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Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act: Two steps forward, one step back

ontario-non-profit-corporations-actThe Ontario election called for June 12th has delayed proclamation of the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act, 2010 (ONCA) yet again. You may recall a previous update when we reported that the ONCA could not come into force until a series of technical amendments to it and a multitude of other statutes were approved in the form of Bill 85. Although it received second reading in the Ontario legislature, Bill 85 died on the order paper when the provincial election was called. Considering that a new technical amendments bill will need to be introduced in a future session of the legislature, Ontario non-profits will likely not have to deal with the ONCA until 2016.

It is worth mentioning that before the election was called we were quite surprised by the meager second reading debate that took place on April 10th, 2014. Generally speaking, second reading gives MPPs the opportunity to debate on the principle of a bill. Here, in customary fashion, Minister of Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles led off debate, promising to provide additional details about Bill 85 and how the government planned to deliver on its commitment to modernize the law governing not-for-profits in Ontario. However, no additional details were provided and no debate ensued on the substance of the bill.

Progressive Conservative Party Member John O’Toole’s remarks from that day provide a good summary:

I was here this morning, actually, to listen to a one-hour lead by the government. They used not even 15 minutes. I think that’s an insult to this place.” Fellow Progressive Conservative Party Member Julia Munro elaborated that the bill was introduced almost a year ago and it hasn’t been debated. She said, “I think the members would normally expect that in a leadoff, the minister responsible would provide a thorough, insightful analysis of the bill… it comes as a bit of a surprise to members on this side of the House that it can be done in such a summary fashion.”

When a new technical bill is re-introduced in the future, the sector can only hope that a real debate on the merits of the proposed amendments to the ONCA will take place.

In the meantime, Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) plans to scale down its efforts while Ontarians wait for the ONCA. The organization will continue to answer inquiries and send the occasional ONCA update, but it will postpone offering more help to organizations until a new proclamation date is announced. For those who cannot wait, CLEO has added more free tools to their website at http://nonprofitlaw.cleo.on.ca. These include what documents you will need to get started and how to change them in order to comply with the ONCA.

By Joel Secter is a lawyer with Drache Aptowitzer LLP in Ottawa. He can be reached at jsecter@drache.ca.

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Drache Aptowitzer LLP

Tax and Charity Lawyers at Drache Aptowitzer LLP
Drache Aptowitzer LLPis one of Canada’s foremost experts in the law related to charities and non-profit organizations. Their team of bloggers is led by Adam Aptowitzer LLB. He is a lawyer practicing in the areas of charity and tax law. He is a member of both the bars of Alberta and Ontario. He has been speaking and writing on the topic of charity law for several years and been published in numerous publications including the Canadian Taxpayer, the Canadian Fundraiser and the Not-for-Profit News and has been cited as an expert in many publications including the National Post.Read more here
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