BC’s new Societies Act

The Societies Act is changing in the province of BC as of this November. The New Society Act takes (Bill 24) takes effect November 28, 2016 . The transition to the new Societies Act applies to ALL non-profit societies incorporated in British Columbia under the Society Act. It does not apply to federally incorporated non-profits. There will be a 2-year window from that point where all BC charities must make all the necessary changes and updates to their bylaws and constitution. 

Your constitution and BC Gaming

One of the changes in the Act is that as of November 29, 2016 your constitution can no longer contain items that are “unalterable”  Indeed your new Constitution could consist of only 2 items; your name (who),  and your purpose or reason for existence (what).

This is interesting as those organizations that receive provincial gaming grants up until now have been told that they have to have an unalterable clause in their constitution dictating what happens to their assets when they dissolve. With the new Society Act these provisions will need to be moved into your organization’s Bylaws (and thus they will become alterable).

As of this writing, this little detail has not yet been resolved between the various Provincial Government agencies involved, but the folks at BC Gaming will eventually have to follow the laws of the land like the rest of us; the Societies Act will take precedence over any policies that may exist over at BC Gaming, at least after November 28th of this year. For this round of 2016 grant applications though, the current rules will still apply (probably?).

Key Changes: Office and Record keeping

With the new act we must have important documents available for those who wish to view them. This includes:

  •  Your society’s certificate of incorporation
  • certified copies , furnished to the society by the registrar, of the following records. – Any official documents provided to the organization from the Regisrar (approvals, confirmations, etc)
    • A copy of any legal order from a court or government, including:
    • The society’ s official register of members of the Board of Directors, including contact information provided by each director.
    • Written Consent to act as a Director and each written resignation of a director (section 42) (Members coming on and off the board should be recognized in the minutes of your AGM and/or other board meeting minutes.

Moving forward, your members of your society will have more access to your records under the coming changes to the Society’s Act. This is all about making all of such organizations more transparent, more democratic, and more open.

Board members – who is qualified?

The following will be disqualified from the election to a Board (from section 44)

  1. discharged bankrupt
  2. court ordered incapacity
  3. Fraud conviction in the last 5 years

So it would be really be advisable to have a nomination committee take care of all these details well in advance of your AGM That person who gets nominated from the floor at your next AGM will have to answer to all of these questions (and in a very public way)  before they can be elected to your board!

How to move forward?

In the next few months, it is time to revisit your organization’s constitution, bylaws and policy documents first to sort out what is there. Make sure you gather up all the changes that might have happened with various boards to all of these various documents over the years.  There will be an online form that your current constitution will be uploaded to as this new system will have all information online in electronic formats. Any changes going forward you wil want to address by the time of your AGM in 2017. All organizations will have 2 years to make everything comply (November 2018).

More information will be posted here as it becomes available.

For more information: 

Law for Nonprofits lawfornonprofits.ca

The New Society Act Bill 24

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