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Government Advertising Act

BILL NO. 79

(as introduced)

5th Session, 61st General Assembly
Nova Scotia
62 Elizabeth II, 2013



Private Member's Bill



Government Advertising Act



The Honourable Stephen McNeil
Annapolis



First Reading: May 3, 2013

Second Reading:

Third Reading:

An Act Respecting
Government Advertising

Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 This Act may be cited as the Government Advertising Act.

2 In this Act,

(a) "government office" means

(i) a Government department, branch or office, or

(ii) a body designated by the regulations as a public body;

(b) "head", in relation to a government office, means

(i) where the government office is a department, branch or office of the Government of the Province, the deputy minister who presides over it, or

(ii) in any other case, the person designated by the regulations as the head of the government office;

(c) "item" means a reviewable advertisement, reviewable printed matter or a reviewable message, as the case may be;

(d) "Office of the Auditor General" has the same meaning as Office in the Auditor General Act;

(e) "prescribed" means prescribed by the regulations.

3 (1) This Section applies with respect to any advertisement that a government office proposes to pay to have published in a newspaper or magazine, displayed on a billboard or broadcast on radio or television.

(2) This Section does not apply with respect to a notice to the public that is required by law, an advertisement about an urgent matter affecting public health or safety, a job advertisement or an advertisement about the provision of goods or services to a government office.

(3) The head of the government office shall give a copy of the advertisement to the Office of the Auditor General for review.

(4) The government office shall not publish, display or broadcast the advertisement before the head of the office receives notice, or is deemed to have received notice, of the results of the review.

(5) The government office shall not publish, display or broadcast the advertisement if the head of the office receives notice that, in the opinion of the Office of the Auditor General, the advertisement does not meet the standards required by this Act.

4 (1) This Section applies with respect to printed matter that a government office proposes to pay to have distributed to households in the Province either by bulk mail or by another method of bulk delivery.

(2) This Section does not apply with respect to printed matter that is a notice to the public that is required by law or that concerns an urgent matter affecting public health or safety or the provision of goods or services to a government office.

(3) The head of the government office shall give a copy of the printed matter to the Office of the Auditor General for review.

(4) The government office shall not distribute the printed matter before the head of the office receives notice, or is deemed to have received notice, of the results of the review.

(5) The government office shall not distribute the printed matter if the head of the office receives notice that, in the opinion of the Office of the Auditor General, it does not meet the standards required by this Act.

(6) For the purpose of this Section, printed matter is distributed by bulk mail or another method of bulk delivery if, when it is distributed, it is not individually addressed to the intended recipient.

5 (1) This Section applies with respect to such additional classes of messages as may be prescribed that a government office proposes to convey to the public in such circumstances as may be prescribed.

(2) This Section does not apply with respect to a message that is a notice to the public that is required by law, that concerns an urgent matter affecting public health or safety, that is a job advertisement or that concerns the provision of goods or services to a government office.

(3) The head of the government office shall give a copy of the message to the Office of the Auditor General for review.

(4) The government office shall not convey the message before the head of the office receives notice, or is deemed to have received notice, of the results of the review.

(5) The government office shall not convey the message if the head of the office receives notice that, in the opinion of the Office of the Auditor General, the message does not meet the standards required by this Act.

6 (1) Where an item is given to the Office of the Auditor General for review, the Office of the Auditor General shall review it to determine whether, in the opinion of the Office, it meets the standards required by this Act.

(2) The decision of the Office of the Auditor General is final.

7 (1) The following are the standards that an item is required to meet:

(a) it must be a reasonable means of achieving one or more of the following purposes:

(i) to inform the public of current or proposed Government policies, programs or services available to them,

(ii) to inform the public of their rights and responsibilities under the law,

(iii) to encourage or discourage specific social behaviour, in the public interest,

(iv) to promote the Province or any part of the Province as a good place to live, work, invest, study or visit or to promote any economic activity or sector of the Province's economy;

(b) it must include a statement that the item is paid for by the Government of the Province;

(c) it must not include the name, voice or image of a member of the Executive Council or a member of the House of Assembly;

(d) it must not be partisan;

(e) it must not be a primary objective of the item to foster a positive impression of the governing party or a negative impression of a person or entity who is critical of the Government; and

(f) it must meet such additional standards as may be prescribed.

(2) Clause (1)(c) does not apply with respect to an item for which the primary target audience is located outside of the Province.

(3) An item is partisan if, in the opinion of the Office of the Auditor General, a primary objective of the item is to promote the partisan political interests of the governing party.

(4) The Office of the Auditor General shall consider such factors as may be prescribed, and may consider such additional factors as it considers appropriate, in deciding whether a primary objective of an item is to promote the partisan political interests of the governing party.

8 (1) The Office of the Auditor General shall notify the head of the government office of the results of the review within the prescribed number of days after receiving an item for review.

(2) Where the notice is not given within that period, the head is deemed to have received notice that the item meets the standards required by this Act.

9 (1) Where the head of a government office is notified that an item does not meet the standards required by this Act and where the government office proposes to use a revised version of it, the head shall give the revised version to the Office of the Auditor General for a further review.

(2) The government office shall not use the revised version before the head of the office receives notice, or is deemed to have received notice, of the results of the review.

(3) The government office shall not use the revised version if the head of the office receives notice that, in the Auditor General's opinion, the revised version does not meet the standards required by this Act.

(4) Sections 6 and 7 apply with respect to the review pursuant to this Section.

(5) The Office of the Auditor General shall notify the head of the results of the further review within the prescribed number of days after receiving the revised version.

(6) Where the notice is not given within that period, the head is deemed to have received notice that the revised version meets the standards required by this Act.

10 (1) Each year, the Auditor General shall report to the House of Assembly about such matters as the Auditor General considers appropriate relating to the powers and duties of the Office of the Auditor General under this Act.

(2) In the annual report, the Auditor General shall notify the House of Assembly of any contraventions of Section 3, 4, 5 or 9.

(3) The Auditor General may make a special report to the House of Assembly at any time on any matter that in the opinion of the Auditor General should not be deferred until the annual report.

(4) The reports referred to in subsections (2) and (3) must be submitted to the Speaker of the House or, if the House is not sitting, to the Clerk of the House.

(5) The Speaker shall lay the reports referred to in subsection (4) before the House immediately or, if the House is not sitting, within 10 days of it next sitting.

11 The Office of the Auditor General may examine the records of a government office at any time for the purpose of determining whether Section 3, 4, 5 or 9 has been contravened, and the Auditor General or his or her designate must be given access to such records as he or she considers necessary for that purpose.

12 (1) No action or other proceeding may be brought against a person who publishes, displays or broadcasts a reviewable advertisement on the sole ground that, under this Act, a government office was not permitted to use it to communicate with the public.

(2) No action or other proceeding may be brought against a person who distributes reviewable printed matter on the sole ground that, under this Act, a government office was not permitted to distribute it.

(3) No action or other proceeding may be brought against a person who conveys to the public on behalf of a government office a reviewable message on the sole ground that, under this Act, a government office was not permitted to convey it to the public.

13 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations, > (a) designating a body or class of bodies as a government office and specifying who is the head of the government office for the purpose of this Act;

(b) prescribing additional classes of messages and circumstances for the purpose of subsection 5(1);

(c) prescribing additional standards for the purpose of clause 7(1)(f);

(d) prescribing additional factors for the purpose of subsection 7(4);

(e) prescribing a number of days for the purpose of subsections 8(2) and 9(5).

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


This page and its contents published by the Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly, and © 2013 Crown in right of Nova Scotia. Created May 3, 2013. Send comments to legc.office@novascotia.ca.