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St. Albert MLA tables red tape reduction bill

Bill 16 regulates that ministries track red tape reduction efforts, allows courtroom evidence to be submitted digitally, permits children to walk through casinos, extends the statute of limitations for provincial offences and much more
The provincial government released the first budget of its term Thursday.

An omnibus bill tabled on Monday aims to cut red tape in 10 ministries, and it will enshrine “red tape reduction” in provincial regulation.

If passed, it will allow courtroom documents such as evidence to be submitted digitally instead of in-person, remove the need for criminal background checks in some positions at cannabis stores, set the stage for more business development on public lands and much more.

The bill will require ministries to do an annual count of their red tape and report what they have done to reduce it, said Dale Nally, Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction and Morinville – St. Albert MLA. Nally tabled Bill 16, the Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act.

Although ministries already have a policy of tracking red tape, the bill “adds more permanency to the culture of red tape reduction … by putting it into regulation, as ministries change, as governments change, the requirement won’t go away,” Nally said.

The legislation will extend the time Crown prosecutors have to file charges for certain crimes, such as traffic violations, to 12 months from six months.

It’s a change that Gord Krebs, a Didsbury veterinarian, had been seeking since his son was paralyzed in a car accident and the Crown failed to file charges within the six month statute of limitations.

“My hope is that from our family's experience, and through the legislative change, there'll be similar efforts by the RCMP and law enforcement on getting charges filed correctly, and helping families like mine seek justice,” Krebs said at a Monday press conference that introduced the bill.

If the bill is passed, children will be allowed to walk through casinos to get to restaurants and other casino resort facilities that allow minors. Families staying at casino hotels on sports trips had been unable to access restaurants in some cases, Nally said.

Although some cannabis store staff would no longer have to get criminal record checks, managers will still be required to have a clean record.

Nally, who oversees Alberta Gaming Cannabis and Liquor, said the change is meant to level the playing field between cannabis stores and liquor stores, which don’t require criminal record checks for front-line or managerial staff.

The bill did not eliminate the need for managers to get criminal record checks because “there are some more sensitivities to [the cannabis] industry,” Nally said.

“Cannabis is newer to being a regulated product,” he said. “We’re taking baby steps on this.”

Albertans will be able to enter pleas to provincial violations online instead of going into a courthouse, and the province will allow for more virtual court sittings if the bill is passed.

The bill will set the stage for the creation of a regulatory body of counsellors and therapists by repealing a 2018 law.

The bill will allow pilot projects of autonomous vehicles to happen on certain, designated roads.

It will also make it easier for businesses using public lands to renew land use contracts. 

"We've reduced 230 unnecessary requirements in this bill," Nally said. "If Bill 16 passes, we will save Albertans $1.6 million dollars."

Bill 16 is the eighth red-tape reduction bill the UCP have brought forward since 2019.

About the Author: Riley Tjosvold

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