TO MAKE LIFE BETTER
Making life better for people means making our laws work better for people. Strong laws are key to protecting our environment, making life fairer for families, and making sure that our economy works for everyone. We’re working every day to make our province a better place to live, work, and raise a family by making life more affordable, improving the services people count on, and creating good jobs in every part of the province.
2022 Fall sitting of the Legislature
The Food Delivery Service Fee Act will provide a measure of support to the restaurant industry by setting a limit on what delivery companies can charge restaurants for their core ordering and delivery services.
The Food Delivery Service Act will protect restaurants in B.C. from delivery companies charging high fees for restaurants to use their apps to help serve their customers. With more customers turning to delivery apps at the beginning of the pandemic, delivery fees charged to restaurants were sometimes as high as 30 percent of an order’s value. To combat this, a temporary fee cap was instituted to help provide restaurants with much needed relief in this transitional period. The temporary cap is set to expire at the end of 2022, and there are concerns of delivery companies instituting higher fees once again after expiry. The Food Delivery Service Fee Act will give stability to the restaurant industry by knowing the costs associated with delivery companies and will allow more restaurants to continue serving their communities as best they can while continuing to adapt and deal with the impacts of the pandemic and global inflation. The act also includes protections to ensure driver compensation does not decrease because of delivery companies complying with the permanent delivery fee cap.
The Province is improving the regulation of mortgage brokers, lenders and administrators by replacing the outdated Mortgage Brokers Act with the modern Mortgage Services Act.
People looking to get a mortgage in B.C. will soon have enhanced consumer protection under new legislation for mortgage service providers. Based on the Real Estate Services Act, the Mortgage Services Act is aimed at improving protection for borrowers and lenders in today’s market and allowing for changes into the future. It will require service providers to be licensed and follow set standards of conduct, including enhanced disclosure and reporting. The act gives the Province’s financial services regulator, the BC Financial Services Authority, the ability to develop rules for licensing and licensee conduct, one of the recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in B.C. In all, it provides a framework to address a number of the Cullen Commission’s recommendations, including money laundering in the real estate sector. Legislation currently regulating mortgage brokers was originally enacted in 1972 to protect consumers from hidden fees and harsh mortgage transactions.
A new, municipal-led property tax rate flexibility will give municipalities the tool to support small businesses and non-profits struggling to pay high property taxes because of future development potential.
Some areas such as Metro Vancouver have experienced increased density to accommodate for a growing population. This has led to significant property value increases in recent years and caused a raise in assessed values and associated property taxes for some businesses. Through the new measure, municipalities will have the ability to identify what types of properties or areas in their community are being impacted by high density development potential and provide relief to commercial properties that need it most by taxing the assessed value of land at a reduced municipal tax rate. The tax measure will be in place for the 2023 tax year, replacing the Interim Business Property Relief program introduced in 2020.
Minor housekeeping amendments will help to bring clarity and consistency to statutes and how they are interpreted and applied.
Amendments included in Bill 27 – Attorney General Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2) 2022, will update legal statutes that impact British Columbians.
Minor housekeeping amendments to the Election Act will update a cross-reference.
Changes to the Lobbyists Transparency Act will reinstate the Registrar’s authority to remove a return (or a filing) from the registry when it is found to be non-compliant, which was inadvertently removed when amendments were made in 2018.
Amendments to the Power of Attorney Act and the Representation Agreement Act update the witnessing requirements for making an enduring power of attorney and a representation agreement. The amendments will allow for the remote electronic witnessing of these planning instruments as an alternative to in-person witnessing. Allowing for remote witnessing is intended to provide greater flexibility, including in situations where in-person access may be limited.
The Queen’s Counsel Act will be updated to include provisions to revoke a Queen’s Counsel appointment in cases where an appointee has been disbarred or suspended by the Law Society of BC. Amendments also include updating references to “Queen” and “Her Majesty” to “King” and “His Majesty.” This includes the name of the act, which will be changed to the King’s Counsel Act.
Finally, amendments to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act will enable the government to nominate a person to administer an estate in some cases where a person has died with no close relatives and no valid will.
2022 Spring sitting of the Legislature
Legislation creating a new Low Carbon Fuels Act will modernize and expand the B.C. Low Carbon Fuel Standard to encourage broader investment and innovation in the production and use of low carbon fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The B.C. Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) requires fuel suppliers to progressively decrease the average carbon intensity of the fuels they supply to users in B.C. to reach a carbon intensity reduction of 20% by 2030. The LCFS is the single largest contributor to meeting CleanBC climate targets. New legislation would replace the existing Act governing the LCFS – the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements) Act – with a new Low Carbon Fuels Act. The legislation fulfils commitments in the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 to expand and increase the effectiveness the LCFS. Stimulating the production and use of renewable and low carbon fuels like hydrogen, biodiesel and renewable natural gas will generate jobs and economic opportunities for First Nations, businesses, innovators, and communities around the province while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Amendments to the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act will take effect May 1, 2022 to regulate high-cost credit products, such as high-interest installment loans and lines of credit. These changes will help protect financially vulnerable British Columbians who use high-cost financial services to make ends meet.
Under the new regulatory framework, companies that offer high-cost credit products will require annual licensing and be overseen by Consumer Protection BC. This aligns with the approach for payday lenders, who are currently regulated by the province. Bringing this legislation into force fulfils commitments for stronger consumer protections and enhanced financial education to assist people in making important decisions. This oversight helps ensure that businesses understand and comply with these new requirements and that consumers are protected and can when using high-cost alternative financial services. A new Consumer Financial Education Fund will promote financial education for consumers and ensure compliance with BC consumer protection laws..
New legislation will support the collection and use of demographic data such as age, gender identity, race and faith. Working with Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities, the Province will use this data to improve government programs and services for more people in B.C.
For too long, systemic racism and the long-lasting effects of colonialism have meant that people are facing barriers when it comes to accessing education, health care, housing and other government services. This new legislation, co-developed with Indigenous Peoples, will support the use, collection and sharing of demographic data to help government identify gaps in government programs and services, and better meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities.
The act is based on the input of more than 13,000 British Columbians, and will put in place safeguards and protections to prevent this information from being used for harm. It will also require government to release statistics annually to support and advance racial equity. The Province will continue to engage with Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities to support the implementation of the anti-racism data act and tackle systemic racism in B.C.
Amendments to the Mental Health Act will help people experiencing a mental health crisis better understand their rights and the supports that are available to them.
British Columbia’s Mental Health Act allows for people with a severe mental health disorder to be admitted and treated at designated mental health facilities to prevent the person’s substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the person’s own protection or the protection of others. Under the Act, involuntary patients must be informed of their rights when they are involuntarily admitted, transferred to another designated facility, or when their involuntary status is renewed. As part of this process, involuntary patients will now have the option to meet with a rights advisor. The service, which is expected to be available in 2023, will be primarily virtual, using videoconferencing and phone. Some in-person services will also be available in certain circumstances. Services will be delivered by a team of independent rights advisors that will provide information and answer questions about rights and options under the Mental Health Act.
The Province has introduced legislative amendments to the School Act that will expand access to and improve French-language schools for francophone British Columbians, to ensure students in B.C. have access to high-quality learning environments, in both of Canada’s official languages.
The legislative amendments introduced in Bill 22 are in support of a new, long-term capital strategy for the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF) school district (SD 93) that will uphold government’s commitments to fulfil the constitutional rights of francophone British Columbians to have their children receive education in the French language.
The capital strategy will explore establishing a capital project office dedicated to the CSF to support the development and delivery of capital projects in communities where new or improved francophone schools are needed. The strategy will also involve investigating opportunities to leverage Crown land for future francophone schools and continuing ongoing efforts to work in partnership with other public boards of education to accommodate current and forecasted CSF enrolment needs.
The School Act amendments in support of the capital strategy will permit the Minister of Education and Child Care to require all public boards of education, including the CSF, to report information on all lands that they own or lease. This will allow the ministry to create an inventory of all lands used for K-12 purposes, to support efforts to meet the CSF’s capital needs over the long term. The amendments also give the Province the ability to designate land held by another board and to transfer that land to the CSF if necessary to fulfil constitutional rights.
To improve consistency and best practices across registered professions, B.C. has announced proposed amendments to the Professional Governance Act.
The proposed amendments will:
• allow government to provide the right level of regulation by tailoring the act to the needs of different professions;
• allow for implementation of best practices in professional governance;
• enable regulatory bodies to address non-compliance with administrative matters, such as continuing education requirements, outside of the discipline process in a manner that is fair;
• enable requirements, in certain cases, for professionals to declare they are competent to provide their services and that they are free from any conflicts of interest;
• ensure that the act does not affect Indigenous traditional knowledge or practices; and
• provide the option of an external funding source so the OSPG can more effectively carry out its mandate.
These amendments will also allow for the Architectural Institute of BC to be brought under the act this year, and for more professions in the future.
B.C. firefighters will soon have easier access to workers’ compensation benefits and support services in recognition of the higher risk of work-related cancers they face.
If a professional or volunteer firefighter develops one of the listed cancers after a certain period of employment, it is presumed that the cancer arose from their employment. The firefighter is then eligible for workers’ compensation benefits without having to prove the cancer is work-related.
As part of the change, ovarian, cervical and penile cancers will be added to the list of work-related cancers. In addition, firefighters won’t have to work as long before they become eligible for coverage for testicular, colorectal and esophageal cancers, which are already covered.
While all firefighters may be exposed to the same hazards, the amendments reflect the gender-specific cancers unique to both men and women. These improvements support government’s priority to ensure workers who become ill or injured on the job face fewer barriers to accessing workers’ compensation benefits and resources when they need it most.
The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act (No. 4), 2022 will strengthen current legislation and give local governments new tools to assist them when elected officials are charged with or convicted of a criminal offense so they can better serve people.
This new legislation allows local governments to ensure good governance by limiting the disruption that can happen when a local elected official is being charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, so they can continue their critical work for their communities. These legislative changes will provide municipalities and regional districts in B.C. with a new tool requiring a leave of absence for a local elected official charged with a criminal offence. These amendments also change the existing rules on disqualification to ensure that a local elected official is disqualified, meaning they are ineligible for office, at the time of conviction rather than at the time of sentencing as is currently the case. Along with the new requirements, the amendments will also help modernize and clarify current legislation as well as repeal redundant legislation.
Amendments to the Transportation Act will enable the Province to acquire land to build housing and community amenities near transit stations or exchanges.
These changes will support the creation of mixed-use developments in close proximity to new transit stations, with commercial services, employment space, child-care and health-care centres, educational facilities, public spaces and recreation opportunities.
This promotes the development of liveable, compact communities makes it convenient for pedestrians, cyclists or people who use mobility aids to access the nearest transit hub.
The Province, through the BC Transportation Financing Authority, will deliver these projects by working with local governments and a broad range of partners to achieve livable, transit supportive communities.
These legislative changes help address key government priorities such as new housing, job creation, livable communities, affordability for families and our CleanBC climate change targets.
Under the new amendments:
• The BC Transportation Financing Authority will be able to purchase land for the specific purpose of delivering housing and other community amenities in close proximity to transit stations and bus exchanges.
• The authority will be able to enter into partner agreements where land may be provided at below-market rent in order to encourage the construction of housing and other amenities.
• The term “transit station” and “transit-oriented development” are redefined in order to clarify where transit-oriented development can occur and the type of developments that are intended to support public transit use.
Workers will now be able to join a union when a clear majority of employees indicate their wish to do so through a single-step process, in line with other jurisdictions such as Quebec, New Brunswick and in the federal sector.
All workers have the right to access collective bargaining, a fundamental freedom of association guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To make it easier for employees to join a union and to reduce the opportunities for interference with certification, government is amending the Labour Relations Code to replace the former two-step process to certify union representation in a workplace with a simpler single-step system.
The former two-step process requires a minimum of 45% of workers in a workplace to sign membership cards. Once that threshold is reached, workers must then restate their preference for unionization through an additional vote – even if a clear majority of workers have already chosen to join the union. It’s at this stage, between the certification application and the vote, is where the interference by employers can often occur.
Under the new amendments:
• If 55% or more of the employees in a proposed bargaining unit sign a union membership card, a union will be certified – no further vote is required.
• However, if between 45% and 55% of employees sign union membership cards, a second step consisting of a secret ballot vote is still required for certification.
