MANITOBA'S most visible legislative change for the new year won't be seen until the end of January.
That's when the Selinger government requires the installation of as many as 8,000 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places by Jan. 31.
Under the province's Defibrillator Public Access Act, the AEDs and appropriate signage have to be installed in all public buildings, including more than 500 schools, 200 community and fitness centres and more than 100 curling clubs, golf courses and other sports venues. Casinos, shopping malls and airports also require AEDs.
Facilities must also register the AED through the Heart and Stroke Foundation so 911 dispatchers know the AED's location and can help rescuers in finding and using it in the event of a cardiac-arrest emergency.
An AED is a briefcase-sized device than can deliver a shock to a person's heart. They come with voice instructions that are easy to follow and no training is necessary. They are also designed in such a way that they cannot cause harm. If the AED does not detect an irregular heart rhythm, it will not deliver a shock. Its use can improve survival rates by 75 per cent over the administration of CPR alone.
The province has already paid for 1,000 of the devices to be distributed. All AEDs have been allocated.
Also for the new year, the province's ban on burning coal and petroleum coke for heat takes effect Jan. 1. The ban, the first of its kind in North America, was brought in to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The ban is to be phased in giving users a grace period to July 1, 2017 to convert heating. The province says other types of fuel, such as wood, can be used instead.
The province says the ban is expected to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to taking from 10,000 to 20,000 cars off the road.
Also on the first day of the new year, the Regulated Health Professions Act takes effect to change the way health professions are regulated. The legislation replaces 21 statutes dealing with 22 different health professions.
The province says the new act improves patient safety by ensuring each regulatory body establishes standards of practice, codes of ethics and continuing competency requirements for each respective profession. Audiology and speech-language pathology are the first two health professions moving to regulation under the legislation.
Other legislative changes include amendments to the Architects Act, the Professional Home Economists Act and the Professional Interior Designers Institute of Manitoba Act. The changes are to reduce or eliminate the government's role in appointing representatives to the councils of professional associations.
The last change is an amendment to the Income Tax Act, which increases the eligible income threshold for the small business tax rate to $425,000 from $400,000 effective Wednesday. The change was made in Bill 47, the government's budget-implementation bill. The threshold in all other provinces, except Nova Scotia, is $500,000. The small-business deduction is considered one of the more beneficial of all income tax deductions available to Canadian corporations because it reduces the amount of tax a corporation has to pay.