COVID-19 and P.E.I. housing co-ops
Published March 30, 2020
Updated May 26, 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.
You can also checkout our COVID-19 Meeting Resources page for tips and guides for holding electronic board meetings, town halls, and (coming soon) alternate ways to hold a members’ meeting or AGM.
The province of Prince Edward Island has outlined their phased approach to reopening businesses, services and public spaces over the coming months. The plan will be implemented in four distinct phases with a progressive lifting of public health measures on individuals, communities and organizations over three-week periods.
Starting May 22, 2020 – Phase Two will be implemented with a progressive lifting of public health measures; this will broaden outdoor and indoor personal gatherings and physical contact. It is 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 website for the government of Prince Edward Island.
For Prince Edward Island co-ops our advice remains that you should not have members meetings at this time. Prince Edward Island’s declaration of a state of emergency prohibits gatherings of more than 5 people. Even if your meeting will be less 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.28). According to section 69 (2) of the Co-op Act the registrar, upon application by the board of directors, may in his or her discretion approve another date by which the annual general meeting of a co-operative shall be held.
Steven Dowling, Inspector of Co-operatives PEI – (902) 368-4551 email@example.com
The Act is silent on postponements or virtual meetings, and there is no discretion under the Act for the registrar or inspector of co-operatives to review or authorize postponements/ remote meetings.
Government is aware of the challenge this poses for co-operatives in relation to current Public Health social distancing requirements and prohibitions on large group gatherings.
Government is assessing various policy options to address this challenge, including the possibility of introducing legislation during an emergency session this spring.
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 Prince Edward Island 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. If possible, this is the preferred way to conduct necessary board business during this time.
In scheduling an electronic meeting, CHF Canada 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.
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