COVID-19 has been dominating everything you’ve been thinking about and doing these past few weeks no doubt—but that’s not stopping the B.C. Government from going ahead with changes to how companies and organizations communicate with Victoria. The changes are coming, and they’re coming fast. May 4 fast.
That’s the day British Columbia’s new lobbying rules come into effect. These changes will give B.C. one of the most aggressive lobbyist reporting and enforcement regimes in North America. The new rules are particularly impactful for in-house lobbyists, especially those who previously did not meet the threshold to register and now will have significant reporting obligations.
Why should you care about the rules changes?
British Columbia’s Lobbyists Transparency Act and its regulations will change the way lobbyists have to operate in real and meaningful ways. They will change how you register for lobbying, who needs to register and what activities need to be registered. Those who don’t comply will face much tougher potential penalties.
Here are three important ways the changes could affect you:
New rules for in-house lobbyists: If you work for an organization and you engage in lobbying activities, you’re going to have to register your lobbying activities and file monthly reports. In the past you may not have had to register because you didn’t meet the 100-Hour threshold (if you didn’t lobby for 100 hours over a 12-month period then you didn’t have to register). But except for the smallest of organizations, that exemption is gone, and you’re going to need to register.
You need to track and report everything: Gone are the days when a lobbyist could submit a single registration for a full calendar year and be in compliance. Effective May 4, you need to register as a lobbyist and, on top of that, file monthly reports detailing your organization’s communication with public office holders. Think about that for a minute. You need to submit a monthly report recording every time anyone at your business or organization conducted activity considered lobbying. That’s every relevant meeting, phone call, e-mail, text message and meeting on the street with a public office holder, when it happened, where it happened and what was said. That’s a lot of new tracking and reporting.
It’s the law: These changes aren’t recommendations or suggestions. They’re the law. A failure to comply with the new rules will mean consequences. These include fines as high as $100,000, and a two-year lobbying ban.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
NATIONAL Vancouver is here to help
Given the legal, financial and reputational risks, businesses and organizations that communicate with public office holders in British Columbia must take steps to ensure they have a robust compliance regime in place.
NATIONAL is available to support you and your team through this transition. Our team of public affairs experts and in-house tech developers are well versed in the new Lobbyists Transparency Act and regulations, and we can build you custom solutions—no matter what tech platform you use—to get you ready for May 4. You need to have protocols, procedures and easy-to-use tools in place to register, track and report your lobbying activities in B.C., and to ensure the members of your team are trained to support your organization’s compliance—and NATIONAL can help.
If you’d like to set up a video meeting or call to discuss how NATIONAL can help you get ready for May 4, please email Jeff Ferrier at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.