a limited amount of forestry in the region, placing a renegotiable cap on timber harvesting, to protect the ecosystem while allowing for some economic development.
- The Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Amendment Act, 2016
The Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Amendment Act, 2016 allows for prescribed classes of persons to be designated by the minister as persons with disabilities for the purposes of the Act. The aim of these amendments is to ensure that people who have already been provincially or federally designated by a similar program need not complete the full application process under the Act.
- The Fire Safety Act
The Fire Safety Act repeals and replaces the Fire Services Act, which had not been substantially updated since 1979. The modernization of the law includes the introduction of risk-based fire code compliance monitoring. The Act also enables local authorities to appoint fire safety personnel to carry out fire inspections, investigations, and evacuations, and establishes an administrative enforcement model to address non-compliance issues.
- The Miscellaneous Statutes (Signed Statements) Amendment Act, 2016
The Miscellaneous Statutes (Signed Statements) Amendment Act, 2016 amends numerous statutes to reduce the use of sworn statements in many non-court-related matters, replacing them with signed statements. Where necessary, offence provisions for falsifying signed statements have also been added to certain acts.
- The Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Amendment Act, 2016
The Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Amendment Act, 2016 provides for the College of Pharmacists to require owners, officers, and directors of pharmacies to meet certain criteria before issuing, renewing, or reinstating a pharmacy licence.
- The Industry Training Authority Amendment Act, 2016
The Industry Training Authority Amendment Act, 2016 clarifies the roles, responsibilities, and authorities of the Industry Training Authority under the Act. It also requires the Industry Training Authority to submit a three-year strategic plan to the minister.
- The Mines Amendment Act, 2016
The Mines Amendment Act, 2016 appears to be largely a reaction to the Mount Polley tailings breach. It enables administrative monetary penalties to be imposed under the Act, and increases maximum penalties resulting from prosecution.
- The Motor Dealer Amendment Act, 2016
The Motor Dealer Amendment Act, 2016 adds administrative enforcement options to the Act, and it establishes a motor dealer consumer advancement fund into which administrative penalties are to be paid. It enables the transfer of trusteeship of the motor dealer customer compensation fund and the consumer advancement fund from the government to the Motor Dealer Council of British Columbia. It also provides for the registrar of motor dealers and the board of the compensation fund to reconsider their decisions. Additionally, it adds the ability to make regulations for used vehicle wholesalers and brokers. Finally, it provides for the making of regulations to establish and enforce a code of professional conduct for motor dealers and all licensees under the Act.
- The Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2016
The Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2016 enables social and economic initiatives included in the 2016 Budget. Part one includes provisions that allow the government to manage the 2016-17 budget and the three-year fiscal plan, while part two amends six acts (the Income Tax Act, the Small Business Venture Capital Act, the Property Transfer Tax Act, the Tourist Accommodation (Assessment Relief) Act, the Carbon Tax Act, and the Motor Fuel Tax Act) in order to implement tax measures from the 2016 Budget.
- The Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act
The Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act replaces the Agricultural Produce Grading Act, the Agri-Food Choice and Quality Act, and the Food Products Standards Act. The Act maintains the current authority to prescribe voluntary food certification programs and standards for food quality, in addition to now allowing the government to prescribe certain phrases as protected labels, such as “organic”, which must not be used unless specified standards are met. These standards and the exact phrases will be set by regulation.
- The Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2016
The Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Statutes Amendment Act, 2016 amends the Wildfire Act, the Forest Act, and the Wildlife Act. Amendments to the Wildfire Act clarify the definition of interference to include unintended actions and actions that could hinder firefighting activities, such as blocking access to a wildfire control area. They also clarify who may act on behalf of the government. Key amendments to the Forest Act relate to the use of residual fibre (that is, Crown timber that is cut but not removed), the scope of community forest agreements, and the chief forester and minister’s ability to set, change, and enforce allowable annual cut partitions. Lastly, it also amends the Wildlife Act to facilitate an e-licensing system.
- The Safety Standards Amendment Act, 2016
The Safety Standards Amendment Act, 2016 is directed towards safety oversight of oil and gas facilities, including liquefied natural gas facilities, with the prospective LNG facilities in mind. The amendments remove overlap between the Oil and Gas Commission and the BC Safety Authority with respect to oversight of technical equipment in the oil and gas sector. Pressure piping and refrigeration systems within the oil and gas sector will now be overseen exclusively by the Oil and Gas Commission.
- The Finance Statutes Amendment Act, 2016
The Finance Statutes Amendment Act, 2016 makes changes to the Carbon Tax Act, the Motor Fuel Tax Act, the Provincial Sales Tax Act, and the Tobacco Tax Act to clarify certain refund, penalty, and collection powers related to the consumption tax system on goods and services in BC. Moreover, amendments to the Carbon Tax Act and the Motor Fuel Tax Act ensure that taxpayers are not assessed multiple times for the same transaction. The Provincial Sales Tax Act was changed to require Canadian businesses outside of BC that source all of their goods in BC to sell to customers in BC to be registered for PST, in addition to amendments related to out-of-country registration and the application of the tax to affixed machinery. Amendments to the Income Tax Act are mainly to ensure consistency with the Income Tax Act of Canada. Lastly, the provisions of the Insurance Premium Tax Act and the Logging Tax Act that require taxpayers to pay installments and permit the delegation of the commissioner’s authority and responsibilities were amended.
