LTA Frequently Asked Questions

General

When does the Lobbyists Transparency Act (LTA) come into force?

May 4, 2020.

What will happen to my existing active registrations in the current Lobbyists Registry? Will I have to re-enter everything or will they be migrated over?

All of your registrations (both active and terminated) in the current registry will be migrated over to the new Lobbyists Registry.

You will have until June 15, 2020, to log into the new Lobbyists Registry and update your active registrations.

You will also have until June 15, 2020, to complete your first Monthly Return for any lobbying activities that occurred in May 2020 (beginning on May 4, 2020) in order to be compliant with the LTA.

How long do I have to register under the LTA?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations have 10 days to file a new registration after beginning to lobby.

  • Consultant lobbyists have 10 days to file a registration after beginning to lobby on behalf of a client.

    “Beginning to lobby” means the date you first pick up the phone to arrange a meeting or when you first communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of influencing any of the matters referred to in the definition of “lobby”.  
  • The designated filer of an organization must register within 10 days of the date the organization first has an in-house lobbyist.

    The “date the organization first has an in-house lobbyist” is the date you first pick up the phone to arrange a meeting or when you first communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of influencing any of the matters referred to in the definition of “lobby”. 
How long do I have to make corrections requested by the Registry staff?

The Registrar of Lobbyists requires that all corrections and clarifications requested by Registry staff be completed within 10 calendar days.

When my Registration Return is activated by Lobbyists Registry staff, does this mean that all the details in my Registration Return have been verified and “approved” by the Registrar?

No. Registry staff check for obvious errors or omissions but do not have complete knowledge of the circumstances surrounding each registration, and therefore cannot “verify” or “approve” all of the information submitted in each of the hundreds of registrations in the Lobbyists Registry.

It is the on-going responsibility of each lobbyist to ensure that accurate information is entered into the Lobbyists Registry.

Accuracy of information is one of the primary concerns in any investigation.

In brief, compliance with the LTA and the obligation to correct any errors or misleading information remains the responsibility of the lobbyist, even after the registration has been accepted and activated by Registry staff.

What is the difference between my Registration Return and my Monthly Return?

Your Registration Return will contain information regarding the lobbying you intend to do.

Your Monthly Return will contain information regarding the lobbying you actually did in the previous month.

Is the information in my Registration Return and my Monthly Return available to the public?

Yes. The LTA sets out the information that must be disclosed in your Registration Return and Monthly Return. All information disclosed in a lobbyist’s Registration Return and Monthly Return (except contact email addresses) is published in the Lobbyists Registry, which is available online and searchable by the public.

Do all lobbying activities have to be registered?

No. Compliance does not always require registration, and not all lobbying activity requires registration. For example:

  • Volunteers are not required to register since they are not paid to communicate with public office holders.
  • Citizens may communicate with government officials on their own behalf without being required to register.
  • Certain communications with public office holders, such as a request for information, or responding to a written request from a public office holder for advice or comment, do not require registration.
  • Submissions made in proceedings that are a matter of public record to a committee of the Legislative Assembly, or to an authority having jurisdiction or powers conferred under legislation, do not require registration.
  • Members of other levels of government and members of their staff, or members of an aboriginal governing body in BC and members of their staff, are exempted from registration. Note: consultant lobbyists hired by other levels of government or an aboriginal governing body are required to register.

Lobbying

What are the key elements of activities considered to be “lobbying”?

The lobbyist

  1. is paid
  2. to communicate or to arrange a meeting for the purpose of lobbying
  3. with a public office holder
  4. in an attempt to influence any of the matters set out in the LTA definition of “lobby”.
Are you a lobbyist in BC?
Does “payment” in the LTA only include monetary payment?

No. The LTA defines “payment” to mean money or anything of value, including a contract, promise or agreement to pay money or anything of value, not including a reimbursement of expenses. “Payment” therefore includes, but is not limited to, monetary payment.