The amendments will also affect construction sector unions by allowing workers annual opportunities to switch unions if they are unhappy with their current representation.
Updates to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Ministry of Mines and Energy Act, and Offence Act
Amendments included in the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2022, will update three Acts. Changes to the Insurance (Vehicle) Act are technical amendments that have the effect of making permanent provisions that were temporarily provided by the Insurance (Vehicle) Transitional Regulation. Changes to the Ministry of Mines and Energy Act will bring the Province in-line with other jurisdictions and save public resources by removing unnecessary regulation. Changes to the Offence Act will allow British Columbians to resolve violation ticket disputes faster with modernized digital processes and a reduced need to physically appear in the courtroom.
Changes are being made to B.C.’s paid sick leave legislation to simplify its administration and ensure all eligible workers are entitled to the full five days of paid sick leave each year.
At the request of business and labour organizations, amendments to B.C.’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) are being made to address two issues that have been raised since the five days of employer-paid sick leave came into effect on January 1, 2022.
In the first case, business groups expressed concern that using ‘employment year’ instead of ‘calendar year’ to establish an employee’s annual paid sick leave entitlement is cumbersome because it requires a separate date for each individual employee based on the start date of their employment. For ease of implementation, the ESA is being amended to reference ‘calendar year’ which standardizes the annual entitlement period for all employees regardless of the start of their employment.
In the second case, labour groups raised concerns that some employees may not be eligible for the full five paid sick days because of the existing language related to paid sick leave in their collective agreements. To ensure government’s intent that the new paid sick leave entitlement is applied to all eligible workers, the ESA is being amended to remove paid sick leave from the “meet or exceed” clause for collective agreements.
The amendments to the Property Law Act will establish the framework for a cooling off period for residential real estate. This legislation is about consumer protection. The creation of a cooling off period will ensure that purchasers have time the peace of mind that they have made the right choices.
Real estate prices remain elevated and housing supply is limited in B.C. These market conditions contribute to situations where consumers are left without enough time to secure favourable financing, obtain a home inspection, or have the time to gather more information about the property and neighbourhood they are considering. A cooling off period is a legislated time-period during which a buyer can walk away from an accepted offer with no, or diminished, legal or financial consequences.
Amendments to the Property Law Act aim to enhance consumer protection in the real estate market in response to concerns that have been raised in expert reports and by stakeholders, academics, and members of the public. These concerns focus on pressures people face in the current market and situations in which buyers make offers substantially higher than listing prices, possibly above their ability to manage the debt, and without including standard conditions designed to protect their interests. BC would be the first province to implement a right of rescission residential property.
The BC Financial Services Authority is consulting broadly on what regulations we need to give people some breathing room. No decisions have been made regarding penalties/fines for rescinding an offer to purchase. BCFSA is expected to deliver the consultation results this spring.
The B.C. government has introduced Bill 14, the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2022, to ensure greater collaboration and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the management of wildlife in the province.
The B.C. government introduced legislation to ensure greater collaboration and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the management of wildlife in the province. The legislation introduces a requirement to consider Indigenous Knowledge and establishes a process by which the Province can align its laws with protocol hunting agreements and traditions that have long existed.
A key change in the legislation is the recognition of Indigenous knowledge about wildlife. In this way, knowledge systems that are embedded in the cultural and traditions of Indigenous people and are based on observations and interactions with the environment can be respected and incorporated when decisions about wildlife management are being made under the Wildlife Act.
This change enables the Minister and First Nations to enter into legally binding agreements on “Sheltering”. Sheltering is the practice of a host First Nation permitting a guest First Nation to harvest wildlife within the host’s traditional territory. Permission typically comes with conditions (e.g. who may hunt what species, when, where, and by what means). When a First Nation enters into these agreements with the Minister, it will bring provincial laws into alignment with the existing indigenous laws. This change is also expected to improve certainty around data collection and sharing of information on wildlife.
Changes to the Wildlife Act were co-developed with Indigenous members from several First Nations and followed by consultation and engagement with all First Nations, the seven modern Treaty Nations and Indigenous-led organizations. Key wildlife and habitat organizations in B.C., including the BC Wildlife Federation, the B.C. Trappers Association, and the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. were also engaged.
The Skilled Trades BC Act lays the foundation to address labour shortages and modernize the Crown agency responsible for trades training.
The legislation will replace the Industry Training Authority Act and transform the Industry Training Authority into SkilledTradesBC, the modernized Crown agency responsible for skilled trades training in British Columbia. The renewed focus of SkilledTradesBC reflects the expanded responsibilities associated with skilled trades certification, and a new focus on promoting and supporting apprentices and trainees throughout their training journey. Skilled trades certification will require people to register as an apprentice or be a certified journeyperson to work in one of the 10 initial mechanical, electrical and automotive trades. It will increase prestige in the trades by recognizing trades workers’ in-demand skills and experience, pave the way for greater steady employment opportunities and higher wages, and attract more people to the trades.
Two amendments introduced under the Passenger Transportation Act will make permanent the supports government introduced for gig-economy workers, maintain passenger safety for British Columbians, and align our province’s record check process with the BC Human Rights Code.
The Passenger Transportation Act applies to drivers of commercial vehicles that carry passengers, such as taxis, limos and ride-hail vehicles. The amendments to the Passenger Transportation Act would: make permanent the record-check review process through which people can appeal decisions that deemed them ineligible to drive a passenger-directed vehicle; and make permanent the requirement that passenger-directed vehicle drivers operating under a temporary operating permit meet record-check requirements.
The existing legislation requires that every individual undergo a criminal record check and a driving record check to work as a passenger-directed vehicle driver.
The amendment making permanent the requirement for drivers working under a temporary operating permit to meet record-check requirements supports public safety and holds all drivers of passenger-directed vehicles to the same standard, regardless of whether they operate under a licence or a temporary operating permit.
The amendment making the record-check review process permanent prevents anyone from being deemed ineligible due to matters on their driving or criminal record unrelated to their work as a passenger-directed vehicle driver.
The new legislation will modernize B.C. law for liens that secure payment for repairing, storing or transporting goods so that service providers can more easily understand and use liens and their customers can protect their rights to their own property.
Currently, repair, storage and transportation liens have different rules. People who provide these services may lose their liens because of confusion around the requirements they have to follow. As well, their customers may not know when their goods can be kept or sold by the service provider. The new act provides one set of rules for all of these liens. The changes will make it easier for service providers to keep liens to secure payment and for their customers to protect their rights.
The proposed act also gives lawyers a new law that is based on well-established rules and procedures in personal property security legislation used across Canada and similar to the U.S. Commercial Code. These changes are in line with the BC Law Institute’s recommendation to enact the model Uniform Liens Act and is supported by members of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
Updates to Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, Family Law Act, and Legal Profession and Notaries Acts.
Changes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act would create a more consistent experience for British Columbians with small claims disputes as well as give the Civil Resolution Tribunal authority to resolve disputes about ICBC decisions that assign responsibility for vehicle accidents when an applicant isn’t also making a claim for benefits or damages.
Changes to the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act would implement the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (2007 Hauge Child Support Convention) in B.C. This will increase the number of jurisdictions that B.C. can work with regarding cross-border child support matters, making it easier to enforce and collect child support payments.
Changes to the Family Law Act will facilitate the expansion of the Child Support Recalculation Service will increase British Columbian’s access to this service from one location to provincewide. Finally, changes to the Legal Profession and Notaries Act would assist in enabling the Law and Notary Foundations to protect their revenue stream over time and allow them to continue to fund law-related good works as required by their mandates.
People rely on BC Ferries every day to get to work, appointments, or to visit loved ones. The B.C. Government has introduced changes to the Coastal Ferry Act that will increase oversight of the delivery of ferry services, with consideration of the importance of an affordable and reliable ferry service for our coastal communities.
The changes will enable the authority to issue binding resolutions on matters it considers in the public interest. Changes also require the B.C. Ferry Authority to consult with the Public Sector Employers Council and develop executive compensation plans, to ensure BC Ferries’ executive compensation levels do not exceed those provided to similar executives in the B.C. public sector.
To ensure transparency, the authority will be required to publicly report on its resolutions, and BC Ferries will include in its annual reporting the actions it has taken in response to the resolutions.
These legislative changes are further evolving the ferries model based on the ferry review conducted by Blair Redlin in 2019. As BC Ferries recovers from the pandemic, its vital people living in B.C.’s coastal communities – and all British Columbians – continue to be well served and well supported by the ferry service.
Government is introducing new standards under the Workers Compensation Act to establish mandatory licensing and certification for workers who handle asbestos.
Since 2000, asbestos has been the cause of more than 50% of all work-related occupational disease deaths and approximately 33% of all work-related deaths.
Government is taking action by bringing in legislation that makes important improvements to British Columbia’s workers compensation system to address non-compliance and inadequate safety training in the asbestos abatement industry. The changes will establish a new requirement that asbestos abatement contractors be licensed to operate in British Columbia, and they provide WorkSafeBC with the authority to create a mandatory safety training program for workers and contractors who perform asbestos abatement work.
Until now, B.C. has lacked a comprehensive licensing and training scheme for asbestos abatement contractors, and WorkSafeBC has reported unsafe handling and disposal practices by contractors, many of whom allow workers who lack formal training in asbestos safety protocols to perform work. These changes will go a long way to ensuring the health and safety of asbestos abatement workers now, and in the future.
The May 1 introduction of Online Insurance Renewals offers British Columbians the opportunity to renew basic auto insurance from their computer or tablet, and marks the end of the decal program (date of insurance expiry) on licence plates.
With support from ICBC’s broker network, the new online insurance service will enable customers to renew their current personal auto insurance coverage, change their address, apply for discounts, update the drivers listed on their policy and modify how they use their vehicle. ICBC expects even more online features to be available in the future. May 1 also will mark the last day that B.C. drivers will be required to display a licence plate validation decal to show they have valid insurance. To support this transition, ICBC is making a one-time investment of as much as $1 million to enhance and expand the Automated Licence Plate Recognition program, which helps law enforcement in B.C. detect unlawful, unlicensed and uninsured drivers.
The Skilled Trades BC Act will modernize the crown agency responsible for trades training and establish a made-in B.C. system to support and train apprentices. It lays the foundation for Skilled Trades Certification and the supports needed to ensure skilled trades people can be successful in their careers.
British Columbian skilled trades professionals will be better supported and recognized under the Skilled Trades BC Act. The new legislation will replace the Industry Training Authority Act and establish SkilledTradesBC as the crown agency responsible for skilled trades training in British Columbia. The renewed focus of SkilledTradesBC reflects the expanded responsibilities associated with Skilled Trades Certification and a new focus on promoting and supporting apprentices and trainees throughout their training journey. SkilledTradesBC will remain the authority on trades training in BC with enhanced and streamlined services to help apprentices navigate training and get access to support.
Legislative amendments to the Municipalities Enabling and Validating (No.4) Amendment Act, 2022, will enable the Village of Lytton’s council to repeal and replace bylaws that were destroyed in the catastrophic fire on June 30, 2021.
Legislative changes will further support the Village of Lytton as it moves forward with recovery. All of the village’s records and backup servers were lost during the fire on June 30, 2021, and the content of many existing bylaws remains unknown. Legislative amendments introduced will enable the village’s council to take steps toward recreating a full suite of bylaws to support governance and administration.
Bill No. 2 amends the Municipalities Enabling and Validating (No.4) Amendment Act, 2022 to address the unique circumstances faced by Lytton. The amendments will support the village by:
– validating the repeal and replacement of bylaws that were lost during the fire;
– enabling the Lieutenant Governor in Council to waive, modify or exempt specific legislative requirements, by regulation, for lost bylaws on a case-by-case basis and at the request of the village; and
– if needed, validating actions or decisions the village may have taken, in good faith, in relation to a lost bylaw.
Legislative amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act would add 352 hectares of land and foreshore to 10 provincial parks.
Land and/or foreshore will be added to: Naikoon Park, Blue River Black Spruce Park, Edge Hills Park, Valhalla Park, Okanagan Mountain park, Gladstone Park, Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park, Christina Lake Park, Hole-in-the-Wall Park and Kootenay Lake Park. These additions increase protection for wildlife habitat, ecosystems, culturally significant areas and expand opportunities for recreation. Boundary modifications to correct administrative errors and address safety issues would also be made to two parks and two ecological reserves.
