On May 15, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a new order under the Emergency Program Act that relates to local government financial matters affected by COVID-19.
Borrowing from Reserve Funds
The order states that municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, and other specified bodies may, during the 2020 calendar year, borrow from reserve funds, on certain conditions. The money borrowed must be used for operational shortfalls during 2020, and must be repaid to the applicable fund by the end of 2025. No interest need be charged. If money remains outstanding at the end of 2025, that money must be added to the 2026 financial plan, budget or estimate, as applicable, as a cash transfer to reserves, plus a penalty equal to 5% of the outstanding amount. (more…)
On May 1, 2020 the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued the Local Government Meetings and Bylaw Process (COVID-19) Order No. 2. Ministerial Order No. 83/2020 (as referred to in our March 26, 2020 post) is repealed.
The new Order continues and expands upon the provisions of Ministerial Order 83/2020, by providing that the ability to hold an open meeting without the public being present is extended to a trust body, or a board of variance established by a local trust committee under the Islands Trust Act. For regional districts, the new Order makes it clear that in addition to boards and board committees, other bodies established by a regional district, such as a commission, are not required to allow members of the public to attend an open meeting. The ability to hold electronic meetings is similarly extended to other regional district bodies, to a trust body or board of variance under the Islands Trust Act, and to improvement district boards and their committees. For improvement districts, an annual general meeting is not permitted to be held by means of electronic or other communication facilities, but the new Order allows an improvement district to defer the date of its annual general meeting, and the preparation of its financial statements, to December 31, 2020. (more…)
Under section 234 of the Community Charter, July 2 is the date on which property taxes for a year are due under the general tax collection scheme. The Municipal Tax Regulation provides that if all or part of the property taxes payable under the general tax collection scheme remain unpaid after July 2, the collector must add a penalty equal to 10% of the portion that remains unpaid. Under the general tax collection scheme, a municipal council does not have the authority to change the due date, or to provide any relief from the penalty provisions of the Municipal Tax Regulation. So far, the Province has not changed the due date under the general tax collection scheme in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, or the penalty provisions under the Municipal Tax Regulation. (more…)
On April 8, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made Ministerial Order MO98 pursuant to the Emergency Program Act, titled the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order No. 2. This Ministerial Order replaces MO86 made on March 26, 2020.
The new Ministerial Order continues to suspend all mandatory limitation periods and any other mandatory time periods for the commencement of a “civil or family action, proceeding, claim or appeal” in the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal. However, it has carved out an exception for limitation periods and time periods under the Builders Lien Act and certain provisions of the Strata Property Act. Therefore, limitation periods and other mandatory time periods related to builders’ liens remain in effect.
On April 2, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made Ministerial Order M094 pursuant to the Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996, c. 111, titled Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order. Order M094 will remain in effect until the declaration of a state of emergency expires or is cancelled, or if extended, until the last extension of the declaration expires or is cancelled. (more…)
As we have previously noted on this page, on March 26, 2020 the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Ministerial Order No. M082, which requires local authorities, to the greatest extent possible without unduly compromising any other bylaw enforcement objectives of the local authority, to ensure that their Bylaw Enforcement Officers provide assistance in the enforcement of public health orders. To that end, the Provincial Health Officer has now issued Compliance and Enforcement Guidelines for Bylaw Enforcement Officers who provide assistance with the enforcement of public health orders. The list of all current Public Health Officer Orders can be found here. (more…)
On March 26, 2020, the Minister of Citizens’ Services made Ministerial Order No. M085 pursuant to section 33.1(3) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”). Order M085 will remain in effect until June 30, 2020 unless rescinded by the Minister before that date. (more…)
On March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made Ministerial Order M086 pursuant to the Emergency Program Act, titled the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order. This Ministerial Order reflects the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all aspects of society, including legal proceedings. This Order acknowledges that it may not be possible for a person involved in legal or administrative proceedings to take steps within the timeframe required by legislation. As such, commencing March 26, 2020 and continuing until the provincial state of emergency expires or is cancelled, every mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period for the commencement of a “civil or family action, proceeding, claim or appeal” in the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal is suspended. Additionally, any decisions required to be made within a statutorily defined timeframe by a person, tribunal, or other body may be waived, suspended, or extended by that decision maker.
Of note, the suspension of limitation periods does not appear to apply to deadlines for filing with tribunals or other administrative bodies.
A party wishing to nonetheless file a claim with the BC Supreme Court during this suspension, may do so electronically or in accordance with this court announcement.
On March 23, 2020, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbia made two amendments to its Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996, c 113 (the “ESA”) in order to protect employees affected by illness or injury. Local governments employ workers in a number of respects, and many of those individuals will likely be entitled to the protections afforded by these recent ESA amendments, which include the following: (more…)
The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has now made three Ministerial Orders pursuant to the Emergency Program Act. The following is a summary of what each order provides. These Orders apply during the declared state of emergency made on March 18, 2020. The following is a summary of what each Order provides. A link to the full text of each Order is included. (more…)