If I communicate with a public office holder on behalf of a client or my organization to “get information” about a policy or program, is that considered lobbying?

Lobbying entails an attempt to influence. If the communication with the public office holder only involves asking questions to obtain information about particular policies or programs, without any attempt to influence the government or a Provincial entity in any way, then that communication would not be considered lobbying.

A note of caution is required. Communication with a public office holder to seek information may also include communications which attempt to influence the Government or a Provincial entity in some way. If that is the case, the communication would be considered lobbying.

If I meet with a public office holder to “provide information” about my client’s or my organization’s project, is that considered lobbying?

Lobbying entails an attempt to influence. If the communication with the public office holder only involves the lobbyist providing information, without any attempt to influence the Government or a Provincial entity in any way, then that communication would not be considered lobbying.

A note of caution is required. Communication with a public office holder to provide information may also include communications which attempt to influence the Government or a Provincial entity in some way. If that is the case, the communication would be considered lobbying.

For example, if one of the reasons for making the public office holder aware of the project is to obtain funding for the project, to encourage legislation, regulations, programs, policies or guidelines that support the project, or to obtain a contract for your client with the Government or a Provincial entity with respect to the project, then the meeting would be considered lobbying.

Do I need to include lobbying activities directed at municipal governments, the federal government, or the governments of provinces other than British Columbia in my Registration Return and Monthly Return?

No. The BC Lobbyists Registry should only reflect the lobbying of BC public office holders at the provincial level.

I work for a union and we are in contract negotiations with the provincial government. Are we lobbying?

Likely not. Generally, discussions during established processes such as labour negotiations, would not be considered communication for the purpose of lobbying. However, if a union chose to hire an outside consultant to engage in discussions with public office holders who were not part of the established collective bargaining process, those communications would likely constitute lobbying. As well, if a union sought, in the context of collective bargaining, changes to the Labour Relations Code, such communications could constitute lobbying because legislative change is not within the scope of normal collective bargaining.

Compliance

Who is the Registrar?

The Registrar of Lobbyists for BC is an independent Officer of the Legislature, appointed by a unanimous motion of the Legislative Assembly.  The LTA designates the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC as the Registrar of Lobbyists.

What are the Registrar’s functions and powers?

The Registrar:

  • oversees and enforces compliance with the LTA and regulations;
  • conducts investigations;
  • maintains the Lobbyists Registry;
  • ensures public accessibility to the information contained in the Lobbyists Registry; and
  • promotes compliance and awareness through public education.
What is considered non-compliance under the LTA?

Non-compliance under the LTA may include, but is not limited to:

  • failing to register;
  • registering late;
  • providing information that is not accurate;
  • lobbying when prohibited;
  • failing to declare a gift given; and
  • failing to declare a political, sponsorship or recall contribution.

For the full list, after May 4, 2020, please refer to the “Guide to Investigations” issued by the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for British Columbia (ORL).

What happens if the Registrar believes I have not complied with my legal obligations under the LTA?

The Registrar will conduct a preliminary investigation. After the preliminary investigation, if there are grounds to believe you have not complied with provisions of the LTA or its regulations, the Registrar must advise you of the alleged contravention and provide you an opportunity to respond.

After giving you an opportunity to be heard, if the Registrar determines you have not complied with the LTA’s provisions or its regulations, you will be given notice of the following:  

  • That there has been a contravention, and the reasons for that determination;
  • The monetary administrative penalty, if any;
  • The administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying, if any; and
  • Your right to request a reconsideration.

The Registrar is required to deliver reports of non-compliance to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for the purpose of laying the report before the Legislative Assembly. After the report is delivered to the Speaker, the ORL will post the report to the ORL website.

What penalties can the Registrar impose if I am found to be non-compliant with the LTA?

Non-compliance with the LTA undermines the purpose of the Lobbyists Registry, which is to provide an accurate and transparent public record of lobbying in BC. If a lobbyist is found to be non-compliant, the Registrar (or their delegate) may issue an administrative monetary penalty and/or an administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying.

