Newfoundland and Labrador.

AuthorJerrett, Mark
PositionLegislative Reports

The first session of the 50th General Assembly continued in the autumn of 2021, with the House sitting for 14 days from October 18 to November 16, 2021. Significant business was considered by the Assembly, including new legislation respecting the use of offroad vehicles and legislation intended to improve accessibility by preventing, identifying and removing barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in society. As well, a resolution requiring mandatory vaccination of Members was passed unanimously by the House.

COVID-19 Considerations

As the entire province had moved into more relaxed public health restrictions during the fall sitting (Alert Level 2), indoor capacity limits increased and changes were therefore made to the COVID-19 protocols in place in the House of Assembly Chamber.

In previous sittings during the pandemic, social distancing guidance meant some Members' desks were placed in the middle section on the floor of the Chamber. Changes for the fall 2021 sitting meant that all Members could now sit on the risers with their respective caucuses, freeing up the space in front of the main entrance/ceremonial doors. Members continued to speak from a seated position and wore masks at all times except when speaking in debate.

Changes to public health guidance also allowed pages to be welcomed back to assist with proceedings for the first time during the pandemic. Four new pages were recruited for the duration of the fall sitting, with two on duty at any given time.

The changes to public health guidance and configuration of the Chamber further allowed the reinstatement of the Speaker's parade, which was discontinued during previous sittings in the pandemic. The revised public health guidance also allowed the reopening of the public galleries on October 25 with reduced capacity to facilitate appropriate distancing between occupants. Anyone entering the galleries was required to provide proof of vaccination and to wear a mask at all times.

As mentioned above, the House also passed a resolution requiring the mandatory vaccination of all Members. Similar to the mandatory vaccination policy for public service employees that was announced by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador earlier in the fall, the resolution required all Members to provide proof of vaccination (or valid exemption) by December 17, 2021. All Members are now compliant with this Order of the House.

When the House rose on November 16, a...

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