The May 5th, 2020 Orders under The Public Health Act (C.C.S.M. c. P210) the province of Manitoba continues to limit persons gathering to ten. As a result of this Order, assuming that most condos have more than ten unit owners, it will be challenging, if not impossible, for the majority of condominium corporations to hold face-to-face meetings.
1(1) All persons are prohibited from assembling in a public gathering of more than ten persons at any indoor or outdoor place or premises. This includes places of worship, social gatherings, and family events such as weddings and funerals.
1(2) This Order does not apply to a facility where health care or social services are provided
1(3) For certainty, more than ten members of the public may attend a business that is permitted to open under these Orders if the operator of the business has implemented the applicable public distancing measures set out in these Orders.
Further, in the province of Manitoba plan for Restoring Safe Services Together: Manitoba’s Phased Approach, the following can be found under Future Phases: Large Gatherings:
“There will be no large gatherings or events until at least September 2020. As the situation evolves, Manitoba public health officials will make decisions based on evidence at the time”.
In keeping with the order to keep gatherings to no more than ten persons, it would appear that any meeting of unit owners, or directors will have to be telephonic or electronic as contemplated by the Order re Temporary Suspension of Corporate Meeting Provisions made under the Emergency Measures Act (CCSM c. E80). Normally, condo corporations must have wording in their Bylaws allowing such meetings, but the temporary suspension order prevails in this instance and electronic meetings (AGM, SGM, Board) are allowed.
Before any corporation rushes to the telephone, desktops, tablets, iPad, and smartphones, I would like to provide you with some questions you will need to consider. Today, I will address what should be considered before holding an online meeting. In future blogs I will look at what to consider during an electronic meeting, and other matters such as registration, voting, and recording.
- You should have a current list of unit owners with their name, unit number, telephone number and email address;
- How will you notify unit owners of the online meeting and what to do to join in?
- Decide on the platform you will use for the online meeting (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, Skype)
- Will owners be able to participate using the chosen platform or by telephone (regular landline or smartphone)
- How many people will be online? Different platforms have different limits on the number of people that can participate depending on the plan chosen.
- Do you need strong security for your online meeting? Security might involve unique password for each unit owner to join the meeting, having participants wait for the host to sign in, encryption capabilities.
- What is the computer literacy level of meeting participants? If all people can do is turn on the computer and check email, navigating the meeting screen could cause some disruptions.
- Does your internet plan have enough download and upload speed to handle both audio and video signals? If the service of one or more participants is insufficient, they may lose connection. When speaking, they may cut-out or be unable to hear other participants when they speak.
- While platforms make it simple to join a meeting, depending on the device participants will be using, you may have to deal with different configurations. (the screen may look slightly different on a PC versus an iPad)
- Do you have a host that is familiar with the platform being used?
- Is the host able to manage an online meeting?
- What will you do if the complete meeting (system) shuts down?
- How will you handle complaints from people who had tech problems and could not participate at all or for parts of the meeting?
- How will you ensure that you have quorum to start the meeting and that quorum is maintained throughout the meeting?
- If votes are involved, how are they going to be conducted online?
- Will you allow electronic voting in advance of the meeting?
- If someone joins the meeting and then leaves and wishes to come back into the meeting, will they be allowed back in?
- Will two or more owners be able to join an online meeting using only one device? This will complicate matters of registration and keeping track of quorum.
I am sure there may be more things to consider before the online meeting. If you have any questions, please send them along.
My next blog will address issues that will come up during the meeting.