2021 Fall sitting of the Legislature
Two bills introduced in fall 2021 are helping to strengthen Indigenous rights and advance reconciliation in B.C.
Bill 18 adds Indigenous identity as a protected ground under the B.C. Human Rights Code, further helping to combat racism and protect Indigenous Peoples from discrimination.
Through Bill 29, we have also added a non-derogation clause to the Interpretation Act. This clause makes it clear that provincial laws uphold, and do not diminish, the rights of Indigenous Peoples as outlined under section 35 of the Constitution of Canada. Bill 29 also requires that the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be used to interpret all of B.C.’s acts and regulations.
By working in partnership with Indigenous leadership to make these amendments, B.C. is paving the way to a more inclusive, equitable province.
Updates to COVID-19 Related Measures Act, Judicial Compensation Act.
Amendments included in the fall 2021 Attorney General Statutes Amendment Act will update legal statutes that impact British Columbians. Changes to the COVID-19 Related Measures Act will change the current repeal date of Dec. 31, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022. Amendments to the Judicial Compensation Act will streamline the judicial compensation commission process, leading to a timelier and more efficient process for setting and implementing changes to compensation for the provincial court judges and judicial justices in British Columbia.
New legislation will establish 20-metre protected zones around hospitals, COVID-19 test and vaccination centres, and K-12 schools to prevent disruptive behaviour from affecting them.
The Province is introducing new legislation that will protect critical services such as health care and education, protecting those working in the facilities, as well as those who use them. Under the legislation, it will be an offence to prevent access to the facility, disrupt services or intimidate health-care workers, patients, students, teachers and other staff.
Amendments to the Forest Act will give government the tools to better care for our forests, further support reconciliation with Indigenous Nations and encourage a more diverse forestry industry.
As the pressures on timber supply continue due to the impacts of beetle epidemics, wildfires and climate change, amending the Forest Act will enable government to better manage our forests for all British Columbians. Amendments to the Forest Act will ensure First Nations and local communities have greater involvement in the forest sector, establish a fair framework for compensation regarding changes to harvesting rights, and enhance government’s ability to manage timber harvesting on Crown land. In addition, the amendments clarify the compensation that government will provide to tenure holders after a change in harvesting rights. Through new tools like a “special purpose area”, government will be able to reduce the timber harvesting rights of existing forest tenure holders, compensate them, and then redistribute the timber harvesting rights to First Nations, communities, and BC Timber Sales. Other changes require tenure holders to provide current information on forest inventory to the Chief Forester to support decision making. There will also be increased accountability for log exporters through a new auditing system to make sure they have paid their full fee-in-lieu of domestic manufacturing, ensuring British Columbians are receiving their fair share of resource revenue.
The approval of early learning and child care legislation will help the Province deliver on its Childcare BC commitment to build the affordable, quality and inclusive early learning and child care system families need.
These two Acts are an important step to streamline early learning and child care legislation to meet the diverse needs of B.C. families and child care providers. The Early Learning and Child Care Act will make child care more affordable by providing the minister responsible with the authority to set limits on fees. The Early Childhood Educators Act will improve oversight of early childhood educators (ECEs) and programs with a public registry, and it will help the Province recruit and retain ECEs, by giving the Registrar authority to temporarily register internationally trained ECEs. These Acts are part of the foundation for an inclusive, universal child care system in B.C. and will be adapted based on consultation and input from the child care sector, including advocates, families, First Nations leaders and Indigenous partners as we build B.C.’s early learning and child care system.
Amendments to the Election Act will make an annual allowance for political parties permanent.
The Province is making amendments to the Election Act to provide a permanent annual allowance to political parties at the recommendation of the Special Committee to Review Provisions of the Election Act. This allowance will provide eligible parties with $1.75 per vote, based on the number of votes received in the most recent general election. This amount will adjust each following year, based on changes in the Consumer Price Index and the number of votes parties received in the most recent provincial election.
Legislative changes to teacher certification and regulation brought forward have been co-developed with the First Nations Education Steering Committee, acting under the direction of the First Nations engaged in the initiative.
Education can and must play a key role in reconciliation and in creating a future of equity and justice in British Columbia. Legislative changes introduced will support First Nations in the certification and regulation of teachers who work in schools under their jurisdiction, and will enable the Province to provide operational support. In addition, changes to the composition of the British Columbia Teachers’ Council will ensure the soon to be created First Nations Education Authority is represented and able to participate in establishing certification, conduct and competence standards for provincial teaching certificate holders. These changes will lead to improved outcomes for Indigenous students.
Proposed legislative amendments will allow the Province to ban more single-use plastics.
Amendments to the Environment Management Act will enable government to identify and take direct action to phase out single-use plastic products and packaging. The current act allows for packaging materials such as plastic checkout bags and single polystyrene foam takeout containers to be regulated or banned. Following feedback from the public and local governments, the changes will add the ability to regulate other single-use plastic products like drinking straws, utensils and stir sticks. Decisions will be made based on environmental and economic impacts of any bans, with the first phase of new regulations expected in early 2023.
Proposed legislative amendments respond to local government requests, give communities new tools to deliver housing, and dissolve the Jumbo Glacier Mountain Resort Municipality.
The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendments Act (No. 2), 2021 will update a variety of acts that impact British Columbians. Changes to the Local Government Act, Community Charter and Vancouver Charter will add a new requirement for all municipal councils and regional district boards to publicly consider whether they wish to develop codes of conduct for their council or board members. Updates to the Local Government Act, Community Charter, Islands Trust Act, Municipal Replotting Act, University Endowment Land Act and Vancouver Charter will enable local governments to determine and specify, by bylaw, the methods they will use to provide public notice that will reach the greatest number of people in their communities. The amendments to the Local Government Act will remove the default requirement for local governments to hold public hearings for zoning bylaw amendments that are consistent with their official community plan and enable local governments to delegate decisions on minor development variance permits to staff. Amendments the Islands Trust Act address specific requests made by the Islands Trust board of directors to deal with some administrative barriers. Changes to the Powell River Incorporation Act will support Powell River’s economic development objectives by removing the city-owned lots from the ‘Mill Site’ area to allow for further development.
Amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act support transformation of B.C.’s forest sector to one that is more diverse, focused on sustainability, and puts people first – now and into the future.
In June, government released its Modernizing Forest Policy in B.C. paper, which contains its vision to transform forest policy and protect old growth. It is focused on three guiding principles: increased sector participation, enhanced stewardship and sustainability, and a strengthened social contract to give government more control over management of the sector.
Governments proposed legislative changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act support this paradigm shift by putting government back in the driver’s seat of decisions and moving towards ecosystem-based management. A key part of this will be replacing Forest Stewardship Plans – which are now developed by the sector – with Forest Landscape Plans which will address ecological and cultural values, as well as timber values of forests.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act will help B.C. keep pace with new technology, strengthen privacy protections and improve services for thousands of people who request information each year.
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. found a better, more effective way to deliver services that people have come to expect, including timely access to their personal information as well as to healthcare, education and the technology that’s making their lives easier. With these amendments, B.C. will strengthen privacy protections, while allowing people to continue to access the services they need, faster and more effectively. Specifically, the amendments:
• Update data-residency provisions so public bodies such as universities or health authorities can use modern tools while continuing to protect personal information;
• Strengthen public-sector privacy protections and increase accountability by implementing mandatory privacy breach reporting and increase penalties for offences, and add new offences;
• Introduce a modest fee for non-personal FOI requests;
• Demonstrate the Province’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, reconciliation and equity by increasing information sharing with Indigenous Peoples, adding cultural protections and removing non-inclusive language.
The Miscellaneous Bill for the fall 2021 session will include amendments to the Adoption Act, Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, Child, Family and Community Service Act, Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, Offence Act, Oil and Gas Activities Act, Passenger Transportation Act, Representative for Children and Youth Act, Safety Standards Act and Treaty First Nation Taxation Act.
Amendments included in the fall 2021 Miscellaneous Bill will update legal statutes in a variety of acts that impact British Columbians. Changes to the Adoption Act will support First Nation adoptees in obtaining their status to gain access to federal benefits. Updates to the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act will protect financially vulnerable people from predatory lending practices. Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act will align it with the Federal Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, to expand the use of virtual technology, thereby improving service delivery. Changes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act will improve access to justice. Amendments to the Offence Act will strengthen Treaty First Nations’ right to self-determination and further reconciliation. Amendments to the Oil and Gas Activities Act will support the timely restoration of well sites. An amendment to the Passenger Transportation Act will move the appointment date of a special committee on passenger-directed transportation in consideration of the impacts of COVID-19 on the industry. Changes to the Representative for Children and Youth Act will ensure more young people have access to the Representative’s advocacy. Updates to the Safety Standards Act will improve safety at amusement and trampoline parks. An amendment to the Treaty First Nation Taxation Act will support continued work on property tax systems on Treaty Lands.
The Societies Amendment Act, 2021 amends the Societies Act which came into force in 2016. The new Act provides societies with a responsive legislative framework, giving them greater adaptability in their internal governance, while also ensuring transparency and accountability. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to address various issues that have come to light since the Act came into force. These proposed amendments will refine the Societies Act by making it more accessible, addressing uncertainties and omissions, and creating consistency within the Act and with other legislation.
The Societies Act provides the legislative framework for the creation and governance of British Columbia societies. Societies are not-for-profit corporations, organized for a wide range of purposes from charitable to educational, and environmental to recreational and prohibited from distributing profits to their members. There are over 29,000 societies in our province. Societies vary significantly in size, ranging from small volunteer-run associations to large professional-run charities. More than ever, they play a vital role in our communities – from health and housing services, to sports, cultural and other community-based activities, to environmental and social advocacy. The pandemic has highlighted the important role these community minded organizations play in keeping us connected, providing mental health supports, and supporting those struggling with income or food insecurity. Supporting BC societies with robust and modern legislation will further efforts to build communities with the resilience required by today’s challenges.
Legislation is being introduced to establish a new 143-hectare Class A park near the Koksilah River in the Cowichan Valley, rename two parks with Indigenous names, and add more than 2,258 hectares of land and/or foreshore to nine existing parks and one conservancy.
Legislation is being introduced to establish a new 143-hectare Class A park near the Koksilah River in the Cowichan Valley. Used by Cowichan people since time immemorial, the area of the new park includes pockets of old-growth Douglas fir forest, a sensitive grassland ecosystem, rare species of vascular plants, and limestone geological features. Cowichan Tribes have identified the name of the new park – Hwsalu-utsum (whSALA-utsum). To recognize Indigenous connections in two other provincial parks, Chilliwack Lake Park will be renamed Sxótsaqel / Chilliwack Lake Park (Skot-sa-qel), and Newcastle Island Marine Park will be renamed Saysutshun (Newcastle Island Marine) Park (SAY-sut-shun). The proposed legislative amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act would also add more than 2,258 hectares of land and/or foreshore to nine existing provincial parks and one conservancy.
2021 Spring sitting of the Legislature
The proposed Early Learning and Child Care Act (ELCC) and the Early Childhood Educators (ECE) Act support the delivery of an inclusive, universal early learning and child care system for B.C. families.
The proposed Early Learning and Child Care Act combines the Child Care BC Act (CCBCA) and the Child Care Subsidy Act (CCSA) into a single Act to signal government’s commitment to inclusive, universal child care and Indigenous peoples. The proposed Early Childhood Educators Act takes the existing provisions from the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (CCALA) and Child Care Licensing Regulation (CCLR) governing ECEs and post-secondary ECE programs and puts them in a new statute dedicated to the ECE workforce and under the responsibility of the Minister responsible for child care. Once enacted, this legislation will move the province further along the path to achieving a child care system that meets the needs of B.C. families. These Acts are part of the foundation for an inclusive, universal child care system in B.C. and will be adapted based on input from the child care sector, including advocates, families, First Nations leaders and Indigenous partners as we build B.C.’s early learning and child care system.
Amendments to the Business Corporations Act, Cooperative Association Act, Credit Union Incorporation Act, Financial Institutions Act, and Societies Act will make permanent the ability for B.C. corporations to hold virtual meetings.
In April 2020, the Province temporarily removed legislative barriers to meeting electronically so organizations facing the challenges of COVID-19 could continue to govern and provide services through the pandemic. This legislation makes virtual meetings a permanent option for B.C. companies, societies, credit unions and cooperative associations to support efficient, flexible and accessible business practices and help remove barriers to participation for people who are unable to attend in-person meetings.
