Justice and Public Safety
May 31, 2018
Spring Legislative Session Supported Families and Communities with Focus on Health, Education, Public Safety
The legislation brought forward in the spring session of the House of Assembly supports families in the province, strengthens the education system, and also supports the health and safety of the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Through Budget 2018: Building for Our Future, government continued its balanced approach to supporting communities and families throughout the province while helping to create new business and employment opportunities. An emphasis was placed on addressing the province’s economic, social, and fiscal challenges and the budget benefits residents of all ages through investments in health care, healthier living, early childhood development and the K-12 and post-secondary education systems. Highlights include:
- A minimum five per cent reduction in the tax on automobile insurance over four years;
- The advancement of recommendations outlined in the Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes;
- A $619.7 million investment in infrastructure as part of a $2.5 billion five-year plan that will create 5,300 person years of employment annually;
- A new Home Purchase Program to make it easier for new home buyers to purchase their first home; and
- Significant improvements to mental health and addictions services, including the replacement of the Waterford Hospital.
A link to the complete list of the legislation passed during the spring session can be found here. Examples of important legislative initiatives that were advanced include:
- Preparing for one of the most significant policy shifts since Confederation with legislation around the legalization of non-medical cannabis. These include:
- The new Cannabis Control Act, which regulates the sale, purchase, consumption, transportation and use of cannabis, creates a licensing structure for cannabis retailers and sets out offences and penalties; and
- Amendments to Highway Traffic Act to further strengthen impaired driving legislation. The amendments require novice drivers, drivers under age 22 and commercial drivers to maintain a zero blood-drug content, while requirements for all other drivers are consistent with alcohol. Those who choose to drive while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol will face more significant penalties as a result of these amendments. Mothers Against Drunk Driving praised the legislation saying it contains some of the strongest laws in the country.
- Strengthening the Family Violence Protection Act to better support adult victims of domestic violence and their children. Amendments to the act expand the definition of family violence to include emotional, psychological and financial harm to capture situations where family violence involves using words or actions to control, isolate, intimidate or dehumanize someone as well as situations related to financial abuse within the family.
- Ensuring all students, teachers and staff have a positive and safe learning and work environment through an amendment to the Schools Act. The amendment enables the Executive Director/CEO of the school districts to remove a student from school to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff.
- Creating a new Children, Youth and Families Act to promote the safety and well-being of children and youth. The new act is child and youth-centred, family-focused and culturally responsive. Specifically the act improves information sharing; enhances the focus on preserving the family unit; expands permanency options for children and youth in foster care; strengthens service delivery to Indigenous children, youth and their families; identifies and supports youth in need of protection; and develops a licensing regime for out of home placements.
- Addressing the Residential Tenancies Act to modernize the legislation for the benefit of landlords and tenants. Several significant changes include allowing for early termination of rental agreements as a result of domestic violence situations, and the inclusion of boarding houses under the Act. There are also changes to penalties, rental increase notifications, group eviction notices, and the ability to deliver and receive documentation electronically.
- Recognizing the importance of transparency and accountability through an amendment to the Energy Corporation Act. The Provincial Government has taken action to allow for the release of information related to independent contractors working at Nalcor. The amendments ensure that commercially sensitive information under the Energy Corporation Act excludes independent contractors’ names, positions, remuneration, and payments received from Nalcor. Independent contractors will be treated like those of any other Crown corporation or agency with respect to information disclosure and accountability.
Through The Way Forward, we are committed to strengthening the province’s economic foundation, operating a more efficient public sector and delivering better services and better outcomes for residents. The Way Forward outlines all actions the Provincial Government is taking to achieve a strong, diversified province with a high standard of living, and can be viewed at thewayforward.gov.nl.ca.
“As we conclude this busy session of the House of Assembly, I would like to acknowledge the incredible public service employees who play a tremendous role in developing the policies and legislation that gets presented each session. They continuously go above and beyond to support cabinet and members of the House of Assembly as we work through these important pieces of legislation. I would also like to thank the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who are engaged and inform the decisions of our government. The work completed this session supports our government’s vision for the future of Newfoundland and Labrador through a more efficient public sector, a stronger economic foundation, better services, and better outcomes to promote a healthy and prosperous province.”
Honourable Andrew Parsons
Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Attorney General
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment
Government House Leader
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Justice and Public Safety
2018 05 31 5:45 p.m.