The opening of the Forty-fourth Parliament occurred on November 23, 2021, and Governor General Mary May Simon delivered the Speech from the Throne in the Senate Chamber. She read portions of the speech in Inuktitut.
Four government bills received Royal Assent by written declaration. Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy), was ordered read a second and third time and passed unanimously. The bill received Royal Assent on December 8. Bill C-6, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, was read a third time and passed on December 15. Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19, was, with leave, read a first, second and third time on December 16. Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code was read a third time and passed on December 17. Bills C-2, C-3 and C-6 all received Royal Assent on December 17, after which the Senate adjourned until February 1, 2022.
The Senate adopted Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts, at third reading on December 7, and a message was sent to the House of Commons accordingly. The Speaker of the House of Commons made a statement inviting comments concerning the bill and the financial prerogative of the Crown and of the House on December 8, and the Bill has not been read a first time in the House of Commons.
With leave of the Senate, the order of the day for second reading of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Judges Act, which contained provisions similar to those in Bill S-2, was discharged and the bill withdrawn on December 15.
Five Senate public bills were adopted at third reading and sent to the House of Commons: Bill S-202, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (Parliamentary Visual Artist Laureate), and Bill S-206, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (disclosure of information by jurors), on December 8; and Bill S-214, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day, Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (use of resources of a registered charity), and Bill S-223, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), on December 9. In all cases, the bills were similar to bills that had been introduced in previous sessions and were not referred to committee in the Senate.
Chamber, Procedure and Speaker’s Rulings
On November 23, the Senate adopted a motion to fill the position of Speaker pro tempore by means of a secret ballot, using the process established by the Speaker for the election of the Speaker pro tempore in the Second Session of the Forty-third Parliament. On December 1, the Speaker made a statement at the start of the sitting announcing that senators who wished to be candidates had until December 6 to communicate their interest to the Clerk of the Senate, and that the names of the candidates would be announced at the start of the sitting after December 6. On December 7, the Speaker announced that Senators Patricia Bovey and Pierrette Ringuette had put their names forward and each made a short statement, following which senators had until 6 p.m. the following day to cast their vote. On December 9, the Speaker announced the results of the election, whereupon a motion that Senator Ringuette be named Speaker pro tempore for the remainder of the session was deemed moved, seconded and adopted.
On November 25, the Senate adopted a motion allowing for hybrid sittings of the Senate and committees until March 31, 2022. The content of the motion was similar to that of motions adopted in the previous Parliament, and included provisions relating to the technological requirements to participate in hybrid sittings or committee meetings, modifying the Senate’s sitting hours, outlining the process for votes and allowing for documents to be deposited electronically with the Clerk of the Senate. After the adoption of the motion, the Speaker advised the Senate that the first hybrid sitting of the Senate would be on November 30.
On December 7, the Senate adopted a motion which will allow for a minister of the Crown to be invited at least once every second week the Senate sits to attend Question Period, which will last a maximum of 60 minutes on those days. The minister will be selected by the Government Representative in the Senate, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, and the leaders and facilitators of all recognized parties and recognized parliamentary groups.
On December 16, the Senate resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider the subject matter of Bill C-2, An Act to provide further support in response to COVID-19. The Senate heard from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, accompanied by officials.
On November 25, the Senate adopted a motion allowing for three deputy chairs for the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and two deputy chairs for the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight, and the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. The motion also increased the number of senators serving on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence and the Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight.
On December 2, the Committee of Selection presented its first report, which contained the list of senators nominated to serve on committees. The report was adopted the same day, with leave. The second and third reports of the Committee of Selection were also presented that day, entitled Duration of membership on committees and Committee Meeting Schedule, respectively. The third report was adopted on December 7 and the second report on December 14.
Also on December 2, two motions related to committee business were adopted. The first motion authorized the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance to examine and report on the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. The committee tabled its report on December 16 and it was adopted with leave later that day. The second motion authorized the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to examine the subject matter of Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, in advance of the said bill coming before the Senate, and separately authorized the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to examine the subject matter of clauses 1 to 5 contained in Bill C-3. The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology tabled its second report on the subject matter of Bill C-3 on December 15, and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled its second report on the subject matter of Bill C-3 on December 16.
The Standing Committee on Audit and Oversight presented its first report, entitled Nomination of External Members on December 9. The report was adopted with leave that same day. Later that day, the Senate adopted a motion appointing senators to serve on the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators. The motion increased the number of senators serving on the committee to six, rather than the five provided for in the Rules.
Senators David Arnot, Michèle Audette, Bernadette Clement, Amina Gerba, Clément Gignac, James Quinn, Karen Sorensen and Hassan Yussuff, who were appointed to the Senate in June and July 2021, were introduced on November 22 and took their seats in the Senate Chamber.
Senator Josée Forest-Niesing died on November 20. Senator Forest-Niesing was appointed to the Senate on October 11, 2018, on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. She represented the province of Ontario and was from Sudbury. At the time of her appointment, she had nearly 20 years of experience practicing law and was a proud Franco-Ontarian. She served as a member or chair of numerous boards of directors, including the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Carrefour francophone de Sudbury, and the University of Sudbury. She was also appointed to the Ontario Arts Council in January 2018.
House of Commons
This account covers key highlights of the period from October to the end of December 2021. The 44th Parliament convened on November 22, 2021, and re-elected Anthony Rota (Nipissing—Timiskaming) as Speaker of the House of Commons. On November 23, 2021, Governor General Mary Simon delivered the Speech from the Throne. On December 16, 2021, the House agreed by unanimous consent to adjourn until January 31, 2022.
- C-4, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Conversion Therapy)
On November 29, 2021, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti (LaSalle—Émard—Verdun) introduced Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy). During the 43rd Parliament, Mr. Lametti introduced similar bills: during the first session, Bill C-8 (March 9, 2020); during the second session, Bill C-6 (October 1, 2020). On December 1, 2021, on a motion moved by Rob Moore (Fundy Royal), the House adopted the bill at multiple stages by unanimous consent. Bill C-4 received Royal Assent on December 8, 2021.
- C-3, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code
On November 26, 2021, Minister of Labour Seamus O’Regan (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl) introduced Bill C-3, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which would classify the intimidation of health service providers or of those seeking health services as an offence. The bill would also make certain amendments surrounding paid medical leave of absence. On December 16, 2021, the House adopted Bill C-3 by unanimous consent at multiple stages. This motion included the adoption of amendments tabled by Mark Holland (Ajax) earlier in the sitting which incorporated provisions for bereavement leave relating to the loss of a child or an unborn child. This amendment stemmed from Bill C-307, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave), a business item that was terminated upon the dissolution of the 43rd Parliament and reintroduced to the 44th Parliament as Bill C-211 by its original sponsor, Tom Kmiec (Calgary Shepard). Bill C-3 received Royal Assent on December 17, 2021.
- C-2, An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19
On November 24, 2021, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland (University—Rosedale) introduced Bill C-2, An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19. On December 2, 2021, the House agreed by unanimous consent to proceed to a recorded division on the Bill’s second reading and to organize committee business (see Committees section below). On December 16, the House agreed by unanimous consent to advance Bill C-2; the question was then put at third reading and the motion agreed to on recorded division. The Bill received Royal Assent on December 17, 2021.
On December 2, 2021, the House agreed by unanimous consent to identify which members would serve on the Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) within 24 hours of the order’s adoption and to call upon the Clerk of the House to convene a meeting within the week. The order also appointed the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) to prepare lists of members for the standing and standing joint committees of the House (tabled on December 9, 2021). Notably, the order affected the Standing Orders relating to committees for the duration of the 44th Parliament which included, among other alterations, the expansion of membership for some committees from 10 to 12 members and others from 10 to 11 members.
Questions of Privilege
Two questions of privilege that had been raised during the 43rd Parliament were raised again at the beginning of the 44th Parliament.
On November 23, 2021, Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent) raised a question of privilege regarding the government’s non-compliance with the order made by the House regarding the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s failure to produce requested unredacted documents (on June 16, 2021, the Speaker had ruled that there had been a prima facie breach of privilege, but the documents were not produced). On December 2, 2021, Mark Holland (Ajax) responded to this question of privilege and proposed an ad hoc committee with representation from all parties, supported by a panel of arbiters comprised of judges agreed upon by the committee. The proposal resembled the procedure used in 2010 for records related to the transfer of Afghan detainees from the Canadian Armed Forces to the Afghan authorities. On December 8, 2021, Mr. Deltell rejected this proposal, citing differences between the two situations. Instead, he proposed that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel review the unredacted documents with the assistance of national security specialists.
On November 23, 2021, John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil) raised a question of privilege first raised by Michael Barrett (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) on June 10, 2021, related to the non-appearance of certain witnesses before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
On December 9, 2021, the Speaker ruled on both questions of privilege and noted a lack of precedent for questions of privilege raised in one parliament being taken up in a subsequent parliament. He found that in the absence of new information being presented or the relevant orders being renewed, the questions of privilege related to these matters were dissolved along with the previous parliament. The Speaker therefore concluded that there was no prima facie breach of privilege in these cases.
On November 23, 2021, John Brassard (Barrie—Innisfil) rose on a question of privilege regarding allegations published in the media concerning the Clerk of the House. He indicated that alleged partisan misconduct and workplace toxicity impacted the dignity of the House. Michelle Rempel Garner (Calgary Nose Hill) rose in support of the question of privilege and requested that the matter be referred to the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC). On December 1, the Speaker delivered his ruling, stating that the most appropriate forum to deal with the issue is the Board of Internal Economy (BOIE), which is entitled by the Parliament of Canada Act to address all human resources matters. Since the BOIE is currently seized with the issue, the Speaker determined that there is no prima facie question of privilege.
