Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ringing in the new... laws

Booze, beaters and body armour among the changes

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If you're an underage drinker who buys booze with a fake ID while wearing a bullet-proof vest, 2012 will not be a good year.

Under new legislation that takes effect New Years Day, new provincial laws will crack down on underage drinking and the possession of unregistered protective vests.

The changes are just two initiatives of many the province says will improve public safety and protect Manitobans.

A third change that takes effect after today is aimed at reducing the number of lemons being sold off used-car lots.

New regulations announced earlier this year mean dealers who fail to tell buyers a car was damaged or was previously a rental vehicle face a fine or jail time.

"We know the majority of car dealers are honest and don't withhold information from their customers," Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh said in an earlier statement. "Unfortunately, we also know that sometimes, consumers are misled when buying vehicles. We want to avoid situations where consumers discover important facts about their car after they have purchased it,"

As of Sunday, dealers must provide more complete information about the history of a vehicle, including whether it was previously used as a taxi, police car or rental car, if it had significant repairs or was declared an insurance write-off, if it was damaged by flood water and if it was declared a lemon in another jurisdiction.

Mackintosh's office is also behind new underage drinking initiatives first announced in May, but set to come into effect in the new year.

It means young adults must produce a driver's licence or identity card from Manitoba Public Insurance or two pieces of ID, one of which must be photo ID, to buy booze. At the same time, the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission is working with licensees to help them identify false ID.

The province is also cracking down on teenagers who drink and those who knowingly sell them liquor or beer. For instance, giving ID to a minor will become an offence under the Liquor Control Act. Minors will also be prohibited from possessing alcohol, not just consumption, in a licensed premise and at occasional permit events.

The effort to curb underage drinking -- in a past study 20 per cent of Grade 9 students report they drink to get drunk -- is part of a wider push to modernize the provinces liquor laws. These changes allow for brew-pub off-sales, Liquor Mart boutiques in grocery stores and the ability to bring your own wine to restaurants, if the restaurant permits.

Also to take effect Jan. 1 is a ban on the possession of body armour without a permit under the Body Armour and Fortified Vehicle Control Act.

Starting next week the province will begin accepting applications for permits or licences now required to have or sell body armour or drive or own a fortified vehicle. Enforcement of the legislation begins in April.

Police officers, band and community constables, firefighters and emergency response technicians; licensed security guards, sheriffs and corrections officers; federal employees required to wear body armour and armoured-vehicle service employees will not require a permit.

The application fee is $100 for the first five-year permit and $50 to renew for a further five years. Applicants must explain why they need body armour and will be subject to a criminal record check. Legal use of armoured vehicles for policing, prisoner transport and the military are not affected by the legislation.


Rules are changing

Other new government rules that take effect Jan. 1:

RENT: Manitobas rent increase guideline goes up one per cent. The guideline is determined annually and takes into account cost increases such as utilities, property taxes and other expenses in the operation of a residential complex.

It applies to most residential rental properties including apartments, single rooms, houses and duplexes.

BUILDING CODES: Manitoba adopts the 2010 national building codes to improve safety and energy-efficiency requirements plus universal-design elements for improved accessibility, including installation of assistive listening systems in large classrooms or theatres; installation of visual signals as part of fire-alarm systems; expanded requirements for accessible/universal washrooms and improved barrier-free exit requirements.

CHILDREN'S GLASSES: Manitobas children's opti-care program for low-income families is set to be launched Jan. 1 to help cover the cost of prescription eyeglasses for children. Any family receiving the Manitoba child benefit will be eligible for the program provided they do not have optical coverage through another provider.

FLEXIBLE WORK: Workers and employers will have more flexibility to adjust daily hours of work to accommodate personal obligations under one of four changes to the Employment Standards Code, including individual flex-time agreements, applications for averaging permits from all industries, general holidays in climate-controlled agricultural operations and changes to termination rules.

PENSIONS: Changes to Manitobas pension laws will provide funding options for employers during tough economic times and strengthen the monitoring of plans, including new penalties for the late filing of information used by the province to monitor pension plans and allowing the use of letters of credit to guarantee funds by employers to meet pension plan funding requirements without using scarce operating funds.



New federal child car seat safety rules come into force on Sunday.

They include new testing requirements and higher weight limits for car seats as well as a new definition of infants.

The major changes include:

a new testing requirement using a three-point seatbelt to secure car seats;

changes to the seats dynamic testing to adopt most U.S. parameters;

changing the definition of an infant to any child weighing up to 10 kilograms, rather than nine kg;

increasing the maximum weight limit of child seats to 30 kg from 22 kg;

introducing dynamic testing requirements for booster seats;

and allowing harnesses to be used on school buses by special-needs children.

The updated rules align elements with those in the United States and incorporate specific Canadian testing requirements.

While there is no need to replace a current child seat as a result of the new standards, seats should be replaced if they were involved in a collision or if the shell or materials are ripped or damaged. Parents should also be sure to replace the seat when it reaches its expiry date.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2011 A4

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