Reviewing the Fall Session

By Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park

The busy Fall Session has come to a close, and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight three of the bills that we debated this week.

Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans

The main focus of Bill 30 is to: 1. Better align Alberta‘s standards with the rest of Canada; 2. Modernize workplace standards and practices; and, 3. Improve worker health and safety, providing improved compensation and benefits to injured workers and their families.

The changes in the bill are a direct result of a thorough review of both the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and Workers’ Compensation Act.

This is the first time either act has seen changes in many years - 15 years for the Workers’Compensation Act and, in the case of the OHS Act, the first comprehensive review it has undergone since it came into effect in 1976.

Changes to both acts will ensure our health and safety system is more responsive and better able to prevent injuries from happening, respond to changing hazards, and support a worker’s return to work.

A detailed breakdown of the specific changes to the OHS act can be found at: www.alberta.ca

Bill 31: A Better Deal for Businesses and Consumers Act

Every year, Service Alberta hears concerns from more than 100,000 Albertans through the consumer contact centre (1-877-427-4088; ciu.north@gov.ab.ca). Under Bill 31, ticket bots that allow scalpers to buy tickets in bulk will be banned.

Vehicle sales businesses will be required to disclose vehicle history and use a standard bill of sale, and repair shops will be required to provide written estimates to consumers, upon request, prior to beginning work.

Additionally, the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) will be given greater oversight to better protect the interests of consumers and ensure integrity in the automotive industry.

Consumers accessing highcost credit will be better protected through clearer disclosure and advertising requirements, as well as the use of standard contract forms and the establishment of licensing requirements for high-cost credit lenders.

Bill 31 also requires that all veterinary fees (except those exempted in regulation) are disclosed to the consumer, and that customer approval is received, prior to administering non-emergency veterinary services to household pets and companion animals; and invites veterinarians to advertise their fees, if they choose to do so. The full bill can be found at: www.assembly.ab.ca

Bill 32: An Act to Strengthen and Protect Democracy in Alberta

Bill 32 amends the Elections Act, the first major review it has undergone in 37 years.

Key points of this bill include: restricting the amount of money political action committees (PACs) and third-party advertisers will be allowed to spend during election campaigns; and the creation of a new Election Commissioner.

Bill 32 will also limit the amount of government advertising allowed during elections. It will expand the available options for advance polling stations, including mobile polls at emergency shelters and support centres, post-secondary institutions, work camps, correctional institutions and other public buildings; and increase the voting method options for persons with disabilities to better allow them to exercise their right to vote.

The bill will also allow individuals who have moved to the province and who are contributing to our communities to vote in elections without the previous six-month waiting period.

You will be able to find information on the new requirements as they come into effect at: www.elections.ab.ca

Around town

On Tuesday, I attended the ceremony to mark the first barrel of diesel flowing out of the NorthWest Refinery (NWR). Congratulations to all the staff and contractors who worked hard to complete this project! The economic contributions of NWR are hugely important to our community and to Alberta. I was pleased to see that UFA, an Alberta cooperative, has a contract to use the diesel produced. There are still a large number of workers on-site - the refinery will be fully completed in Spring 2018.

Please consider giving blood as part of your Boxing Day activities.

Canadian Blood Services is especially in need of donors for their Boxing Day Blood drive. If you are eligible to donate - one in two people are - please consider giving the gift of life this Boxing Day, Dec. 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Centre in the Park agora. Go to www.blood.ca to book your appointment.

Tuesday night was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights that is celebrated over eight days with latke and games of dreidel.

I wish everyone a restful time over the Christmas holidays with family and friends. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

First published Dec. 15, 2017, in the Sherwood Park News