Private Member’s Bills & Other Actions
“Janna’s Law” – The Saskatchewan Employment Amendment Act, 2019, sec 2-54 that will allow for leave to run for Band Councils.
David was very excited to see The Saskatchewan Employment Amendment Act, 2019 Bill 200 passed in March 2020 containing an amendment that would provide job protection (Sec 2-54) for workers who wish to seek election for band councils. All Saskatchewan workers enjoy job protection when running for federal, provincial or municipal office – they have the right for leave to engage in campaigning and, if they were successful, for leave from their job until they finish their term office.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for Indigenous people. If they were running for their band council, they could not get leave as per The Saskatchewan Employment Act. Even though the workplaces that they could be leaving is largely governed by SEA. Now a band member can take leave from their workplace for nomination and to run for their band council.
David named this amendment Janna’s Law after Janna Pratt, of George Gordon’s First Nations. She had approached David back in the fall of 2016 at an SFL [Saskatchewan Federation of Labour] convention where she pointed out the unfairness in SEA sec 2-54. David immediately suggested to the Minister of Labour that section 2-54 should be reviewed. David congratulates all involved in the passage of the Janna’s Law, amending section 2-54 to allow First Nations people the leaves that would be so helpful in reducing barriers in running for their band council. David said in the legislature “and if we can do all that we can do to stop these barriers, that’s a good thing. This is the right thing; this is a step towards truth and reconciliation.”
The Saskatchewan Employment Amendment Act, 2019 Bill 200 Introduced December 3rd, 2019 was passed and given royal assent on March 17th, 2020.
Eagle Feather News: Janna’s Law will mean fair play for Indigenous politicians in Sask
“Alice’s Law” – The Children’s Act, 2019, Part 7: Child Status and Parentage, an act to provide fair parental status to same-sex parents.
On November 7th, 2017 David introduced Private Members Bill 607 – The All Families are Equal Act 2017 as he was convinced by Nicole White and Jai Richards that fairness for queer parents was needed and long overdue. They gave several reasons why the current parenting laws were unfair noting that same-sex parents and others who use assisted reproduction have to adopt their own children and that parents who use assisted reproduction may end up having to go to court to have their parental status recognized in law. This was the impetus for Alice’s Law, named after Nicole and Jai’s daughter.
To this end, David discussed this further with Minister of Justice, Don Morgan who agreed to meet with Nicole and Jai to hear their case and to talk further about the issue.
The issue was referred to the Saskatchewan Law Reform Commission who held consultations and surveys in the spring of 2018 on the issue of artificial reproduction technology and related familial concerns. A very significant report, Assisted Reproduction & Parentage was released in December 2018 and the Ministry began reviewing the necessary amendments.
The Children’s Law Act, 2019 was introduced on Dec 3rd, 2019, passed 3rd reading March 4th, 2020, and given Royal Assent March 16th, 2020. In his 2nd reading speech David outlined the genesis for Alice’s law and the journey to passage that it took.
The Public Disclosure of Travel and Expenses of Government Officials Act, 2020, an Act to enforce Government Officials’ transparency
David introduced a Private Members Bill: The Public Disclosure of Travel and Expenses of Government Officials Act, 2020 Bill 620 on March 5, 2020.
This was in response to the NDP Freedom of Information requests for the expenses claimed by the Premier and the government’s 18 ministers with fee estimates to provide such information totaling over $4,000 earlier in 2020.
“The Premier’s and ministers’ expenses should be public,” said NDP Ethics and Democracy Critic David Forbes. “Hiding basic information behind a paywall on how the Sask. Party is spending public money is an insult to democracy.”
The government has an obligation to make these records public.
As with campaign finance, Saskatchewan is among the worst provinces in the country when it comes to government transparency, disclosing the least information on government expenses of any province.
The Legislative Assembly (By-Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2018, an Act that closes loopholes in order to ensure continuous elected representation
On November 22, 2018, when it became known that Saskatoon and Regina Walsh Acres constituencies may not have representation in the legislature for up to 18 months because of a loophole caused by the new election date of October 26th, 2020, David introduced Bill 612 The Legislative Assembly (By-Election Dates) Amendment Act, 2018.
David raised this issue several times in the Legislature in Question Period October 31, 2019, November 4th 2019 and November 7th 2019 and on behalf of citizens of Saskatoon Eastview and Regina presented petitions over 15 times in the Legislature in the fall of 2019 urging the Premier to hold by-elections for these affected constituencies.
