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Cannabis Regulations, Child Welfare Reform, Environmental Protections - This Week in the Leg

BILL 11 - THE SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE RETAILING OF CANNABIS ACT (LIQUOR AND GAMING CONTROL ACT AND MANITOBA LIQUOR AND LOTTERIES CORPORATION ACT AMENDED) This Bill lays out some of the basic ground rules for cannabis legalization in Manitoba. Cannabis can only be sold by those who hold a retail cannabis licence. Licences will be provided by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (formerly The Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba). All cannabis stores must purchase cannabis from the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation. The licence authorizes the sale of cannabis at a specific store or through online sales. If a municipality is interested in banning these stores, they can enforce a ban if the community votes in favour. Additionally, the cannabis must be packaged in accordance with federal requirements. The Bill includes a number of prohibitions, including:

  1. You must be 19 and older to purchase or consumer cannabis

  2. Home growing is prohibited

  3. Those under the influence of substances cannot purchase cannabisMore information is available here Also worth reading: The Cannabis Harm Prevention Act

BILL 9 - THE COMMUNITY CHILD CARE STANDARDS AMENDMENT ACT (ENHANCED POWERS RESPECTING GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY) This piece of legislation seeks to make changes to child welfare rules in the province. Many are critical about the child-welfare system in Manitoba - and rightly so! While this Bill hopes to implement some of the changes that citizens have been demanding, the proposed changes don’t appear to be ground-breaking strides. The Bill proposes that the provincial director is given new powers for addressing problems in child care facilities. The renewal period for child care facility licences has been extended. Also, the government can now revoke child care subsidies provided to parents on the basis of false information or error. More information available here

BILL 7 - THE SUSTAINABLE WATERSHEDS ACT (VARIOUS ACTS AMENDED) The Sustainable Watersheds Act seeks to amend four acts primarily involving water protection. The first amendment would rename "conservation districts" to "watershed districts" as well as empower the board of a district to work outside of its boundaries and enter agreements with others, including First Nations. The second amendment would authorize the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation to carry out wetland restoration and enhancement projects. The third amendment would mandate the government to monitor and publicly report nutrient levels at specified locations in order to meet nutrient targets, noting the government must work with other governments to develop coordinated water management plans for river basins extending out of the province. The final amendment would create an efficient registration process for low impact drainage projects. The government will not grant larger impact projects licences if significant wetlands will be lost or altered unless specific steps are taken to restore wetlands to ensure no net loss of wetland benefits. Additionally, enforcement measures would be toughened and fines increased. More information available here

BILL 5 - THE PUBLIC INTEREST DISCLOSURE (WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION) AMENDMENT ACT This Bill proposes a number of amendments. The most significant involves extending whistleblower protection to school districts and their employees, empowering the Ombudsman to more effectively investigate complaints, and prohibiting the disclosure of the whistleblower’s identity in a civil court or administrative tribunal proceeding. More information available here

BILL 10 - THE BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COUNCILS AND COMMISSIONS STREAMLINING ACT (VARIOUS ACTS AMENDED OR REPEALED) This Bill makes changes to, and removes, a number of Acts in order to reduce the size of various commissions, committees, boards, and councils. It is unclear whether these changes are for the better or worse. Certainly, the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy may reduce unnecessary government spending and make institutions more efficient. But it’s worth considering the implied lay-offs and whether these cutbacks would overload other boards and their workers, leading to backlog. More information available here Also on the agenda for this session: the introduction of taxes and spending to combat climate change. No Bills clearly outline this change yet, but PC House leader Cliff Cullen recently told CBC News that some of the details on the climate change package will come with the PC’s third budget released yesterday (March 12th, 2018).The provincial government has already formalized a plan to price carbon pollution at $25 per tonne for the next five years. This plan was made alongside a decision to join the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

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