What is the maximum administrative penalty that may be issued?

The maximum monetary administrative penalty is $25,000.

The maximum administrative penalty of prohibition on lobbying is two years.

For more information, please see the ORL’s “Guide to Investigations”.

Can I ask the Registrar to reconsider a decision?

Yes. Within 30 days of being notified of the Registrar’s determination that you have not complied with the LTA, you may submit a written request to have the Registrar reconsider the decision and/or the administrative penalty. You may also request a stay of a prohibition on lobbying. You must provide reasons for the request for reconsideration.

The Registrar will:

  • consider the grounds on which the reconsideration is requested;
  • confirm or rescind the decision;
  • confirm or vary the administrative penalty;
  • if the monetary administrative penalty amount is confirmed or varied, confirm or extend the date by which the administrative penalty must be paid;
  • if the administrative penalty of prohibition is confirmed or varied, specify the dates that the prohibition starts and ends; and
  • notify you in writing of the reasons for the decision to rescind, confirm or vary.

The Registrar will not approach reconsideration as a complete re-hearing of the original facts of the case.  A respondent seeking to have a finding or administrative penalty altered on reconsideration bears the onus of satisfying the Registrar that the first determination contained a significant error of fact or law, or a breach of administrative fairness.

What are my options if I am prohibited from lobbying after the reconsideration is complete?

You may apply to the Supreme Court for relief from a prohibition on lobbying.

Are the Registrar’s Investigation Reports and Reconsideration Reports made public?

Yes. After an investigation in which the Registrar finds non-compliance, the Registrar must complete a report and deliver the report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. After the report is delivered to the Speaker, the ORL will post the report to the ORL website.

Public office holders, senior public office holders, former public office holders

Are public office holders only elected officials, such as MLAs?

No. The LTA defines “public office holder” in a way that includes many individuals in addition to elected officials. Any of the following may be a public office holder:

  • a member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) including members of cabinet;
  • political staff of an MLA or a member of cabinet;
  • an officer or employee of the government of British Columbia;
  • a person who is appointed to any office or body by or with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, other than a person appointed on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly;
  • a person who is appointed to any office or body by or with the approval of a minister of the government of British Columbia; and
  • an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.
Are “former public office holders” only elected officials, such as former ministers?

No. The LTA defines “former public office holder” in a way that includes many individuals in addition to elected officials. Any of the following may be a “former public office holder”:

  • a former member of the Executive Council (premier and cabinet ministers);
  • anyone, other than administrative support staff, formerly employed in a current or former office of a current or former member of the Executive Council;
  • a former parliamentary secretary;
  • anyone who formerly occupied a senior executive position in a ministry, whether by the title of deputy minister, chief executive officer, or another title;
  • anyone who formerly occupied the position of associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, or a position of comparable rank in a ministry; or
  • any individual who formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity listed in the Appendix in the Lobbyists Transparency Regulations (“prescribed position” = most senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity; the chair or vice chair of the governing body of a Provincial entity).
Is every person who was formerly a public office holder therefore a “former public office holder” within the meaning of the Act?

No. Not all public office holders who have left their positions are considered to be “former public office holders”.  See the item above regarding individuals considered to be “former public office holders”.

Are “senior public office holders” different from “public office holders”?

Yes. “Senior public office holders” are a subset of public office holders.  

“Senior public office holders” include the following positions:

  • Premier and ministers (members of the Executive Council)
  • Staff of premier/staff of ministers (other than administrative support staff)
  • MLA
  • Staff of MLAs (other than administrative support staff)
  • Parliamentary secretary
  • Deputy minister, chief executive officer or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity
  • Chair or vice chair of, or the equivalent position in, the governing body of a Provincial entity
Who is a public office holder that is not a “senior public office holder”?

