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Condo Meetings During COVID-19: Important Updates from the Government of Ontario

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 of Ontario’s emergency period on July 24, 2020, and the beginning of the 120-day transitional period which will end on November 21, 2020. However, as of October 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario has extended the transitional period for certain temporary provisions to May 31, 2021 with the passing of Ontario Regulation 541/20.

Note: Please be aware that the extension of the transitional period does not apply to the deadlines to hold annual general meetings. See below for further details.

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

Condo Meetings During COVID-19: Important Updates from the Government of Ontario

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 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 May 31st, 2021, 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 May 31st, 2021, 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.

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 May 31st, 2021.

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.

Throughout the province of Ontario, the new gathering limits for unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events, including owners’ meetings, are:

  • 10 attendees for indoor events or gatherings; or
  • 25 attendees for outdoor events or gatherings.

It is important to note that the limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot be merged to create events of 35 people. For example, a gathering of 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors cannot be merged so that 35 people can attend an event.

An additional consideration is that these limits do not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities. Examples of a staffed business or facility include convention centres, banquet halls, and restaurants.

Businesses that rent out meeting or event space have a higher gathering limit if the meeting or event space ensures that people at the meeting or event are able to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 meters from each other. The limits for these meetings or event spaces are:

  •  50 persons if the meeting or event is indoors; or
  • 100 persons if the meeting or event is outdoors.

Existing limits, rules, public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, must be followed.

If your condo corporation is going to rent an event space to hold an owners’ meeting, it is important to check your local and provincial health and safety laws to ensure that all requirements are being adhered to.

The Ontario Government has announced additional restrictions in the Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York public health unit regions. The restrictions will be in place for at least 28 days. Limits for all social gatherings, including meeting and event spaces for these regions have been reduced from a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings cannot be merged to create indoor-outdoor events of 35 people. In addition to the limits on the size of the gathering, physical distancing requirements must be maintained.

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 stay at least two meters apart to ensure adequate social distancing.
  • 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:

  • Plan for and communicate how the condo corporation will ensure the number of individuals attending in-person does not exceed space limits either in your condo building (e.g., up to 10 people if held indoors) or in a rented event space (e.g., up to 10 people if held indoors for the Ottawa, Peel and Toronto region and up to 50 people if held indoors for all other regions). Note: In addition to the limits on the size of the gathering, physical distancing requirements must be maintained.
  • 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 consider voting 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 sanitizer 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.

Condo Meetings During COVID-19: Important Updates from the Government of Ontario

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