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New Legislation Protects Rural Landowners From Trespassers

New legislation amending the Petty Trespasses Act, the Occupiers’ Liability Act and the Animal Diseases Act has created new restrictions and offences related to trespassing on private property.

“Trespassing is an important issue in rural Manitoba, because every landowner has the right to have their property respected,” said Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler. “Farms and rural property need to be protected as a business, but also as people’s homes. Trespassing can expose farms and food production facilities to biosecurity risks that could spread disease and may cause injury and stress to farm animals.”

Bill 62, the Animal Diseases Amendment Act, strengthens legislation to protect biosecurity zones in place on agricultural operations, and help to protect livestock from biosecurity breaches during transport and at food-processing facilities. Bill 63, the Petty Trespasses Amendment and Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, removes the need to confront trespassers where possible, by making entry onto certain specified premises without permission an offence, unless the person has a lawful excuse for doing so.

“KAP welcomes the announcement that the bills 62 and 63 have received proclamation and are in effect. Improvements to trespassing and biosecurity laws are important steps in ensuring Manitoba farm families feel safe and biosecurity protocols are maintained,” said Bill Campbell, president, Keystone Agricultural Producers.

These amendments establish proactive measures that recognize the importance of biosecurity practices, guided by national standards, and ensure that biosecurity zones are protected. Eichler noted these changes are based on recommendations by Manitoba’s auditor general to strengthen legislation to support the province’s ability to proactively address an animal disease emergency.

“The Manitoba government is committed to protecting the property rights of Manitobans,” said Justice Minister Cameron Friesen. “We have listened to Manitobans and their concerns about rural crime, and we are proud to be providing landowners with greater protection from civil liability for the actions of trespassers.”

Friesen said the bills are in response to concerns raised about rural public safety and crime, and puts Manitoba in with other jurisdictions. After a public consultation process that included thousands of Manitobans and stakeholders, the bills were passed in the legislature on May 20.

Amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act ensure a landowner’s legal responsibility for injury is fair and reasonable when someone is on their property without permission. Previously, owners, occupiers or tenants of premises had the same level of legal responsibility for injury or harm to criminal and non-criminal trespassers.

Amendments to the Preset Fines and Offences Descriptions Regulation under the Provincial Offences Act will permit enforcement officers to issue tickets with set fines for offences with respect to animals in transport and at food processing facilities.

The Animal Diseases Act has took effect on Oct. 8, and the Petty Trespasses Act and the Occupiers’ Liability Act took effect, Oct. 15.

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