Retroactive rent protection debated in Alberta legislature
Government House Leader Jason Nixon speaks to media on March 31 about government plans to propose legislation that would protect renters from retroactive charges after the pandemic.
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government will be sitting Tuesday on a piece of legislation that would protect renters from being retroactively charged for rent increases or late payment penalties issued during the public health emergency.
Bill 11 is one of three bills Government House Leader Jason Nixon will propose Tuesday.
If passed, the law would also offer protection to mobile home tenants who own their unit but rent the space they live on.
The other two bills that will receive a first reading in the assembly are Bill 10, which would make law new powers for community peace officers and police to enforce public health orders, and Bill 12, meant to speed up the reclamation of orphan wells across Alberta.
Alberta police and community peace officers were able to ticket people in violation of physical distancing, self-isolation, and large gathering rules last week. Bill 10 would see the powers solidified in the Public Health Act.
“We took steps last week to in the short term use regulations to be able to put those powers in place to get them into effect right away because we couldn’t get the chamber back,” Nixon explained Tuesday. “But it is our government’s perspective that something of that magnitude needs to be debated in the chamber and needs to be decided by the democratic body of Alberta.”
He said his proposal will include increasing the penalty amounts to bring fines in line with the provinces of Saskatchewan, B.C. and Ontario. The fine amount was first set at $1,000.
Bill 12 would enable the Orphan Wells Association to manage and maintain orphan sites still considered economically viable, whether it had capacity to become an operator itself or find a producer or receiver. Government officials said it was still being discussed where profits would go if the OWA were to take on an asset itself.
The legislation also defines remediation and associated costs, as well as impairment or damage of assets.
Both caucuses will return Wednesday for debate on Alberta’s COVID-19 response.
The legislature is exempt from the 15-person gathering limit imposed by the province’s chief medical officer of health, but Nixon said the government was taking precautions by limiting the number of members in the chamber to 20 plus the Speaker.
“Basically the ratio we’re shooting for is 14 government caucus members and six Opposition caucus members in the chamber at any given time. That’s about roughly the ratio of our two caucuses to the elected representation.”
Nixon added his intent was not to send MLAs home until all three pieces of legislation were passed.