Legal Information Topics

Watch your step

Winter weather means icy sidewalks, steps and walkways … and slips and falls.  If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, or if you are a property owner or occupier worried about your obligations to people coming on your property, click here to learn more.

As of June 1, 2009 a U.S. law called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will require adult Canadians travelling by land or sea to provide either a valid passport or other WHTI approved document before being able to enter the U.S.  Other approved WHTI documents are: 

  • a NEXUS or FAST card (what are these? click here)
  • an enhanced driver's licence or ID card.  An enhanced driver's licence or ID card is currently available in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, but is not yet available in Nova Scotia.
  • a secure Certificate of Indian Status.  More information about the secure Certificate of Indian Status is available on the Indian and Northern Affairs website, or call 1-800-567-9604.


There are some exceptions to the rules for children travelling by land or sea. Proof of Canadian citizenship, such as a birth certificate or citizenship card, will be accepted for children under 16, and for children under 19 who are on a school or other organized group trip for youth.
 
These rules are different from those for going to the U.S. by air. Canadians flying to the U.S. must have a valid Canadian passport or NEXUS card, regardless of age.

Americans crossing the U.S./Canada border, whether by land, sea or air, must also follow the WHTI rules.

You can get more information about documents Canadians require for travel to the United States on the Canada Border Services Agency website, or from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Americans can get information from any U.S. Consulate in Canada, including the U.S. Consulate General for Atlantic Canada in Halifax, or from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.



 


 

It’s great to have your children and their friends splash about in your pool but as a homeowner, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of anyone around your pool. If you are allowing children to use the pool consider inviting their parents to supervise. Limit the number of children and make sure they are supervised by at least one adult who can swim. You should not allow children or adults to engage in risky behaviour in and around the pool. For example, running around the pool or shoving each other into the pool.

Warning people that they use it 'at their own risk' is not a sufficient legal defence.

If you own a pool or are considering installing a pool on your property, check whether it is covered by your home insurance. If you do not tell your insurance company about the pool, they may refuse liability coverage for pool-related damage or injuries. If you have appropriate insurance coverage, if someone is injured using your pool and sues you, your insurance policy should protect you.

While you may be protected by insurance, you still have a duty to reduce the risk of injury occurring. If you don’t maintain your property and you are sued it may result in a larger award of damages, your insurance premiums may rise, or it may become difficult to get insurance at all.

If your apartment building has a pool you should check the landlord's insurance and whether there are restrictions in your lease stopping you from inviting your friends to use it.

You can get more information about insurance from Nova Scotia's Superintendent of Insurance, and from the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

If people come to your property without permission and use your pool you may still be liable if they are injured. The fact they broke in and used your pool without your permission will be a one factor that the court would consider in determining liability and in awarding damages. You may also have a right to sue them for trespass and for any damages sustained to your property. Even if you do not sue, your insurance company may sue the trespassers in your name to recover losses.

You should also check with your municipality to make sure you are complying with any local pool by-law, such as requirements that you have a fence, building or other structure to prevent unauthorized access to the pool.

Click here to learn more about legal issues related to hosting a party at your home.