New Societies Act improves transparency and flexibility

The new Societies Act will provide British Columbia societies with additional flexibility and offering the public more transparency.

Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services

VICTORIA – The new Societies Act took effect Nov. 28, providing British Columbia societies with additional flexibility and offering the public more transparency.

A new online filing system – Societies Online – has been developed, allowing societies to submit and obtain records faster and easier.

The new act is modern and reflects the diverse nature of societies. Highlights include:

* Electronic filing capabilities through the new Societies Online filing system will reduce red tape by eliminating wait times to complete filings and/or obtain copies of filings.

* More accountability for societies that receive public funding.

The new act requires the disclosure of remuneration paid to directors and to the 10 highest paid employees and contractors earning over $75,000.

* Streamlined and simplified rules governing societies.

* Increased flexibility for societies to create, through their  bylaws, governance rules that reflect the unique characteristics of each society and the needs of the communities they serve.

Societies will have two years to transition, which will require filing an electronic version of their constitution and bylaws through Societies Online. Societies without a computer or Internet access can visit a Service BC location or a local public library to complete their filings online.

The Societies Act was introduced in 2015, following two rounds of consultations with stakeholders and members of the public. The input gathered from the consultation process was instrumental in developing the new legislation.

In addition, a prototype of Societies Online was distributed to a number of societies for their feedback on systems design in 2015.

BC Stats also invited all societies to participate in a survey to inform the build. In person presentations about the act and the new system have been delivered throughout the province.

Quick Facts:

* There are more than 27,000 societies in B.C., ranging from small community-based organizations to large charitable organizations.

* The new Societies Act is the first substantial update of the previous Society Act since 1977.

* The B.C. government is a national leader in red tape reduction.