Thursday, March 26, 2015

B.C. Societies Act Provides Flexibility, Accountability


Michael de Jong
VICTORIA – A modern and updated Societies Act will allow not-for-profit organizations to operate more effectively and efficiently, while at the same time protecting the public interest, Minister of Finance Michael de Jong announced today.

Bill 24, the Societies Act, was introduced in the legislature today. The statute provides rules for the creation and governance of not-for-profit organizations in B.C.

The new Societies Act distinguishes between publicly funded societies and member-funded societies. Publicly funded societies, such as charities or others that receive significant public funding, will be subject to several new accountability measures. These include requiring that the majority of board directors not be employees or contractors of the society and that directors’ compensation be publicly disclosed.

Member-funded societies, such as sports clubs and professional organizations, will be exempt from these requirements.

The new act adopts specific corporate governance procedures from the Business Corporations Act, but generally provides societies with the flexibility to create governance bylaws based on their unique characteristics and the needs of the communities they serve.

As well, societies will be able to file documents electronically with the corporate registry.

The introduction of the new act follows two rounds of consultations with stakeholders and members of the public, during which the Province received more than 200 unique submissions. The input gathered from the consultation process allowed the Province to reflect and accommodate the diverse nature of the not-for-profit sector in B.C.

Subject to the approval of the legislature, the government expects the new act will come into force approximately 18 months after royal assent.

The current Society Act was enacted in 1977 and governs more than 27,000 societies in B.C. which range from small community-based organizations to large charitable ones.

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