On November 23, 2021, Blake Richards (Banff—Airdrie) rose on a question of privilege regarding BOIE’s October 19, 2021, decision requiring that all individuals (including Members) must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 22, 2021, to gain access to the parliamentary precinct. Mr. Richards argued that the BOIE’s decision constituted a violation of Members’ rights to have unfettered access to the precinct. On the same day, Claude DeBellefeuille (Salaberry–Suroît) raised a question of privilege on a similar matter alleging that the Conservative Party’s refusal to disclose its members’ vaccination status constituted a violation of the House’s collective privileges. Mrs. DeBellefeuille argued that the collective privilege of the House took precedence over the parliamentary privilege of individual Members. She asked the House to order the BOIE to ensure that all Members are adequately vaccinated.
On December 2, 2021, the Speaker ruled on these questions. He indicated that the House has complete and sole authority to regulate and administer its precinct, including controlling access to its buildings. The Speaker noted the unique context of the situation: the BOIE had made the decision to limit the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the House had not yet been called into session following a general election and therefore could not pronounce itself on the matter immediately. The Speaker also noted that the House had since adopted a motion to explicitly endorse the BOIE’s decision and the conditions it imposed on Members’ participation. The Speaker ruled that, while the issue of mandatory vaccinations had been settled, interplay between the rights and privileges of the House and the jurisdiction of the BOIE remained an issue. As the BOIE appeared to have exceeded its authority in a way that conflicted with the House’s privileges, the Speaker was prepared to rule that a prima facie question of privilege existed. The final ruling was reserved until the member moved the appropriate motion. As Mr. Richards declined to move the appropriate motion, the Chair considered the matter closed. The Speaker addressed the particular concerns raised by Mrs. DeBellefeuille by assuring everyone in this House that all medical exemptions, whether for Members or for staff, are reviewed by the health and safety personnel of the House Administration and that anyone with a valid exemption must provide a recent negative COVID-19 test result in order to access the buildings in the precinct.
On December 6, 2021, Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton—Melville) rose on a question of privilege related to the House’s decision on November 25, 2021, to require Members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a medical exemption to enter the physical House of Commons. Mrs. Wagantall alleged that this requirement negatively impacted the House of Commons nurse’s ability to independently evaluate potential medical exemptions. On December 7, 2021, the Speaker ruled that the House was within its rights to introduce the requirements related to vaccination, having adopted the motion requiring Members to be vaccinated. He further noted that medical exemptions are based on guidelines published by Ontario Health and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, and therefore do not affect the nurse’s independence.
Motion to reintroduce hybrid sittings
On November 24, 2021, Mark Holland (Ajax) put forward a motion to manage House proceedings until June 23, 2022. The motion, as amended by Gérard Deltell (Louis-Saint-Laurent), was adopted on November 25, 2021, by recorded division. The motion sets out how the House and its committees will conduct virtual and hybrid proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic; it also dictates procedures for the tabling, studying and reporting of the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the period ending on December 10, 2021. It also includes provisions for electronic voting like those put in place during the previous parliament. On November 26, the Speaker made a statement reminding Members of the best practices for participating in proceedings remotely. In particular, he emphasized that Members participating remotely are considered to be present in the House and must respect House rules and practices, including those related to props and dress code. On December 9, the Speaker made another statement sharing information on the use of the remote voting application.
Motion for the procurement of protective equipment
On December 16, 2021, Julie Vignola (Beauport—Limoilou) sought unanimous consent and moved a motion relating to personal protective equipment procurement from domestic businesses. The Speaker declared the motion carried. Some Members rose to indicate there had been dissent, and that sequential motions for unanimous consent may require greater pause before being called due to simultaneous interpretation. The Speaker noted the concerns and upheld the ruling on the motion.
Pursuant to Standing Order 81(10)(b), there were two allotted days for the supply period ending December 10, 2021. The allotted days took place on December 7 and December 9. On the first allotted day (December 7, 2021), the House debated a motion moved by Erin O’Toole (Durham) to create a Special Committee on Afghanistan (AFGH). The motion was adopted by deferred recorded division on December 8, 2021. The order intends AFGH to hold hearings on the events surrounding the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021.
On Friday, November 26, 2021, President of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier (Ottawa—Vanier) tabled the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. Pursuant to the motion adopted by the House on November 25, 2021, the Estimates were deemed referred to a committee of the whole. On December 7 and 8, 2021, the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole for the consideration of all votes in the Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022; the considered votes were deemed reported on December 8. On December 9, 2021, Ms. Fortier introduced Bill C-6, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. The Bill was disposed of through applied votes with clause-by-clause consideration being carried on division in committee of the whole. Bill C-6 received Royal Assent on December 17, 2021.
On Monday, December 6, 2021, the House adopted a motion by unanimous consent to allow the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland (University—Rosedale) to present an economic and fiscal update on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Accordingly, Ms. Freeland gave notice of a ways and means motion and proceeded to present the economic and fiscal update on that day. Erin O’Toole (Durham), Gabriel Ste-Marie (Joliette) and Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona) made statements in response to the Minister’s update. On December 15, 2021, the ways and means motion was concurred in. Pursuant to Standing Orders 83(4) and 69(1), Bill C-8, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic and fiscal update tabled in Parliament on December 14, 2021 and other measures, was introduced and read for a first time.
On Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Ms. Freeland gave notice of a second ways and means motion to introduce an Act to implement a Digital Services Tax.
Private Members’ Business
The draw to establish the list for the consideration of Private Members’ Business was held on November 30, 2021. The order of precedence is anticipated on February 8, 2022.
On December 1, 2021, following the usual post-election practice, the Speaker provided the list of members that had been appointed to the Board of Internal Economy for the purposes and under the provisions of the Parliament of Canada Act, subsection 50(2).
During this period, members made six requests for emergency debates on various subjects with the request from Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands) receiving approval. On November 24, 2021, following the ordinary hour of adjournment, the House debated the deadly flooding situation in British Columbia.
Table Research Branch
Proceedings of the National Assembly of Québec
Since November 1, 2021, Marie Montpetit, Member for Maurice-Richard, has been sitting as an Independent Member. On November 13, 2021, Catherine Fournier resigned as Member for Marie–Victorin after becoming Mayor of Longueuil. Consequently, the National Assembly is now composed of 124 Members, including 75 Coalition avenir Québec Members, 27 Liberal Party Members, 10 Québec solidaire Members, seven Parti Québécois Members and five independent Members, one of whom is affiliated with the Parti conservateur du Québec.
On November 24, 2021, Jean Boulet replaced Nadine Girault as Minister of Immigration, Francization and Integration. He also retains his position as Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity.
On January 1, 2022, Éric Caire, Member for La Peltrie, became Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Technology. This new department was created with the passage of Bill 6, An Act to enact the Act respecting the Ministère de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique, and to amend other provisions. Mr. Caire retains his other parliamentary and ministerial duties.
Prorogation and Opening of the Second Session of the 42nd Legislature
On October 13, 2021, at 4:00 p.m., the Lieutenant Governor prorogued the Assembly, ending the First Session of the 42nd Legislature. The Assembly was summoned to start a new session on October 19, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.
The first sitting of the Second Session opened with the Lieutenant Governor’s address, followed by the opening speech delivered by Premier François Legault. At the end of his speech, the Premier moved, “That the Assembly approve Government’s general policy.” The next day, debate on the Premier’s opening speech and motion began with speeches delivered by the opposition parliamentary groups.
During the first sitting of the new session, the Assembly also passed a motion to keep in effect the special order establishing the changes to the terms and conditions applicable to Assembly sittings during the pandemic, which had been adopted when the session resumed on September 14.
In October 2021, before the end of the First Session of the Legislature, the Assembly passed one government bill:
- Bill 100, Tourist Accommodation Act.
From the prorogation to the end of the sessional period on December 10, 2021, the Assembly passed 12 bills, including eight government bills and four private bills:
- Bill 3, An Act to amend various legislative provisions mainly with respect to the financial sector;
- Bill 5, An Act to give effect to fiscal measures announced in the Budget Speech delivered on 25 March 2021 and to certain other measures;
- Bill 6, An Act to enact the Act respecting the Ministère de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique and to amend other provisions;
- Bill 7, An Act to amend the Election Act (modified title);
- Bill 8, An Act to postpone the coming into force of certain provisions of the Act to transfer responsibility for the registry of lobbyists to the Lobbyists Commissioner and to implement the Charbonneau Commission recommendation on the prescription period for bringing penal proceedings;
- Bill 49, An Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act and various legislative provisions;
- Bill 92, An Act to create a court specialized in sexual violence and domestic violence (modified title);
- Bill 103, An Act to amend various legislative provisions mainly for the purpose of reducing red tape;
- Bill 200, An Act respecting Ville de Montréal;
- Bill 201, An Act to extend the time limit specified in section 137 of the Charter of Ville de Gatineau;
- Bill 202, An Act respecting the insurer activities of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités locales et régionales (FQM) and its amalgamation with, by absorption of, La Mutuelle des municipalités du Québec; and
- Bill 219, An Act respecting an immovable located on Rue University in Montréal (on the Royal Victoria Hospital site) (modified title).
Report from the Committee on Citizen Relations
On October 20, 2021, François Paradis, President of the National Assembly, tabled in the Assembly the Report from the Committee on Citizen Relations, which includes 90 recommendations to improve mechanisms for public participation in the National Assembly. The recommendations were developed through consultations with 44 Quebecers who took part in virtual discussions on various topics relating to public participation in the National Assembly. The members of the round table were selected from among 330 eligible applicants by a random draw that ensured the group was sociodemographically and geographically representative of Québec.
Official opening of the Le Parlementaire restaurant
On November 3, 2021, Mr. Paradis, the President of the National Assembly, officially inaugurated the Le Parlementaire restaurant, located in the Parliament Building. The restaurant celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017. After closing for two years for major renovations and then because of the pandemic, Le Parlementaire has reopened to offer a fine dining experience with local Québec ingredients.
