The new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act came into force October 17, 2011. All federally incorporated not-for-profit corporations must continue into this new Act by October 17, 2014. Failure to continue the not-for-profit corporation will result in dissolution.
The new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act makes positive improvements to the not-for-profit sector particularly in the areas of powers, corporate governance and accountability. Under the old regime, a not-for-profit corporation only had the powers expressly granted to it under its Letters Patent. Under the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, a not-for-profit corporation has the powers of a natural person subject only to restrictions in the articles, thus opening opportunities for non-for-profit to engage in activities that might previously have been unable to pursue. Corporate governance has been brought more into line with those applicable to the for-profit sector. Accountability has been made more rational, with greater accountability to members including the right of members to access oppression remedies, and with the mandated requirement for audited financial statements being eliminated for some lower revenue corporations.
The transition by a not-for-profit corporation from the old act to the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act is made by a continuance. A continuance is filing of Articles of Continuance, along with the new by-laws with the Director for the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. The Articles of Continuance and new by-laws must be approved by the members by special resolution prior to submission. While there is no fee for the continuance, the process is not trivial and requires significant changes to the by-laws. The good news is that in many cases the by-laws may be significantly reduced because the default provisions of the new Act may be relied upon. A clear understanding of the new Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act is required in order to appropriately formulate the new by-laws to preserve the intentions of the members.
We represent the interests of a number of not-for-profit corporations located in Ottawa and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario.