MEA and ISOA Amendments

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Dec 152016

MEA and ISO Amendments

Amendments to the Maintenance Enforcement Act [MEA] and the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act [ISOA] were made on November 22, 2016. These amendments affect collection of child and spousal support by the Maintenance Enforcement Program [MEP].

Amendment Highlights

  1. Further clarification of what occurs when a debtor applies for a stay of enforcement under the MEA. Effective November 23, 2016, unless the court directs otherwise, a stay has a duration of 9 months (increased from 3 months with the ability to extend for a further 6 months), is limited to arrears only, and does not apply to lump sum or one-time payments owed to the debtor. In the absence of specific direction in a stay, the MEP will continue to enforce ongoing support payments due and any related new arrears. There is also a new requirement that, prior to granting a stay, the court is satisfied that the debtor attempted to make a payment arrangement with MEP, or has provided reasons why a payment arrangement was not possible.
  2. A new requirement under the MEA that all clients keep contact information up-to-date with MEP, and that debtors also keep their employment, income, and other financial information current.
  3. Amendments to the ISOA which impact the interjurisdictional support order process. This includes clarifying choice of law provisions, expanding the definition of ‘support order’ to include administrative recalculations, reducing the amount of time for jurisdictions to respond to information requests by Alberta courts to 12 months, clarifying that an order made in Alberta is to be treated the same as an order registered in Alberta, and changing all references of ‘ordinarily resident’ to ‘habitually resident’ to align with 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.


Why is it important that I be aware of these changes? To be aware of the new legislative requirements the court must consider prior to granting a stay of enforcement.

What key information should I know about these changes? These changes were the result of consultation and engagement activities between Alberta’s MEP, other Canadian jurisdictions’ MEPs, and Alberta-based lawyers, judges, clients, and Government of Alberta ministries.

How will these legislative changes affect me/my practice? When there are no specific terms in a stay of enforcement order, MEP interprets the stay of enforcement as being granted in accordance with the new amended s 32 of the MEA.

Prior to the court granting a stay of enforcement, the debtor is now required to show to the court that he or she attempted to make a payment arrangement with MEP, or provide reasons why a payment arrangement could not be made. MEP anticipates this change will encourage debtors to make a payment arrangement with MEP and this will reduce the number of court applications. To assist the courts in making this determination, MEP provides debtors with a written explanation if a payment arrangement is not possible.

Is there any additional key information I should know regarding these changes? These amendments do not change the MEA’s provisions which indicate that a stay of enforcement does not affect MEP’s ability to issue the following collections actions: a Federal Support Deduction Notice, motor vehicle restriction and/or suspension, federal license denial, Land Titles registrations, and writs at the Personal Property Registry.

Click here for more information , or call the Maintenance Enforcement Program at 1.780.422.5555.

Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000: select the Program’s lawyer line.

Bill C-14: Carter v Canada re Physician Assisted Dying

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Jun 072016

Bill C-14: Physician Assisted Dying

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada, which prohibited physician assisted dying (Carter v Canada, 2015 SCC 5, 1 SCR 331 [Carter]). The ruling gave decision-makers until February 2016 to respond. However, there was a 4 month extension to June 6, 2016.

Summary of Bill C-14

Bill C-14 was drafted in response to the Carter decision. Bill C-14 creates an exemption to the laws prohibiting the counseling, aiding or abetting of another person’s suicide for individuals who qualify and consent to medically assisted dying.

Who can provide medically assisted dying?

Individuals who are lawfully entitled to practice medicine in the province, and registered nurses who are lawfully entitled to practice as nurse practitioners in the province may provide medically assisted dying. Alternatively, the consenting individual may self-administer the noxious substance. In this case, any other person may provide assistance to the individual in self-administering the substance as long as the following conditions are met.

  • The assistance must be at the individual’s explicit request;
  • The assistance must be for the purpose of aiding the individual in self-administering the substance; and
  • The noxious substance must have been prescribed by a nurse practitioner or medical practitioner.
Who qualifies for medically assisted dying under Bill C-14

To qualify for medically assisted dying under Bill C-14, 5 conditions must be met.

  • The individual must be eligible for health care funded by the Government of Canada (or would be eligible but for any applicable waiting period);
  • The individual must be at least 18 years old and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;
  • The individual must be suffering from a grievous and irremediable medical condition. Bill C-14 defines a grievous, irremediable medical condition as (a) a serious, incurable disease or disability that, (b) has led to an advanced state of irreversible decline in capacity and, (c) causes enduring physical or psychological suffering which is intolerable to the individual and cannot be relieved by conditions the individual considers acceptable and (d) the individual’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all medical circumstances;
  • The request for medically assisted dying must be voluntary with no external pressures; and
  • The individual must give informed consent. One notable difference between the decision in Carter and Bill C-14 is the condition under the latter that the individual’s natural death must be reasonably foreseeable.
What safeguards does Bill C-14 implement?