Release of the fourth edition of Parliamentary Procedure in Québec
On December 9, 2021, the fourth edition of the French version of Parliamentary Procedure in Québec became available on the National Assembly’s website. This book is an invaluable reference work, as much for those with a deep understanding of parliamentary law as for those who want a crash course on parliamentary procedure. The print version will be available in February 2022.
Here are some highlights of the parliamentary committee proceedings held between October and December 2021.
The First Session of the 42nd Legislature was prorogued on October 13, 2021, bringing an end to all select committees established, all orders not fully executed, all proceedings pending and all bills not passed. Note that all proceedings ended by a prorogation can be resumed in the following session. Accordingly, the Assembly reinstated bills at the stage of committee consideration they had reached at the end of the First Session. Committees were also able to restore the mandates they had set for themselves that were incomplete at prorogation.
Some 12 public bills were examined by the standing committees between October and December, at both the special consultation and clause-by-clause consideration stages.
The Committee on Planning and the Public Domain concluded clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 49, An Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the Municipal Ethics and Good Conduct Act and various legislative provisions. The purpose of the bill is to strengthen municipal democracy and tighten some of the rules in the code of ethics and conduct for municipal council members. Clause-by-clause consideration lasted for more than 90 hours of sittings, ending on October 6, 2021. The committee also considered three private bills late in the sessional period. In less than four hours of sittings, the committee considered Bill 200, An Act respecting Ville de Montréal; Bill 201, An Act to extend the time limit specified in section 137 of the Charter of Ville de Gatineau; and Bill 202, An Act respecting the insurer activities of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités locales et régionales (FQM) and its amalgamation with, by absorption of, La Mutuelle des municipalités du Québec.
The Committee on Institutions had a very busy autumn with special consultations on three bills and clause-by-clause consideration of two of the three. The committee concluded its special consultations on and clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 92, An Act to create a court specialized in sexual violence and domestic violence. Some 20 individuals and organizations were heard during the two consultation hearings on the bill. Clause-by-clause consideration lasted for slightly more than 25 hours and ended on November 11, 2021. The committee also held special consultations on Bill 2, An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and civil status, during which it heard from around 30 witnesses over four sittings.
The Committee on Transportation and the Environment was mandated to hear 11 groups over three hearings on Bill 102, An Act mainly to reinforce the enforcement of environmental and dam safety legislation, to ensure the responsible management of pesticides and to implement certain measures of the 2030 Plan for a Green Economy concerning zero emission vehicles. The bill would improve and standardize measures enabling the enforcement of legislation under the responsibility of the Minister of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change. The bill would also bolster the Pesticides Act and adjust the Dam Safety Act framework. The committee then began clause-by-clause consideration of the bill’s 162 provisions in early December. To date, more than 15 hours have been devoted to this work.
Lastly, the Committee on Culture and Education began clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec. The purpose of the bill is to affirm that French is the only official language of Québec and that it is the common language of the Québec nation. The bill would introduce new fundamental language rights and various measures to strengthen French. More than 50 witnesses were heard earlier in the fall during the special consultations on the bill, which is the largest number of witnesses heard in the current Legislature. Close to 25 hours have been devoted to clause-by-clause consideration of the 201 provisions of Bill 96 so far.
Standing Orders mandate
On December 7, 2021, the Committee on Public Finance met to examine the government’s budgetary policy and the state of public finances, with the Minister of Finance in attendance. The meeting was held under Standing Order 292 after a preparatory deliberative meeting.
Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care
The Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care, established by the National Assembly on March 31, 2021, tabled its report on December 8, 2021. Over the course of its proceedings, the committee received 75 briefs and heard 77 witnesses during public hearings as part of special consultations. Committee members held more than 50 hours of deliberative meetings to organize the committee’s work and determine the content of its report. The steering committee met 46 times. The committee’s report contains 11 recommendations, and the English translation was made public in mid-December. Having carried out its mandate, the committee is now dissolved.
On November 4, 2021, Jennifer Maccarone (Westmount–Saint-Louis) became Vice-Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Energy and Natural Resources.
Sittings and Parliamentary Procedure Directorate
Parliamentary Committees Directorate
With the start of the fall sitting on October 4, 2021, the House adopted a new sessional order, following the expiration of the previous sessional order on June 30. The new sessional order was similar to the previous sessional order enabling hybrid proceedings with the exception that divisions were no longer deferred until the end of the day and were taken as called unless otherwise agreed to or provided for. Safety protocols in relation to COVID-19 were updated to allow for all Members to attend proceedings in person; most Members opted to attend in person during the fall sitting.
The House adjourned on November 25, 2021 and is expected to resume on February 8, 2022 with the anticipated prorogation of the Second Session of the 42nd Parliament in the morning and the opening of the Third Session with the Speech from the Throne in the afternoon.
On October 20, 2021, the Member for Saanich North and the Islands raised a question of privilege regarding the introduction of Bill 22, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2021 and the work of the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Committee was appointed on June 16, 2021 to examine the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and to report back to the Legislative Assembly within one year, pursuant to section 80 of the Act which requires a special committee to review the Act every six years. On October 18, 2021, the Minister of Citizens’ Services introduced Bill 22. The Member suggested that the Bill’s consideration by the Legislative Assembly was a breach of his privilege as a Member of the Committee. The Official Opposition House Leader stated that the work of the Committee was being “circumvented” by the introduction of the Bill. The Government House Leader noted the Crown’s prerogative, acting on the advice of the Executive Council, to bring forward legislation for consideration by the Legislative Assembly.
The following day, the Speaker ruled that since the matter had been raised two days after the Bill’s introduction, the requirement for raising a question of privilege at the earliest opportunity had not been met. The Speaker took the opportunity to recognize the right of the government and all Members to introduce legislation for the consideration of the House, while also noting that, “there are instances when the timing of the introduction of a Bill could be discourteous to the House or one of its committees. Timing of the introduction of legislation should be carefully considered, so as not to diminish or be perceived to diminish the important work that this House and its committees undertake outside of core legislative functions.”
Request to Debate a Matter of Urgent Public Importance
On November 17, 2021, the Official Opposition House Leader sought leave pursuant to Standing Order 35 to move adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, specifically government’s response to the emergency flooding and landslide situation that had unfolded across British Columbia during the preceding day. The Speaker took the matter under advisement and later informed the House that all caucuses had come to an agreement that debate would take place on the afternoon of November 18 for one hour.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released two reports in conjunction with its mandate to undertake an annual public consultation on the next provincial budget and to review the annual reports, service plans and budget estimates of British Columbia’s nine statutory officers. The Committee released its Report on the Budget 2022 Consultation on November 15 with 143 recommendations for the provincial budget, and the Annual Review of the Budgets of Statutory Offices was released on December 16, 2021.
The Special Committee to Review the Personal Information Protection Act was appointed on April 13, 2021, pursuant to that Act, which requires a special committee to review the Act every six years. The Committee released its report entitled Modernizing British Columbia’s Private Sector Privacy Law on December 6, 2021 with 34 recommendations to align the Act with privacy legislation in other jurisdictions, address the impacts of modern information processing on privacy, enhance protections for highly sensitive information, and provide mandatory breach notification.
On November 17, 2021, the House adopted a sessional order to authorize the House to sit in two sections, Section A and Section B, to enable concurrent proceedings for the consideration of bills in Committee of the Whole. In addition, on November 23, 2021, the House adopted a motion under Standing Order 81.1(2) to apply time allocation to four bills, including the first three bills outlined below. In total, the House adopted 18 bills during the fall sitting.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2021 implements mandatory privacy breach reporting, increases penalties for offences under the Act, and includes new Indigenous cultural protections.
Forest Amendment Act, 2021 provides for redistribution of certain forest harvesting rights to Indigenous communities, and implements a new auditing system to ensure that log exporters pay a fee in lieu of domestic manufacturing.
Forests Statutes Amendment Act, 2021 updates British Columbia’s forest management framework and strengthens the role of Indigenous communities in forest planning and decision-making.
Access to Services (COVID-19) Act prohibits the impeding of access to or egress from hospitals, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, and K-to-12 schools, disrupting their services, or intimidating individuals at these facilities.
Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC)
At its December 16, 2021 meeting, LAMC approved the 2022-23 Legislative Assembly (Vote 1) budget submission. The $91.983 million operating budget for the next fiscal year represents a 6.9 percent increase ($5.9 million) over the previous year and the capital budget of $9.473 million involves a 51 percent increase ($3.2 million) over the previous year to support strategic priorities, including: enhancing organizational capacity; improving services and supports for Members; infrastructure investments; and promoting employee engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, and learning.
Residential School Memorial Items
Since May 2021, many items such as toys, children’s shoes and other articles of remembrance have been placed on the front steps of the Parliament Buildings in response to the confirmation of unmarked graves at residential school sites and the ongoing trauma caused by the residential school system. In October 2021, staff from the Legislative Assembly worked with Lou-ann Neel, Curator, Indigenous Collections at the Royal British Columbia Museum and a residential school survivor, to carefully remove and repurpose the items. Some items were donated to the Museum’s Indigenous collection, while others will be repurposed for a weather-protected display to be developed on the Legislative Precinct grounds in the future. In keeping with traditional Coast Salish practices, a sacred burning of items made of natural materials is also planned.
Retirement of Clerk Assistant, Committees and Interparliamentary Relations
Susan Sourial, Clerk Assistant, Committees and Interparliamentary Relations, retired on December 6, 2021 after a decade of service with the Legislative Assembly supporting many parliamentary committees and interparliamentary visits. Ms. Sourial was also an assistant editor of the fifth edition of Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia.
Appointment of Committee Clerk
Karan Riarh was appointed as Committee Clerk on November 24, 2021. Ms. Riarh joined the Legislative Assembly in 2016 as a Committee Researcher and has taken on progressively more senior positions, most recently as a Senior Research Analyst where she also served as Clerk to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act and at the Table.
Committee Research Analyst
2021 Fall Sitting
The 2021 fall sitting of the 30th Legislature began as anticipated on October 25, 2021 and adjourned several days later than scheduled at 2:57 a.m. on December 8. During the sitting a number of Government Bills were brought forward and, ultimately, given Royal Assent, including:
Bill 49, Labour Mobility Act, which creates a standardized approach to recognizing out-of-province professional credentials;
Bill 76, Captive Insurance Companies Act, which allows for the formation of captive, or “in house”, insurance from companies physically located in the province as an alternative to the traditional insurance market;
Bill 77, Municipal Government Amendment Act, 2021, which gives municipalities tools to collect unpaid property taxes from oil and gas companies and extends their ability to claim an education property tax credit equal to the uncollectable education property taxes on delinquent oil and gas properties into 2023;
Bill 78, Alberta Housing Amendment Act, 2021, which is intended to improve and expand the province’s affordable housing system, according to a 10-year housing strategy, including the creation of 25,000 new affordable housing units, by providing opportunities for public-private partnerships and selling or transferring government-owned housing; and
Bill 86, the Electricity Statutes Amendment Act, 2021, which permits unlimited self-supply with export in addition to creating opportunities for energy storage systems.
In addition, Bill 87, Electoral Divisions (Calgary-Bhullar-McCall) Amendment Act, 2021, received First Reading on November 30. It received unanimous support from all sides of the Assembly and received Royal Assent just two days later, on December 2. The Bill renamed the Calgary-McCall constituency to Calgary-Bhullar-McCall in honour of former Member Manmeet Bhullar, who died tragically in a highway accident after stopping to assist a stranded motorist. Mr. Bhullar represented constituents in Calgary’s northeast from 2008 until his death in 2015. He served in a variety of cabinet portfolios and has been widely acknowledged for his advocacy on behalf of the vulnerable.
One Private Members’ Public Bill also received Royal Assent. With the passing of Bill 207, Reservists’ Recognition Act, sponsored by Brad Rutherford, MLA (Leduc-Beaumont), the last Saturday in September will now be known as Reservists’ Recognition Day.
With the commencement of the fall sitting amendments to the Standing Orders, approved by the Assembly during the spring sitting, came into force. These amendments, adopted through the passage of a private Members’ motion, eliminated the five-minute question-and-comment period following speeches on Government business. Instead, the Standing Orders now allow Members to make up to three interventions of up to one minute during speeches on Government Bills and Motions provided that the Member speaking agrees to the intervention.
During a speech a Member wishing to intervene must rise to request that the Member speaking cede the floor. If the request is accepted then the intervening Member may speak for up to one minute, after which the original Member may resume their speech without any time lost. If a Member accepts two or more interventions, an additional two minutes is added to their speaking time. A maximum of three interventions may be made during a single speech, and a Member may request more than one intervention during the same speech. Although the Member speaking has an opportunity to decide if another Member may speak, the Speaker may interject as necessary to preserve order and decorum. Requesting an opportunity to intervene during an intervention is not permitted, and Members who intervene must keep their remarks focused specifically on the speech in progress.
The Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Standing Orders and Printing will conduct a review of these amendments within one year of the day on which the amendments came into force. While the practice of interventions is not employed in other Canadian jurisdictions, interventions are commonly used by Members of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom. Erskine May confirms the right of Members to accept interventions during their speeches and describes appropriate etiquette for the intervention process.
Cabinet and Caucus Changes
A wrongful dismissal lawsuit had been filed against the Office of the Premier by a former senior staff member. The lawsuit includes allegations of sexual harassment, toxic workplace culture and heavy drinking by Ministers and staff in Legislature offices. In response to specific allegations regarding alcohol use, Devin Dreeshen, MLA, resigned as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, on November 5 to focus on his personal wellness. Associate Minister of Rural Economic Development, and Nate Horner, MLA, was promoted to the updated portfolio of Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development. Premier Jason Kenney, who is not named in the lawsuit, has confirmed an independent review of human resource policies pertaining to political staff will be conducted.
On December 21, Thomas Dang, MLA, resigned from the NDP caucus to sit as an Independent Member after the RCMP executed a search warrant at his home believed to be in relation to allegations of inappropriately accessing information through the Alberta Health Services website. Rachel Notley, MLA, noted that the resignation complied with the Alberta NDP policy that a member under active police investigation not sit in caucus.
The composition of the Assembly is currently 60 Government Members (United Conservatives), 23 Members of the Official Opposition (New Democratic Party), three Independent Members, and one vacant seat.
The Select Special Information and Privacy Commissioner Search Committee, struck on November 24, held its first meeting on December 16 to approve a position profile and a communications plan for recruiting candidates. Applications for the position will be accepted until February 11, 2022.
Meanwhile the Select Special Child and Youth Advocate Search Committee continued its work during the fall sitting and plans to complete its mandate in February 2022. After being advised that the current Ombudsman and Public Interest Commissioner, Marianne Ryan, would not be pursuing a second term following the completion of her contract in June 2022 the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices has recommended that the Assembly appoint a new search committee to recruit for these positions.
The Select Special Committee on Real Property Rights had planned public consultation meetings in various locations throughout the province; however, this initiative was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 24, the Assembly approved a motion extending the deadline by which the Committee had to report, from December 15, 2021, to June 15, 2022. The Committee met on December 21 and reconfirmed its intention to hold in-person consultations around the province as part of its review process.
On December 7, the Assembly struck the 12-member Select Special Committee to Examine Safe Supply. The Committee’s mandate includes examining evidence of the potential benefits and negative consequences of safe supply (defined as the provision of pharmaceutical opioids, heroin, crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, or other substances to people who are addicted to or dependent on these substances) for individuals and communities. The Committee must report on its activities and any recommendations to the Assembly no later than April 30, 2022.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future is continuing its review of the Lobbyist Act. It has received over 100 written submissions from identified stakeholders and members of the public.
On January 11, the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices met with Del Graff, Child and Youth Advocate, to review the 2020-2021 Annual Report from his Office. The Committee has completed its review and must report back to the Assembly by February 22.
To mark the opening of the new legislative session, a pipe ceremony was held in the rotunda of the Legislative Building on October 26, 2021. Elders AJ and Patricia Felix, accompanied by First Nations Chiefs and helpers, led the ceremony and participants included the Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor, and Members of the Legislative Assembly from both the government and opposition caucuses. The ceremony was hosted by Speaker Randy Weekes and will be held prior to each session opening going forward.
Prorogation and the opening of a new session
The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan reconvened on October 27, 2021 in accordance with the parliamentary calendar and by an order of the Assembly. Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty prorogued the first session of the twenty-ninth legislature in the morning and opened the second session of the twenty-ninth legislature with the Speech from the Throne that afternoon. The speech was followed by blessings from an Indigenous Elder and a Catholic Archbishop, both of whom prayed for reconciliation.
Election of Deputy Speaker
The next day, the Legislative Assembly elected a new Deputy Speaker. Two members put their names forward as candidates: Lisa Lambert, MLA for Saskatoon Churchill-Wildwood, and Joe Hargrave, MLA for Prince Albert Carlton. The members elected Mr. Hargrave to serve as Deputy Speaker.
Sessional order regarding COVID-19 measures
On October 28, 2021, the Assembly passed a sessional order outlining temporary modifications to the rules and procedures of the Legislative Assembly and its committees in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The sessional order required MLAs, Legislative Assembly Service employees, government officials, media, and public observers to wear a mask at all times in the Chamber and committee room except when speaking during proceedings. In addition, rule 2 of the provisions of the Rules and Procedures of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan which requires all members to attend sittings of the Assembly was ruled inapplicable to members isolating due to exposure to COVID-19. Accordingly, the sessional order allowed for proxy voting on recorded divisions for members isolating for that reason.
The sessional order also stipulated that all Members of the Legislative Assembly had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours to attend and participate in legislative proceedings. The sessional order authorized the Speaker to determine the standards for verification of vaccination and negative COVID-19 testing and gave the Speaker the authority to enforce the sessional order.
The sessional order remained in effect for the duration of the fall sitting.
Summary of the fall sitting of the second session of the twenty-ninth legislature
The Assembly sat for 25 days, in which time 39 public bills were introduced by the government, as well as three private members’ public bills and three private bills sponsored by private members.
The Assembly also considered supplementary estimates in standing committees for several government ministries. The sums reported and approved by the various committees were included in an appropriation bill, which received Royal Assent on December 7, 2021.
Three additional public bills received Royal Assent during the fall sitting. Bill No. 48, The Public Health (Safe Access to Hospitals) Amendment Act, 2021, establishes 50-metre safe-access zones around hospitals in order to protect the ability of patients and health care providers to access hospitals without interference, harassment, or obstruction.
- Bill No. 66, The Education (Safe Access to Schools) Amendment Act, 2021, creates safe-access zones around schools in order to prevent sidewalk protests and harassment, particularly during the rollout of vaccines to school-aged children at these facilities.
- Bills 48 and 66 both contain sunset clauses stipulating that the safe-access zone provision will expire two years after the legislation comes into force.
- Bill No. 60, The Saskatchewan Employment Amendment Act, 2021, amends various sections of The Saskatchewan Employment Act to clarify and expand harassment protections, allow for the establishment of different types of bargaining units, and provide liability protection to employers following COVID-19 workplace vaccination regulations.
During the fall session, the government also introduced legislation to reduce the jurisdiction of the Legislative Protective Service, led by the Sergeant-at-Arms. Bill No. 70, The Legislative Assembly Amendment Act, 2021, redefines the term “legislative precinct” to consist of the floor of the Chamber of the Legislative Assembly. It also establishes a “legislative district,” which encompasses the remainder of the Legislative Building and a defined parcel of land surrounding it, and provides for the government appointment of a “Director of Legislative Security” who is responsible for the security of this district.
