British Columbia Society Act Update

January 30, 2015 | Brendan Burns

As previously reported in this Newsletter, the British Columbia Ministry of Finance released a White Paper in early August of 2014 containing policy recommendations for a new Society Act to regulate the governance, organization and operation of non-share capital entities incorporated in British Columbia.

At a roundtable discussion with stakeholders held on January 26, 2015, British Columbia’s Finance Minister, Michael de Jong, indicated that during the consultation period on the draft legislation, which ended on October 15, 2014, the Ministry of Finance received over 7,000 submissions.  Minister de Jong indicated that these submissions primarily commented on section 98 of the draft legislation, which provides members of a society with the right to go to court if they think they are oppressed or have been treated unfairly by the society, its directors or other members, and on section 99 of the draft legislation, which provides members of the general public with the right to seek a court remedy if a society is acting in a fraudulent or unlawful manner, or is otherwise not acting in the public interest.

During the roundtable discussion Minister de Jong indicated that the government hopes to table the draft legislation by the end of March, 2015.  However, Minister de Jong has not indicated what changes, if any, will be made to the draft legislation as a result of the consultation process.  While the new legislation could receive royal assent in 2015, the new legislation will likely not come into force until the new regulations are finalized.  Pursuant to the draft legislation existing societies will have a two-year transition period to file a transition application and to adopt the changes to their constitutions and bylaws required by the new legislation.

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