Bill C-14 imposes multiple safeguards on providers of medically assisted dying.

First, the individual who requests medical assistance in dying must have 2 independent witnesses sign and date the request. Those witnesses cannot know or believe they are a beneficiary under the individuals’ will or stand to receive any material benefit from the individual’s death. Furthermore, neither witness can be an owner or operator of any health care facility where the individual is treated or where the individual lives. Nor can they be directly involved in providing personal or health care to the individual.

Second, the Bill also requires another medical or nurse practitioner to provide a written opinion confirming all criteria described in the paragraph above are met. This other medical or nurse practitioner must be independent, meaning.

  • they do not stand to receive any material benefit (other than fee for service) from the person’s death;
  • they do not know or believe they are connected to the individual requesting in any way that could affect their objectivity;
  • they are not in a business relationship with the other practitioner; and
  • they are not a supervisor or mentor of the other practitioner.

The Bill also requires that there be 10 clear days between the individuals request and the day of death, unless all medical or nurse practitioners involved are of the opinion that death is imminent.

Current status

Bill C-14 has passed third reading and is currently at the Senate stage. However, the deadline of June 6th, 2016 imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada has now passed, leaving the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter as the law of the land until federal legislation is passed.

More Information

For more information, read the full text of the bill, or see the open letter from the CEO of the Canadian Bar Association to the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.

Latest from the Leg – April 20, 2015

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Apr 202015

Several recent amendments to Alberta legislation are geared towards efficiency, freeing up court time, and, ultimately, access to justice.

Alberta Gains a Second Associate Chief Justice

Effective March 30, 2015 the Court of Queen’s Bench Act has been amended by the Statutes Amendment Act, 2015 (Bill 16) to allow for a second Associate Chief Justice in Alberta. According to the Hansard record of comments made by the Hon. Ian Donovan, the change is meant to address two concerns:

  • Over the past two decades, the Court of Queen’s Bench has not increased in size to match Alberta’s rapidly growing population, and, of course, the increased court case volumes.
  • Both Calgary and Edmonton need a dedicated ACJ to oversee the operational needs in each city. This will give the Chief Justice the capacity to provide more strategic direction to the court as a whole.

Now that a new position has been legislatively created, according to Hansard, the Alberta government and the Court of Queen’s Bench will seek an appointment of the second ACJ by the federal government.

Expanding the Role of the Master in Chambers

The Statutes Amendment Act, 2015 also gives the Chief Justice the authority to issue directives on the jurisdiction of the province’s Masters in Chambers by amending s 9 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act (which deals with the Masters’ jurisdiction). The idea is to allow for a mechanism to control and augment the types of applications litigants can bring before a Master, to free up court time before the Justices of the Court.

Here come electronic signatures in the Land Titles Office

The Statutes Amendment Act, 2015 also introduced changes to how things will be done at the Land Titles Office, with a view to increased efficiency. Eventually, registered subscribers (frequent users such as lawyers and land surveyors) will be able to electronically submit certain documents to the land titles registry, using a unique digital signature.

Karen McDougall – LESA Counsel

Latest from the Leg – April 8, 2015

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Apr 082015

ABLeg_iStock_000006937454LargeUpcoming legislation will affect how Albertans sign a guarantee.

Effective April 30, 2015, only active members of the Law Society of Alberta are eligible to

  • attend on someone signing a personal guarantee,
  • provide advice, and
  • sign the certificate required under the Guarantees Acknowledgment Act.

This is an important change and means that students-at-law and others with notary public status, all of whom have been providing this service for many years, will be shut out.

These changes were made through the Notaries and Commissioners Act SA 2013 c N-5.5, to be proclaimed April 30, and through the Justice Statutes Amendment Act SA 2014 c 13, proclaimed in 2014.

This same legislation also changes things for commissioners of oaths in Alberta.

1) Required Information
Before April 30: Commissioners must insert their name on the document commissioned and, if appointed by the Minister (rather than acting by virtue of office), add the commission end date.
After April 30: Commissioners must insert their name, the title “A Commissioner for Oaths in and for Alberta,” and their end date (or, where acting by virtue of office, their status – Barrister and Solicitor, for example).

2) Penalties
Before April 30: The penalty for non-compliance with the Act or for misrepresenting oneself as a commissioner is $500.
After April 30: The penalty is $5000.

3) Commissioner Requirements
After April 30: Commissioners must be over 18 years of age and Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

4) Duties and Code of Conduct
After April 30: The Minister may establish directives governing the duties of Commissioners as well as a code of conduct.

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Mar 302015

Alberta LegislatureHere at LESA we’re proud to be your lifelong partner in continuing legal excellence. As your partner, we want to help you keep on top of all the latest legislative changes.

