The Interpretation Act, 1995 – Things to Know

June 7, 2017 - Sherri Fowler, Analyst

There are countless numbers of statutes in Saskatchewan governing everything from property assessments to registered music teachers. But there is a very unique statute that I would like to draw your attention to – The Interpretation Act, 1995 (Interpretation Act).  What makes it special you may ask?  Well for one, it applies to every enactment in Saskatchewan (unless otherwise noted in the Interpretation Act).  Secondly, the Interpretation Act essentially guides us in interpreting Saskatchewan statutes.

Let’s take a look at two areas where the Interpretation Act guides us in interpreting Saskatchewan’s access and privacy laws – calculation of time and repealed statutes.

Calculation of Time

Subsections 7(2) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP) provide, “The head shall give written notice to the applicant within 30 days after the application is made…” [emphasis added]. In order to determine how to calculate the 30 days, we look to the Interpretation Act.  Subsection 24(7) of the Interpretation Act provides:

24(7) A period of time expressed to be after, from or before a specified day does not include that day.

[emphasis added]

The key word in subsections 7(2) of FOIP and LA FOIP and subsection 24(7) of the Interpretation Act is the word “after”. What this means is you do not count the day that the application was received.  For example, if you received a request on June 1, 2017, your 30 day count starts on June 2, 2017, meaning the due date would be July 1, 2017.

However, July 1, 2017 is a holiday and a Saturday. Don’t worry, the Interpretation Act has a provision to address this situation.  When a due date falls on a holiday or a weekend, subsections 24(1) and 24(2) of the Interpretation Act address this.  These sections provide:

24(1) Where the time for doing an act falls on a holiday, the time is extended to the next day that is not a holiday.

(2) Where the time for doing an act in a business office falls on a day on which the office is not open during its regular business hours, the time is extended to include the next day on which the office is open.

Essentially, the due date would move forward to the next day of business. But just so you know, the Interpretation Act does not allow for additional time when it is your personal holiday, scheduled day off or if you were away from the office due to illness.

Repealed Statutes

There are countless numbers of statutes referenced in FOIP, LA FOIP and The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA).  So what happens when one of those laws is repealed and replaced by a new statute, but FOIP, LA FOIP or HIPA (or any other Saskatchewan statute for that matter) has not been amended to reflect the new statute?

Here is an example to help. In LA FOIP, subsection 2(f) outlines bodies that are local authorities, and therefore subject to LA FOIP.  Subsection 2(f)(vi) of LA FOIP includes a local authority as being, “… the board of a public library within the meaning of The Public Libraries Act, 1984.”  There is one problem – The Public Libraries Act, 1984 was repealed and replaced with The Public Libraries Act, 1996.

What? So does that mean library boards are caught in a loophole and not subject to LA FOIP?  Not the case.  Again, we turn to the Interpretation Act to help us out.  Subsection 34(1)(h) of the Interpretation Act provides:

34(1) The repeal of an enactment does not:

(h) with respect to a subsequent transaction, matter or thing, any reference in an unrepealed enactment to the repealed enactment is a reference to the provisions of the new enactment relating to the same subject-matter as the repealed enactment, but, if there are no provisions in the new enactment relating to the same subject-matter, the repealed enactment shall be interpreted as being unrepealed insofar as is necessary to maintain or give effect to the unrepealed enactment.

Confused yet? A helpful way to work through this is by actually inserting the names of the statutes:

34(1) The repeal of an enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1984] does not:

(h) with respect to a subsequent transaction, matter or thing, any reference in an unrepealed enactment [The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act] to the repealed enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1984] is a reference to the provisions of the new enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1996] relating to the same subject-matter as the repealed enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1984], but, if there are no provisions in the new enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1996] relating to the same subject-matter, the repealed enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1984] shall be interpreted as being unrepealed insofar as is necessary to maintain or give effect to the unrepealed enactment [The Public Libraries Act, 1996].

For the purposes of LA FOIP, even though The Public Libraries Act, 1984 was repealed and replaced in 1996, the Interpretation Act takes care of that gap and public libraries are still subject to the provisions of LA FOIP because of subsection 34(1)(h) of the Interpretation Act.

 

 

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