News release

Omnibus Bill Introduced

Justice Minister Michael Baker today introduced amendments that will help streamline the province's justice system. The Justice Administration Amendment (2002) Act includes changes to the way in which tenants settle disputes with landlords and how various fines are levied in the province.

Landlord/tenant appeals, including those for commercial tenancies, will be adjudicated through the Small Claims Court. Residential tenancies boards will be phased out. Residential tenancies officers will still be able to mediate disputes, hold hearings and issue orders. Appeals will be heard in Small Claims Court. The changes will be made through an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act.

"The changes will bring consistency to the appeals process and will ensure that legally trained adjudicators hear these matters," said Mr. Baker. "The mediation process is in place and there are always opportunities to resolve disputes independently."

The way fines are levied in the province will also change. Currently, fines for provincial offences are stated in each statute. This has created a lack of consistency. With amendments to the Summary Proceedings and Motor Vehicle acts, categories of offences will be created and will carry appropriate fines.

The changes in this bill mean the penalty provisions for motor vehicle offences will be contained in the Summary Proceedings Act

  • providing uniformity and a more user-friendly system. For example, a seat-belt violation is a Category B offence which carries a fine of not less than $50 for a first offence, not less than $100 for the second offence and not less than $200 for the third or subsequent offence. Eventually, all provincial offences will follow this approach as legislation is further amended.

The Small Claims Court Act is being amended to expand the jurisdiction of the court to $15,000 from $10,000, providing an affordable, accessible means for the settlement of disputes.

The Juries Act is also amended to disqualify MLAs from serving as jurors and to remove the two-month time frame specified for the creation of the jury panel list.

The subdivision approval requirements for phased-development condominiums will be clarified through amendments to the Condominium Act.

Changes to the Trustee Act will provide clearer guidelines for trustees to follow when investing trust property and greater protection from liability for a loss as long as a reasonable and prudent investment plan was followed.

There are also minor amendments to the Justices of the Peace Act, which clarifies that only administrative justices of the peace report to the chief judge of the Provincial Court. An error in referring to the Supreme Court (Family Division) is corrected.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Justice Minister Michael Baker today brought forward a bill that results in changes to several statutes.

The changes include how fines are levied and how disputes are settled between landlords and tenants.

The amendments will mean that landlord/tenant appeals will now be heard in Small Claims Court.

Also, the fine provisions for motor vehicle act offences will be consolidated under one statute and will now be found in the Summary Proceedings Act.

Mr. Baker says the new legislation will help streamline the provincial justice system.

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Contact:

Michele McKinnon
Department of Justice 902-424-6811 E-mail:
kjd            April 12, 2002      9:34 A.M.