Waaaay back in 2013 there was an Alberta Bill passed that consolidated the Notaries Public Act and the Commissioners for Oaths Act. These two pieces of legislation are in place to make the rules for notarizing and commissioning documents clear and to provide a way to deal with any problems that crop up, among other things. The Notaries and Commissioners Act SA 2013, N-5.5 will come into force on April 30, 2015.
All notaries in Alberta are also commissioners, so combining the legislation makes sense.
The new legislation does contain some changes for commissioners:
Old legislation: commissioners appointments (if appointed after June 1991) expired on the third birthday after appointment unless cancelled by the Minister in writing.
New legislation: commissioners terms of office are (the same) defined in a regulation [this means that they are much easier to change].
Old legislation: commissioners by virtue of their office who could administer oaths and take and receive affidavits made outside Alberta for use in Alberta, declarations and affirmations included members of a Metis settlement council, a school trustee.
New legislation: For documents and oaths made outside Alberta for use in Alberta, only Saskatchewan side commissioners who live or provide services in Lloydminster, political representatives and active full time officers in the Canadian Forces are listed in the legislation (section 16(3)).
Old legislation: commissioners legibly inserted their name, and if they were appointed by the Minister (rather than by virtue of office) their commission termination date; liable for a fine of $100 if non-compliant.
New legislation: commissioners legibly insert their name, “A Commissioner for Oaths in and for Alberta”, appointment expiry or if by virtue of office, their office status (i,.e Student-at-Law); liable for a fine of $1000 if non-compliant.
Old legislation: penalty for not following the rules or representing yourself as a commissioner when you are not one – $500
New legislation: penalty for not following the rules or representing yourself as a commissioner when you are not one – $5000
New legislation: you can only apply to be a commissioner if you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
New legislation: the Minister may establish directives governing the duties of commissioners as well as a code of conduct
New legislation: the Minister may issue written directions to the Judicial Council, Law Society, employers of commissioners and anyone else the Minister considers it to be necessary to administer the act
New legislation: contains consequential amendments to the Alberta Evidence Act regarding oaths made outside Alberta, changing the definition of lawyer and restricting effective guarantees to lawyers (as opposed to Notaries) in the Guarantees Acknowledgment Act, as well as tidying up references in other acts.
Like most legislative amendments these are small changes that have big implications.
(edited to highlight the GAA change – Thanks Mike!)