The fall session also saw the Legislative Assembly move 13 motions of condolence in honour of former Members of the Legislative Assembly who recently passed away, as well as a tribute to former Lieutenant Governor Thomas Molloy, who passed away on July 2, 2019 while serving as Saskatchewan’s 22nd Lieutenant Governor.
On November 29, 2021, Minister of Justice Gordon Wyant moved a motion to amend the Constitution of Canada by repealing section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, retroactive to August 29, 1966. Section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, which created the province of Saskatchewan in 1905, refers to a tax exemption that the federal government granted to Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) at that time. CP Rail is currently in the process of suing the Government of Saskatchewan to get back $341 million in taxes it has paid.
The motion was agreed to without dissent on a recorded division, and a transmittal motion was passed so that copies of the resolution could be sent to the President of the Privy Council and the Speakers of the House of Commons and Senate so that the matter could be addressed federally.
Motion pursuant to rule 61
On December 8, 2021, Opposition (NDP) MLA Meara Conway requested leave to move a motion pursuant to rule 61 of the Rules and Procedures of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. Rule 61 stipulates that in cases of urgent and pressing necessity, a motion may be made by unanimous consent of the Assembly without notice having been given.
Leave being granted, Ms. Conway proceeded to move a motion commending a Conservative Member of Parliament for proposing the expeditious passage of legislation to ban conversion therapy in Canada and commending all Senators and Members of the House of Commons for passing the legislation in an expedited way. The motion was agreed to.
New Provincial Auditor
On the unanimous recommendation of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the Legislative Assembly appointed Tara Clemett to the role of Provincial Auditor of Saskatchewan on November 9, 2021. Ms. Clemett had been serving as the Acting Provincial Auditor since July 1, 2021 and had previously served as Deputy Provincial Auditor. In Saskatchewan, the term for the Provincial Auditor is eight years and the auditor is not eligible for reappointment.
Appointment of Chief Electoral Officer
On November 4, 2021, the Legislative Assembly ordered the appointment of Michael Boda to another term as Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan. Operating under the authority of The Election Act, 1996, the Chief Electoral Officer oversees Elections Saskatchewan in administering provincial electoral events. The Chief Electoral Officer’s term is 12 months after the day fixed for the return to the writ following the second general election for which he or she is responsible.
Adjournment of fall sitting
The Assembly adjourned on December 9, 2021 and will reconvene on March 7, 2022 in accordance with the parliamentary calendar.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The first session of the 50th General Assembly continued in the autumn of 2021, with the House sitting for 14 days from October 18 to November 16, 2021. Significant business was considered by the Assembly, including new legislation respecting the use of off-road vehicles and legislation intended to improve accessibility by preventing, identifying and removing barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in society. As well, a resolution requiring mandatory vaccination of Members was passed unanimously by the House.
As the entire province had moved into more relaxed public health restrictions during the fall sitting (Alert Level 2), indoor capacity limits increased and changes were therefore made to the COVID-19 protocols in place in the House of Assembly Chamber.
In previous sittings during the pandemic, social distancing guidance meant some Members’ desks were placed in the middle section on the floor of the Chamber. Changes for the fall 2021 sitting meant that all Members could now sit on the risers with their respective caucuses, freeing up the space in front of the main entrance/ceremonial doors. Members continued to speak from a seated position and wore masks at all times except when speaking in debate.
Changes to public health guidance also allowed pages to be welcomed back to assist with proceedings for the first time during the pandemic. Four new pages were recruited for the duration of the fall sitting, with two on duty at any given time.
The changes to public health guidance and configuration of the Chamber further allowed the reinstatement of the Speaker’s parade, which was discontinued during previous sittings in the pandemic. The revised public health guidance also allowed the reopening of the public galleries on October 25 with reduced capacity to facilitate appropriate distancing between occupants. Anyone entering the galleries was required to provide proof of vaccination and to wear a mask at all times.
As mentioned above, the House also passed a resolution requiring the mandatory vaccination of all Members. Similar to the mandatory vaccination policy for public service employees that was announced by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador earlier in the fall, the resolution required all Members to provide proof of vaccination (or valid exemption) by December 17, 2021. All Members are now compliant with this Order of the House.
When the House rose on November 16, a traditional Royal Assent ceremony was held. Lieutenant Governor Judy May Foote was present in the Chamber and she assented to legislation passed during the sitting. She made short remarks, thanking Members for their service on behalf of Her Majesty.
Highlights: Standing and Select Committees
Public Accounts Committee: The Public Accounts Committee has been very active in the First Session of the 50th General Assembly. In addition to their regular oversight work, the Committee received two reports of the Auditor General in relation to referrals from the Public Accounts Committee under Section 16 of the Auditor General Act. The Committee’s review ad examination of both reports is in the early stages and will continue throughout 2022. Further, the Committee has been undertaking training and research in the area of best practices of public accounts committees across the country.
Standing Orders Committee: The Standing Orders Committee also continues to be quite active. It has identified its priorities for the 50th General Assembly and work is progressing on proposed improvements to the Standing Orders which will be brought to the House for debate and vote.
The former Sergeant-at-Arms, Wayne Harnum, retired at the end of the spring 2021 sitting. The House of Assembly has passed a resolution appointing Robert Escott as the new Sergeant-at-Arms. Robert comes from the Executive Branch where he served as the Director of Security Services with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and we welcome him to the team.
At the end of December 2021, Maureen Dooley, Secretary to the Clerk, retired after 20 years of service with the Legislature. We wish Maureen all the best in her future endeavours.
During 2021, a new position of Committee Clerk was created in the Clerk’s Office to assist in supporting Standing and Select Committees. Evan Beazley joined the position on a temporary assignment prior to the fall sitting. Evan comes to the Clerk’s Office from Hansard, and has been with the Legislature since 2018.
Policy, Planning and Research Analyst – Office of the Clerk
Fourth Session of the 42nd Legislature
The Fourth Session of the 42nd Legislature commenced on November 23, 2021 with the Speech from the Throne delivered by Janice C. Filmon, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba. As this was expected to be her last Throne Speech, having served in the position since June 2015, she graced the Assembly by opening the address with some personal comments:
On a personal note, I’ve had the privilege, the honour, of being your Lieutenant Governor for this past six and a half years. It’s gone by very quickly. I would not want to miss this opportunity, as it probably is the last time I will have a chance to read the Speech from the Throne.
It’s been a difficult time this last while for everybody, but especially for you. You carry the mantle of leadership. And I don’t think that you get the recognition or the thanks that you deserve for carrying that. I know that from another place. I wish you just so well. I wish you good health.
But, really, what I want to do is thank you for the support that you have given me and the office as Lieutenant Governor. To say it was an honour is an understatement–an absolute blessing. So please continue to be well. I wish you every success, and when I say happiness, only happiness because of the choices that you have made for yourself. So thank you. Go forth and know that I carry this experience in my heart. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
It was truly a monumental occasion as it marked the first time that the Speech from the Throne was delivered by a woman, on behalf of a governing party led by a woman, to a Legislative Assembly presided over by a woman, with a woman as the chief procedural expert in charge of keeping track of the proceedings. Heather Stefanson became the province’s first female Premier officially on November 2, 2021, Myrna Driedger was elected to the role of Speaker in May 2016, and Patricia Chaychuk became the first female Clerk of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in the year 2000. The Speech was also historic for another reason as an Indigenous drummer played an Honour Song while the Lieutenant Governor and the official party entered the Chamber. In addition four Grand Chiefs were seated in the Speaker’s Gallery to observe proceedings.
The address unveiled a new agenda for the province entitled a “Path to Progressing Together,” with a stated aim of working together with all Manitobans to build a stronger, healthier and more inclusive province, by creating a stronger, more sustainable health-care system, providing greater supports for families, seniors and vulnerable Manitobans, improving education and training opportunities, and laying the ground work to foster investment, job creation and economic growth. Key initiatives included:
- working with Indigenous leaders, elders, knowledge keepers, families and community members to advance shared goals and seek reconciliation, healing and a path forward together;
- removing barriers that delay Manitobans from getting the medical care they urgently need;
- addressing the nursing shortage with increased and targeted training opportunities;
- implementing a renewed seniors strategy so aging Manitobans are able to stay safe in their own homes, close to family and their personal support systems, for as long as they choose;
- advancing the Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy to accelerate post-pandemic recovery; and
- ensuring Indigenous and new Canadian students are given opportunities to participate in post-secondary education and training.
During his contribution to the Throne Speech debate on November 24, the Leader of the Official Opposition Wab Kinew moved a motion expressing non-confidence in the Government, highlighting several areas he believed the Government failed to address in the Speech from the Throne, including:
- failing to provide any plan to make life more affordable for Manitobans by not mentioning affordability and the rising cost of living due to higher hydro bills, grocery bills, and more as Manitobans head into the holiday season;
- failing to call an independent public inquiry into Manitoba’s pandemic response to learn from its mistakes and bring forward changes to improve the lives of Manitoba families and strengthen the healthcare system;
- failing to provide any immediate supports to address the healthcare crisis across the province, from the north to the south;
- failing seniors and elders in part by forcing them to move across Manitoba to make room in hospitals because of its failure to build new personal care home beds and address the healthcare crisis in the province;
- failing to produce a meaningful strategy to revive Manitoba’s creative industries or present a real strategy for Manitoba jobs in different sectors; and
- refusing to address the addictions and housing crisis by failing to provide long-term investments into harm reduction initiatives and affordable social housing.
Later in the debate, Independent Liberal Member Dougald Lamont, eader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, further moved a sub-amendment criticizing the Provincial Government on numerous items including its failure to:
- provide any substantial change in course, or concrete actions, to address multiple crises currently facing Manitobans that desperately require bold action while the Provincial Government only produced a “plan to plan”;
- provide solutions for all Manitobans, instead offering boutique policies that cater to a few while leaving the majority out in the cold;
- commit to fair and free bargaining with public sector workers or meddling with Crown Corporations and allowing for them to operate independently as they are intended;
- commit to reconsidering all of its disastrous health care reforms, and only reconsidering changes for rural Manitoba, and not for care centres in the City of Winnipeg which serve the entire province; and
- articulate any meaningful plan for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, choosing empty platitudes about “attracting investment” over concrete actions, and leaving Manitobans and Manitoba businesses on their own to continue to be innovative and be resilient in true Manitoba fashion.