A public office holder who is not a “senior public office holder” is:

  • anyone in a ministry below the level of assistant/associate deputy minister
  • anyone below the two most senior ranking executive positions in a Provincial entity
  • anyone below the level of chair or vice chair in the governing body of a Provincial entity

This list may include an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.

Former public office holder

The Registration Return form asks me if any of the lobbyists named in the return are “former public office holders”. Who is a “former public office holder”?

The term is limited to individuals who previously held public office in British Columbia. Those who previously held public office in another jurisdiction are not included.

“Former public office holder” means:

  • a former member of the Executive Council (premier and cabinet ministers);
  • anyone, other than administrative support staff, formerly employed in a current or former office of a current or former member of the Executive Council;
  • a former parliamentary secretary;
  • anyone who formerly occupied a senior executive position in a ministry, whether by the title of deputy minister, chief executive officer or another title;
  • anyone who formerly occupied the position of associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or a position of comparable rank in a ministry; or
  • any individual who formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity listed in the Appendix in the Lobbyists Transparency Regulations (“prescribed position” = most senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity; the chair or vice chair of the governing body of a Provincial entity).
I know there is a two-year cooling off period for “former public office holders.” Do I have to declare my “former public office holder” role(s) even if I was a public office holder more than two years ago?

Yes, you are required to declare all of your “former public office holder” roles held at any point in the past.

What if I don’t know the exact dates of my previous roles?

You can search previous Orders in Council to help determine the exact dates you held a role at www.bclaws.ca or contact the Public Service Agency for information about your employment.

 Registration Returns

How long do I have to file my Registration Return?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations have 10 days to file a Registration Return after beginning to lobby.

How long do I have to make updates to my Registration Return?

Lobbyists are required to file a Monthly Return by the 15th of each month. This includes the requirement to update your Registration Return regarding any change that has occurred. For example, if you are lobbying on a new subject matter, or when your government funding changes, you must update your Registration Return.

Consultant lobbyists have 30 days to update the end date in their Registration Return after the termination of an undertaking.

The designated filer for an organization has 30 days to update their Registration Return when an in-house lobbyist ceases to be an in-house lobbyist.

How much detail do I need to provide in the Information about Subject Matter section of the Registration Return?

The LTA requires you to provide a brief but comprehensive description of your lobbying activities. Your details should be clear and concise, so the public can easily identify and understand your lobbying goals.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the Lobbyists Registry is to provide transparency with respect to who is lobbying the BC government about which subject matter(s). The language in this section must include “particulars to identify the subject matter”.

Answering these questions might help you determine what to enter in this section:

  • What result am I lobbying for?
  • What am I seeking from the BC government on behalf of my client or my organization?
  • What is the intended outcome I hope to achieve as a result of my communication with the BC government?
  • If you are not seeking a change or do not have a specific “ask” of the BC government, why are you communicating with the public office holder?
What will not be accepted in the Information about Subject Matter section?

Vague information will not be accepted. Registrations will be rejected if they provide minimal or non-specific information about lobbying activities such as “matters pertaining to energy policy” or “discussions around Bill 123.” These descriptions are insufficient. You must state the goal and the subject of the lobbying activities.

Why do the subject matter descriptions in my Registration Return have to be specific?

The purpose of the LTA is to balance free and open access to government with public transparency about who is attempting to influence government decisions.

The LTA requires the Registration Return to set out the “particulars” of the subject matter of the lobbying and the details of any relevant legislative proposal, bill, regulations, program, policy, directive, decision, grant, financial benefit, or contract that is or will be the subject of the lobbying.

Registration Returns that use vague, incomplete, subjective, or overly high-level/general language to describe the lobbying activity do not meet the requirements of the LTA or the object of public transparency and will not be accepted.

Monthly Return

What is a Monthly Return?

