Provincial Issues--May-June 2015

New Guide for Property Owners Who Want to Alter Watercourses - June 2, 2015 - A new online guide on altering rivers, streams, lakes and ponds can help property owners and construction and forestry workers follow new rules to protect them.The Guide to Altering Watercourses explains when to call in experts, requirements for work with a higher risk to the environment and how to lessen damage to waterways and aquatic life.Examples of altering watercourse beds or banks include installing a culvert or bridge, or stabilizing banks. Many jobs that can be completed between June 1 and Sept. 30 now only require notifying the department, rather than a more costly and time-consuming approval.The guide explains the process and new rules that came into effect last October.For the guide and more information, go to http://novascotia.ca/nse/watercourse-alteration/.

Government Releases Report on Accessibility Legislation - Government released a panel report on June 3 on accessibility legislation for Nova Scotia. The report provides government with direction and recommendations on what the legislation should contain to make Nova Scotia accessible to all.The new legislation will impact municipalities as the report indicates all Nova Scotians should be able to access the build environment including all publicly owned buildings and recreational facilities such as ball fields, pools and parks.A panel of 22 people from community and government organizations, assisted by volunteer subcommittees, developed the report. Nova Scotians also had the opportunity to provide ideas and feedback through 11 consultation sessions that were held across the province last year.In response to the report, the Province is creating a team to guide the legislative drafting process. This committee will include representation from municipalities. Some of the team's key priorities include identifying a detailed timeline for the legislative process, and key milestones and checkpoints to ensure the work progresses.The team is also tasked with laying out an education and awareness plan so Nova Scotians and businesses understand the new legislation.Following United Nations conventions, the province will phase in accessibility standards over time to make it easier for people, organizations and governments to implement them.Once in place, the accessibility legislation will ensure:

  • every Nova Scotian has the right to live and work to their potential
  • persons with disabilities are able to participate fully in our society
  • barriers are eliminated in employment, public spaces and buildings, service delivery and public transportation
  • better communication between government and businesses
  • a focus on creating better awareness of the need for accessibility in Nova Scotia.

Government is expected to introduce the new accessibility legislation in the fall of 2016.The report is available online and in various accessible formats at http://novascotia.ca/coms/accessibility/.

New Economic Data Shows Economic Value of Culture, Arts, Heritage, Sport - New Statistics Canada data released on June 9 will give Nova Scotians and government a clearer understanding of the economic importance of the province's culture and sport sectors.

The 2010 Culture Satellite Account figures show arts, culture and heritage contribute about $868 million to Nova Scotia's economy, and more than 14,000 jobs across the province.

Sport contributes close to $88 million to the Nova Scotian economy and represents more than 2,100 jobs.This is the first time such detailed, economic culture data for the provinces and territories has been available.

The provinces and territories, worked with Statistics Canada and Canadian Heritage to collect data to calculate the economic value of arts, culture, heritage and sport, and provide comparisons to other industries.

The Culture Satellite Account data can be found at www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/150609/dq150609b-eng.htm.

 

Elections Act Amended to Permit Political Candidates to Earn a Salary while Running for Office--The Province will immediately change a section of the Elections Act that prohibited political candidates from earning a salary while running for office.In April, the Nova Scotia legislature passed an amendment to the province's elections law that would exempt salaries from rules that considered a person's salary to be an illegal campaign contribution. Bill 83, which also includes more than 100 other amendments to the Elections Act, passed third reading, but has yet to be officially proclaimed.On June 15, Premier Stephen McNeil asked that the section of the law for employment remuneration be proclaimed immediately."The case that arose with respect to an independent candidate clearly shows that this section of the law was prohibitive and a deterrent. That's why we felt the change was necessary to begin with," said Premier McNeil. "Why should someone who wants to run independently, who has no access to party finances, be prohibited from running for office? It isn't fair."The other amendments to the Elections Act will be proclaimed at a later date.