The Ministry of Finance reviewed the Society Act to modernize and update the statute that provides rules for incorporation and governance of not-for-profit organizations in B.C. The Act outlines the rules that govern B.C.’s approximately 27,000 societies.
Societies are non-profit corporations organized primarily for social purposes. They make valuable contributions to B.C.’s families and communities, and range from small community-based organizations to large charitable foundations. The review started in 2009 with a letter to stakeholders seeking general input on issues under the previous act. This was followed by a 2011 Discussion Paper inviting public comment on specific proposals for reform.
The White Paper was released in August 2014 and represented the next stage of the consultation process; it set out policy recommendations and included draft legislation to provide an opportunity for societies to see what was proposed.
The new Societies Act was passed by the legislature on April 22, 2015. The new act recognizes the diverse nature of the not-for-profit sector in British Columbia and attempts to balance the sector’s desire for a modern and flexible legal framework with broader concerns about transparency and accountability.
- 2009 –Start of review with letter to stakeholders
- 2011 – Discussion Paper
- 2014 – The White Paper Consultation was open from August 6 to October 15, 2014
- More than 200 unique submissions on the White Paper
Input leads to action:
- Bill 24, the Societies Act, was introduced in the legislature March 25, 2015. The statute provides rules for the creation and governance of not-for-profit organizations in B.C.
- 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.
- 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.
- Societies will be able to file documents electronically with the corporate registry.
- The new Societies Act came into force on November 28, 2016.