New amendments to the Community Charter, the Local Government Act, the Municipalities Enabling and Validating Act (No.4) and the Vancouver Charter will give local governments more flexibility to better serve communities and people, as special authorities granted during the pandemic become permanent, including allowing people to participate in meetings and public hearings online.
The Province is introducing amendments to support Municipalities and Regional Districts in B.C. by granting them permanent authority to hold a mix of virtual, in-person and hybrid meetings and public hearings, to meet a wider range of people’s needs.
Along with the electronic meetings and hearings, the amendments will: expand eligibility for mail ballot voting by bylaw in local government elections; permit improvements districts greater flexibility with the timing of their annual general meetings and trustee terms; and create new Ministerial authorities for borrowing in emergency situations and elections administration matters, allowing the Province to be more responsive in future extraordinary events.
The legislation also ensures extraordinary financial measures and corresponding repayment obligations currently under COVID Ministerial Order 159, which is set to expire on July 10, 2021, will continue to have legal effect after this date.
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 Emergency Program Act (EPA) and the COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CRMA).
People who leave COVID-19 fines unpaid may be unable to obtain or renew a B.C. driver’s licence or vehicle licence under proposed legislation. The amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act will provide an additional debt collection tool that can be used to ensure that COVID 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.
The Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act will make changes to the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, the Family Law Act, and the Clean Energy Act.
The COVID-19 Related Measures Act will be extended to Dec. 31. 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. 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. An amendment to the Clean Energy Act will remove the decommissioned Burrard Thermal Generating Station in Port Moody from the list of BC Hydro heritage assets. This allows BC Hydro to consider third-party use of the site, which 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.
Amendments to the Employment Standards Act will provide workers with three days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19 until December 31, 2021; and will create a permanent paid sick leave for workers who cannot work due to any personal illness or injury.
To better support workers during the pandemic, amendments to the Employment Standards Act will bring in three days of paid COVID-19 sick leave for people who are sick with COVID-19 or are waiting for a test result and need to self isolate. Employers will be required to pay workers their full wages and the Province will reimburse employers who do not currently provide paid sick leave their costs up to $200 per day per worker.
The legislation will also create a permanent paid sick leave for workers who cannot work due to any illness or injury beginning January 1, 2022. The number of paid sick days and other supports will be determined following consultations with the business community, labour organizations, Indigenous partners, and other stakeholders.
The Province is introducing amendments to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act (EBCA) to provide the upcoming Electoral Boundaries Commission with more independence and flexibility as they work to recommend an electoral map for the next two general elections.
The Province is introducing amendments to the EBCA to better support the Electoral Boundaries Commission in their work to recommend electoral districts for the next two general elections.
This includes improving the Commission’s independence by removing the amendments made to EBCA in 2014, which established three regions that were collectively restricted to a minimum of 17 seats, regardless of their population or the preferred recommendations of the Commission.
In addition, the proposed amendments will give the Commission the option to recommend adding up to as many as six new districts, enhancing their Commission’s ability to respond to B.C.’s significant population growth. The amendments will also specify that the commission may take into account special considerations respecting demographic and geographic factors, including keeping a manageable geographic size for electoral districts, in order to ensure effective representation.
The Accessible B.C. Act will support the development of new accessibility standards – in areas like employment, the built environment, and customer service – by identifying, removing and preventing barriers.
The Accessible British Columbia Act marks the next step in building an inclusive province that works for all of us. It will support the development of accessibility standards to ensure that all British Columbians can fully and equally participate in their communities. This includes, but is not limited to, employment, the delivery of services, transportation, the built environment, information and communications, education, procurement and health. Guided by the principle of “nothing about us without us”, work will also be aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
InBC is a new $500-million strategic investment fund. Investments will target small and medium sized businesses with the growth potential and the ability to anchor talent, jobs, intellectual property and innovation in B.C.
The legislation supports the operations of InBC Investment Corp (“InBC”), a new $500 million strategic investment fund. Developed in consultation with the business and investment sectors, InBC will focus on driving innovation, sustainability and inclusiveness in our economy. InBC will also attract investment, create family supporting jobs, and diversify B.C.’s economy. InBC will invest in high-growth potential businesses in British Columbia, and leverage investments from the private and public sectors to help businesses grow. InBC will have a triple bottom line investment mandate, aiming to: Establish B.C. as a globally competitive low-carbon jurisdiction, promote values that make life better for people in B.C. including job creation, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people, and promoting diversity and inclusion, and achieve a financial return on investment.
Proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act to provide paid leave to get a COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring no one has to choose between losing pay or their health. This leave helps make it as easy as possible to get someone’s doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If passed, the amendments to the Employment Standards Act will provide British Columbian part-time or full-time workers with up to three hours of paid leave to get their COVID-19 vaccine, for each dose. This leave supports B.C.’s Immunization Plan. Many vulnerable and low-wage workers – who are often women or migrant workers – lack benefits, so the ability to take employer-paid leave to receive the vaccine will be especially beneficial to them. Government is making it as easy as possible for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine through simple registration, long clinic hours throughout the province and through different leave options to encourage workers to get their vaccine when it is their time. This leave is available for both the first and second doses of the vaccine to fully vaccinate British Columbians against COVID-19. If passed, the effective date will be retroactive to the date of introduction (April 19, 2021).
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) is being amended to provide greater clarity for government employees who report serious wrongdoings under the act, and support the expansion of PIDA to the broader public sector.
The Province is amending PIDA to ensure consistent interpretation of critical definitions and provisions, and by clarifying statutory roles. In addition, the time to start the prosecution of an offence under PIDA, such as for a reprisal against a whistleblower, is being extended from six months to two years. This makes the reprisal protections in PIDA more meaningful by recognizing that identifying and investigating a reprisal may often take longer than six months. The Province is also more clearly defining key terms in the legislation such as ‘disclosure’ and ‘advice’. These updates will explicitly outline the definition of each term and provide greater clarity around where they apply.
2020 Spring sitting of the Legislature
The B.C. Government has introduced amendments to the Court of Appeal Act that, if passed, will make the process of filing an appeal easier to understand and more efficient for lawyers and people who are self-represented.
These proposed amendments will consolidate information and simplify procedures to make it easier for people to read and navigate the Act. The Court will be allowed to modernize its functions, most particularly the ability to hear appeals through less traditional means (videoconference). The language will be simplified making the Act less complex and easier to understand. Frequently used sections of the Act will be made more prominent so people can source and access information more efficiently. The language of the act will be matched to the Court of Appeal Rules so that wording is consistent between the two documents.
Government is taking steps to create a new fairness officer focused on ensuring ICBC’s decisions, actions and practices are transparent and fair, as the corporation transitions to Enhanced Care coverage on May 1, 2021.
If passed, proposed amendments to the Insurance Corporation Act will fulfil government’s commitment to advance trust and confidence in ICBC by establishing a fairness officer. The officer will have the authority to review and make recommendations to resolve customer complaints about the policy and process ICBC used to make a decision in their case. As well, the officer may make broader recommendations to enhance fair decision-making. To ensure greater independence from ICBC, the officer will be appointed by government. To ensure transparency, the legislation outlines that the fairness officer must report each year on complaints received, determined to be within scope and heard. ICBC will also be required to submit an annual report to the minister responsible for ICBC, outlining its response to any recommendations made by the officer. The fairness office is expected to be up and running later in 2021.
The Interim Supply Bill allows government to continue to fund important programs ahead of tabling Budget 2021.
An Interim Supply Bill provides temporary legal authority for the government to continue existing programs and services into the new fiscal year and support the Province’s robust estimates debate. As in other years, the bill is tabled in March and is required to be passed before the end of the fiscal year on March 31. This spending appropriation will provide a portion of the total estimated budget of 2021/22 to ensure current supports and services can continue while the new budget is tabled and debated in the legislature.
The Firearm Violence Prevention Act will address public safety concerns of the growing inventory of illegal guns and gang members buying, transporting and possessing real and imitation firearms.
Gang members will have fewer options to buy, transport or possess real and imitation firearms under new legislation devised to make our streets safer. The Firearms Violence Prevention Act will help target illegal and imitation firearms and give police additional tools to prevent crime, disrupt organized crime groups and gather evidence in support of successful prosecutions. This legislation is a key component of B.C.’s Gang Suppression Action Plan, designed to stop the growth of organized crime from disrupting communities throughout the province.
Amendments to the Local Government Campaign Financing Act will strengthen local elections campaign financing rules, and increase accountability and transparency in local elections to ensure people – and not big money – are at the centre of community politics throughout British Columbia.
Local election campaign financing rules will be more transparent and equitable for everyone under this legislation. Amendments to the Local Election Campaign Financing Act will increase accountability for election participants and modernize and strengthen the tools used to investigate violations of those rules. The legislation – if passed – will increase the length of time advertising is regulated before an election period begins to make it easier to identify who is sponsoring advertisements. The legislation will also require local political parties to register with Elections BC, and limits sponsorship contributions to $1,200 dollars to match the provincial campaign contribution limit. It also makes minor amendments to the Local Government Act, Community Charter and School act to help local governments in administering elections.
Proposed amendments to the Real Estate Services Act and financial institutions legislation will transfer responsibility for the regulation of the real estate market to the BC Financial Services Authority and help create a single modern and efficient regulator of the financial services sector, including real estate, in B.C.
Whether buying a home or remortgaging an existing property, British Columbians deserve to know that the real estate market has modern and efficient oversight and that their transactions are conducted safely and securely.
These amendments will transfer the roles and responsibilities of the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and the Real Estate Council of British Columbia to the BC Financial Services Authority, effectively creating a single regulator of financial services, including real estate. This change will help create a more unified and streamlined regulatory framework and create further opportunities for information sharing, investigation and enforcement.
The centralization of the Home Owner Grant program will give B.C. homeowners full online and phone application access, and quicker application processing, and will also ensure that those who are eligible for the home owner grant receive it.
After hearing from local government partners, the Province is taking over administration of the home owner grant program to ease the burden on municipalities. The Province already administers the program for home owners in rural areas, so it makes sense to centralize and streamline the program. There is no change to program eligibility for B.C. home owners.
Proposed legislative changes will strengthen tenancy laws in B.C., helping to make life more affordable for renters.
Proposed legislative amendments will give renters more security by extending the rent freeze to Dec. 31, 2021, capping future rent increases to inflation, stopping illegal renovictions and improving the dispute resolution process. All renters who may have received notice of a rent increase that would have taken effect after March 30, 2020, and before January 1, 2022, can disregard those notices. Starting in 2022 and beyond, any rent increases will be capped at the rate of inflation. New legislation that would come into effect on July 1, 2021, would further prevent renovictions by requiring landlords to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) before they can terminate a tenancy agreement for the purpose of renovating. Also, landlords will not be able to end tenancies for renovations that aren’t substantial or don’t require the rental unit to be vacant.
Changes to the Workers Compensation Act will provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low.
The workers’ compensation system has been in place since 1917 to provide no-fault compensation benefits to injured workers and surviving dependants for work-related injuries, diseases, mental health disorders and fatalities, along with health care and vocational rehabilitation services for injured workers. The Workers Compensation Amendment Act 2020 brings much-needed support to the system for those who become injured at work and brings work place investigations and prosecutions into the modern era, while keep the system affordable and stable over the long term for employers.
Changes to support workers include: raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers’ compensation benefits are based and authorizing WorkSafeBC to provide preventative medical treatment before a claim is accepted. The Act is changing investigations and prosecutions through many ways such as: giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants that are appropriate for investigating workplace safety infractions; and giving people a voice in serious workplace prosecutions and trials by using victim impact statements.
Updates to the Financial Institutions Act and Credit Union Incorporation Act will modernize British Columbia’s regulatory framework and align it with international best practices.
Significant updates to the Financial Institutions Act and Credit Union Incorporation Act will make B.C.’s regulatory framework more efficient and modern, while better protecting the financial interests of British Columbians. The Province is required to review the Financial Institutions Act (FIA) and Credit Union Incorporation Act (CUIA) every 10 years.
Among other things, the new legislation gives the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) the ability to issue legally enforceable rules that provide timely guidance to financial institutions in response to emerging risks. The BCFSA now has enhanced investigation powers that are more consistent with other federal and provincial regulators.
