Collections Legislation, Elections Act Changes Introduced
SERVICE N.S./MUNICIPAL RELATIONS--Collections Legislation, Elections Act Changes Introduced
Legislation affecting the conduct of collection agencies and the posting of municipal election voters lists was introduced in the Nova Scotia legislature today, Oct. 3.
Amendments to the Collections Agencies Act and the Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act would further protect debtors and provide collection agencies with a code of conduct that will be applied nationwide.
"Our proposed amendments reflect a uniform standard that is accepted by ministers responsible for consumer protection from all of Canada's provinces and territories," said Barry Barnet, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.
"Nova Scotia is the first province to move forward on these harmonization measures," said Mr. Barnet. The Northwest Territories has already passed comparable legislation.
The amendments, if passed, would make the following changes to the Collection Agencies Act:
- collectors would need to give five days written notice before verbally contacting a debtor;
- a debtor could tell a collector that all communication must be in writing;
- collectors could not contact a debtor on a statutory holiday as well as a Sunday; could not contact relatives, neighbours, friends or acquaintances of a debtor except under defined circumstances;
- collectors would be restricted to one contact of a debtor's employer to confirm the debtor's employment, title and business address;
- collectors would not be permitted to contact the debtor at work without the debtor's permission unless the collection agency did not have the debtor's home phone number or address or cannot reach the debtor at home.
"The amendments should help ensure debtors are treated fairly and collection agencies would benefit from having a common set of rules from one end of the country to another," said Mr. Barnet.
The proposed amendments also include a number of measures that would make the act more efficient and effective. These include: -- the registrar would be able to impose a fine on a collector, making it easier for a penalty to reflect the severity of an offence. In the past, the registrar could only suspend or cancel a licence, penalties that may not be suited for minor offences; -- collectors would be required to file an annual trust fund report with the government's registrar; -- collectors would be required to provide a debtor with a written statement of their account, at their request.
"We get a fair number of complaints about collection agencies and we believe that a common nationwide set of rules will benefit debtors and collectors," said Mr. Barnet. "These are reasonable restrictions to situations where often there had been none."
Changes to the Municipal Elections Act will remove the authority of municipalities to post voters lists in public places. "To protect the privacy of voters, this practice had already ended for federal and provincial elections," said Mr. Barnet. "Voters will still be able to confirm that they are on the municipal list by calling their municipality. We've consulted with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and it agrees with this legislation."
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Legislation affecting the posting of municipal election voters' lists and governing the conduct of collection agencies was introduced in the Nova Scotia legislature today (October 3rd).
Amendments to the Collections Agencies Act and the Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act will further protect debtors and provide collection agencies with a nationwide code of conduct.
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister Barry Barnet says the proposed amendments would restrict the contact collectors can have with debtors.
The changes to the Municipal Elections Act would prohibit municipalities from posting voters lists in public places. The federal and provincial governments no longer post voters lists because of privacy concerns about the practice.