Forbes reviewed comments of Sask Party members while in Opposition who had argued for effective continuous representation but now for some reason had changed their convictions, for example the member from Cannington is on record saying, “I think that’s just not acceptable, Mr. Minister, that a seat should . . . [sit] vacant for one whole session.” Similarly, the member from Lumsden-Morse is quoted as saying, “it is simply wrong to let people remain unrepresented in this Legislative Assembly which exerts so much control over their lives for any more than six months.”
David and the NDP opposition were successful in ensuring that BOIE (Board of Internal Economy) directives were changed on October 23rd, 2019, so that members could not be paid as MPs and at the same time receive MLA transition allowances.
In the News: SK NDP Caucus Press release
The Election (Fairness and Accountability) Amendment Act, 2017,
David Forbes in his role as critic for Ethics & Democracy introduced Bill 606 The Election (Fairness and Accountability) Amendment Act, 2017 in November 2017. In May 2018, The Sk Party government defeated the bill on second reading.
Saskatchewan’s outdated campaign finance laws have made this province the “wild west” of election fundraising, and despite this bill that is common sense and would bring the province’s laws in line with the rest of the country, the Sask. Party voted for more of the same. Our province has long had broken campaign finance laws that allow unlimited out-of-province donations, and the people of Saskatchewan have been calling for change.
Over the past 10 years, the Sask. Party has received $12.61 million in corporate donations and, of that, $2.87 million has come from companies outside the province. By refusing to change these outdated laws, they are harming democracy and showing their true colours. Our campaign finance laws are the worst in the country and, under the Sask. Party, we’re actually falling further behind. Our proposal is common sense, is fair and ensures that Saskatchewan politics stay in the hands of Saskatchewan people.
Bill 606 can be be read here
The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act – An Act to provide for the Respect for Diversity and the Rights of Students
In April 2015, David Forbes in his role as critic for Diversity, Equality and Human Rights introduced Bill 612 The Respect for Diversity – Student Bill of Rights Act. Among other rights, this bill will ensure students who request a GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance or Gay-Straight Alliance) at school cannot be denied. It also gives students the right to have any cyber-bullying or other bullying concerns properly addressed by their school administration; and that students have the right to have any disability appropriately accommodated.
“Jimmy’s Law” – An Act to amend The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 to ensure greater safety for retail workers who work late night hours.
In December 2011, Forbes introduced Jimmy’s Law, a bill to help protect workers’ physical safety during late-night shifts. The Law’s namesake is Jimmy Ray Wiebe who was shot twice in the early morning hours of June 20th, 2011 during his late night shift at a gas station in Yorkton. Jimmy’s Law was proposed as an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The bill required employers to either schedule a minimum of two employees for late night shifts or ensure that an individual worker is safe behind a locked door or barrier.
In November 2012, David’s hard work led to an increase in safety regulations for late-night retail workers. The government added new regulations that include a check-in system and personal emergency transmitters for all employees working alone in late-night retail establishments. While the changes fall short of Jimmy’s Law to make employers schedule at least two employees per shift at night, they’re still welcome.
Posts on David’s work on Jimmy’s Law can be found here.
NDP introduces Jimmy’s Law
Petition, graveyard-shift tour launched for Jimmy’s Law
Late-night Jimmy’s Law tour finds common-sense protections
Saskatoon tour shows Jimmy’s Law necessary, doable
Jimmy’s Law tour finds standards would be easy to implement
Jimmy’s Law common sense in Weyburn, Estevan
Jimmy’s Law guarantees safety corners can’t be cut
Jimmy’s Law finally lands in regulations
“Rosa’s Law” – An Act to Respect People with Intellectual Disabilities in Saskatchewan
In April 2011, Forbes introduced a second Private Member’s Bill, “The Saskatchewan Respectful Language Act,” which would see phrases and words such as ‘mental retardation,’ ‘retarded’ or ‘retard’ found in government legislation, regulations and materials replaced with the use of ‘intellectual disability.’ The law was based on President Barack Obama’s ‘Rosa’s Law.’ The legislation was re-introduced by government and passed into law on May 18th, 2011.
Forbes received the Francis Schaan Award from People First Saskatchewan for his “outstanding commitment to promote respectful language in government.”
“Layla’s Law” – An Act to Provide for the Protection of Service Animals
On November 10th, 2010, David introduced a Private Member’s Bill which would enhance the protection of service animals in Saskatchewan such as police dogs and guide dogs for those living with disabilities. One week after introducing this bill it became law as a part of The Animal Protection Act.