Proposed changes to the Mental Health Act will improve the care and safety of youth under the age of 19 who are experiencing severe problematic substance use by providing short-term voluntary emergency stabilization care following and overdose.
Government has introduced amendments to the Mental Health Act designed to prioritize the best interest of youth and facilitate better connections to voluntary culturally-safe care. As part of the proposed changes, youth living with severe problematic substance use who are admitted to a hospital following a life-threatening overdose can be admitted for stabilization care for up to 48 hours or until their decision-making capacity is restored, for a maximum of seven days. This short-term emergency care will be provided at hospitals throughout the province where there is an existing designated psychiatric unit or observation unit. The proposed changes to the Mental Health Act will support health-care providers and hospitals to provide medically necessary health care and observation for a youth to recover from an overdose, regain their decision-making capacity and create opportunities to engage with supports and services to treat the problematic substance use. Following the period of stabilization care, youth will be connected to supports and services in the community.
Proposed changes to the Mines Act in B.C. will support an improved permitting process and strengthen government’s ability to hold mines accountable.
Key changes include: the creation of a new Chief Permitting Officer, distinct from the Chief Inspector of Mines, to ensure the mine permitting process is efficient and effective; enhancing government’s compliance and enforcement authorities; and formalizing the creation of the Mine Audits and Effectiveness Unit to ensure mining regulation in B.C. remains effective and aligned with global best practice.
These amendments will ensure mining continues to be one of the safest heavy industries and that B.C. remains an attractive place to invest.
New legislation helps confirm supports for people and businesses and responds to the fiscal impacts of COVID-19 by allowing government to run deficit budgets.
The Economic Stabilization Act brings the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers into law and updates the eligibility date to March 1, 2020. Almost 600,000 people have been approved to receive the benefit to date. Changes to the legislation allow deficit budgets for the next three years as the Province moves forward with economic recovery from COVID-19. Additionally, the amendments allow government to continue to table supplementary estimates before the Legislative Assembly as well as clarify the existing limits and uses of special warrants while the Legislative Assembly is not in session to maintain essential services and respond to provincial emergencies and disasters like a pandemic.
The Clean Energy Amendments Act will help make life more affordable for people while leveraging B.C.’s clean electricity advantage to advance low-carbon electrification across the economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The three main amendments in the Bill support government’s CleanBC plan and Phase 2 of the BC Hydro Review, and will enable BC Hydro to consider a variety of energy supply and asset options to meet the needs of its customers over the long-term. The first will establish a framework for the development of a new 100% clean electricity standard that will mandate that 100% of the electricity BC Hydro delivers to its grid-connected customers comes from clean sources over a given period of time. The second will eliminate the existing self-sufficiency requirement in the Clean Energy Act to give BC Hydro more flexibility to source clean electricity at the most affordable prices from within and outside B.C. The third amendment will allow BC Hydro to pursue opportunities for alternative uses and new revenues for underutilized areas of the de-commissioned Burrard Thermal site in Port Moody.
The COVID-19 Related Measures Act will extend certain ministerial orders made under the Emergency Program Act (EPA), create regulations that provide protection from civil liability, and introduce two permanent, targeted amendments to the EPA.
Under this new legislation, British Columbians can be confident that the emergency orders enacted by government will not end abruptly the moment the declaration of a state of emergency ends. The COVID-19 Recovery Measures Act will extend certain orders by 45 or 90 days and, given the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, will also provide the possibility for extension of COVID-19 related orders by up to one year after the act is brought into force. It will also ensure that businesses and individuals who operate responsibly and in accordance with public health orders and guidelines are exempt from civil liability. And finally, the targeted EPA amendments clarify the powers available to the minister under section 10 to “do all acts and implement all procedures that the minister considers necessary,” and delegate some specific powers to cabinet instead of a single minister.
Government is proposing amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act (No.2) to offer policy flexibility around the use of decals on licence plates.
The legislation would allow for validation decals to be non-expiring or valid for periods longer than one year. It also provides for regulations that could authorize ICBC to issue other documents, or take other actions, respecting the validity of a vehicle license instead of issuing validation decals. Government will be consulting with law enforcement, brokers and other stakeholders to inform future policy decisions about any changes in the use of decals.
Changes to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act will make it easier for British Columbians to make a will, especially during the pandemic.
The changes will allow the remote witnessing of wills and enable courts to accept electronic wills. This means that lawyers and notaries can use technology for the witnessing of wills by people who are in different locations. It will also enable the courts to accept wills that are created on a computer and signed electronically, and for which there is no printed copy.
The changes will benefit British Columbians who, for example, are in hospital, quarantined, have a disability, or live in rural or remote communities.
The amendments to the Strata Property Act and Financial Institutions Act will help stratas better mitigate the rising costs of insurance by bringing more transparency to the strata insurance industry and give strata owners and corporations the tools they need to do their part.
People living in condos and strata corporations in British Columbian are experiencing high increases in the cost of strata insurance or are having challenges even finding insurance at all. The amendments to the Strata Property Act and Financial Institutions Act will help British Columbians cope with rising costs of insurance while bringing more transparency to the insurance industry. The amendments will both end the practice of referral fees between insurers or insurance brokers and property managers or other third parties, require strata corporations to inform owners about insurance coverage, provide notice of any policy changes, including increasing deductibles, and allow stratas to use their contingency reserve fund when necessary to pay for unexpected premium increases. It will also pave the way for future regulations to help lower strata insurance costs for people.
Changes to the Vehicle Insurance Act will introduce a new insurance model, Enhanced Care coverage, that will save drivers an average of 20% or $400 starting in spring 2021.
With this legislation, British Columbians can expect increased access to medical care and significantly enhanced recovery benefits—to a maximum of at least $7.5 million, up from today’s limit of $300,000. They’ll get many other benefit enhancements, such as an income replacement benefit 60% higher than today, where British Columbians will be eligible for up to $1,200 per week, or 90% of net wage loss for those earning up to $93,400 annually. It includes new legal requirements that ICBC must assist each claimant with making a claim and endeavour to ensure they are informed of, and receive, all the benefits to which they are entitled. British Columbians will have lower insurance rates, where drivers save about 20%, or an average of $400. This new care-based insurance, known elsewhere as no-fault insurance, has proven to be a successful and effective model for other public auto insurers in Canada, including in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Changes to the Employment Standards Act will provide five days of paid job leave for workers or their children facing domestic or sexual violence.
B.C.’s Employment Standards Act is the law that sets minimum standards for workplaces in the province. Proposed changes will provide up to five days of paid leave from work to employees impacted by domestic or sexual violence, or who are parents of a minor child or dependent adult impacted by this kind of violence.
By being able to take up to five days of paid leave from work per year, employees will be able to attend to their needs or the needs of their dependent children or adults without the worry of losing income from missing work. Employees will have paid leave allowing them to attend medical, counselling or other appointments, look for a new home or school for their children and rebuild their lives.
This Bill underscores the importance of addressing issues of gender-based violence. This Bill also builds on improvements made to the Employment Standards Act in 2019 that provided up to 10 days of unpaid, job-protected leave from work. If passed, the amendments will mean five of these days will be paid. Changes brought into force in 2019 also include up to 15 additional weeks of unpaid leave.
Improving how child care and education are delivered and funded
This legislation puts into the School Act – for the first time – recognition that school boards can provide before and after school care directly. It will also ensure boards can have more meaningful partnerships with third-party child care providers that go beyond a landlord-and-tenant arrangement. And, to ensure all children’s educational information is readily available in one place while reducing onerous amounts of paperwork for parents, the Province is expanding Personal Education Numbers so children receive their number before they formally begin school.
The Province is also implementing education recommendations made by an independent panel after a comprehensive review that involved an unprecedented level of consultation to improve transparency, accountability, financial management and online learning in K-12 education. This includes clarifying how school boards can manage operating reserves and transfers for local capital to ensure consistency. The legislation also removes provisions relating to the Learning Improvement Fund (LIF) because it is no longer required in the School Act.
By ensuring students who complete their education at First Nations schools are awarded the Dogwood or Adult Dogwood graduation diploma the B.C. Government is honouring commitments made through the B.C. Tripartite Education Agreement. This agreement is the only one of it’s kind in Canada and brings with it $100 million in federal funding to ensure an equitable education for First Nations students, no matter where they live.
Interim Business Property Tax Relief Program
A new program will give authority to local governments to provide immediate, short term relief to commercial tenants who are struggling with high lease costs as a result of years of rapidly-increasing property values. The Interim Business Property Tax Relief program will give local governments the flexibility to exempt a portion of the value of commercial properties from taxation. It is designed to give local governments the flexibility to tailor their approach based on what the challenge looks like in their particular community, including how they identity those properties in need of relief in their communities and the amount of tax exemption for selected properties. The tool will be available to municipalities for a maximum of five years, allowing time for the Province to continue working to find a permanent solution that will work for communities of all sizes across the province.
The new act will reflect current best practices for fair, efficient and final resolution options. Key changes include new provisions about how arbitration proceedings can be started; clarification around the duties of the arbitrators, parties and expert witnesses; simpler and faster appeals; and improved confidentiality.
Family arbitration provisions will be moved from the Arbitration Act to the Family Law Act, which already deals with various aspects of family disputes and encourages out-of-court resolutions.
Motor Vehicle Act
Proposed changes to the Motor Vehicle Act support road safety and better trained drivers by enabling government to require standardized training as a pre-licensing requirement for various classes of drivers’ licences. The proposed amendments also include various minor clarifications in the Motor Vehicle Act that respond to requests from road safety stakeholders. Notably, if passed, changes will include adding sheriff vehicles under the definition of emergency vehicle and enabling sheriffs to activate emergency lights and proceed through red lights in certain circumstances – for example, when a prisoner is in medical distress. As well, the changes will clarify residency requirements that entitle a person to hold a B.C. driver’s licence and allow ICBC to extend driving privileges during a state of emergency to people whose licences are expiring or have just expired.
2019 Fall sitting of the Legislature
Gaming Control Amendment Act
The Amendment Act creates an entitlement for First Nations to 7% of net provincial gaming revenues generated by the BC Lottery Corporation that will facilitate the Province’s ability to share those revenues with First Nations in B.C. until 2045; committing approximately $100 million per year – roughly $3 billion over the term of the agreement.
First Nations can use the new revenue to plan for, and invest in priorities they decide their communities need to thrive and prosper. For example, funding can be used to enhance social services and health services, fund education, language and culture training, build new housing, develop economic or businesses opportunities or increase self-government capacity. These priorities for useage of the funding were co-developed by the Province and First Nation representatives.
Every First Nation community in B.C. is eligible for a share of the money by becoming a member of the BC First Nations Gaming Revenue Sharing Limited Partnership – an organization set up at the direction of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
Fuel Price Transparency Act
The Fuel Price Transparency Act will allow the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) to collect information on refined fuel imports and exports, fuel volumes at refineries and terminals, as well as wholesale and retail prices. This information will be available to the public as well as consumer and watchdog groups. The BCUC found that there are considerable markups on the price of gas including a 10- to-13-cent-per-litre premium being charged to drivers that industry didn’t explain. This premium results in British Columbians paying an extra $490 million every year.
Update to the Election Act
The most significant update to the Election Act since 1995 gives Elections BC the ability to use modern technology like vote counting machines to speed up the counting of paper ballots, electronic voting books to reduce lineups at polling places and more quickly record who has cast their ballot, and printers for making custom ballots for people voting outside their electoral district.
Amendments would also allow the Chief Electoral Officer to encourage youth participation by maintaining a list of future voters. Young people aged 16-17 could add their names to the list and be transferred automatically to the voter list when they turn 18.
Government is following up on the recommendations of the Chief Electoral Officer to increase accessibility and efficiency when British Columbians go to the polls, and engage young people as they prepare to become voters.
Interpretation Amendment Act
In a public engagement this summer, more than 93% of a record 223,000 respondents said they wanted to remain on year-round daylight saving time (DST). That’s why government has taken action and introduced the Interpretation Amendment Act, paving the way for a move to year-round DST. This bill creates a new name for our permanent time zone – “Pacific Time” – and removes legislation that permits the bi-annual time change. It does not require areas of the North and the Kootenays that currently observe Mountain Time to change their time observance practices. A majority of respondents to the public engagement also indicated a desire to maintain alignment with our neighbours in Washington, Oregon, California and Yukon. The move to permanent DST is planned to be brought into effect at a time that maintains alignment with our neighbours. However, it does not prevent government from moving independently if the time comes that such a move is deemed in the best interest of our province.