- The Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016
The Protected Areas of British Columbia Amendment Act, 2016 establishes a new “class A” park, the Ancient Forest / Chun T’oh Wudujut Park in the area of Prince George. It also adds lands to five existing “class A” parks (Prudhomme Lake Park, sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Park, Tweedsmuir Park, Halkett Bay Marine Park, and Okanagan Mountain Park) and one conservancy (Sheemahant Conservancy). Nahatlach Park was reduced in accordance with a negotiated settlement for a government trespass on Boston Bar First Nation reserve land. Lastly, park names were changed. Haynes Point and Okanagan Falls will now only be referred to by their traditional Okanagan language names, respectively, sẁiẁs Park and sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Park.
- The Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act, 2016
Assisted-living is a semi-independent type of housing. Previously, assisted-living only applied to people who required two or less “prescribed services”. The Community Care and Assisted Living Amendment Act, 2016 does away with that requirement, extending the number of people who can access assisted-living residencies. It also broadens the scope of the assisted-living registrar’s ability to inspect licensed and unlicensed residencies.
- The Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act, 2016
The Local Elections Campaign Financing (Election Expenses) Amendment Act, 2016 is based on recommendations by the Special Committee on Local Elections Expense Limits. It sets up a framework for expense limits, to be established by regulation, that applies to candidates running for mayor, councilor, electoral area director, Vancouver Park Board member, local trust area trustee, and school board trustee. Expense limits will apply to independent candidates, endorsed candidates, and those affiliated with elector organizations. Expense limits will also apply to third-party advertising sponsors.
- The Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) Amendment Act, 2016
The Miscellaneous Statutes (Minor Corrections) Amendment Act, 2016 makes various “housekeeping amendments” to several acts, such as fixing typos. The office of legislative counsel gathers these edits routinely as part of the statute revision process.
- The Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act, 2016
The Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Amendment Act, 2016 makes three main changes to the Act. Most importantly, it creates a distinction for new entrants to regulated operations for which different compliance provisions may apply. It also expands who can participate in the BC carbon registry and purchase and transfer “funded units” (an equivalent to offset units). Lastly, it transitions emissions purchased by the government under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act to offset units under the Act.
- The Supply Act (No. 1), 2016
The Supply Act (No. 1), 2016 provides interim supply for government operating expenses during the first two months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, as well as interim supply for government’s financing requirements for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
- The Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2016
Minister Mary Polak introduced the Environmental Management Amendment Act, 2016 as enabling “a new spill preparedness response and recovery regime”. Regulated industries must now have a spill contingency plan in place and must follow the correct spill response procedures, which may include mitigating harm. It also clarifies the nature of government spill responses.
- The Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act
The Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act requires post-secondary institutions to put in place a sexual misconduct policy. There must be student consultation on the policy, and the Act contains other provisions for the review of the policy.
- The Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act
The Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act is aimed at preventing criminals from profiting from recounting their crimes, such as in a book or memoir. The Act applies to serious crimes, such as murder, that occurred in BC, or to a criminal who committed a serious crime who resides in BC or is being paid by an organization in BC.
- The Miscellaneous Statutes (General) Amendment Act, 2016
The Miscellaneous Statutes (General) Amendment Act, 2016 makes the following amendments.
- The Agricultural Land Commission Act is amended to require the Agricultural Land Commission to obtain landowner consent before excluding land from an agricultural land reserve. It also provides for the regulation of conditions on different agricultural land reserve uses.
- The Assessment Act is amended to prescribe by regulation an assessed value to designated restricted use properties, such as BC Ferry Services.
- The Local Government Act is amended to eliminate an inconsistency within the Act.
- The Environmental Management Act adds provisions related to waste discharge authorizations issued in the context of an approved area-based management plan.
- The Protected Areas of British Columbia Act is amended to modify the boundary of Finn Creek Park to remove 2.43 hectares (which has not been brought into force at this time).
- The Income Tax Act is amended to provide for adjustments to the basic production services tax credit rate and the digital animation and visual effects tax credit rates.
- The Insurance Act is amended to clarify the definition of “mutual company”.
- The Mutual Fire Insurance Companies Act is amended to remove a provision which prevented the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of BC from incorporating and operating a subsidiary insurance company.
- The Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing Act is amended to expand the purpose of the Ministry to include developing land or improvements, and to empower the British Columbia Housing Management Commission to provide relevant social services and to carry out the above purpose.
- The Liquor Control and Licensing Act is amended to enable the general manager of the liquor control and licensing branch to reconsider liquor enforcement decisions.
- The Supply Act, 2016-2017
The Supply Act, 2016-2017 authorizes funding for the operation of various government programs for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
As you can see, the BC Legislature recently produced bills ranging from far-reaching reform to minute corrections, effecting everything from the everyday business of government to the broader social and environmental landscape of the province. BCLI will continue to monitor legislative reform throughout the province.
The bills discussed in this blog may not currently be in force. For information on their coming into force, you may refer to the bills themselves on BC Laws or, where not specified in the bills, proclamations regarding such bills on the Courthouse Library website.