64

 


First Session, 48th General Assembly

65 Elizabeth II, 2016

BILL 64

AN ACT RESPECTING THE SENIORS’ ADVOCATE

Received and Read the First Time.................................................................................................

Second Reading.................................................................................................................................

Committee..........................................................................................................................................

Third Reading.....................................................................................................................................

Royal Assent......................................................................................................................................

HONOURABLE SHERRY GAMBIN-WALSH

Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development

Ordered to be printed by the Honourable House of Assembly

 

 

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This Bill would establish the Office of the Seniors' Advocate and appoint a person to act as an advocate for the interests of seniors.

A BILL

AN ACT RESPECTING THE SENIORS’ ADVOCATE

Analysis


        1.   Short title

        2.   Definitions

        3.   Office of Seniors' Advocate established

        4.   Appointment of Seniors' Advocate

        5.   Status of advocate

        6.   Term of office

        7.   Removal or suspension

        8.   Suspension when House of Assembly not sitting

        9.   Acting advocate

      10.   Salary, pension and benefits

      11.   Expenses

      12.   Advocate's staff

      13.   Oath of office

      14.   Confidentiality of information

      15.   Delegation

      16.   Powers and duties of advocate

      17.   Referral to Citizens' Representative

      18.   Proceedings against advocate

      19.   Advocate not to be called as witness

      20.   Annual report to House of Assembly

      21.   Publication of reports

      22.   Regulations

      23.   Offence and penalty

      24.   SNL2007 cH-10.1 Amdt.

      25.   SNL2016 cI-2.1 Amdt.

      26.   Commencement


Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly in Legislative Session convened, as follows:

Short title

        1. This Act may be cited as the Seniors’ Advocate Act.

Definitions

        2. In this Act

             (a)  "advocate" means the Seniors' Advocate appointed under section 4;

             (b)  "House of Assembly Management Commission" means the commission continued under section 18 of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act;

             (c)  "department" means a department created under the Executive Council Act or a branch of the executive government of the province;

             (d)  "senior" means an individual who is  

                      (i)  65 years of age or older, or

                     (ii)  less than 65 years of age and receives seniors' services;

             (e)  "seniors' services" means the programs, services or systems of support, prescribed in the regulations, that are related to health care, personal care, housing, transportation or finances that are used by or associated with seniors; and

             (f)  "service providers" means the public or private persons or bodies prescribed in the regulations who fund or deliver, in whole or in part, seniors' services.

Office of Seniors' Advocate established

        3. The Office of the Seniors' Advocate is established to  

             (a)  identify, review and analyze systemic issues related to seniors;

             (b)  work collaboratively with seniors' organizations, service providers and others to identify and address systemic issues related to seniors; and

             (c)  make recommendations to government and government agencies respecting changes to improve seniors' services.

Appointment of Seniors' Advocate

        4. On resolution of the House of Assembly, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint a Seniors' Advocate.

Status of advocate

        5. (1) The advocate is an officer of the House of Assembly and is not eligible to be nominated for election, to be elected or to sit as a member of the House of Assembly.

             (2)  The advocate shall not hold another public office or carry on a trade, business or profession.

Term of office

        6. (1) Unless he or she sooner resigns, dies or is removed from office, the advocate shall hold office for 6 years from the date of his or her appointment, and he or she may be re-appointed for a second term of 6 years, but shall not hold office for more than 2 terms.

             (2)  The advocate may resign his or her office in writing addressed to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, or, where there is no Speaker or the Speaker is absent, to the Clerk of the House of Assembly.

Removal or suspension

        7. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council, on resolution of the House of Assembly passed by a majority vote of the members of the House of Assembly actually voting, may suspend or remove the advocate from office because of an incapacity to act or for misconduct, cause or neglect of duty.

Suspension when House of Assembly not sitting

        8. When the House of Assembly is not sitting, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may suspend the advocate because of an incapacity to act or for misconduct, cause or neglect of duty but the suspension shall not continue in force beyond the end of the next sitting of the House of Assembly.

Acting advocate

        9. (1) The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the House of Assembly Management Commission, appoint an acting advocate if

             (a)  the advocate is temporarily unable to perform his or her duties;

             (b)  the office of the advocate becomes vacant or the advocate is suspended when the House of Assembly is not sitting; or

             (c)  the office of the advocate becomes vacant or the advocate is suspended when the House of Assembly is sitting, but the House of Assembly does not pass a resolution to appoint an advocate before the end of that sitting.

             (2)  Where the office of the advocate becomes vacant and an acting advocate is appointed under paragraph (1)(b) or (c), the term of the acting advocate shall not extend beyond the end of the next sitting of the House of Assembly.

             (3)  An acting advocate holds office until

             (a)  the advocate returns to his or her duties after a temporary inability to perform;

             (b)  the suspension of the advocate ends or is dealt with in the House of Assembly; or

             (c)  a person is appointed as an advocate under section 4.

Salary, pension and benefits

      10. (1) The advocate shall be paid a salary fixed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council after consultation with the House of Assembly Management Commission.

             (2)  The salary of the advocate shall not be reduced except on resolution of the House of Assembly.

             (3)  The advocate is subject to the Public Service Pensions Act, 1991 where he or she was subject to that Act before his or her appointment as advocate.

             (4)  Where the advocate was not subject to the Public Service Pensions Act, 1991 before his or her appointment as advocate, he or she shall be paid, for contribution to a registered retirement savings plan, an amount equivalent to the amount which he or she would have contributed to the Public Service Pension Plan were the circumstances in subsection (3) applicable.