On December 1, the sub-amendment was defeated on division. Subsequently, Mr. Kinew’s amendment was defeated on a recorded vote of yeas 21, nays 33, while the main motion carried on a recorded vote of yeas 33, nays 21.
The sitting day on December 2, 2021 concluded the Session with Royal Assent being granted to two Government Bills entitled:
- Bill No. 3 – The Family Maintenance Amendment Act establishes new rules respecting the parentage of children conceived through assisted reproduction, including where a surrogate is used. Consequential amendments are also made to The Vital Statistics Act to reflect the new rules as they affect birth registrations, and to other Acts.
- Bill No. 6 – The Workers Compensation Amendment Act lists specific illnesses and injuries presumed to be caused by firefighting, unless the contrary is proven. This Bill expands the list to include primary site thyroid, pancreatic, ovarian, cervical and penile cancers.
The Assembly is scheduled to resume sitting on March 2, 2022.
Although this was a short session, it marked yet another historical achievement as on November 29, 2021, Speaker Myrna Driedger delivered the first ever land acknowledgement at the beginning of a sitting of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. On the previous day, the Assembly granted leave to include a land acknowledgement as part of the daily proceedings immediately following the Prayer, for the remaining sitting days in the fall sittings. Many special guests attended this monumental day including: Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas; MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee; Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand; Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse; Executive Director of the Manitoba Inuit Association, Rachel Dutton and; Treaty Commissioner Loretta Ross. The delivery of the first land acknowledgement, can be viewed at https://youtu.be/LW-X9vCo0WY:
We acknowledge we are gathered on Treaty 1 Territory and that Manitoba is located on the Treaty Territories and ancestral lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anishininewuk, Dakota Oyate, Denesuline and Nehethowuk Nations.
We acknowledge Manitoba is located on the Homeland of the Red River Métis.
We acknowledge northern Manitoba includes lands that were and are the ancestral lands of the Inuit.
We respect the spirit and intent of Treaties and Treaty Making and remain committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and collaboration.
Government Motions – COVID related
On December 1, the Assembly extended the Sessional Order which allows for virtual hybrid sittings, detailed in a previous submission, to be continued until March 10, 2022.
On December 2, the Assembly passed the following motion moved by Government House Leader Kelvin Goertzen:
THAT effective no later than December 15, 2021, all current and future Members of the Legislative Assembly must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the Legislative Assembly Chamber, Committee Rooms and all other rooms under the jurisdiction of the Legislative Assembly within the Manitoba Legislative Building, including MLA and caucus offices, with this requirement to be reviewed before the completion of the 4th session of the 42nd Legislature.
This latter motion ultimately coincided with a Government policy announcement made on December 10, that effective December 15, 2021, all individuals, including staff and MLAs, entering the Manitoba Legislative Building would be required to be fully immunized and provide proof of vaccination.
During the November sitting of the House, the Standing Committees on Justice and Social and Economic Development met to complete clause-by-clause consideration of Bills 3 and 6.
The Standing Committee on Crown Corporations met on five occasions during the week of January 10 to consider the 2021 Annual Reports of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Efficiency Manitoba, Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation and the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board, respectively.
Bonjour and Au Revoir
The previous submission announced the retirement of Monique Grenier, as Clerk Assistant/Journals Clerk effective January 2022. The Clerk’s Office is pleased to announce that Vanessa Gregg officially assumed that role on November 17, 2021. Vanessa had previously served as the Manager of the Assembly’s Visitor Tour program since 2007 and had also worked as a tour guide in the building.
On January 18, Premier Heather Stefanson presented her new Cabinet with three new faces and one returning Minister while several Ministers have been assigned new duties:
- Cliff Cullen, previously Minister of Education, is the new Deputy Premier and Minister of Economic Development and Investment and Trade;
- Wayne Ewasko, previously Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration, is the new Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning;
- Scott Fielding, previously Minister of Finance, is the new Minister of Natural Resources and Northern Development and Minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation;
- Cameron Friesen, previously Minister of Justice and Attorney General, is the new Minister of Finance;
- Kelvin Goertzen, former Deputy Premier and Minister of Legislative and Public Affairs, is the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Minister responsible for Manitoba Public Insurance and retains his role as Government House Leader;
- Sarah Guillemard, former Minister of Conservation and Climate, is the new Minister of Mental Health and Community Wellness, a new department designed to work collaboratively with community organizations to better address and treat the addictions and mental health challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic;
- Reg Helwer, previously Minister of Central Services and Minister of Infrastructure, is the new Minister of Labour, Consumer Protection and Government Services, Minister responsible for the Public Utilities Board and Minister responsible for the Civil Service;
- Derek Johnson, previously Minister of Municipal Relations, is the new Minister of Agriculture;
- Jon Reyes, previously Minister of Economic Development and Jobs, is the new Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration;
- Rochelle Squires, continues as Minister of Families and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs and was also appointed as Minister responsible for the Status of Women and Minister responsible for Accessibility; and
- Jeff Wharton, previously Minister of Crown Services, is the new Minister of Environment, Climate and Parks and Minister responsible for Efficiency Manitoba.
The new ministers are:
- Eileen Clarke, returns as Minister of Municipal Relations, a position she held previously and she had also recently served as Minister of Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations;
- Scott Johnston was appointed Minister of the newly created Department of Seniors and Long-term Care with a focused agenda to implement all recommendations of the Stevenson Review. Mr. Johnston is the MLA for Assiniboia, was first elected in 2016 and re-elected in the recent general election of September 2019;
- Doyle Piwniuk is now the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. Mr. Piwniuk was first elected in a 2014 by-election in the constituency of Turtle Mountain and since 2016 has served as Deputy Speaker and Chairperson of the Committees of the Whole House; and
- Andrew Smith is now the Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage, Minister responsible for Travel Manitoba and Minister responsible for the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation. Mr. Smith has served as the MLA for Lagimodière since 2016 and has also held the position of Vice-Chair of the Public Accounts.
Everyone at the Legislative Assembly was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Danielle Adams, the MLA for Thompson, who died in a car accident on December 9, 2021. On December 13, a small ceremony was held in the Chamber to honour her memory. The three House Leaders and the NDP caucus were present and the family requested that the event be live streamed. NDP Leader Wab Kinew said a prayer in Ojibwa and paid tribute to her after NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine and Government house leader Kelvin Goertzen draped the Manitoba flag over the back of Danielle’s chair. A tribute of flowers and a framed photo were also placed on her desk.
Research Officer / Clerk Assistant
On September 3, 2021, the Ontario legislature prorogued, ending the 1st Session of the 42nd Parliament. The Second Session began on October 4, 2021, with the Speech from the Throne. During the fall sitting that followed, Royal Assent was granted to six government bills, five private members’ public bills and eight private bills. On December 9, 2021 the House adjourned for the winter break and is scheduled to resume on February 22, 2022.
On October 5, 2021, the Speaker delivered a ruling on a question of privilege raised by the Member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, Randy Hillier, who alleged that the Sergeant-at-Arms had “impeded and obstructed” his attempt to vote in the voting lobbies. The Speaker ruled that no prima facie case of privilege had been established as the Sergeant-at-Arms was acting properly under the authority of the Chair and attempting to uphold the face mask requirement for Members pursuant to the Order of the House dated February 16, 2021.
On October 6, 2021, the Speaker delivered a ruling on a question of privilege raised by the Member for London West, Peggy Sattler, and the Member for York Centre, Roman Baber, respecting the ability of Members to rise on points of order to seek the unanimous consent of the House regarding the business of the day. The Speaker ruled that points of order will normally be heard, and legitimate points of order will be acknowledged and recognized; however, if they are repetitive in nature and are impending and obstructing the business of the House, the Chair may decide to move forward to maintain the orderly progress of the business of the House.
On November 3, 2021, the Speaker delivered a ruling on a point of order raised by the Member for Timiskaming—Cochrane, John Vanthof, regarding the orderliness of the routine motion passed by the House on November 1, 2021 respecting the authorization for certain Standing Committees to meet at the call of the Chair. The Speaker ruled that the motion was a routine motion, properly moved, considered and disposed of by the House and that it does not contain provisions that are abusive of the rules or that represent an inherent disadvantage to any part of the House.
Motion Concerning Member’s Conduct
On October 28, 2021, the House passed a motion proposed by Government House Leader Paul Calandra with respect to the Member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston. The House expressed its disapproval of, and disassociated itself from, a string of disreputable conduct by the Member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston in the context of the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines, most specifically his use of social media to post photographs and false and hurtful information about identified individuals. The House called on the Member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston to publicly apologize for this behaviour and to desist from further conduct that is inappropriate and unbecoming of a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
COVID-19 Restrictions at the Assembly
COVID-19 screening protocols established by the Speaker on September 23, 2021 require individuals entering the precinct to provide proof of full vaccination status or proof of a negative rapid antigen test. However, based on advice from the public health officer, rapid antigen tests can be unreliable for up to 90 days following a positive case of COVID-19. Consequently, this option would not be available for individuals whose vaccination status is unknown and who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.
The protocol was challenged by the Member for Cambridge, Belinda Karahalios, on December 7, 2021. The Member entered the Legislative Chamber with a negative rapid antigen test result after having tested positive for COVID-19 over a week earlier. The Speaker asked that the Member leave the Chamber and the precinct. As a result of the Member’s refusal to leave, the Speaker named the Member and she was escorted out of the Chamber.
