Requirements to report all lobbying activity involving the provincial government in BC have been in place for private businesses and corporations for a number of years, but expanded to include far more of the non-profit sector in 2020 when the old Lobbyists Registration Act was replaced by the Lobbyists Transparency Act and a new regulation was introduced.

That has caused considerable challenge for the non-profit sector, most of which is now required to register and report via the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists if an organization has no bigger plans for its CEO or ED (the “in-house lobbyist”) than to plan an annual check-in with their local MLA. What was once a 100-hour/year threshold before lobbying had to be reported was reduced to 50 hours under the changes, but even that threshold doesn’t apply to the majority of non-profits unless they also have six or fewer employees and are not lobbying to improve things for their membership.

Non-profits had to start registering and reporting for the first time in 2021, but significant confusion and apprehension continues as to what to report, how to report it, and what exactly is meant by “lobbying” under the Act.

Board Voice is participating in an ongoing working group with the Vancouver Foundation, the United Way and Vantage Point to try to address the many issues for non-profits that these lobbying requirements have created. In particular, Board Voice is working closely with the Office of the Registrar to improve guidance documents for non-profits, clarify terms such as “government funding,” and just generally understand what it is that our sector is being asked to do in the name of transparency.

The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists is an independent body, and thus not beholden to the elected government. So while we have definitely heard concerns from the government about lobbying requirements, cabinet ministers have also made it clear that scrapping the requirement for non-profits to register and report is currently not an option. Still, there are many improvements that could be made in existing practices, and that is where Board Voice is concentrating our efforts.

Board Voice created a small guidance document ourselves in 2021, The Lowdown on Lobbying. Find it below, but consider it a work in progress as we develop more understanding ourselves about this complex issue.