Legislative Assembly, Manitoba

Article excerpt

As reported in the Summer edition, the flooding situation Manitoba experienced during the spring had an impact on the sittings of the Legislative Assembly. An informal arrangement was established and agreed to on a weekly basis, whereby the Assembly did not sit on Monday nights or Fridays, and this arrangement continued to be in effect until mid June. In order to compensate for time lost, by agreement of the House, the Committee of Supply sat in three sections, as opposed to the customary two sections, in order to consider the estimates of the various government departments in an expedited manner.

As estimates consideration neared its 240 hour time limit, the focus of Assembly time shifted to the consideration of legislation. In total, 62 government Bills were debated and received royal assent, while 2 Private Bills also achieved third reading and royal assent. Some of the more consequential pieces of legislation included: Bill (No. 7) - The Midwifery and Consequential Amendments Act, which established the practice of mid-wifery and created the College of Midwives for Manitoba; Bill (No. 41) - The Regional Health Authorities Amendment and Consequential Amendments Act, which established two regional health authorities for the City of Winnipeg; Bill (No. 50) - The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy and Consequential Amendments Act; which changed some of the mandatory and discretionary disclosure exceptions under the auspices of The Freedom of Information Act, and which also placed restrictions on the use and disclosure of personal information, and also established the Provincial Ombudsman as the authority to investigate complaints lodged about the disclosure of personal information.

Other key pieces of legislation included Bill (No. 51) - The Personal Health Information Act, which placed restrictions on the collection, retention and disclosure of personal health information, and Bill (No. 55) - The Manitoba Hydro Amendment Act; which modified The Manitoba Hydro Act to include provisions for the wholesale competition in the electrical market, and also granted the ability to offer new products and services as well as the ability to create new subsidiaries and enter into joint ventures and new business alliances. In addition, two pieces of Family Services legislation were introduced in response to a review conducted on The Child and Family Services Act, legislation which sought to improve the adoption process and increase protection for children under the auspices of the Act. Bill (No, 47) - The Adoption and Consequential Amendments Act mandated not-for-profit adoption agencies which meet licensing requirements, allowed private practioners to conduct adoption assessments, provided for the confidentiality of existing adoption records, and also provided for the filing of permanent vetoes on accessing information for new adoption records. Bill (No. 48) - The Child and Family Services Amendment Act, created provisions to allow applications for access to children in care by extended family (e.g. grandparents), established an independent abuse investigation unit responsible for investigating all allegations of abuse of children in care, allowed police to authorize agencies to share information prior to the completion of a criminal investigation, replaced the Child Abuse Registry Review Committee with hearings in the Court of Queen's Bench, and expanded access to the Child Abuse Registry to any organization where an individual, employee or volunteer has access to children.

Manitoba had its first experience with a Sub-Committee, as the Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections was established in late March to conduct a public review on the legislation pertaining to the Office of The Children's Advocate.

The Sub-Committee consisted of five members of the main Privileges and Elections Committee, and was chaired by Peter George Dyck. …