Climate Change Accountability Act
Strong action on climate change requires clear accountability and transparency. Changes to the Climate Change Accountability act will make it law for government to report each year on where we are on the path to meeting our CleanBC commitments. This will include the latest provincial emissions data and projections for the years to come. It will include details on actions taken over the past year to reduce emissions and minimize risks from climate change, as well as plans for future actions and what effect they are expected to have. The legislation will also require that government establish sectoral targets and a new interim target on the path to our 2030 emissions goal. It will create a new independent advisory committee of experts and representatives from different background and sectors to keep government accountable. Finally, it will give government the ability to set more detailed targets and other environmental standards for publicly owned buildings and vehicles to help reduce emission and improve environmental performance.
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
BC’s new law recognizes and protects the human rights of Indigenous peoples and will help to build a stronger BC. It makes sure Indigenous peoples are part of the decisions that affect them, their families, and their territories. It provides a way forward on reconciliation with a plan that works for everyone in BC. Indigenous peoples and the BC government are building a better future together. That means good jobs and opportunities that benefit us all, while protecting the land, water, and air.
Updates to the Financial Institutions Act and Credit Union Incorporation Act
Significant updates to the Financial Institutions Act and Credit Union Incorporation Act will make B.C.’s regulatory framework more efficient and modern, while better protecting the financial interests of British Columbians. The Province is required to review the Financial Institutions Act (FIA) and Credit Union Incorporation Act (CUIA) every 10 years.
The new legislation gives the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) the ability to bring in legally enforceable rules that provide timely guidance to financial institutions in response to emerging risks. FICOM will also have enhanced investigation powers that are more consistent with other federal and provincial regulators.
The updates also provide credit unions and insurance companies with more flexibility to use technology in ways that provide better service and protects consumers.
Additionally, these changes offer more protection for sensitive information provided by credit unions and the insurance sector. This is an important part of modernizing B.C.’s financial framework and is consistent with federal standards, as well as legislation in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
The current review of the Financial Institutions Act and the Credit Union Incorporations Act began in 2014 and produced two consultation papers, informed by extensive consultation with credit unions, public sector organizations, businesses, banks, the insurance sector and the public.
Amendments to the Securities Act
To crack down on white collar crime, the B.C. government is increasing the fine collection and enforcement capabilities of the BC Securities Commission. These amendments give the BC Securities Commission new tools to act swiftly and decisively when criminals defraud people including the ability to freeze property, seize registered retirement plans and tell ICBC to refuse to renew a fraudster’s driver’s license if they do not pay their fines. The BC Securities Commission will now have the most aggressive powers of all the securities regulators in Canada to crack down on fraudsters.
Amendments to the Employment and Assistance Act and the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act
Proposed amendments to the Employment and Assistance Act and the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act address commitments in TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. They would remove harmful and mean-spirited policies that created barriers for the most vulnerable people in B.C. Changes 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.
Amendments to the Assessment Act
Amendments to the Assessment Act will include solar power plants in the definition of power plants, allowing them to be assessed in the same way as other independent power producers that use hydro or wind to produce power. It will also ensure that solar power plants are eligible for the same exemptions as other independent power producers.
Amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act
Proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, which were introduced on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, will clarify how emerging personal transportation devices are to be used and will ensure the safety of everyone who uses roads and sidewalks. The amendments will allow for the regulation of new transportation devices, and for pilot projects to be established, giving government the chance to partner with communities in researching and testing how new mobility technologies fit in. Currently, a personal transportation device that does not fall under the act’s definition of a motor vehicle, cycle or pedestrian is not permitted to operate on highways or sidewalks, and some new devices struggle to fit into any category. These amendments will give government the ability to address this. Establishing the authority to conduct pilot projects under the act provides an opportunity for government and local communities to effectively address changing public mobility needs and expectations.
2019 Spring sitting of the Legislature
Labour Relation Code amendments
Amendments to the Labour Relation Code support the recommendations put forward by an independent review panel, after a thorough engagement process. A key change will extend successorship protections when contracts are ‘flipped’ for food, janitorial, security, and transportation services, and care aides and housekeeping in the health sector. Other changes will strengthen restrictions on employer interference during a union certification process; and reduce divisiveness and disruptions to employers, unions and workers by modifying the periods when one union can raid another.
Employment Standards Act amendments
B.C.’s Employment Standards Act is the law that sets minimum standards for workplaces in the province. To reflect modern workplaces and ensure that employment standards are evenly applied and enforced, changes will be made in four priority areas: child employment; job-protected leaves; wage recovery; and Employment Standards Branch services.
The working age for children will be raised from 12 to 16, 14 and 15-year-old will be allowed to do only light work that is safe for their health and development. People under 16 no longer be able to work in industries that may be dangerous, aligning B.C. with international child employment standards.
People experiencing domestic violence and people who need to care for critically ill loved ones will be able to take advantage of new unpaid leaves of absence while knowing their jobs are protected.
People who are owed wages by their employer will be able to recover wages going back 12 months — up from six months — from when the issue is brought before the Employment Standards Branch. As well, the changes bring in new regulations on tips and tip pooling and prohibit employers from participating in tip pools.
Better and more accessible supports will be available though the Employment Standards Branch, including a more streamlined complaint process that does away with need for the self-help kit.
Forest Act amendments
Changes to the Act mean will mean forest companies will now need approval from the minister before they dispose of or transfer a tenure agreement to another party. As a result, the minister will be able to refuse to approve the new arrangement if it is not in the public interest or put conditions on the approval. For years, through the control of the disposition of Crown tenures, major forest licensees have controlled the market for milling and forest tenure holdings. As a result, smaller operators like communities and First Nations found it harder to compete. The changes will help support a vibrant and diverse forest sector by preventing further concentration of harvesting rights.
Workers Compensation Act amendments
Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act will mean that wildfire fighters, fire investigators and firefighters working for First Nations and other indigenous organizations will gain easier access to workers’ compensation and support services for cancer, heart disease and mental health disorders that can arise from work conditions. The changes recognize that these particular occupations are more likely to suffer certain physical and mental health conditions and diseases. When diagnosed with one of these conditions and applying for workers’ compensation, there will no longer be a need to prove that it is work-related. The amendments expand on last year’s changes that covered urban firefighters. will mean that wildfire fighters, fire investigators and firefighters working for First Nations and other indigenous organizations will gain easier access to workers’ compensation and support services for cancer, heart disease and mental health disorders that can arise from work conditions. The changes recognize that these particular occupations are more likely to suffer certain physical and mental health conditions and diseases. When diagnosed with one of these conditions and applying for workers’ compensation, there will no longer be a need to prove that it is work-related. The amendments expand on last year’s changes that covered urban firefighters.
Zero Emission Vehicles Act
The legislation will require all new light-duty vehicles to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040. This target will be met using a phased-in approach, with 10% of new light-duty vehicle sales by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
Ticket Sales Act
In 2018 government launched a public survey on the ticket buying selling process and from their responses people told us loud and clear that they were frustrated and open to changes. Simply put, fans want to be able to get tickets to live entertainment events without resorting to tickets sold on the secondary market at highly inflated prices.
By eliminating ticket bots and mass-buying software, the new Ticket Sales Act will provide more consumer protections and fairer processes for people for when they buy tickets for events, online or at the ticket booth.
The ticket sales act, if passed, will require: clear and prominent disclosure of prices; refund guarantees by secondary sellers and secondary ticketing platform operators; disclosure of key terms and conditions by primary and secondary sellers; ticket resellers to disclose they are secondary sellers; prohibition of the sale of speculative tickets that the seller does not possess or control; and the ability for civil action to be taken by consumers or ticket selling businesses if they feel they have suffered losses as the result of a contravention of the legislation.
Financial Services Authority Act
To make sure that B.C.’s financial services regulator is modern, effective and efficient the B.C. government is establishing a new independent Crown agency, the BC Financial Services Authority, to regulate credit unions, insurance and trust companies, pensions and mortgage brokers. Modernizing this key provincial regulator aligns B.C. with international best practices, brings it in line with other B.C. regulators and helps support a strong, sustainable economy. The new BC Financial Services Authority is anticipated to launch later this year.
Community Safety Act
We’re giving neighbours of nuisance properties, like drug labs and those commonly linked to gun and gang activity, a safe and timely solution that holds owners accountable when dangerous and threatening activities regularly occur on their properties. The CSA will allow anyone to submit a confidential complaint about a nuisance property to a provincial government unit, and, as appropriate, this unit will investigate and collaborate with property owners and take escalating steps—up to ending tenancy agreements or closing a property for up to 90 days—enhancing public safety by forcing landlords to deal with chronic, illegal and dangerous behaviour on their properties. Specified nuisance or criminal activities include drug production and trafficking, possession of illegal firearms or explosives, after-hours sales of liquor, providing liquor or drugs to minors. People living near crack shacks and other dangerous nuisance properties have been waiting more than half a decade for this law to help them and the modernized CSA will address the current realities of organized crime in B.C., while ensuring fairness and efficiency.
Coastal Ferry Act amendments
– British Columbians deserve a ferry model that puts people first and prioritizes public interest in the decision making process. This will be a requirement for the BC Ferries Commissioner when making decisions and regulating ferry services.
– The Commissioner will able be explicitly required to consider the Province’s greenhouse gas emission targets to further this important public policy objective.
– Other key features of this Bill include increasing the number of BC Ferry Authority directors appointed by government from two to four to bring a greater public interest perspective to the role of BC Ferries’ shareholders and requiring the BC Ferry Authority to set term limits when appointing directors to the BC Ferry Services Board to improve the oversight of BC Ferries.
This Bill also intends to facilitate the participation of consumer advocates in BC Ferry Commissioner’s regulatory processes to consider the needs of people in the review of ferry services and will expand the definition of ‘executive’ at BC Ferries to include ‘vice presidents’ to provide greater transparency and oversight of executive compensation.
Business Corporations Act amendments
To crack down on tax evasion and money laundering, private companies will now be required to hold accurate and up-to-date information about the true owners of their shares. The private company’s transparency register must include registered owners, beneficial owners, and owners that have indirect control (such as through an intermediary corporation). Tax authorities, police and certain regulators will be able to access a private company’s transparency register as part of their work to crack down on white collar crime. This is part of the B.C. government’s work to end hidden ownership as part of its 30-point housing plan.
Land Owner Transparency Act
The new Land Owner Transparency Act will establish a public registry of beneficial owners of property in B.C., meaning true ownership of real estate will no longer be hidden. The Act will require corporations, trusts and partnerships that currently own land or that buy land to disclose their beneficial owners in the registry. Information on beneficial owners, including names and citizenship, will be publicly searchable through the registry. The registry will also help tax authorities and law enforcement crack down on tax evasion, tax fraud and money laundering. This is part of the B.C. government’s 30-point plan to improve housing affordability for people.
Information Management Act amendments
Decisions made by government staff impact the lives of people throughout the province. With these changes, British Columbia becomes the first province to legislate how government decisions must be documented. The amendments also contain additional transparency and accountability enhancements. B.C.’s Chief Records Officer now has the necessary powers to review and evaluate ministries and government bodies for their compliance with the legislation.
Energy Statutes Amendment Act
For too long, the BCUC was shut out of important decisions related to BC Hydro’s business at the expense of ratepayers. The best way to keep BC Hydro on the right financial path, while protecting the interests of customers is to enhance BCUC’s independent oversight of the Crown corporation. Amendments to the Clean Energy Act, the Utilities Commission Act and the Hydro Power and Authority Act will help keep rates affordable, clarify the responsibilities of the BCUC and protect taxpayers from the implications of past policy decisions. The amendments include changes that ensure that the BCUC, not government, reviews and approves BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan – BC Hydro’s 20-year projection of electricity demand and its plans for meeting that demand.
The legislative amendments are in addition to regulatory changes already implemented as part of the BC Hydro review to roll back past government directions that have restricted BCUC oversight.
Forest and Range Practices Act amendments
Changes will support the health and sustainability of B.C.’s forests and range lands while restoring public confidence in how these vital resources are managed. The changes include creating more frequent and reliable opportunities for public input, improving information sharing in forest planning, strengthening the minister’s ability to manage forest activity, expanding the definition of wildlife in the Act to help protect at-risk species, and improving and streamlining range use planning. These initial changes respond to feedback and analyses received over the last decade from First Nations, the Forest Practices Board, the forest industry, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, and other resource groups. Public engagement will be launched in Spring 2019 on more substantive changes in future years.
