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COVID-19 and Nova Scotia housing co-ops

Published March 30, 2020

Updated July 28, 2020

Atlantic Region co-op services staff are here to help you with your questions about co-op operations that are impacted by COVID-19. Please call or email if you have any questions or need help sorting through an issue.

Please also check out our main Housing Co-ops and COVID-19 page which contains more updates and a comprehensive set of FAQs.

You can also check out our COVID-19 Meeting Resources pagefor tips and guides for holding electronic board meetings, town halls, and (coming soon) alternate ways to hold a members’ meeting or AGM.

Update – July 28:

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing directive that was issued on April 11, 2020, has been repealed and replaced effective July 9, 2020.  The original directive restricted meetings of more than 5 people.

A new Direction of the Minister was issued on July 9, 2020, and it refers to the gathering restrictions included in the current Health Protection Act (HPA) Order.  If meetings cannot be held according to the current HPA Order, it enables either a virtual meeting, or a delay of a meeting up to a further 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.  These documents and any updates can be found on the Nova Scotia government website – Covid-19 Alerts and Notices.

Update – July 9:

The Minister’s Direction regarding member meetings for co-operatives is still in place and prevents in-person meetings of greater than 5 people, and enables either a virtual meeting, or a delay of a meeting up to a further 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

With the current restrictions and the uncertainty of COVID-19, co-operatives should submit their annual findings with the Registry.  The Registry of Joint Stock will now accept annual filings for those co-ops with over five members and who are not able to hold virtual meetings.

The annual renewal form can indicate that an AGM was not held, quorum was not present, and the financial statements were not approved by the members at the AGM.

The co-ops will be required to send revised annual renewal forms to the Registry once they hold their AGMs.  If they revise their financial statements, the amended financial statements should be sent to the Registry with a note that they have been revised.

Documents can be sent to the Registry by fax, mail, or as e-mail attachments to rjsc.coop@novascotia.ca .

June 16:

Although the province has eased some restrictions, Co-operatives are still prohibited from holding an in-person meeting of greater than 5 people.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing directed that co-operatives are able to hold virtual meetings even if not permitted under their current Bylaws or delay a meeting up to a further 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

Also, Co-operatives should not submit their annual filings to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies (Registry) until after they have held their AGM.

June 2: 

As announced on Friday, May 29th, the province has eased some restrictions and have broadened personal gatherings and physical contact limits.  Effective June 5th, as more businesses, organizations, services and public spaces reopen, we need to work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help keep everyone safe.  It is still recommended that co-operatives adhere to mass gathering limits and maintain physical distancing and follow public health advice.

For the most current lifting of restrictions visit the Government of Nova Scotia’s website.

Meetings

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced that effective retroactively to 12:00 noon on March 22, 2020, co-operatives are prohibited from holding face-to-face meetings with over 5 participants.

The Minister has further directed that co-operatives are able to hold virtual meetings even if not permitted under their current Bylaws or delay a meeting up to a further 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.

Members meetings

For Nova Scotia co-ops our advice remains that you should not have members meetings at this time. Nova Scotia’s declaration of a state of emergency prohibits gatherings of more than 5 people. Even if your meeting will be fewer than 5 people, it will be difficult to maintain the proper social distancing between people.

The Co-operative Associations Act speaks to the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The co-op is required to hold an AGM no later than four months after the end of each fiscal year (see Co-op Act S.30). All Registry of Joint Stock Companies, renewals that are ordinarily due in March, April and May have been extended to June 30, 2020.  This includes year end filing to the Inspector of Co-operatives for housing co-operatives.

In-person services at Registry of Joint Stock Companies are suspended until further notice.  However, you can send signed forms by mail, fax and email. “Wet ink” signatures are not required at this time. Credit card payments can be made by fax or telephone.

The Inspector of Co-operatives

If under an Operating Agreement or SHARP agreement, contact Housing Nova Scotia.

Board meetings

Even though board meetings will be smaller than members meetings, during the pandemic, if you have a board larger than 5, you are not allowed to hold in-person board meetings. For Nova Scotia housing co-ops, directors can hold electronic board meetings through such means as telephone conferencing or computer video chat if they are authorized through the co-operatives bylaws. This is the preferred way to conduct necessary board business during this time.

In scheduling an electronic meeting, CHF Canada Nova Scotia co-op services recommends dealing with high priority agenda items and limiting meetings to no more than one hour in length. During the pandemic, it would be a good idea for the board to schedule short weekly or bi-weekly electronic meetings to discuss urgent issues.

SHARP Reporting Requirements

Many co-operatives received funding through SHARP.  This funding has very specific reporting requirements, for example budget approval.  If you are unable to meet these requirements, CHF Canada recommends that you contact Housing Nova Scotia (regional office).

Additional Supports

  • Housing NS will be deferring all mortgage and loan payments owed for April, May and June 2020.  This will include loans provided to cooperatives under the Social Housing Agreement (SHA), Housing NS direct loans and STAB fund loans.If cooperatives wish to opt out of the automatic mortgage payment deferral, they must contact their Housing NS regional office to make the necessary arrangements; the deadline to do so is April 15th.
  • Notice From the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies

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