The LTA requires that designated filers (including consultant lobbyists) who have filed Registration Returns must also file Monthly Returns. The requirement to file a Monthly Return includes:

  • A Lobbying Activity Report that reports on your lobbying of “senior public office holders” for the previous month (e.g. phone calls, emails, letters and meetings). You must file one Lobbying Activity Report for each lobbying activity.
  • The requirement to update your underlying Registration Return if anything has changed.

When you log into the Lobbyists Registry to file your Lobbying Activity Report and/or to update your Registration Return, you will be prompted to confirm that the following is up to date:

  • any political, sponsorship, or recall contributions made; and
  • any gifts or other benefits you gave or promised to give to any public office holders since your last Monthly Return.
When do I have to file a Monthly Return?

Both consultant lobbyists and organizations are required to file a Monthly Return by the 15th of every month, beginning the month after the Registration Return is first filed.

For example, if you file your Registration Return on May 10, you have until June 15 to file your first Monthly Return. If you first lobby on May 29, and file your Registration Return on June 5, you would have until July 15 to file your first Monthly Return.

 Lobbying Activity Reports

What is a Lobbying Activity Report?

The Lobbying Activity Report is the part of your Monthly Return where you enter information about any communications with “senior public office holders” in the previous month.

How long do I have to register any meetings I have?

You must file a Monthly Return by the 15th of each month, and your Monthly Return must include all lobbying activities for the previous month. For example, if you have a meeting on May 16, you have until June 15 to enter that meeting (by filing a Lobbying Activity Report). If you have a meeting on June 2, you have until July 15 to enter that meeting (by filing a Lobbying Activity Report).

Do I have to register all of my lobbying activities by the 15th of each month?

You are required to declare your lobbying of “senior public office holders” as part of your requirement to file a Monthly Return. You must declare your lobbying activities for the current month by the 15th of the next month.

What constitutes a “lobbying activity”?

A lobbying activity may take place through any medium you use to communicate with a public office holder for the purpose of lobbying, including but not limited to:

  • phone calls
  • emails
  • text Messages
  • letters
  • in-person meetings
Who is considered to be a “senior public office holder”?

“Senior public office holders” are a subset of public office holders and are defined in the LTA as follows:

  • Premier and ministers (members of the Executive Council)
  • Staff of premier/staff of ministers (other than administrative support staff)
  • MLA
  • Staff of MLAs (other than administrative support staff)
  • Parliamentary secretary
  • Deputy minister, chief executive officer or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Associate deputy minister, assistant deputy minister or a position of comparable rank in a ministry
  • Senior or next most senior ranking executive position of a Provincial entity
  • Chair or vice chair of, or the equivalent position in, the governing body of a Provincial entity
Who is a public office holder but not a “senior public office holder”?

A public office holder who is not a “senior public office holder” is:

  • anyone in a ministry below the level of assistant/associate deputy minister;
  • anyone below the two most senior ranking executive positions in a Provincial entity; or
  • anyone below the level of chair or vice chair in the governing body of a Provincial entity.

This list may include an officer, director, or employee of any government corporation as defined in the Financial Administration Act.

If I undertake a lobbying activity with a public office holder (who is not a “senior public office holder”) what am I required to indicate as part of my requirement to file a Monthly Return?

If the public office holder you are lobbying is not a “senior public office holder”, you are not required to complete a Lobbying Activity Report. However, you must check to ensure that your Registration Return is up to date and contains sufficient information to cover the lobbying of any public office holders, including:

  • lobbying details
  • intended outcomes
  • subject matters
  • the name of the ministry or Provincial entity in which the public office holder is employed
What do I have to include in my Lobbying Activity Report?

Your Lobbying Activity Report must include:

  • the name and position title of the “senior public office holder(s)” who was the object of the lobbying activity
  • the name of the ministry or Provincial entity the “senior public office holder” works for
  • the date of the lobbying activity
  • for organizations only, the names of the in-lobbyist(s) who participated in the lobbying activity
  • details to identify the subject matter of the lobbying activity
If I have an email string conversation with a “senior public office holder,” how does this work for reporting? Do I have to enter a Lobbying Activity Report for each email I send?