In April of 2021, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts passed a motion requesting that the Auditor General conduct a value-for-money audit on Laurentian University’s operations from the period of 2010-2020. During the fall sitting, the Committee learned that the Auditor General was not given access to the documents necessary to conduct the audit.
On more than one occasion, the Committee wrote to the university to request the documents in question. The Committee also invited representatives of the university to appear before the Committee to specify its objections to the request, explain the university’s position and address concerns over sensitive documents.
On December 1, 2021, representatives from Laurentian University and their counsel appeared before a closed session meeting of the Committee.
Laurentian University has provided some of the documents requested by the Committee but has refused to provide all of the documents outlined in the Committee’s letters.
At its meeting on December 8, 2021 the Committee adopted a motion requesting that the House authorize the Speaker to issue a Warrant to Laurentian University for the production of the outstanding documents. The Committee reported the matter to the House on December 9, 2021 requesting that a Speaker’s Warrant be issued. The report was debated and adopted by the House on the same day. The warrant was served electronically the next day by the Sergeant-at-Arms to the counsels representing Robert Haché and Claude Lacroix of Laurentian University respectively.
On November 18, 2021, a new wood carving created by Indigenous artist Garrett Nahdee was unveiled in the Legislative Chamber. Placed above the interior Chamber entrance, the carving illustrates the Seven Grandfather Teachings. The animals depicted in the carving represent Love, Wisdom, Truth, Humility, Respect, Courage and Honesty.
The Indigenous artwork all-party panel was created in 2017 to assist in the process of bringing a carving created by an Indigenous artist into the Chamber. A number of Members of Provincial Parliament have contributed to its work since its inception, assisting former Speaker Dave Levac and current Speaker Ted Arnott in the submission and selection process. The panel chose Mr. Nahdee as the successful artist in November 2020. Mr. Nahdee completed his carving in June 2021 which was then transported to the Legislative Building and installed in the Chamber.
The new carving serves as a permanent reminder of the ongoing role played by Indigenous peoples in the creation of Ontario, and symbolizes the continuing renewal of Ontario’s relationship and connections with Indigenous peoples living in the province today.
Following prorogation, the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight was reappointed through an Order of the House dated October 7, 2021 and resumed meeting through the fall. The Committee is tasked with receiving oral reports from the Premier or his designates on any extensions of emergency orders by the Lieutenant Governor in Council related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rational for those extensions. Bill 195, the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, states that the Committee must meet at least once every 30 days.
The Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly met to consider Bill 37, An Act to enact the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, 2021 and amend or repeal various Acts. The Committee held three days of public hearings, which included a deputation from the Minister of Long-Term Care and the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. After public hearings, one day of clause-by-clause consideration was held and the Bill was reported back to the House, as amended, on November 30, 2021. The House held a report-stage debate on the Bill before it was adopted and ordered for third reading. It was the first time the report-stage proceeding was held in Ontario since it was added to the Standing Orders this Parliament.
As a result of prorogation, the 2021-2022 Expenditure Estimates were tabled again in the House on November 4, 2021. The Standing Committee on Estimates met on November 16, 2021, to select the ministries and offices of the 2021-2022 Estimates for consideration, but the Committee adjourned the meeting without making selections and the Estimates were deemed passed by the Committee. On November 22, 2021, the Committee reported back the 2021-2022 Estimates and Supplementary Estimates Volume 1 of the ministries and offices to the House.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs considered Bill 43, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various statutes. The Bill contained updates outlined by the Minister of Finance in the government’s Fall Economic Statement that was delivered on November 4, 2021. The Committee held public hearings which included a deputation from the Minister of Finance. Following public hearings and clause-by-clause consideration in the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, the bill was reported back to the House, as amended, on December 6, 2021. The bill passed third reading on December 9, 2021 and was granted Royal Assent on the same day.
Resumption of First Session of the 60th Legislature
On October 18, Speaker Bill Oliver advised Members that the Lieutenant-Governor had issued a Proclamation to prorogue the First Session of the 60th Legislature and open the Second Session on November 2. On November 1, Speaker Oliver gave notice that the Proclamation had been revoked by the Lieutenant-Governor and that the House would reconvene on November 2 for the purpose of resuming the First Session.
The normal practice is for the House to start a new session each fall, reconvening for prorogation in the morning, followed by a throne speech in the afternoon. The continuation of the First Session into a second year marked a departure from the normal practice.
The resumption of the House coincided with on-going labour negotiations between the provincial government and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Negotiations reached an impasse in late October, leading to a strike by the employees. Prior to the matter being resolved, Green Party House Leader Kevin Arseneau requested that the matter be brought forward for an emergency debate in the House. The Speaker denied the request once the House declined to debate a motion on the same topic. The strike ended after a tentative agreement was reached on November 13.
The 2022-23 Capital Budget was tabled by Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves on December 7 and totalled $746.8 million. Mr. Steeves said the Capital Budget would strike a balance between addressing the province’s infrastructure needs, meeting its financial obligations, and supporting the provincial economy. Investments included $338.8 million for highways, roads, and bridges, with an additional $53.2 million for buildings and other infrastructure; $153.2 million for health-care infrastructure; and $84.7 million for public school infrastructure. Since the consideration of estimates in committee is capped at 80 hours per session, the House adopted a motion to allocate an additional 80 hours to accommodate for a second budget in the same session.
Appointment of Legislative Officers
The House recommended the appointments of three new legislative officers on December 8:
- Paul Martin as Auditor General for a term of ten years. Mr. Martin worked for Grant Thornton LLP for over 30 years and was the Comptroller for the Government of New Brunswick since 2014.
- Marie-France Pelletier as Ombud for a term of seven years. Ms. Pelletier has held several positions at the deputy level with the Government of New Brunswick and was a member of the Tribunals Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board since 2020.
- Kelly Lamrock as Child, Youth and Senior Advocate for a term of seven years. Mr. Lamrock was a former Attorney General, Minister of the Crown and Member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick (2003-2010) and has operated his own law firm since 2013.
The Legislative Assembly launched a new website on November 18 (legnb.ca). The site was designed and built in-house by Legislative Library staff. In particular, Anthony Lovesey, our Applications Systems Analyst, was critical in its design and implementation.
Twenty-one bills have been introduced since the House resumed. They include:
- Bill 66 – An Act to Amend The Residential Tenancies Act – by Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson, introduces rent increase limits to once every year and prohibits rent increases within the first year of tenancy;
- Bill 81 – An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act – by Green Party Leader David Coon, proposes to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and provide 10 paid sick days to all workers;
- Bill 82 – An Act Respecting Local Governance Reform – by Local Government and Local Governance Reform Minister Daniel Allain, introduces significant changes to the local governance system by implementing a process for municipal restructurings. The goal is to reduce the number of local government entities from 340 to 90 (78 local governments and 12 rural districts);
- Bill 84 – An Act to Amend the Police Act – by Attorney General and Justice and Public Safety Minister Hugh J.A (Ted) Flemming, allows Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) to act as the police oversight body for both provinces. SiRT is an independent agency that investigates serious matters involving an officer;
- Bill 85 – An Act to Amend the Emergency Measures Act – by Official Opposition Member Robert McKee, proposes to require an inquiry to be held within 60 days after a state of emergency ends, with a report presenting the circumstances and measures taken during the state to better prepare for future events.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Chuck Chiasson, met with Acting Auditor General Janice Lahey on October 7 for the release of the 2021 performance audit report concerning rural internet funding, Covid-19 funding, and the Executive Council Office’s role in Government’s oversight of Crown agencies.
The Select Committee on Accessibility in New Brunswick, chaired by Kathy Bockus, is charged with conducting consultations with community stakeholders and government departments involved with the disability community. The Committee met from October 19-22 and heard from 18 stakeholders, including the New Brunswick Health Council, the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, and the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick.
The Standing Committee on Procedure, Privileges and Legislative Officers, chaired by Jeff Carr, held a meeting on October 26 to discuss the May 2021 Local Elections: Electoral Modifications and Post-Election Recommendations report from Chief Electoral Officer Kim Poffenroth.
The Standing Committee on Economic Policy, chaired by Greg Turner, held fifteen meetings in November and December to consider eleven bills. The Committee met regularly following the early adjournment of the House and sat late into some evenings to undertake its work.
Standings and Budget
The standings in the House are 26 Progressive Conservatives, 16 Liberals, 3 Greens, 2 People’s Alliance, and 2 vacancies. The House is expected to resume sitting on March 22, when Mr. Steeves is expected to table the 2022-23 Budget.
Clerk Assistant and Clerk of Committees
Prince Edward Island
Second Session, Sixty-sixth General Assembly
The Second Session of the Sixty-sixth General Assembly resumed on October 19, 2021, and adjourned to the call of the Speaker on November 17, for a fall sitting total of 14 days. The Second Session began in February, 2021, and now totals 49 sitting days.
Pandemic Measures and Virtual Proceedings
Effective November 16, the media and main public galleries in the Chamber were reopened for in-person attendance during Assembly proceedings. Masks and proof of vaccination continued to be required. Members’ seats were once again positioned closer together, as in pre-pandemic times, though plexiglass dividers remained in use between caucuses. The public and media were also permitted to attend committee meetings in-person during the latter half of November and December.
However, with significant increases in daily COVID-19 case counts in the early days of 2022, Speaker Colin LaVie invoked virtual hybrid proceedings, as provided for in the Rules of the Legislative Assembly, effective January 11, 2022. This allows members to attend committee or Assembly proceedings via videoconference if they so choose. Committee chairs and clerks must be present in the Chamber, and witnesses must appear via videoconference. This provision, as well as various related rules to attend to quorum, voting and other matters during virtual hybrid proceeds, was added to the Rules earlier in the pandemic but had not been invoked until this instance. The first committee meeting held as a virtual hybrid proceeding took place on January 11, 2022. The Hon. George Coles Building was again closed to the public, though members of the media were permitted to attend proceedings.
