Proposed Amendments to the Societies Act

The Societies Act (the “Act”) came into force on November 28, 2016. BC societies had until November 2018 to transition under this new Act. The Ministry of Finance has now published a list of proposed amendments to the Societies Act and related amendments to the Business Corporations Act and Cooperative Association Act. The Ministry is asking for public feedback on these proposals.

The Ministry has indicated the proposed revisions are based on feedback received from interested parties, including societies and the legal community, since the new Act came into force. These proposed amendments are summarized in the Appendix (PDF). The substantive proposed amendments, which many BC societies may be interested in, are as follows:

  1. Most societies have an obligation to provide certain details in their financial statements regarding remuneration given to certain employees and independent contractors. This disclosure requirement is currently caped at the 10 highest paid employees. It is proposed that this cap be removed so that all persons who are paid at least $75,000 must be included in the financial statement disclosure.
  2. The Act allows for notice of a general meeting to be sent to members by email, posting on a website, or newspaper publication for societies with over 250 members. The proposal is to reduce the threshold to societies with over 100 members.
  3. The Act provides a process for a member to submit a proposal to the society for consideration. It is suggested that the Act be amended to indicate that a member who submits a proposal to the society is also permitted to present the proposal at the society’s annual general meeting. It is further proposed that the society not be required to consider the proposal if the same issue was already considered in a general meeting in the previous two years.
  4. The Act introduced a concept of “member-funded societies”, which are those societies that are funded exclusively by its members. These societies are not permitted to receive public donations or government funding. These self-funded societies are subject to more relaxed governance rules. It is proposed that bequests made by individuals affiliated with a society also be excluded from the definition of “public donations”. That means the society may receive a donation from an affiliated individual such as a voting member, director, senior manager, employee or spouse or relative of such person, and the society can continue to maintain its member-funded status.

The deadline for feedback is August 23, 2019. Comments can be submitted in electronic format to: Societies.Consultation@gov.bc.ca, or in paper format to:

Financial and Corporate Sector Policy Branch
Ministry of Finance
PO Box 9418 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9V1

For more information about the proposed amendments, click here.

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