For an email string, as long as the subject matter and lobbying details remain the same throughout the email chain, then you only need to enter one Lobbying Activity Report. You would use the date of the first email as the “Date” when completing your Lobbying Activity Report.

What if I send an email to a minister and copy the deputy minister? Is copying the deputy minister considered to be communicating? Do I have to file a Lobbying Activity Report for this?

Copying someone on an email is considered to be communicating with that person. So, if you send an email to a minister and copy the deputy minister and you are lobbying in that email, you need to file one Lobbying Activity Report – and list both the minister and the deputy minister.

Designated filer

What does the term "designated filer" mean?

The designated filer is defined in the LTA and means:

  • a consultant lobbyist, or
  • the most senior paid officer in the organization such as the President, CEO, or Executive Director of the organization. The designated filer is the person legally responsible for the completion and accuracy of the Registration Return and Monthly Return. It is only in a situation where there is no senior officer who receives payment, that the most senior in-house lobbyist may be named as the designated filer.
What if the designated filer is not doing any lobbying?

The most senior paid officer in the organization must be listed as the designated filer even if that person is not doing any lobbying.

We are a company based in the USA. Can we list the most senior officer in Canada as the designated filer?

You must list the most senior officer of the legal entity that is registering its lobbying activities.

If it is the Canadian subsidiary company that is registering its lobbying activities, then the designated filer should be the most senior paid officer of the Canadian subsidiary, not the international head of the parent company. If it is the parent company whose lobbying activities are being reported, the designated filer should be the most senior paid officer of the parent company.

Please note: if your organization is a national or international organization, the Registrar will no longer accept the most senior officer in BC as the designated filer. The designated filer must be the most senior officer of the legal entity that is registering its lobbying activities.

 Consultant Lobbyists

I’m a consultant lobbyist – does the 50-hour threshold apply to me?

No. There is no minimum threshold for consultant lobbyists – if you do any lobbying, you must register in the Lobbyists Registry.

The 50-hour threshold only applies to organizations who have fewer than six employees and who lobby less than 50 hours in a 12-month period, unless the primary purpose of the organization is to represent the interests of its members or to promote or oppose issues.  

I’m a consultant lobbyist. I understand the definition of “lobby” has changed with respect to arranging meetings. Can you explain what the new definition means for me?

Under the previous legislation, any meeting a consultant lobbyist arranged between a public office holder and any other individual met the test of lobbying and had to be declared in the Lobbyists Registry, even if the purpose of the meeting was not to influence any of the matters found in the definition of “lobby”.

Under the LTA, the above provision is amended. It is only meetings that are arranged between a public office holder and any other individual for the purpose of lobbying that meet the test of lobbying and needs to be declared in the Lobbyists Registry. Any meetings arranged where the purpose of the meeting is not to influence any of the matters found in the definition of “lobby” are not considered lobbying and do not need to be registered.

I am a consultant lobbyist. Do I still need to register if my lobbying activity on behalf of my client was unsuccessful or has stopped?

Yes. A consultant lobbyist must register within 10 days of beginning to lobby on behalf of a client, even if the lobbying turns out to be unsuccessful or ends quickly.

 Organizations

What is the threshold for organizations to be required to register? Is it still 100 hours?

Under the LTA, the 100-hour threshold is gone. An organization that does any lobbying is required to register within 10 days of starting to lobby.

Guidance for Organizations
What is the exception to the rule that an organization that is lobbying must register?

The exception to the rule that all organizations with in-house lobbyists must register in the BC Lobbyists Registry is very limited. The LTA provides that an individual is not an in-house lobbyist if they meet this three-part test:

 

  1. The individual is an employee, director, or officer of an organization that has fewer than six employees.

AND

  1. The lobbying by the individual — either alone or together with other individuals in the organization — on behalf of the organization or an affiliate of the organization, totals fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

AND

  1. The primary purpose of the organization is not to represent the interests of its members, or to promote or oppose issues.
What kind of organization qualifies for the exception?

