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BILL NO. 35

                                              Government Bill

                 
                                                               
              3rd Session, 56th General Assembly
                         Nova Scotia
                    44 Elizabeth II, 1995

                 
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                       An Act to Enable
                   Information to be Filed
                  Electronically by Business










                 
                                                               
                                                               
               The Honourable J. William Gillis
                     Minister of Justice


                 
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                               
                                                             
                 
                                                               
                           Halifax
         Printed by Queen''s Printer for Nova Scotia
                               
                               
                        An Act to Enable
                    Information to be Filed
                   Electronically by Business



         Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:


         1  This Act may be cited as the Business Electronic Filing Act.


         2  The purpose of this Act is to

              (a)  enable information and forms to be filed electronically by business;

              (b)  establish a system of business identifiers;

              (c)  establish a unified database to provide access to information required to be
         maintained under designated enactments;

              (d)  permit a person, other than an officer or employee of the Crown, to perform
         any function or service under a designated enactment;

              (e)  simplify Government regulatory requirements, eliminate duplication in
         procedures and improve Government organizational arrangements; and

              (f)  enhance the ability of Government to co-operate with other governments or
         levels of government for greater efficiency and to eliminate unnecessary duplication.


         3    In this Act,

              (a)  "business" means

                   (i)  a person authorized or entitled to carry on a trade, occupation,
              profession, service or venture with a view to profit, including a partnership and a
              limited partnership, and

                   (ii) a society, non-profit corporation or Crown corporation,

         and, where the context requires, includes a person establishing a business pursuant to a
         designated enactment;

              (b)  "Crown" means Her Majesty in right of the Province;

              (c)  "designated enactment" means an enactment designated pursuant to this Act;

              (d)  "file" means to file, to register, to submit, to deposit, to make an application
         or to otherwise make available;

              (e)  "Minister" means the member of the Executive Council assigned responsibility
         for the supervision and management of this Act and the regulations;

              (e)  "officer", in relation to the Crown, includes a member of the Executive
         Council and a servant or employee of the Crown;

              (g)  "prescribed" means, except where the context otherwise requires, prescribed
         pursuant to this Act.


         4    The Governor in Council may designate any enactment for the purpose of this Act.


         5    (1)  The Governor in Council may make regulations

                   (a)  authorizing or requiring information that businesses are required to
              file under this Act or a designated enactment, to be filed and maintained in an
              electronic or other prescribed format;

                   (b)  authorizing or requiring information that businesses are required to
              file under this Act or a designated enactment, to be filed by direct electronic
              transmission to an electronic database;

                   (c)  authorizing or requiring forms that businesses are required to file
              under this Act or a designated enactment, to be signed by electronic signature or by
              signature copied or reproduced in a prescribed manner;

                   (d)  authorizing or requiring forms that businesses are required to file
              under this Act or a designated enactment, to be filed without signatures;

                   (e)  prescribing fees for filing information or forms that businesses are
              required to file under this Act;

                   (f)  prescribing fees for filing information or forms that businesses are
              required to file under a designated enactment or changing the filing fees prescribed
              under a designated enactment;

                   (g)  prescribing the electronic format or formats that may be used when
              information is filed pursuant to this Act or a designated enactment;

                   (h)  governing the time of filing assigned when the information is filed in
              electronic format or by direct electronic transmission;

                   (i)  designating places where information may be filed in accordance with
              this Act and areas in respect of which information may be filed;

                   (j)  governing the filing of information that is presented in a prescribed
              electronic format;

                   (k)  governing the filing of information by direct electronic transmission;

                   (l)  prescribing the effect of the payment of fees or charges electronically
              where payment is required to accompany a filing;

                   (m)  unifying procedures for businesses to file information under designated
              enactments;

                   (n)  unifying financial and statistical reporting requirements and
              procedures for businesses under designated enactments;

                   (o)  prescribing common dates or time periods for businesses to file
              information or to pay fees, taxes or other charges under designated enactments;

                   (p)  prescribing methods by which businesses may pay fees, taxes or other
              charges under designated enactments;

                   (q)  prescribing methods for allocating payments made under designated
              enactments;

                   (r)  requiring renewal of licences or filings pursuant to designated
              enactments from time to time, with or without conditions.

              (2)  Where information is filed by direct electronic transmission, the time or date
of filing is the time or date assigned in the prescribed manner.

              (3)  A form filed in an electronic form has the same effect for all purposes as if
the form were in writing.

