Lobbyists Transparency Act – New Registration and Reporting Requirements

On May 4th, the Lobbyists Transparency Act will come into effect, increasing requiring registration and reporting requirements for all organizations (including co-operatives) that lobby provincial employees or office holders in BC. “Lobbying” is defined broadly. It includes attempting to influence government decisions, such as legislative proposals, bills, resolutions, regulations, programs, policies, directives and guidelines. It also includes seeking government contracts.

An organization will be required to register with the provincial Registrar of Lobbyists within 10 days after any of its paid employees, officers, or directors lobby a provincial public office holder or employee. Lobbying by unpaid directors or volunteers does not trigger the registration requirement.

The registration obligation will arise regardless of the amount of time spent on lobbying activities by the organization’s paid employees, officers, and directors. The current registration “threshold”, of 100 hours of provincial lobbying will be eliminated. This means that some co-operatives will be required to register for the first time.

Organizations with fewer than six employees may lobby without registration, provided that the organization’s lobbying activities have totalled fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12 months. This exception does not apply to organizations whose primary purpose is to represent the interests of their members or to promote or oppose issues.

Registrants must identify whom they are lobbying and the intended outcome of their lobbying efforts.

They will also be required to identify persons or organizations that have contributed $1,000 or more towards their lobbying activities in the previous 12 months and that have a direct interest in the outcome of those activities.

Registrants must name any government, government agency, or provincial entity that has funded the organization within the preceding 12 months, the amount of that funding, as well as the name of any such entity from which the organization has requested funding, and the amount of funding requested.

Registrants must also file monthly lobbying activity reports.

Organizations may not give or promise to give gifts to any public office holder whom the lobbyist is lobbying. The only exception is for gifts “under the protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the duties or responsibilities of office of the public office holder”, and only if the total value of such gifts in a 12-month period is no more than $100.

If your co-operative engages with government in British Columbia you should consider whether you need to register. More information is available on the website of the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, at https://www.lobbyistsregistrar.bc.ca.