An organization that is not member based or that does not have a primary purpose to promote or oppose issues may qualify for the exception if the organization has fewer than six employees and the lobbying activities add up to less than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

Organizations such as unions and chambers of commerce are unlikely to qualify for the exception since their primary purpose is to represent the interests of their members or to promote or oppose issues. However, local chapters that are not engaging in lobbying activities themselves need not register.

Organizations that may meet the criteria for the exception should maintain a record of the amount of time spent on lobbying activities on an ongoing basis. That record can be used to determine whether those activities amount to 50 hours in the previous 12-month period, which could trigger the requirement to register. And it could also be used to demonstrate to the Registrar, if necessary, that the lobbying totals fewer than 50 hours in the preceding 12-month period.

How would I demonstrate to the Registrar that I qualify for the exception?

You must record time spent in activities that are directly related to carrying out a lobbying activity as accurately as possible and produce this record for the Registrar if asked.

How is the 50 hours calculated?

The calculation is not 50 hours per individual or per subject matter. It is based on the hours spent collectively by the organization. Note that 50 hours are equal to 6.25 eight-hour days.

I believe my organization qualifies for the exception. What activities are included in calculating the 50-hour threshold?

In addition to any meetings, all preparatory activities directly related to carrying out a lobbying activity must be included in the calculation of 50 hours, such as:  

  • researching and writing reports, letters, submissions, and other correspondence to be given to a public office holder;
  • deciding which public office holders to target;
  • lobbying by letter, email, phone, or other media;
  • time spent negotiating contracts for services related to the lobbying strategy;
  • time spent by service providers on behalf of your organization to develop aspects of the lobbying strategy (for example, a graphic designer or writer);
  • hiring and training staff to lobby; and
  • monitoring and adjusting the strategy.
What activities are included in the 50-hour calculation but do not require registration in the Lobbyists Registry?

When counting an organization’s activities towards the 50-hour threshold, you may need to include time spent on preparatory activities performed by an employee, officer, or director who does not need to be registered in the Lobbyists Registry as in-house lobbyists. This is unusual but can happen. Examples include:

  • An employee who provides research that is used in a submission, but doesnot “communicate” with public office holders as required in the definition of “lobby”, would not need to be included in the registration.
What activities are not included in the 50-hour calculation?

Activities that predate the decision to lobby would likely not be included in the calculation.

What about volunteers? Do we count their hours and include their names in the Registration Return or Monthly Return?

No. Volunteers are not considered to be lobbying as they are not getting paid. You must be getting paid to be considered to be a lobbyist or to have your hours counted toward the threshold.

Who must be included in the Registration Return for an organization?

If your organization is required to register, the designated filer must list all in-house lobbyists for the organization in the Registration Return.

Who must an organization list in a Monthly Return?

An organization must list all the in-house lobbyists who participated in each lobbying activity. One Lobbying Activity Report is required for each lobbying activity.

Federal lobbying legislation states, organizations only have to register the lobbying activities of an employee if lobbying constitutes a “significant part of the duties” of that employee. This has been established at 20% or more of overall duties. Is that the case in BC as well?

No. In BC, there is no 20% threshold. Anyone who meets the definition of in-house lobbyist must be reported in the BC Lobbyists Registry unless the organization itself is not required to register (see the question above).

We are a union and had a meeting with a public office holder. We invited an employee from the shop floor to come and tell their story. Is this lobbying and would this individual need to be registered as a lobbyist?

The employee from the shop floor would not need to be registered as a lobbyist if they do nothing more than tell their story. Simply providing information is not considered lobbying.

Do employees of organizations who attend a lobbying meeting solely to communicate technical expertise to the public office holder need to be identified as in-house lobbyists in the organization’s lobbyist return?