Medicare Protection Amendment Act
The act removes the sections of the Medicare Protection Act related to MSP premiums and premium assistance, meaning MSP beneficiaries are not required to pay any new premiums after Jan. 1, 2020. This legislation also amends provisions that give power to the Medical Services Commission. The changes mean the commission will no longer set and collect premiums after Jan. 1, 2020, but will continue with its other MSP responsibilities, including enrolling eligible residents in MSP and collecting unpaid premiums from previous billing cycles.
Protected Areas of British Columbia Act amendments
The proposed additions are the result of private land acquisitions, either through purchase or donation, and include:
– 29 hectares to Bridge Lake Provincial Park in the Cariboo region;
– 2.5 hectares to Harmony Islands Marine Provincial Park along the Sunshine Coast;
– 17 hectares to Kikomun Creek Provincial Park in the Kootenays;
– 19 hectares to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in the Okanagan;
– Four hectares to Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park in the Kootenays; and
– 35 hectares to Syringa Provincial Park near Castlegar.
The amendments will also replace boundary descriptions with official plans for two ecological reserves (Gilnockie Creek and Trout Creek) and three Class A parks (Conkle Lake, Jewel Lake and Johnstone Creek). Official plans provide a clearer description of where the parks or protected area boundaries are located, leading to less chance of unintentional trespassing.
Photo credit: Iain Robert Reid
Income Tax Amendment Act, 2019
This legislation brings together the final fiscal elements of the policy framework for natural gas development in B.C. – bringing long-term benefits to the province, securing thousands of well-paying jobs for British Columbians and working to uphold strong environmental protections. Once implemented, this legislation will deliver the fiscal setting needed for LNG Canada’s proposed $40-billion project in northern British Columbia – the largest private-sector investment in B.C.’s history. It is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and up to 950 permanent jobs in the Kitimat processing terminal. Additionally, this project is on track to be the cleanest of its kind in the world, meaning it will fit within the greenhouse gas reduction targets of government’s CleanBC climate action plan.
Heritage Conservation Act amendments
The Heritage Conservation Act has not been updated in over 20 years. The proposed changes will increase the effectiveness of the legislation in protecting heritage and archeological sites and objects. Under the proposed changes the ministry will have enhanced powers to refuse, amend, suspend and cancel permits, compliance and enforcement tools will be improved and people will be legally required to report discoveries of specified sites or objects with potential heritage value. A person may be required to obtain and pay for a heritage inspection or investigation prior to obtaining a permit to alter a heritage site in some circumstances. For example, if a person wants to alter a site to develop land, but there is little or no information about the site, they may be required to complete archeological studies to gather required information.
Attorney General Statutes Amendment Act
Changes to the Wills, Estates and Succession Act will support families by providing more flexibility in administering estates and clarifying the rules around beneficiaries who cannot be located. The amendments were developed from recommendations and suggestions from users of the Act.
Proposed amendments to the Family Law Act will add the statutory authority needed to implement planned reforms to the provincial court family rules to improve family court processes and provide better access and outcomes for families who need assistance in resolving family law matters.
Consumer Financial Protection Action Plan
Building on phase one, where tougher rules on payday loans and cheque-cashing fees were introduced, further protections and safeguards are now being implemented to ensure British Columbians who use high-cost credit products are better informed about borrowing money. The second phase of the Consumer Financial Protection Action Plan will create borrowers’ rights, set limits on the cost of bowing, prohibit certain fees and charges, require proper licensing for businesses, and improve transparency to ensure better understanding of the loans and fees. This will further enhance consumer financial education throughout the province. These regulations will help educate people and ensure that those who have no other choice but to seek high-cost loans will be protected.
Witness Security Act
Most organized crime cases in B.C. hinge on testimony from an accused person’s former accomplices and informants. However, the application process for the federal program can lead to delays and stringent program requirements can cause low witness retention. These complications compromise B.C. prosecutions and frustrate investigating police agencies that have often worked for months to secure witness testimony. The proposed witness security act will establish a provincial program dedicated to securely managing witnesses and co-operating co-accused, complementing the existing federal program and facilitating treatment services for mental health challenges and addictions, name and identity changes, and job training. The act was developed to address the uniqueness of crime here in B.C. and will provide extra capacity to the police and Crown, which until now, have had to rely solely on the federal witness protection program.
2018 Fall sitting of the Legislature
Gaming Control Act
The proposed amendments will empower the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to independently issue directives to the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) without ministerial approval, which allows the regulator to be more responsive in its role to protect the integrity of gambling in the province. The changes are intended to keep people who may have ties to organized crime out of casinos by giving GPEB the authority to ban them and will give new enforcement tools to GPEB to ensure compliance with reporting requirements for all industry participants, including BCLC.
Passenger Transportation Amendment Act
The purpose of the Passenger Transportation Amendment Act is to modernize the legislative framework for passenger-directed vehicles (vehicles for hire, such as taxis) and prepare for the entry of app-based ride-hailing services.
Health Sector Statues Repeal Act
The proposed Health Sector Statues Repeal Act would rescind two existing acts –Bill 29 and Bill 94, 2003, in their entirety. Repealing bills 29 and 94 will improve job security and stability by strengthening the uncertain employment conditions workers have faced for years. In doing so, government will be better able to recruit and retain the skilled health-care professionals needed to support better continuity in patient care. These statutes stripped affected employees of the workplace protections and rights available to other workers in B.C. and paved the way for years of privatization, contracting out and layoffs.
Environmental Assessment Act
British Columbians can have renewed confidence in a revitalized environmental assessment (EA) process for major projects proposed in B.C. The new Act enhances public engagement including additional comment periods and earlier collaboration between the Environmental Assessment Office and local communities, coupled with funding to support public participation. The Act will result in an EA process that delivers timely, evidence-based decisions and reflects government’s commitment to reconciliation and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous participation in the assessment has been greatly enhanced with consensus-seeking throughout the process that increases the certainty and efficiency of the process for all EA participants, including proponents of major projects. The potential positive and adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural and health effects will be more fully assessed, including greenhouse gas emissions and the consideration of vulnerable populations, and require their consideration in decisions made by Ministers. Compliance and enforcement for approved projects will also be strengthened, along with audits, to make sure conditions included in EA certificates are mitigating identified adverse effects as intended. For detailed information on environmental assessment revitalization, see the Environmental Assessment Office’s website: www.gov.bc.ca/eao/revitalization
Agricultural Land Commission Act
British Columbia’s best agricultural land will be better protected against current pressures like mega mansions and illegal fill under this new legislation. The Agricultural Land Commission Act will restore one zone for the entire ALR, in order to restore a fair experience for all farmers and ranchers producing on ALR land regardless of where they reside in B.C. The Act will also limit any new house sizes on ALR land to less than 500m2, in order to discourage speculative buyers, and to reign in the price of farmland within the ALR. The act will also feature the creation of new rules that crack down on the dumping of illegal fill like broken glass, drywall and construction waste that has impacted and eroded quality agrarian land around the province.
Human Rights Code Amendment Act
B.C.’s former commission was dismantled in 2002, leaving our province as the only one in Canada to not have such a body. The Act will re-establish a commission and will enable an all-party committee to select a commissioner, who will then be subject to approval by the Legislative Assembly. The commissioner will have the key functions of educating British Columbians on human rights as well as examining and addressing issues of discrimination, and will have the mandate to develop educational tools, policies and guidelines to promote human rights and combat widespread patterns of inequality and discrimination in society. The proposed legislation follows an eight-week public engagement conducted in fall 2017 that asked British Columbians what they want most from a human rights commission. Parliamentary Secretary of Sport and Multiculturalism Ravi Kahlon led the extensive consultation, culminating in the December 2017 report, “A Human Rights Commission for the 21st Century: British Columbians Talk About Human Rights.”
Recall and Initiative Act
The proposed changes to the Recall and Initiative Act will ban corporate and union contributions; limit individual British Columbians to contributing $1,200 per year to a petition proponent, a member of the legislative assembly (MLA) subject to a petition, or to any one third-party advertising sponsor; and creating a spending limit of $5,000 for third-party advertisers during a recall petition period. The $1,200 annual limit will apply to political contributions made to the MLA, the MLA’s political party or constituency association during an election. This means that individuals cannot give more than $1,200 annually for any combination of recall and political contributions.
Lobbyists Registration Act
The proposed changes to the Lobbyist Registration Act increase the lobbying information available to the public to include details about those who will benefit directly from the lobbying effort, as well as protect those being lobbied from being placed in a conflict of interest with new rules about gifts and the reporting of political contributions. The changes also promote compliance and strengthen enforcement and will significantly improve the accuracy of the lobbyist registry. The amendments build on changes introduced last fall that implemented a two-year cooling-off period during which insiders cannot engage in lobbying.
Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act
The Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act will establish a requirement for foreign worker recruiters to be licenced, and for employers who recruit and hire temporary foreign workers to be registered with the Province. The legislation will increase provincial oversight and establish criteria for issuing, refusing, suspending or cancelling a license or registration of those recruiters and employers utilizing temporary foreign workers. Recruiters and employers that violate the legislation could lose their license or registration, and they will be subject to financial penalties and possibly jail time. The proposed legislation will permit government to recover, and return to workers, fees charged illegally to workers by recruiters to get jobs including where the fees are charged in other jurisdiction for work in B.C. The legislation will also establish a number of obligations on foreign worker recruiters and employers. By creating two registries, the provincial government will be able to hold foreign worker recruiters and employers accountable for their actions and bring in other ministries and agencies as needed when there is health, housing or other violations of B.C laws.
Parking Rights Tax
The investments in the Mayors’ Council Ten-Year Vision are essential for people throughout the region, especially as Metro Vancouver is expecting over 1 million more residents in the next 25 years. It is important that we get moving on transit projects in Phase Two of the Vision, which is why we are doing things differently and working with the region to come up with its share of the funding. TransLink’s Phase Two investment plan forecasts approximately $10 million a year in new revenue from increases in the Parking Rights Tax. These funds will be part of the region’s share of financing Phase Two transit improvements that support expanded transportation and commuting options throughout Metro Vancouver.
Professional Governance Act
The Professional Governance Act makes several changes to how natural resource professions are governed in order to ensure best practices for professional governance are implemented. The Office of the Superintendent of Professional Governance will be established to ensure accountability, transparency, and the highest levels of professionalism are achieved consistently across professions. The proposed legislation, if approved, will bring government oversight of five QP regulators under the Office and set consistent governance standards across the professions. The proposed Office will have the mandate and authority to ensure professional regulators are acting in the public interest in their oversight of professionals.
Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act
The Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act will help address the housing crisis in B.C. and help make life more affordable for people. By levying the highest tax rate on foreign owners and satellite families, the new tax targets those with limited social and economic ties to the province. Ensuring the majority of B.C. homeowners will not pay the tax.
Employer Health Tax Act
For years, people in B.C. have had to pay increasingly expensive and unfair medical premiums. The Employer Health Tax (EHT) will replace regressive Medical Service Plan (MSP) premiums. Eliminating MSP premiums will save individuals up to $900 per year, and families up to $1,800 per year. Exemption amounts have been set so that the majority of small businesses and non-profits won’t pay the EHT.
Assessment Amendment Act
The Assessment Amendment Act, 2018 protects community-sustaining jobs and supports local economies through changes to how BC Assessment values major industrial properties (Class 4 under the Assessment Act). Major industry creates prosperity throughout the province, whether in lumber and pulp mills, mines and smelters, large product manufacturers or other similar operations. These changes will affect the valuation for properties where the value of active industrial facilities are affected by an official community plan change.
Poverty Reduction Strategy Act
Too many British Columbians live in poverty, and as of 2016, there were 557,000 people in B.C. struggling to get by — 99,000 of those were children.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy Act commits government to reducing B.C.’s overall poverty rate by 25% and child poverty rate by 50% over the next five years. The Act ensures that government is held accountable through annual progress reports and requires that the Strategy focuses on key issues faced by people living in poverty including housing, education, employment, income supports and social inclusion. It also requires the establishment of an independent advisory committee that will represent the breadth and depth of personal and professional experiences of poverty in B.C.