             (5)  The advocate is eligible to receive the same benefits as a deputy minister, with the exception of a pension where subsection (4) applies.

Expenses

      11. The advocate shall be paid the travelling and other expenses incurred by him or her in the performance of his or her duties that may be approved by the House of Assembly Management Commission.

Advocate's staff

      12. (1) The advocate may, subject to the approval of the House of Assembly Management Commission, and in the manner provided by the Public Service Commission Act, appoint those assistants and employees that the advocate considers necessary to enable him or her to carry out his or her powers and duties under this Act.

             (2)  Persons employed under subsection (1) are members of the public service of the province.

Oath of office

      13. (1) Before beginning to perform his or her duties, the advocate shall swear an oath or affirm before the Speaker of the House of Assembly or the Clerk of the House of Assembly that he or she shall faithfully and impartially perform the duties of his or her office.

             (2)  Every person employed under the advocate shall, before he or she begins to perform his or her duties, swear an oath, or affirm, before the advocate that he or she shall not, except as provided by this Act, divulge information received by him or her under this Act.

Confidentiality of information

      14. (1) The advocate and every person employed under him or her shall keep confidential all matters that come to their knowledge in the exercise of their powers and duties under this Act.

             (2)  Notwithstanding subsection (1), the advocate may disclose in a report made by him or her under this Act those matters which he or she considers it necessary to disclose in order to establish grounds for his or her conclusions and recommendations.

             (3)  A report the advocate makes under this Act shall not disclose the name or identifying information about a senior.

Delegation

      15. (1) The advocate may in writing delegate to another person his or her powers under this Act except the power to make a report under this Act.

             (2)  A person purporting to exercise the power of the advocate by virtue of the delegation under subsection (1) shall produce evidence of his or her authority to exercise that power when required to do so.

Powers and duties of advocate

      16. (1) In carrying out the powers and duties of his or her office the advocate may

             (a)  receive and review matters related to seniors;

             (b)  initiate and participate in reviews related to seniors;

             (c)  conduct research related to seniors, including interviews and surveys;

             (d)  consult with seniors, service providers and the public;

             (e)  request information, other than

                      (i)  personal health information within the meaning of the Personal Health Information Act, and

                     (ii)  personal information within the meaning of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 2015;

             (f)  make recommendations to government, government agencies, service providers and community groups respecting legislation, policies, programs and services impacting seniors; and

             (g)  inform the public about the Office of the Seniors' Advocate and promote awareness of systemic issues related to seniors.

             (2)  A service provider, department or government agency who receives a request for information under this Act shall, if he, she or it has custody or control of the information, provide the information.

Referral to Citizens' Representative

      17. Where the advocate becomes aware of a matter relating to a senior, the advocate may refer that senior to the Citizens' Representative for investigation of that matter.

Proceedings against advocate

      18. An action does not lie against the advocate or against a person employed under him or her for anything he or she may do or report or say in the course of the exercise or performance, or intended exercise or performance, of his or her powers and duties under this Act, unless it is shown he or she acted in bad faith.

Advocate not to be called as witness

      19. The advocate and a person employed under him or her shall not be called to give evidence in a court or in a proceeding of a judicial or quasi-judicial nature in respect of anything coming to his or her knowledge in the exercise or performance of his or her powers and duties under this Act.

Annual report to House of Assembly

      20. The advocate shall report annually to the House of Assembly through the Speaker on the exercise and performance of his or her powers and duties under this Act.

Publication of reports

      21. Where it is in the public interest, or in the interest of a person, department or government agency, the advocate may publish reports relating generally to the exercise and performance of his or her powers and duties under this Act, whether or not the matters to be dealt with in the report have been the subject of the report made to the House of Assembly under this Act.

Regulations

      22. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations

             (a)  prescribing the programs, services or systems of support for the purpose of paragraph 2(e);

             (b)  prescribing the public or private persons or bodies for the purpose of paragraph 2(f);

             (c)  re-defining or further defining a word or expression defined in this Act;

             (d)  defining a word or expression used but not defined in this Act; and

             (e)  generally, to give effect to the purpose of this Act.

Offence and penalty

      23. A person who

             (a)  obstructs, hinders or resists the advocate or another person in the exercise or performance of his or her powers and duties under this Act;

             (b)  refuses or fails to comply with a lawful request under this Act; or

             (c)  makes a false statement to or misleads or attempts to mislead the advocate or a person employed under the advocate in the exercise or performance of his or her powers and duties under this Act,

is guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months, or to both.

SNL2007 cH-10.1 Amdt.

      24. (1) Paragraph 2(r) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act is amended by deleting the word "and" at the end of subparagraph (v) and by adding immediately after that subparagraph the following:

                 (v.1)  Seniors' Advocate, and

             (2)  Subsection 32(2) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act is amended by deleting the word "and" at the end of paragraph (d), by deleting the comma at the end of paragraph (e) and substituting a semi-colon and the word "and", and by adding immediately after that paragraph the following:

             (f)  subsection 12(1) of the Seniors' Advocate Act,

SNL2016 cI-2.1 Amdt.

      25. The Schedule to the Independent Appointments Commission Act is amended by adding immediately after the statutory appointment reference "Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992, subsection 4(1)" the statutory appointment reference "Seniors' Advocate Act, section 4".

Commencement

      26. This Act comes into force on a day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.