Nova Scotia amends Co-op Act, permanently allowing virtual meetings
Published May 11, 2022
Last month, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed Bill 138, An Act to Permit Virtual Business Meetings. This new legislation includes an amendment to the Co-operative Associations Act allowing co-ops to hold their annual general meetings and special resolution meetings virtually, provided their by-laws don’t forbid it.
CHF Canada’s Atlantic Region office requested this amendment in early 2021 as it became clear during the pandemic that this flexibility should be made permanent.
In a letter to government dated January 20th, 2021, CHF Canada wrote:
On behalf of housing co-operatives in Nova Scotia, we are requesting a change to the Cooperative Association Act (the Act) be made to allow for virtual meetings. The current declared state of emergency allows for co-ops to hold all meetings electronically in order to comply with the COVID-19 health and safety measures. However, once the state of emergency is lifted the Act will not allow for special resolution meetings to be held virtually. We believe this is a necessary regulatory change to allow co-ops to continue to conduct business, to allow for decisions to be made through a democratic process and support the sector for the long-term.
Effectively, the changes in the new legislation grant permission to co-operatives to hold all meetings electronically if their board has decided it appropriate. This does not override the by-laws of co-operatives and explicitly allows for them to prohibit virtual meetings if they see fit.
The legislation also allows meeting by “telephonic or electronic means”, meaning a housing co-op could conduct meetings using a teleconference call, a web conference platform or a hybrid meeting.
“This legislative change will now allow co-operatives to make decisions on how to best remove barriers for member engagement in their co-operatives and support an important co-operative principle – democratic member control,” said CHF Canada’s Regional Manager, Atlantic, Karen Brodeur. “People who were previously unable to attend in-person meetings could now have an opportunity to be more involved in their communities.”
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