That desire leads us to today’s inaugural “Latest from the Leg” blog. We’ll be posting similar blogs periodically to update you on provincial or national legislative changes that will impact the practice of law in Alberta.

We hope you find these updates useful!

New Estate Administration Act

The Estate Administration Act (EAA) and the new Surrogate Rules will come into force on June 1, 2015 (by Order in Council 84/2015 and Order in Council 85/2015, both approved on March 19).

The EAA repeals the Administration of Estates Act RSA 2000 cA-2 and the Devolution of Real Property Act RSA 2000 cD-12. It has been developed to make the roles and obligations of personal representatives (executors) easier to find and understand. Among other things, the new legislation and the corresponding changes to the Surrogate forms add more information-sharing rules: those administering estates not requiring a grant must serve notice to beneficiaries or others including their contact information, the date of the will, and the date of death.

Additional Court Fees

You can expect to see additional court fees in place soon.

  • Higher prices for court filing fees are effective May 1, 2015 (under OC 112/2015), and in the Provincial Court fees will be added for filing a dispute note, third party claims, and applications within an action.
  • Court fees under the Surrogate Rules (AR 130/1995) are also going up for grants of probate, letters of administration, or resealing under Schedule 2 – from an extra $10 for an estate valued at $10K or less to an extra $125 for an estate valued at over $250K.
  • Under the Rules of Court (AR 124/2010) Schedule B, it will cost $250 (up from $200) to file a statement of claim/originating application and $50 (up from no charge) to file an action under the Family Law Act. Instead of being included in the price of the action, there will be a separate fee for filing a statement of defense ($50), a counterclaim ($150), a third party claim ($150), and an application ($50).

If you practice in the area of wills & estates, LESA has seminars to help both lawyers and legal support staff learn more about the new Act. Learn more or register online now to secure your seat – some seminar sessions are already full!

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

Case Management Counsel in the Court of Queen’s Bench

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Mar 132015

The role of case management counsel at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta was recently legislatively recognized at ss 16.1 and 16.2 of the Court of Queen’s Bench Act.

First rolled out as a pilot project in 2011, the position of case management counsel has now become a permanent fixture at the court house. There are currently two counsel in Edmonton (Brenda Kaminski QC and Michelle Pidhirney) and two in Calgary (Catherine Christopher QC and Susan Borsic-Drummond).

A Notice to the Profession (NP #2011-03) outlines the authority and duties of these counsel, which includes narrowing or resolving issues, assisting with scheduling, and vetting applications to be made by the parties. They are also empowered to conduct references under Rule 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court. The mandate of case management counsel applies only to case-managed files and is only available to cases formally assigned into case management. Currently, counsel in Edmonton gets involved with all types of civil cases, regardless of whether the parties are self-represented or have counsel; in Calgary, they take only high conflict family cases with at least one self-represented litigant.

A case is referred to case management counsel in one of two ways:

  1. By the Chief Justice (in Calgary) or Associate Chief Justice (in Edmonton), on the case being assigned into case management, but before going before a case management judge.
  1. By the assigned case management judge, once the case is already in case management.

According to Michelle Pidhirney, “The role of case management counsel has become an important element of the case management process.  We complement the work of the judiciary in a way that makes efficient use of judicial resources and is of value to parties and to counsel. We assist with ensuring the effective administration of case managed actions to improve access to justice for all litigants, particularly those who are self-represented.”

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel

The Limitations Act Has Been Amended

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Mar 062015

The recently effective Justice Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, SA 2014 c 13 amends, among several other pieces of legislation, Alberta’s Limitations Act.

The purpose of the changes is to clarify the limitation applicable to claims for contribution made under the Tort-Feasors Act, RSA 2000, c T-5. This Act allows a defending tort-feasor to claim contribution from another potential tort-feasor defendant where both were involved in the same tort.

Until 2013, the courts consistently held that the applicable limitation for such a claim is 2 years from when a defending tort-feasor knew or ought to have known that a claim for contribution existed. However, in 2013 the waters were muddied on this issue when the Court of Appeal held that the applicable limitation begins to run with the plaintiff’s (and not the defendant’s) limitation period. That is, the claim had to have been advanced by a defending tort-feasor against another tort-feasor within 2 years from when the plaintiff knew or ought to have known of a claim against that other tort-feasor. This more narrow interpretation of the Act caused a potential situation in which a defendant, if served late by a plaintiff, could have been out of time to add another tort-feasor to the action before even learning of that tort-feasor’s liability.

The amendments to s. 3(1.1) of the Limitations Act, retroactively effective from March 1, 1999, overcome this problem by essentially overturning the 2013 Court of Appeal decision. Under the new provisions of the Limitations Act, the limitation period applicable to claims for contribution is: the later of 2 years from when a defendant is served with a statement of claim and the date on which the defendant knew, or ought to have known, that another tort-feasor may be liable for the same damage.

Karen McDougall, LESA Counsel