Posts by Ted Hyland

Voluntary organizations and member disputes take another trip to the Supreme Court

September 30th, 2020 by Ted Hyland

According to a June 2020 Statistics Canada study, in 2018 more than 12.7 million people in Canada volunteered for charities, non-profits and community organizations, contributing more than 1.6 billion hours. While not all are members of the organizations for which they volunteer, many are.

Under what circumstances does their membership have the legal status that will attract a judge’s jurisdiction and oversight, particularly when there are disputes leading to the expulsion or other discipline of members? This question is again headed to the Supreme Court of Canada for an answer later this fall.

The question is not an abstract one. It involves the interplay between the rights of the members and the discretion of those in charge of the organizations to make decisions that affect their members’ rights. If a member is dissatisfied with the decision, can they go to court?

Continue reading “Voluntary organizations and member disputes take another trip to the Supreme Court”

Exploring new ways for charities to work in partnerships

December 10th, 2019 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Registered charities in Canada find themselves increasingly drawn to find ways of operating through partnerships and networks. There are two legal impediments they face in doing their work. One is the requirement under the Income Tax Act that charities carry on their own activities themselves, known as the “direction and control” requirement. The other impediment is the prohibition against registered charities making gifts to any entity that is not a qualified donee (qualified donees are registered charities and other various tax-exempt entities specified in the act).

The Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) view is that charities are allowed to use their resources in only one of two ways: either by making gifts to other qualified donees (for most charities, this means to other registered charities) or by applying their resources to their “own activities,” which the charities must carry on themselves.

It is in this context that the Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector, established in January 2018, held hearings into the effect of laws and policies on the charitable sector. It issued its report, Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector, in June 2019.

Continue reading “Exploring new ways for charities to work in partnerships”

Reminder: Ontario corporations must keep track of the land in Ontario in which they have an “Ownership Interest”

November 27th, 2018 by Ted Hyland

Deadline – December 10, 2018

In 2015, the Ontario Legislature enacted the Forfeited Corporate Property Act, 2015, which deals with what happens to property, including land and interests in land, which corporations own at the moment that they cease to exist.

Ordinarily, if a corporation owns land (or any property) when it is dissolved, the land “escheats” (is forfeited) to the Crown.  Sometimes – often – the corporation is dissolved because of its failure to make its annual filings, and the dissolution occurs unbeknownst to the owners / directors of the corporation.

As part of imposing some rationalization on keeping track of the land in Ontario that Ontario corporations own, the Forfeited Corporate Property Act, 2015 amended the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) and the Corporations Act (Ontario) to require corporations governed by those statutes to complete and maintain a register of all of their “ownership interests” in land located in Ontario.  (When it comes into effect, the Not‑for‑Profit Corporations Act will also impose this rule on the corporations that it governs; co‑operative corporations, on the other hand, have been spared the obligation to have such a register.) We previously wrote about this in March of 2017.

If your organization has been in existence since before December 10, 2016 and is either a business corporation incorporated under the Business Corporations Act (Ontario) or a non‑profit corporation incorporated under the Corporations Act (Ontario), then it has until this coming December 10th to put such a register in place.
Continue reading “Reminder: Ontario corporations must keep track of the land in Ontario in which they have an “Ownership Interest””

Social finance: Challenges for its legal regulation

June 28th, 2018 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on rabble.ca.

Last month, the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology issued a report entitled The Federal Role in a Social Finance Fund. The Committee’s recommendations included the federal government creating and contributing to a national social finance fund. This recommendation, among others from the Committee, aligns with, for example, the social enterprise strategy of the Ontario government.

For all of the optimism percolating through the Senate report and Ontario’s strategy there is the challenge of how to reconcile two dynamics that historically have been opposed: the private interest for profit and the common interest for public benefit. Social finance is about harnessing capital and the forces of the market to solve social problems. It’s about commercializing social, environmental and cultural problems that traditionally were addressed by government as part of an overall goal of wealth redistribution and creation and protection of public goods. Social finance represents a shift: addressing these problems is an opportunity for wealth creation, as well as doing good. Continue reading “Social finance: Challenges for its legal regulation”

Impact investing: What are charities able to do?

April 3rd, 2018 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Are charities legally permitted to make impact investments with their funds? Yes, but, getting to “yes” is not straightforward, and depends on the circumstances.

Impact investing is the use (mainly, but not exclusively) of money to simultaneously realize a financial return and a public or social good. A 2016 survey published by the Responsible Investment Association in Canada reports that in 2015 more than $9.2 billion in assets under management were identified by the survey respondents as being impact investments. A 2017 report by the Global Impact Investing Network  reveals US$114 billion in impact investments worldwide in 2016. These investments are in sectors ranging from housing and energy to microfinance, education, and arts and culture. The investment instruments include debt (e.g., loans, bonds), equity (both private and public shareholdings or units in partnerships), and real assets (in other words, tangible assets such as real estate or commodities, rather than financial capital).

Increasingly, charities are looking at using their funds and other resources to contribute to positive social, economic, cultural and environmental change (“social impact”), as well as to obtain a financial return. But does the law permit them to do so? Continue reading “Impact investing: What are charities able to do?”

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): Federal government suspends the Private Right of Action provisions

June 13th, 2017 by Ted Hyland

Organizations – businesses, non‑profits and charities – are breathing a sigh of relief following the federal government’s decision to suspend indefinitely the coming into force of the provisions of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) that give persons the right to seek monetary compensation from anyone who has breached the consent rules in CASL and the collection and use of personal information rules in PIPEDA.[1]

Colloquially known as the “private right of action” clauses of CASL, they were slated to come into force on July 1, 2017; the suspension of their coming into force was accomplished by a federal Order‑in‑Council (PC Number: 2017‑0580), which was issued on June 2, 2017.

Among the groups that had lobbied the federal government to put the brakes on the implementation of the private right of action provisions were Imagine Canada and the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN). Imagine Canada and ONN sent a letter together to the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains. The letter, dated February 14, 2017, lays out a number of the principal concerns that the nonprofit and charitable sectors have with CASL generally and with the private right of action specifically.

[1] Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (S.C. 2000, c. 5)