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Update on the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020

On May 12, 2020, the Government of Ontario passed Bill 190, which amended the Condominium Act, 1998 (the “Condo Act”) with a number of temporary changes to help condo communities even further during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary changes were in effect province-wide and retroactive to March 17, 2020, when the Declaration of Emergency was made. According to Part IV.1 of the amended Condo Act, these changes were to remain in effect for the duration of the emergency period, plus an additional 120-day transitional period following its end. The government also has the option to extend the transitional period by regulation.

Bill 195 marked the end Ontario’s emergency period on July 24, 2020, and the beginning of the 120-day transitional period which will end on November 21, 2020. This helps us calculate when the temporary changes to the Condo Act will be revoked, and when condo corporations can hold their annual general meetings (AGM).

To assist the condo community in Ontario, the CAO is providing a summary of the temporary amendments to the Condo Act set by the Government of Ontario in the fields below:

Update on the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020

Based on the condo corporation’s original deadline to hold the AGM (i.e., within 6 months of the end of the condo corporation’s fiscal year), the AGM may be able to be deferred according to the following:

If the original AGM deadline is:                  Then it must be held on or before:        
 March 17 – July 24, 2020  October 22, 2020
 July 25 – August 24, 2020  November 21, 2020
 After August 24, 2020  The original deadline, no deferrals

 

Please note that that these deadlines have been set by the Government of Ontario and there will be no further extensions of AGM deadlines.

Condo corporations can hold owners’ meetings by telephonic or electronic means, and unit owners and mortgagees will be able to attend, vote and count towards quorum if they:

  • Personally connect to the meeting, by calling in or joining an online video chat; or
  • Have an individual represent them by proxy (using the proxy form) to connect to the meeting on their behalf.

After November 21, 2020, if corporations want to continue holding and voting at owners’ meetings by telephonic or electronic means, then they may consider implementing a by-law.

The Condo Act defines “telephonic or electronic means” as any means that uses the telephone or any other electronic or other technological means to transmit information or data, including telephone calls, fax, e-mail, automated touch-tone telephone system, computer or computer networks.

Condo corporations can use electronic means to deliver meeting related materials (e.g., meeting notices) to unit owners and mortgagees, even if there is not an agreement between them as per Section 47 of the Condo Act regarding electronic delivery).

Any materials meant to be placed before an owners’ meeting (e.g., financial statements at the AGM) can be placed by electronic means. Any forms required under the Condo Act can be modified to reflect any temporary changes.

After November 21, 2020, if corporations want to continue to send notices electronically, an agreement will be required with the unit owners.

Section 54 of the Act was amended to define “electronic means” as any means that uses any electronic or other technological means to transmit information or data, including fax, e-mail, computer or computer networks.

If a corporation has already issued a Notice of Meeting for an upcoming owners’ meeting during the emergency period, they may move the meeting to be held by telephonic or electronic means without the need to send an updated Notice of Meeting.

However, the corporation must inform those entitled to receive the Notice of Meeting of the change in format, in a reasonable time and manner.

This will not be possible after November 21, 2020.

Board meeting notices can be delivered by electronic means to directors, even if the condo corporation’s by-laws specify otherwise. Board meetings can also be held by telephonic or electronic means without the consent of all directors.

This will not be possible after November 21, 2020.

Section 11.12 of Ontario Regulation 48/01 defines the types of electronic communication that can be used to hold a board meeting.

Even though the emergency period has ended in Ontario, social distancing requirements under Bill 195 and public health advice have implications for in-person meetings.

Within the Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa public health units, the gathering limits for unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events are 10 attendees for indoor events or gatherings, and 25 attendees for outdoor events or gatherings.

For the rest of the province, Ontario’s Stage 3 gathering restrictions allow up to 50 attendees for indoor gatherings provided the attendees can physically distance themselves within the meeting space.

As an AGM can have a large turnout, it is important to check your local and provincial health and safety laws to ensure that all requirements are being adhered to.

1. Limit the Chance of Spread

COVID-19 spreads in three ways: close contact, contaminated surfaces, and common greetings. Each can be limited with a few simple steps:

  • Close contact: Attendees must always keep up to two meters apart. Choose a meeting space that can accommodate this distance.
  • Contaminated surfaces: Instead of handing out documents, encourage attendees to print at home. Wipe down chairs, tables, handles and other contact points with disinfectant beforehand. For more information on hard-surface disinfectants, click here.
  • Common greetings: Proper social distancing means no handshakes or hugs. Greet attendees from a distance.

2. Be an Active Leader

Hosting a meeting will require more dynamic leadership than was necessary before the pandemic. Here is how to actively maintain a safe meeting environment:

  • Set aside extra time for pre-meeting preparations.
  • Do not be afraid to speak up and remind attendees to follow safety procedures.
  • Properly communicate all safety procedures to attendees – clearly, consistently and in advance. Do not let these procedures take them by surprise.

3. Additional Tips

  • Encourage masks or face coverings in addition to social distancing.
  • Let attendees know to stay home if they are sick.
  • Encourage attendees to think carefully about attending if they are more at risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. This includes those who are older, have an underlying medical condition or have a weakened immune system.
  • Advise owners to be present and vote by proxy to limit in-person attendees.
  • Stagger entry into your meeting space to prevent lineups.
  • Add physical markers or floor decals to indicate appropriate social distancing.
  • Offer hand sanitizers at entrances.
  • Corporations can also seek legal advice to make sure that all necessary precautions have been taken to hold an in-person meeting safely.

Update on the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020

Please contact us if you have any questions, by calling 1-844-880-5341 or by emailing info@condoauthorityontario.ca