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Volunteer Protection Act


(as introduced)

2nd Session, 58th General Assembly
Nova Scotia
50 Elizabeth II, 2001

Government Bill

Volunteer Protection Act

The Honourable Michael G. Baker, Q.C.
Minister of Justice

First Reading: November 19, 2001

Second Reading: April 2, 2002

Third Reading: May 10, 2002 (WITH COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS)

An Act to Limit the Liability of
Volunteers Serving Non-profit Organizations

Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 This Act may be cited as the Volunteer Protection Act.

2 In this Act,

(a) "economic loss" means any pecuniary loss resulting from harm, including the loss of earnings or other benefits related to employment, medical expense loss, replacement services loss, loss due to death, burial costs and loss of business or employment opportunities;

(b) "harm" includes both physical and non-physical losses and both economic and non-economic losses;

(c) "hospital" means a body designated as a hospital pursuant to the Hospitals Act;

(d) "municipality" means a municipality as defined in Part XX of the Municipal Government Act;

(e) "non-economic losses" means losses for physical and emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, other than loss of domestic service, injury to reputation and all other non-pecuniary losses of any kind or nature;

(f) "non-profit organization" means any non-profit organization organized and conducted for public benefit and operated primarily for charitable, civic, educational, religious, welfare, health, sport, recreation, heritage or culture purposes, and includes a municipality, a school board or a hospital and, for greater certainty, includes each body designated as a non-profit organization by the Governor in Council in the regulations;

(g) "school board" means a school board as defined in the Education Act;

(h) "volunteer" means an individual performing services for a non-profit organization, and includes a volunteer serving as a director, officer or trustee, who does not receive

(i) compensation, other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for expenses actually incurred, or

(ii) any other thing of value in lieu of compensation, in excess of five hundred dollars per year.

3 (1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), no volunteer of a non-profit organization is liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization if

(a) the volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities in the non-profit organization at the time of the act or omission;

(b) the volunteer was properly licensed, certified or authorized, if required, by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice in the place in which the harm occurred;

(c) the harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer; and

(d) the harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle for which the operator is required to be licensed and maintain insurance.

(2) Nothing in this Section affects

(a) any civil action brought by any non-profit organization against any volunteer of such organization or entity; or

(b) the liability of any non-profit organization with respect to harm caused to any person.

4 (1) Punitive damages may not be awarded against a volunteer in an action brought for harm based on the action of a volunteer acting within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities to a non-profit organization unless the claimant establishes that the harm was proximately caused by an action of the volunteer that constitutes willful or criminal misconduct or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed.

(2) Subsection (1) does not create a cause of action for punitive damages and does not pre-empt or supersede any Provincial law to the extent that such law would further limit the award of punitive damages.

5 The limitations on the liability of a volunteer under this Act do not apply

(a) to any misconduct that constitutes a criminal offence under the Criminal Code (Canada) for which the defendant has been convicted in any court; or

(b) where the defendant was intoxicated by alcohol or under the influence of any drug, as determined pursuant to applicable law, at the time of the misconduct.

6 (1) In any civil action against a volunteer, based on an action against a volunteer acting within the scope of the volunteer's responsibilities to a non-profit organization, the liability of the volunteer for non-economic loss shall be determined in accordance with subsection (2).

(2) Each defendant who is a volunteer is liable only for the amount of non-economic loss allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to the percentage of responsibility of that defendant, determined pursuant to subsection (4), for the harm to the claimant with respect to which that defendant is liable.

(3) The court shall render a separate judgment against each defendant in an amount determined pursuant to subsection (2).

(4) For the purpose of determining the amount of non-economic loss allocated to a defendant who is a volunteer under this Section, the trier of fact shall determine the percentage of responsibility of that defendant for the claimant's harm.

7 This Act applies to any claim for harm caused by an act or omission of a volunteer where that claim is filed on or after the coming into force of this Act, but only if the harm that is the subject of the claim or the conduct that caused such harm occurred after the coming into force of this Act.

8 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) designating any agency, association, board, commission, corporation, office, society or other body as a non-profit organization;

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

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

(2) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in subsection (1) is regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act.

9 This Act comes into force ninety days after it receives Royal Assent.

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