New Member of the Legislative Assembly
On November 15, Mark McLane of the Progressive Conservative Party was elected in a by-election for District 16: Cornwall – Meadowbank. The by-election was necessitated by the resignation of former MLA Heath MacDonald, who resigned in the summer of 2021 to run in the September 20 federal election. Mr. McLane received 40 per cent of the vote, ahead of candidates for the Liberal, Green and NDP parties. Mr. McLane’s background is in business administration. Prior to politics he served as the Executive Director of Golf PEI. He was sworn in as the Member for Cornwall – Meadowbank on November 29. Seats in the Legislative Assembly are now held as follows: 15 Progressive Conservative Party, 8 Green Party, and 4 Liberal Party.
On October 26, Minister of Finance Darlene Compton tabled a Capital Budget consisting of $212 million in planned 2022-2023 spending on capital projects such as roads, bridges, buildings and equipment. Some degree of spending was planned for all 10 departments, with the largest totals found in Transportation and Infrastructure, Social Development and Housing, and the Health PEI agency. Government highlighted measures such as $40.3 million toward purchasing new electric school buses over the next five years; $7.5 million to upgrade ventilation systems in schools; upwards of $100 million over the next five years toward construction of two new schools and expansion or renovation of four others; $60.7 million toward social housing over five years; and $63.6 million toward new Medical Homes and Neighbourhood facilities in four regions of the province.
During the fall sitting 28 bills were introduced. Twenty-two of these were Government bills, four were introduced by members of the Official Opposition, and two were introduced by members of the Third Party. All Government bills passed all stages and received Royal Assent. Notable Government bills included Bill 36, Class Proceedings Act, which establishes the possibility of class actions in PEI courts, whereas previously only representative actions were possible under the Rules of Civil Procedure. Bill 27, Access to Digital Assets Act, aims to help executors and trustees access the digital records of deceased or incapacitated persons. Bill 42, An Act to Amend the Lands Protection Act (No. 2) updates the parent Act to define direct and indirect control of corporations, change requirements around transfers of land ownership accomplished via transfers of corporate shares, and implement other changes as recommended by the Land Matters Advisory Committee. That committee also recommended changes to the Planning Act to clarify the purpose and scope of the Act and introduce the concept of provincial interest to guide land use decisions; these changes were brought about by Bill 43, An Act to Amend the Planning Act.
Three of the four Opposition bills passed all stages and received Royal Assent. Bill 118, Non-disclosure Agreements Act, prohibits the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of harassment or discrimination unless such agreements are sought by the victim of the harassment or discrimination. It also permits the victim to disclose information related to the harassment or discrimination, despite the presence of a non-disclosure agreement, to certain authorities, such as police, lawyers and doctors. Bill 119, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act amends the parent Act to prohibit employers from seeking pay history information about job applicants, to require employers to include information about the expected pay of a position in job postings, and to prohibit reprisals against employees for communications related to compensation. Bill 122, An Act to Amend the Rental of Residential Property Act, suspends for a period of two years the section of the parent Act pertaining to landlords’ ability to evict tenants in order to carry out renovations to rental properties. The Bill passed after being amended to allow such evictions only if the renovations are necessary to protect the property or the health and safety of persons, provided that the landlord obtains the necessary permits for the renovations as required by law.
As for the two Third Party bills, Bill 116, An Act to Amend the Water Act, passed all stages and received Royal Assent, and Bill 117, Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, was not further considered beyond first reading. The former Bill makes the testing of residential well water free of charge for homeowners. The latter bill proposes to shift the province to a presumed consent model of organ donation.
Appointment of Ombudsperson and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
On November 4, upon recommendation of the Standing Committee on Legislative Assembly Management, the Assembly appointed Sandra Hermiston as PEI’s first Ombudsperson and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner pursuant to the Ombudsperson Act and Public Interest Disclosure and Whistleblower Protection Act. Ms. Hermiston is the current Ombudsman of the Cayman Islands and previously worked with workers compensation boards in the Northwest Territories and Alberta, and the Office of the Alberta Ombudsman. Her appointment is effective February 22, 2022.
Point of Order: Unparliamentary Language
On November 17 Speaker LaVie ruled on a point of order raised on November 5 by Michele Beaton, the member for Mermaid – Stratford, in objection to Premier Dennis King’s use of the term “false statements” in regard to things said in the House during Question Period. Mr. Speaker found the term to be unparliamentary, and asked the Premier to retract the comment, which he did.
Committee Activities and Reports
In another busy year for committees, 95 meetings were held and 12 reports tabled in 2021. During the fall sitting, the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Growth tabled reports on its review of Bill 19, Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act, and on its activities. The Standing Committee on Health and Social Development tabled reports on its review of Bill 18, Gunshot and Stab Wounds Reporting Act, and on its activities. The Standing Committee on Legislative Assembly Management tabled reports on the appointment of an Ombudsperson and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, and on its review of Bill 121, An Act to Amend the Election Expenses Act. The standing committees on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability, and Public Accounts tabled reports on their activities. All reports contained recommendations, and all were adopted by the Assembly.
Director of Parliamentary Research
2021 Fall Sitting
The 2021 Fall Sitting of the First Session of the 35th Yukon Legislative Assembly began on October 7 and concluded on December 2, after 31 sitting days.
Bills assented to
On the final day of the Sitting, eight government bills were assented to by Yukon’s Commissioner, Angélique Bernard:
- Bill No. 4, Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act (2021) – Nils Clarke;
- Bill No. 5, Act to Amend the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act (2021) – John Streicker;
- Bill No. 6, Act to Amend the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act (2021) – Tracy-Anne McPhee;
- Bill No. 7, Act to Amend the Family Property and Support Act (2021) – Ms. McPhee;
- Bill No. 8, Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act – Richard Mostyn (Note: the modernized act replaces the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.);
- Bill No. 9, Act to Amend the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act (2021) – Ranj Pillai;
- Bill No. 10, Act to Amend the Territorial Court Judiciary Pension Plan Act (2021) – Ms. McPhee; and
- Bill No. 202, Second Appropriation Act 2021-22 – Sandy Silver.
One government bill remains on the Order Paper: Bill No. 3, Act to Amend the Assessment and Taxation Act and the Municipal Act (2021). As detailed in its explanatory note, the bill seeks to create a program that can be utilised to retrofit buildings to increase their energy efficiency as local improvements under the Assessment and Taxation Act. In his leadoff remarks at second reading on December 1, Mr. Mostyn, Minister of Community Services, indicated that the government would work with municipal governments to draft regulations for the bill over the winter months. Bill No. 3 passed second reading that day, and stands referred to Committee of the Whole.
During the 2021 Fall Sitting, no private members’ Bills were introduced or considered.
Opposition Private Members’ Motions
On October 27, a non-binding motion (Motion No. 169) moved by Official Opposition MLA Brad Cathers (Lake Laberge), that called on the Deputy Premier (Ms. McPhee) to resign from Cabinet, carried with the support of the Third Party caucus. Premier Silver has expressed his continued confidence in the minister.
On November 10, 2021, Kate White, the Leader of the Third Party, moved a motion (Motion No. 200) regarding the nasal spray form of a drug used to treat suspected opioid overdoses. The motion, which urged the Yukon government to make Naloxone nasal spray “publicly available and free of charge at front line agencies, government facilities, and pharmacies”, carried unanimously.
Witnesses in Committee of the Whole
Over the course of the 2021 Fall Sitting, a number of officials appeared as witnesses in Committee of the Whole to answer questions relating to their respective organizations: the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation (October 21); the Yukon Hospital Corporation (November 16); Yukon University (November 23); the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (November 24); and the Office of the Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health (November 29).
Standing Committee on Rules, Elections and Privileges – First Report
On October 13, Mr. Mostyn, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules Elections and Privileges, presented the committee’s first report. The report recommended that during “Introduction of Visitors” (an item in the Daily Routine) Members only introduce people who are actually physically present in the gallery.
As well, the report recommended that the Standing Orders concerning “Tributes” be amended to limit, with exceptions, an individual tribute speech by an MLA to a maximum of three and a half minutes.
On December 2, the House concurred in the Committee’s report.
Special Committee on Electoral Reform
The Chair of the Committee, Ms. White (Third Party caucus), Vice-Chair Mr. Cathers (Official Opposition caucus), and Mr. Streicker (Government caucus) form the membership of the Special Committee on Electoral Reform. On October 25, the House extended the committee’s original reporting deadline from March 31, 2022 to the 2022 Fall Sitting of the Legislative Assembly. The committee is scheduled to hold public hearings in late January. As noted in Yukon’s Fall 2021 legislative report, the House created the Special Committee on Electoral Reform on May 21, 2021.
Public Accounts Committee hearings
On January 12 and 19, 2022, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PAC), chaired by Currie Dixon, Leader of the Official Opposition, held follow-up public hearings on progress made by the Department of Education in implementing recommendations contained in a performance audit report of the Auditor General of Canada.
Witnesses from the Yukon Chiefs Committee on Education, including the Chair of that committee – Dana Tizya-Tramm, the Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation – took part in PAC’s January 12 public hearing. At the following week’s PAC hearing, officials from the Department of Education appeared as witnesses.
In December 2019, during the preceding Legislative Assembly, the Auditor General’s report, entitled Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Legislative Assembly of Yukon – Kindergarten Through Grade 12 Education in Yukon – Department of Education, had been the subject of a PAC public hearing.
A December 8, 2021 decision of the Supreme Court of Yukon awarded partial costs to MLA Annie Blake (Vuntut Gwitchin) in relation to legal challenges that had been mounted by Pauline Frost (the former MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin) seeking to vacate the results of the April 12, 2021 general election in that riding. Ms. Frost, the former Minister of Health (and the incumbent, going into the general election), had filed a petition with the court on April 22, 2021, two days after Ms. Blake was sworn in as an MLA. Ms. Frost’s petition had been heard in court on June 23-24, and dismissed by Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan on August 5, 2021.