              (4)  A form filed pursuant to clause (1)(d) has the same effect for all purposes as
if the form were signed by the party or parties that would have been required to sign the form,
but for a regulation made pursuant to that clause.

              (5)  A regulation made pursuant to a designated enactment may apply to some or
all of the information or documents that may be filed under the designated enactment.

              (6)  Information filed electronically pursuant to this Act is deemed to be filed for
the purpose of the designated enactment.

              (7)  A regulation made pursuant to subsection (1) may prescribe all the
requirements that are necessary in the circumstances to achieve the objective of the regulation,
including adjusting the amount of fees that businesses are required to pay under designated
enactments.

              (8)  Nothing in this Section affects a provision in a designated enactment with
respect to the maintenance of separate funds or the priority of entitlements to funds under the
designated enactment.


         6    (1)  The Governor in Council may, for the purpose of this Act, approve forms that
have the same effect as forms prescribed or approved by the Governor in Council under
designated enactments.

              (2)  The Minister may approve forms that have the same effect as forms prescribed
or approved by a member of the Executive Council, board or agency under a designated
enactment.

              (3)  Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), the Minister may combine forms
prescribed or approved under either of those subsections into a single form and may adapt the
form as is necessary in the circumstances for the purpose of a designated enactment.

              (4)  The Governor in Council may make regulations providing for the use of forms
that are prescribed or approved pursuant to this Section.


         7    (1)  Information that businesses are required to file or are authorized to access
under a designated enactment may be filed or accessed, as the case may be, by a person who is
authorized to do so by the Minister or by a person who is a member of a class of persons that
is authorized to do so.

              (2)  The Minister may attach conditions to an authorization given pursuant to
subsection (1).


         8    A bank, trust or loan company, credit union or other financial institution prescribed
by the regulations or a person referred to in subsection 9(4), that receives a payment of fees,
taxes, interest, penalties or other charges under this Act or a designated enactment on behalf of
a member of the Executive Council by the debit card, credit card or pre-authorized charge of the
institution or person or by such other method of payment acceptable to the Minister of Finance,
may deduct from the payment the amount of compensation that the Minister of Finance and the
institution or person agree may be deducted.


         9    (1)  The Governor in Council may establish an organization in any department
or an agency or a corporation to provide any service under this Act or a designated enactment
and provide for all matters necessary to fund, staff and operate the organization, agency or
corporation.

              (2)  Where the Governor in Council has made a regulation pursuant to Section
5 unifying procedures for businesses to apply for licences and permits under designated
enactments, the Governor in Council may establish a business registration access service to
receive the applications and to issue the licences and permits.

              (3)  The Governor in Council may enter into agreements with a municipality,
province or government to

                   (a)  provide a service under this Act or a designated enactment in co-operation with that municipality, province or government, either directly or through
              another person;

                   (b)  operate a business regulation service on behalf of that municipality,
              province or government for the purpose of this Act.

              (4)  The Minister may appoint an officer of the Crown or enter into an agreement
with any other person to perform any function or service under a designated enactment for the
purpose of this Act.

              (5)  A person who, pursuant to subsection (4), is appointed or required by an
agreement to perform a function or service has the power to perform the function or service
mentioned in the appointment or the agreement, as the case may be.

              (6)  A person who, pursuant to an agreement referred to in subsection (4), is
required to perform a function or service is deemed not to be an officer of the Crown for the
purpose of the function or service.


         10   (1)  The Governor in Council may establish a system of business identifiers and
provide for the manner in which businesses identifiers are assigned to a business or a class of
businesses.

              (2)  The Governor in Council may make regulations providing for the use that
businesses are required to make of the system of business identifiers.

              (3)  The Minister may enter into agreements providing for the integration of a
system of business identifiers established pursuant to this Section with any system of business
identification established by a municipality, province or government.


         11   (1)  The Governor in Council may establish a unified database for information
required to be maintained under designated enactments and provide for the creation of,
maintenance of, access to and use of the database.

              (2)  The Governor in Council may enter into agreements with a municipality,
province of Canada or government to adopt common forms, reporting and filing processes with
that municipality, province or government or to share databases with the municipality, province
or government.

              (3)  The Minister is responsible for the supervision of a database established
pursuant to this Section.

              (4)  Where the Minister receives information pursuant to this Act or a designated
enactment, the Minister may disclose the information to

                   (a)  a member of the Executive Council for the purpose of the
              administration of a designated enactment, including the updating of a record or
              database;

                   (b)  a municipality, province of Canada or government in accordance with
              an agreement between the municipality, province or government and the Crown; or

                   (c)  a person,

                        (i)  whom the Minister has authorized to access the information in
                   the prescribed manner, or

                        (ii) with whom the Minister has entered into an agreement regarding
                   the use of the information.


         12   The Governor in Council may prescribe standards that persons are required to
comply with for the purpose of this Act in the definition, collection, transmission and
presentation of information under this Act or in the provision of services under a designated
enactment, or adopt such standards by reference, including reference to standards as amended
from time to time.


         13   (1)  Information filed pursuant to this Act or a designated enactment may be in
such electronic format as may be prescribed by regulations made pursuant to a designated
enactment.

              (2)  Information may be filed in an electronic format if it is recorded on a system
of electronic data storage that, in the opinion of the person who is responsible for the
maintenance of the information filed, is capable of being read by the computer or other
equipment used in the information filing system.

              (3)  Where a designated enactment provides that a certified copy of a document
filed pursuant to that enactment be made available and the information is filed in an electronic
format, a document that is a certified copy of the information filed may be provided.

              (4)  A document that is a certified copy of information filed in an electronic format
has the same evidentiary value and may be used in like manner as a certified copy of a document
made available under a designated enactment.


         14   (1)  Subject to subsection (5) and the regulations made pursuant to this Act, a
person is entitled to compensation from the Crown for any monetary loss that the person suffers
that is directly attributable to an error or omission of an officer of the Crown who performs a
duty or provides a service under this Act or a designated enactment for the purpose of this Act.

              (2)  No action or other proceedings for damages shall be instituted against the
Crown for any monetary loss that a person suffers as a result of

                   (a)  an error or omission of a person who is not an officer of the Crown
              and who performs a duty or provides a service under this Act or a designated
              enactment for the purpose of this Act; or

                   (b)  any inaccuracy or incompleteness in a record maintained under this
              Act or a designated enactment for the purpose of this Act.

              (3)  No action or other proceeding for damages shall be instituted against an
officer of the Crown for an act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty
or service under this Act or a designated enactment for the purpose of this Act or for an alleged
neglect or default in the execution in good faith of the duty or service.

              (4)  Notwithstanding the Proceedings Against the Crown Act, subsection (3) does
not relieve the Crown of liability in respect of a tort committed by an officer of the Crown to
which it would otherwise be subject.

              (5)  Subsections (1) to (4) do not apply to a claim for compensation that relates
to the administration of a designated enactment if the designated enactment contains provisions
on the right to compensation and the amount of compensation that is payable to a person who
suffers a monetary loss.

              (6)  The Governor in Council may make regulations

                   (a)  attaching conditions to the right to receive compensation pursuant to
              this Section, including specifying cases in which no compensation is payable;

                   (b)  establishing a compensation fund for the purpose of subsection (1) or
              a designated enactment;

                   (c)  governing the right to receive compensation out of the fund and the
              amount of compensation payable out of the fund for a claim or a class of claims;

                   (d)  governing procedures for making claims against the fund;

                   (e)  providing for the appointment of persons to hear claims against the
              fund and governing the conditions for hearings.

              (7)  Where a compensation fund is established pursuant to this Section, a claim
for compensation under this Act or a designated enactment shall be made to the fund.

              (8)  No action or other proceeding for damages shall be instituted against the
Crown with respect to any matter in relation to which a claim against a compensation fund
established pursuant to this Section may be filed.

              (9)  Notwithstanding clause (2)(a) or any provision in a designated enactment, the
Minister may enter into agreements with a municipality, province of Canada or government to
pay compensation where records are maintained or duties are performed in cooperation with
that municipality, province or government.

              (10) Where the Minister is required to pay compensation pursuant to an agreement
referred to in subsection (9) and the regulations made pursuant to this Section have established
a compensation fund, the payment may be made from the compensation fund.


         15   Where there is a conflict between this Act or the regulations made pursuant to this
Act and a designated enactment or regulations made pursuant to a designated enactment, this
Act or regulations made pursuant to this Act prevail.


         16   The Governor in Council may make regulations

              (a)  prescribing anything that is required to be prescribed pursuant to this Act;

              (b)  defining any word or expression used but not defined in this Act;

              (c)  respecting any matter deemed necessary or advisable to carry out effectively
         the intent and purpose of this Act.


         17   The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in Section 4,
subsection 5(1), 6(4) or 10(2), Section 12, subsection 14(6) or Section 16 is regulations within
the meaning of the Regulations Act.