This legislation is shaped by the experiences and voices of more than 8,500 people who took part in a broad public engagement on poverty from Nov. 2017 – Mar. 2018.
Electoral Reform Referendum 2018 Amendment Act
It will be up to British Columbians to decide whether to change our province’s voting system—and it should also be up to British Columbians to decide whether to keep a new voting system after they’ve tried it. By legislating a confirming referendum after two general election cycles, our government is giving voters the option to revert to the previous voting system after an opportunity to actually experience both systems. The amendments also require the second referendum to be held within 13 months of the second general election in which the proportional representation system is used. This precise timeframe provides certainty for voters as to when the second referendum would be held, rather than leaving the timing open-ended.
2018 Spring sitting of the Legislature
Protection of Public Participation Act
British Columbians’ right to freely participate in debating matters of public interest – without fear of facing unfair litigation and associated costs – will be better protected under this new legislation. The Protection of Public Participation Act will safeguard people from strategic lawsuits against public participation that limit or prevent the expression of individuals’ or groups’ points of view on matters of public interest. A key feature is an expedited process by which a defendant may apply to the court to dismiss a lawsuit on the basis that it impinges on the defendant’s ability to speak freely on a matter of public interest. If the court so determined, it would dismiss the lawsuit, unless the plaintiff could satisfy the court that the harm the plaintiff likely would suffer as a result of that free speech would outweigh the public interest in protecting it. The act would further protect public participation by allowing the court to fully indemnify defendants for costs.
Climate Change Accountability Act
The Climate Change Accountability Act will be the foundation of a renewed climate action strategy, expected in fall 2018, to be developed in consultation with the public and the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions will lead to new jobs and a more sustainable economy for the future, as well as making life more affordable for British Columbians now.
Amendments to the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act
The renaming of these parks to traditional Indigenous names, as rooted in history, reflect the significant heritage values recognized by all British Columbians and beyond. Other proposed amendments continue work the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy does on an annual basis; namely adding and removing lands from parks and conservancies, improving boundary descriptions and correcting errors. These amendments protect park land for all British Columbians
The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Amendment Act
The Mayors’ Council 10-Year Vision for improved transportation in Metro Vancouver will provide much-needed transit, road, cycling and pedestrian improvements throughout the region. The Province is committed to funding 40% of the capital costs of the 10-Year Vision, and to helping the region to come up with its share of the funding through a number of measures.
As part of this support, the Province has introduced the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Amendment Act to act on one of the Mayors’ priority requests – providing the authority to TransLink to levy a development cost charge on new construction in the region.
With this authority, TransLink is better positioned to deliver the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision, which will bring major service and capacity upgrades to Metro Vancouver’s public transportation network so people can spend less time in traffic, and more time with their friends and family.
Motor Vehicle Act
Motor Vehicle Act (enhanced penalties for drug-affected driving):
Motor Vehicle Act amendments will address concerns about the effects on road safety of Canada’s legalization of non-medical cannabis. The first phase of related amendments will create a zero-tolerance restriction for the presence of a prescribed drug, THC (the active ingredient in cannabis), for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program. As well, the changes provide grounds for police to serve a 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition on a drug-affected driver.
Motor Vehicle Act (ISC program expansion):
Minor changes to the Motor Vehicle Act will support the expansion of B.C.’s Intersection Safety Camera (ISC) program. As announced March 8, 2018, the program, which currently tickets vehicles that run red lights at ISC-enabled intersections, will expand to identify and ticket the registered owners of vehicles that speed through certain ISC-enabled intersections where a high number of speed-related crashes occur.
Cannabis Control and Licensing Act
To ensure the Province is prepared for the federal legalization of non-medical cannabis, the proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail.
The Act also outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and prohibitions for minors. In addition, the Act includes an extensive compliance and enforcement regime to ensure legalization of non-medical cannabis prioritizes public health and safety.
Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)
To ensure the Province is prepared for the federal legalization of non-medical cannabis, the proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the Province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis and provide authority for public retail sales.
The Province has decided that the Liquor Distribution Branch will be the wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in B.C. and will run provincial cannabis retail stores. The CDA will establish:
• A public wholesale distribution monopoly; and
• Public (government-run) retail sales, both in stores and online.
The Voluntary Blood Donations Act
There are no paid plasma collection clinics operating in B.C. and the Voluntary Blood Donations Act is meant to prevent such operations from being established by making it illegal to pay, offer to pay, or advertise that they will pay someone for blood or plasma illegal. This is like legislation in Alberta, Ontario and Québec.
Currently in Canada, there are private for-profit organizations paying individuals for plasma and then selling that plasma on the global market. By preventing these businesses from operating in B.C., it makes sure that blood and plasma collected in B.C. stays as part of the national supply system run by Canadian Blood Services (CBS). As the national blood and plasma supplier, CBS is exempt from the legislation as are the provincial government and medical researchers.
Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Act
Families from across the province are suffering the profound grief of losing a child, a husband, a friend, to a poisoned illegal drug supply. Police have asked for more control and monitoring of who has use of pill presses. The Pill Press and Related Equipment Control Act will help police get counterfeit pills off the streets and disrupt the activities of drug traffickers. This initiative is part of a broader scheme of initiatives intended to support and enhance the ability of law enforcement to address the fentanyl crisis.
Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act
Indigenous children, like all children, deserve to grow up in safe, loving homes, connected to their community and culture. Amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act will reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child-welfare system by working with Indigenous communities as we move towards meaningful and lasting Reconciliation. The changes to the Act are one of many ways we are listening to, and working with, the Indigenous communities to reform the child-welfare system.
Bill 18, Local Government Statutes Amendment Act (Housing Needs Reports)
As the B.C. government works to increase the affordability and availability of housing in British Columbia, we know that making good decisions about our housing needs starts with having good information.
The Local Government Statutes Amendment Act requires B.C.’s 189 local governments to collect information about the housing needs of people living in their communities. Supported by funding from the B.C. government, municipalities will prepare housing needs data reports every five years. Ultimately, this will help deliver the types of housing that British Columbians need.
Bill 23, Local Government Statutes Amendment Act, (Residential Rental Tenure Zoning)
Finding and keeping an affordable place to rent is a challenge for too many people in British Columbia where we currently have extremely low vacancy rates.
The Local Government Statutes Amendment Act will give local governments the authority to limit the allowable use of land to rental housing through a new rental zoning tool. The new zoning authority will also allow local governments to ensure existing rentals cannot be redeveloped for a non-rental use.
Amendments to the Real Estate Development Marketing Act
Right now, it is too easy for people to resell pre-sale condo contracts without reporting their capital gains. To close this loophole our government is taking action to require developers to collect and report information on their pre-sale condo contract assignments.
By tracking contract assignments we will be able to make sure people are paying their fair share of taxes. This is one part of our government’s 30-Point Housing Plan.
Bill 12 – Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act
For owners of manufactured homes, the Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act increases the minimum compensation to $20,000 for those forced to leave a manufactured home park that is closing, and allows for tenants to receive compensation for the full cost of their homes if they cannot be moved. It also removes the burden of disposal costs from manufactured home owners for homes that cannot be moved, and increases compensation for tenants who are asked to move in bad faith.
For renters, the Tenancy Statutes Amendment Act increases the minimum notice for eviction due to renovations and demolitions from 2 to 4 months, doubles the amount of time tenants have to dispute a notice to 30 days, and increases penalties to 12 months of rent for landlords who evict in bad faith. It also gives tenants the right to return to their unit at market rental rates in new and renovated homes in multi-unit buildings.
Enforcing the Medicare Protection Amendment Act
Medical Services Plan (MSP) pays for medically required services provided to British Columbians, and the Medicare Protection Act sets rules surrounding the billing for services provided by physicians and certain other health-care practitioners who are enrolled in the plan.
Enforcing the Medicare Protection Amendment Act does not stop the current practice of health authorities partnering with private providers or private clinics, as long as the services are publicly funded, and patients are not required to pay out of pocket. As well, these changes do not prevent patients from choosing to pay for services, such as cosmetic procedures, that are not medically necessary MSP benefits.
Employment Standards Act amendments
No one should face the loss of their job because they are mourning the death of a child or caring for their terminally ill parent.
New parents will have the option to take a longer unpaid parental leave to care for their new child — up to 18 months of leave for birth parents — without worrying about losing their jobs.
These changes will also allow a mother to start their pregnancy leave, also known as maternity leave, as early as 13 weeks before the expected birth date, up from the current 11 weeks.
Currently, there is no provision in BC for parents to take a leave from work in the event their child under 19 goes missing. These changes will give parents of children who go missing because of a crime access to a new unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 52 weeks.
Parents will also be able to access to up to 104 weeks of leave if one of their children under age 19 dies under any circumstances. The current standard of 3 days of unpaid ‘bereavement’ leave forces many parents to return to work before they are ready.
Further, the amendments to compassionate care leave will more than triple the length of leave, from eight weeks to 27 weeks, available to an employee to care for a family member who is terminally ill.
Workers Compensation Amendment Act
The Workers Compensation Act gives all workers access to compensation for mental health issues caused by their work, including PTSD. However, it currently requires medical and/or scientific evidence to be provided to establish that their condition arose directly from their employment.
These changes are a first step towards providing more support to workers who are first on the scene at challenging and sometimes dangerous and traumatic situations. Government will consider, over time, expanding presumptions to other types of workers who experience traumatic events at work, as well as continuing to focus on overall workplace safety.
The amendments will also expand existing cancer presumptions to federal firefighters employed on military bases. Federal firefighters currently qualify for the heart disease and injury presumptions, but the cancer presumptions have been limited to local government firefighters. This change recognizes that firefighters from military bases may also be exposed to dangerous substances during structural fires, and frequently assist municipalities at off-base incidents.
Amendments to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act
Information on care facilities can be difficult to find, and a family may not know if there have been any substantiated investigations or complaints about the location or operator.
Information available will include summaries of inspection reports, as well as summaries of substantiated complaints. The act also oversees the registration of assisted living residences, such as homes for adults, which offer some support with day-to-day needs, while allowing people to retain their independence.
Bill 15, the Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Statutes Amendment Act
Amendments will improve the restoration of orphan wells in British Columbia and better protect the province’s land and water. A key aspect of Bill 15 includes the introduction of a levy to support B.C.’s Orphan Site Reclamation Fund – an industry-funded program that addresses the cost of restoration and environmental clean-up.
Amendments to the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP)
The first amendment will allow ICBC to cancel the driver’s licence of a person with substantial arrears, creating the possibility of immediate consequences for non-payment. Currently, FMEP can instruct ICBC to refuse to issue or renew a driver’s licence only at the time of renewal.
The second amendment, if approved by the legislature, will replace a requirement to file the entirety of an order or agreement related to child or spousal support in the Land Titles Registry, with a simplified requirement to submit pertinent information only. This change will streamline processes and help prevent the unnecessary public disclosure of sensitive information.
Amendments to the Securities Act
The Securities Act amendments will enable the investment industry, under the authority of the British Columbia Securities Commission, and other members of the Canadian Securities Administrators to hold wrongdoers accountable and provide British Columbians with greater confidence to invest.
The amendments to the Securities Act will give IIROC and the MFDA the ability to file decisions directly with a court of law. Filing in court means that they will be able to pursue outstanding fines, and order a person to comply with decisions, made by these national self-regulatory organizations.
Public Service Act amendments
While just-cause dismissals are not common in the public service, we want to ensure that when they do occur, there are checks and balances in place.
Changes to the Public Service Act will expand the role of the Office of the Merit Commissioner to include:
• Conducting independent reviews of public-service just-cause termination processes to ensure adherence to government standards
• Identifying any systemic issues
• Publicly reporting the aggregate results of these reviews and, where necessary, providing recommendations to strengthen just-cause termination processes.
Amendments to the Health Professions Act
In recent years, the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC, College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC and College of Registered Nurses of B.C. have been working together on nursing regulations and standards, and have become more aligned in their efforts. This legislation lets them take the next step and amalgamate.
International Commercial Arbitration Amendment Act (ICAA)
The International Commercial Arbitration Amendments will improve access to justice, attract international arbitration proceedings and encourage economic benefits associated with increased hearings and conferences. This legislation will help position Vancouver as an ideal location to host international commercial arbitration proceedings. The amendments would also bolster Vancouver’s competitiveness in bidding on an opportunity to host the 2022 International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress.