This is page numbers 6849 - 6882 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 6th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was safety.

Topics

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Sergeant-at-Arms, bring the witnesses in.

Mr. Minister, for the record, could you introduce your witnesses.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Mr. Chairman, on my left I have Mr. Russell Neudorf, deputy minister of the Department of Transportation, and on my right I have Ms. Kelly McLaughlin, legislative counsel with the Department of Justice.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Minister. Welcome, witnesses. General comments in regard to Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Deh Cho Bridge Act. Any comments? Mr. Ramsay.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure met on August 16, 2011, to review Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Deh Cho Bridge Act. Following the public hearing and clause-by-clause review, a motion was carried to report to the Assembly that Bill 15 is ready for consideration in Committee of the Whole. This concludes the committee’s general comments on Bill 15. Individual Members may have additional questions or comments as we proceed. Thank you.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. General comments, Bill 15. Detail. Turn to page 1, clause 1.

---Clauses 1 through 6 inclusive approved

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Does committee agree we have concluded clause-by-clause?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

The bill as a whole?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Does committee agree that Bill 15 is ready for third reading?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Agreed. Bill 15 is now ready for third reading.

---Bill 15 as a whole approved for third reading

With that, thank you, Mr. Minister, thank you, witnesses.

As we agreed, the next bill we begin with is Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. Minister of Transportation, Mr. McLeod, do you have opening comments?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

August 22nd, 2011

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Yes, Mr. Chairman, I do. Mr. Chairman, I’m pleased to present Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, which addresses the issue of distracted driving posing a restriction on the use of handheld electronic devices, such as cell phones, music players, tablet devices, and personal digital systems while driving. This bill also proposes a raise in the threshold for mandatory reporting of a collision from $1,000 to $2,000 and provides a mechanism to restrict services for unpaid fines under the Deh Cho Bridge Act.

We will be joining 11 other Canadian jurisdictions in prohibiting the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. This legislation is not just for cell phones, it restricts all handheld electronic devices that could increase the risk of a collision if used while driving. This action supports our continued efforts to improve road safety in the Northwest Territories.

In our consultations we have heard growing concern about the number of collisions and near misses that occur because someone was paying more attention to their phone or other device than to their driving. Both the enforcement community and municipal governments have indicated their support for this legislation.

I continue to believe that public information and education is important to produce long-term changes in behaviour. This past January our Drive Alive program launched its Leave the Phone Alone pledge campaign which will continue this fall with the distribution of our new poster. We will also be working with Radio Taiga to prepare a French language campaign. I encourage all Members to take the pledge to leave the phone alone while driving, and more pledge stickers are available for any interested Members. With the help of the department, members of Students Against Drinking and Driving, or SADD, will also be creating distracted driving radio public safety announcements.

Bill 16 also addresses accident reporting. The property damage threshold for reporting accidents to the policy is being raised from $1,000 to $2,000.

This threshold is nationally harmonized by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, of which the Northwest Territories is a member. The amended threshold supports our continued contribution to statistical reporting based on common national standards.

The third set of amendments addresses service restrictions for unpaid fines. Under the Motor Vehicles Act, services like vehicle registration and driver licensing may be withheld from clients with outstanding fines under our acts and regulations. Bill 16 extends this list to outstanding fines under the Deh Cho Bridge Act and its regulations. This will ensure consistency in our policies.

I would also note that if this bill is approved, the department would plan to bring this legislation into force on January 1, 2012, providing time needed to draft the required regulations pursuant to this bill, and to inform drivers about the upcoming changes.

Together, these amendments advance our continuing goal of improving road safety for all NWT residents and visitors to our territory. Thank you.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Minister. At this time I’d like to call on the standing committee which has reviewed the bill if they want to make any comments in regard to the bill. Economic Development and Infrastructure, Mr. Ramsay.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure held public hearings on Bill 16, An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act, during the months of May and June 2011, in Yellowknife, Deline, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Fort Liard, Jean Marie River, and Fort Simpson. While the committee supports these amendments, some Members feel they could have gone further by addressing other distractions, such as hands-free devices, personal grooming, and dogs riding in vehicles. Members also raised concerns about the effect of the legislation on drivers travelling on winter roads where safety requires the use of communication devices; for example, to warn of obstructions or large vehicles ahead. The committee urges the government to ensure exempting regulations are made to allow for the use of handheld devices where warranted by safety considerations, such as those presented by our winter roads.

During the clause-by-clause review of the bill on August 17, 2011, the committee passed and the Minister concurred with two non-substantive amendments as requested by the government. Following the clause-by-clause review, a motion was carried to report Bill 16 to the Assembly as ready for Committee of the Whole as amended and reprinted. This concludes the committee’s general comments on Bill 16. Individual Members may have additional questions or comments as we proceed. Thank you, Mr. Chair.