Topics: What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA, Canadian Charity Law, Applying for Registered Charity Status, ONCA, New corporate non-profit acts
I have been asking the Ontario government for months for an update on whether ONCA is coming into force and when. On September 25, 2019 I received a short note from the Policy and Business Law Unit of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS). They noted "Thank you for your inquiry to the ministry regarding the Ontario Not-For-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA). The ministry is working to bring ONCA into force as early as possible." In January 2019 they noted "The ministry is continuing to work to bring the ONCA into force as early as possible with a target of early 2020".[my emphasis] Note they seem to be omitting the part about targeting early 2020. I guess we are supposed to read the tea leaves - does that mean that it will be coming in early 2020, some other time or not coming in at all. Your guess is as good as anyone.
They then go on to note "The ministry’s website will be updated as further information becomes available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/rules-not-profit-and-charitable-corporations." The problem with that is that the website has not been updated since February 2019 - almost 7 months now - and this new act could be coming in in just over 3 months time.
While they note that Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has resources available on their website (which also have not been updated since February 2019) they then end with a very helpful "We would encourage you to continue checking the ministry’s website for updates and making use of the resources being provided by CLEO."
So I guess I will spend the next few months checking the Ontario government website every day to see if there is a change. This is unfortunate. In light of the large number of groups, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers in Ontario involved with those groups that are affected by the transition from the OCA to ONCA, the gaps in information available, the lengthy delay so far (since 2013), the limited time until ONCA is supposed to come into force, it would therefore be very helpful if further information can be provided.
Here is a short summary of the situation:
Part of the frustration that I have with how the Ontario government has dealt with this matter is the secrecy, part of it is the tremendous delay and another part is that certain basic steps to ameliorate the negative effects of this delay have not taken place. I have encouraged the Ontario government to more prominently let groups know that ONCA will replace the OCA and groups should consider establishing themselves under the Federal CNCA.
If you are considering making significant changes (eg. changes to objects, new by-laws or to implement a merger etc) it is a good idea to obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
On the potential repeal of ONCA:
Ontario has codified a process for the repeal of legislation that remains unproclaimed for nine years or more. Since 2011, the Legislation Act, 2006 has required the Attorney General to annually table in the Legislature a report listing all unproclaimed Acts and provisions that were enacted nine years or more before December 31 of the preceding calendar year and which remain unproclaimed on that date. An Act or provision listed in this report is automatically repealed on December 31 of the calendar year in which the report is tabled unless it comes into force on or before December 31 of that calendar year; or during that calendar year, the Assembly adopts a resolution that it not be repealed.
Here is a list of many of the acts that have been repealed because of that provision. https://www.ontario.ca/laws/public-statute-provisions-repealed-under-section-101-legislation-act-2006
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.