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The New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton. Image: Brad Perry

A Look At The 24 New Bills That Are Now Law

By Brad Perry Dec 19, 2022 | 4:08 PM

Two dozen bills introduced and passed in the provincial legislature this fall have officially become law.

All of the bills received royal assent on Friday before New Brunswick MLAs adjourned for the holidays.

While most of the bills were brought forward by the Higgs government, a private member’s bill introduced by the Liberals was among those included.

Here is a look at some of the 24 bills which received Royal Assent.

Changes to the Public Sector Labour Relations Act

Labour leaders said this controversial bill, brought forward in late November, will weaken rights for public service employees during labour disputes.

The bill makes several amendments to the province’s Public Service Labour Relations Act which unions say unfairly favour the government.

Among the changes included in Bill 23, public sector employers are able to use so-called “scab” workers during a strike or lockout to replace designated essential workers who are absent.

Unions now have to give a 72-hour strike notice while lockouts by the employer require 24 hours notice. Before now, no notice was required by either side.

The amendments also update what an arbitrator must consider if both the union and employer agree to binding arbitration.

Province introduces Missing Persons Act

The bill makes it easier for police to access a missing person’s phone records if their disappearance is not considered criminal.

Officers are now able to request information contained in a person’s records through the courts. That includes “records related to signals from a wireless device that may indicate the location of the device.”

Other information that could be requested includes cell phone records, all forms of instant messaging, and GPS tracking records.

Previously, law enforcement agencies could not compel individuals or organizations to hand over personal information about a missing person unless there was reason to suspect a crime had been committed.

Regulator has more flexibility in setting petroleum prices

The New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board now has more discretion when it comes to setting petroleum product prices.

Energy Minister Mike Holland previously said that existing legislation has been less effective in the current market and makes New Brunswick appear out of step with neighbouring provinces.

“When it comes to fuel prices, New Brunswickers have faced a great deal of uncertainty since the beginning of 2022,” he said in November.

“Due to a series of global events, market prices have experienced unprecedented volatility, resulting in a record number of interruptions in gasoline, diesel and heating oil prices.”

Holland said regulating petroleum products is becoming more difficult and the strict formula used in the past is no longer an option.

The amendments, he said, also make New Brunswick’s regulated price framework similar to our neighbours in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

More flexibility for Residential Tenancies Tribunal

Service New Brunswick Minister Jill Green announced two new protections in November which she said will help protect tenants from excessive rent increases.

Tenants now have 60 days instead of 30 days to apply for a review through the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

In addition, the Tribunal can now phase in approved rent increases over two or three years if they exceed inflation. Landlords are not able to seek another rent increase during that time.

The new measures were introduced as the province announced it has no plans to extend the current rent cap, which expires on Dec. 31.

“If we find that without the cap in place that tenants are having problems or are becoming vulnerable, we will put programs in place to help them,” said Green.

Intimate Partner Violence

New Brunswickers at risk of domestic abuse can now apply for info from police to learn whether their partner has a history of intimate partner violence.

Police have also been given the authority to share information with a person who may be at risk to encourage them to apply for disclosure.

Applicants will be provided with a risk assessment and contextual information, but will not be given details of criminal convictions or similar information. The assessment will be provided verbally and no documents will be issued.

Those who receive disclosure will not be allowed to share or publish the information, and the subject of the request will not be informed about any applications that have been made.

Applicants can also be offered and referred to programs and support services to ensure they have the help they need.

More control for New Brunswick Museum board

The New Brunswick Museum board now has more control over the design and construction of its new home.

Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace said empowering the museum’s board of directors ensures the new facility meets the institution’s needs and opens more opportunities for the public to participate.

“It’s the proper place for this project to be in the hands of the board members and the community which has so much interest in this project happening in the city,” said Scott-Wallace in November.

The museum’s exhibition centre located in Market Square in Saint John recently closed its doors for good.

An interim centre being prepared on Lancaster Avenue to house the museum’s collections and research activities while a permanent facility is constructed will open by appointment next year.

Scott-Wallace said a functional plan for the museum has been developed over the past year.

“The board will take from that. They will have their conversations and most likely hire a project manager. They will come to the government with their proposal,” she said, noting the board has “a couple of options before them.”

Once the board comes back with a proposal, Scott-Wallace said the government will take the next step to secure provincial and federal dollars to “make it happen.”

Amendments to address catalytic converter theft

New Brunswick introduced amendments to the Salvage Dealers Licensing Act aimed at cracking down on the increase in catalytic converter thefts from vehicles.

Salvage dealers are no longer able to pay cash for commonly stolen items, such as catalytic converters, vehicle batteries and copper wire.

They are also required to collect additional info for those items they buy, including a government-issued ID of the seller, and the registration information of the car from which a catalytic converter originated.

“We have modeled these changes after what is working in other Canadian jurisdictions,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin in October.

“We know we can’t stop every theft, but we can make it harder for criminals to sell these stolen goods.”

Legislation to support private woodlot owners

New Brunswick also passed legislation aimed at providing more support to private woodlot owners in the province.

The changes allow for additional royalties to be collected to add to the Private Woodlot Sustainability Fund.

According to the province, the fund will be used to bolster efforts to improve the management of private woodlots and contribute to environmental conservation, recreation as well as quality of life.

Rick Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, said this is an excellent step in restoring their optimistic outlook for the future

“It has been difficult for woodlot owners to perceive their future with optimism and confidence as past government initiatives have eroded their ability to do so,” Doucet said in a news release.

The funding is intended to build confidence among private land contractors and expand the long-term supply of fibre for the province’s wood processing facilities.

You can view all of the bills that received royal assent by clicking here.

With files from Allan Dearing, Tamara Steele and Tim Herd


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