Growing Concerns about Online AGMs – Stop turning off the microphone

March 2022

Technology was supposed to make virtual Annual General Meetings (AGMs) more inclusive.  Instead, they have made it easier for condominium boards to mute owner concerns and dissent.

The top three most concerning practices cited by those who attend virtual meetings are management unreasonably curating questions, an inability to ask live questions at a meeting, and lack of question-and-answer opportunities.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) is concerned about virtual or online annual general meetings.  These concerns are equally applicable to condominium corporations and their annual general meetings as all are subject to or based on corporate law.

Some condominium corporations attempted to make virtual-only gatherings more interactive for owners; others failed to do so which had the effect of silencing owners.  Some owners complain that online meetings shield directors and management from scrutiny.  These concerns are identical to those of shareholders in private corporations.  Some believe that new regulations are necessary to protect owner rights.

While investors are airing their grievances to the Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella group of regulators, condo owners have no such organization to represent their interests.

Recommendations to improve virtual meetings include:

  • Ensuring all owners receive electronic notification of meetings and access instructions
  • Simplified meeting registration
  • Video playbacks of AGMs
  • Easier processes for owners to ask questions as matters arise
  • Technical support for owners
  • Opportunities for meeting attendees to raise points of order during the meeting
  • Transparent disclosure of proxy voting results

These recommendations are relatively simple to implement and would help ensure that virtual meetings don’t serve as a one-way communication vehicle obscuring or restricting owner rights.