No. Only paid employees, paid officers, or paid directors who lobby on behalf of the organization must be identified as in-house lobbyists.

Anyone in the organization who participates in communications with public office holders solely to provide technical expertise about projects or operations, or to address day-to-day logistical/technical issues about projects or operations, and who does not lobby, does not need to be identified in an organization’s return as an in-house lobbyist.

For example, if an engineer employed by an organization attends a meeting with a public office holder alongside the organization’s in-house lobbyists, but the engineer is attending the meeting for the sole purpose of providing technical expertise to the public office holder about the organization’s projects, and the engineer does not engage in lobbying communications, then the engineer does not need to be registered as an in-house lobbyist.  

Note: An individual can be an in-house lobbyist regardless of their seniority or position title. The key question is whether the individual engages in any activities that fall into the definition of “lobby”.

In the case of a union with multiple locals, what constitutes the organization? Do we have to register each of our union’s locals in the Lobbyists Registry?

If each local has its own constitution, bylaws, and membership, then each local is considered a separate organization. The first step is to determine which organization is doing the lobbying. If only the staff of the regional organization are lobbying on behalf of all the locals, then only the regional organization would need to register. However, if paid representatives of some of the locals communicate directly with public office holders on behalf of their local, then each of those locals who are lobbying directly would also need to register.

Arranging a Meeting

If I attempt to set up a meeting between my client and a “senior public office holder” for the purpose of lobbying and the meeting request is refused at the outset, does this have to be reported?

No, the attempt to arrange a meeting when no meeting was ever arranged does not need to be reported. If the meeting was refused, it was never “arranged.”

If an administrative assistant simply arranges a meeting between a public office holder and any other individual (e.g. an in-house lobbyist) for the purpose of lobbying, is that considered lobbying and should the administrative assistant be registered as an in-house lobbyist?

If the person arranging a meeting is not an in-house lobbyist, they do not have to be registered simply because they have arranged a meeting for the purposes of lobbying.

Before paragraph (b) in the definition of “lobby” in the LTA would apply, the person arranging the meeting would have to be an in-house lobbyist.  

In other words, if an administrative assistant does nothing else that qualifies them as an in-house lobbyist, then simply arranging a meeting for the purposes of lobbying does not make them an in-house lobbyist.

If I set up a meeting between my client and a “senior public office holder” that later gets cancelled, do I have to report that I arranged that meeting as part of my requirement to file a Monthly Report?

Yes, the fact that a meeting was arranged between your client and a “senior public office holder “is a lobbying activity that must be reported in your Lobbying Activity Report because the meeting was, at one point in time, “arranged.”

Do I have to be arranging a meeting for someone else with a “senior public office holder”? Does it count if I arrange a meeting for myself with a “senior public office holder”?

You only need to report that you arranged a meeting if you arrange a meeting for someone else with a “senior public office holder.”

If I set up a meeting for my client to meet with the minister of Education, and then a month later I attend that same meeting with the minister and my client, do I have to record that I both arranged and I attended the meeting in the Lobbyists Registry System?

Yes, both of these activities are considered lobbying activities and must be recorded in the Lobbyists Registry System as separate lobbying activities, in addition to naming the “senior public office holder” who was the object of your lobbying activity in each case.

Code of Conduct

When does a lobbyist have to declare a code of conduct?

The LTA requires that lobbyists declare in their Registration Return whether they are subject to a code of conduct that is relevant to lobbying.

The LTA does not make it mandatory that lobbyists adhere to a relevant code of conduct, but if they do, they are required to declare it.

Codes of Conduct Guidance
How does the LTA define “relevant code of conduct”?

The LTA and the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation define a relevant code of conduct as a code of conduct that:

  • governs the conduct of a lobbyist in relation to engaging in lobbying activities in British Columbia, whether or not it also governs other activities;
  • is publicly available; and
  • meets the “prescribed criteria” that there is an organization responsible for the administration of the code of conduct.
What has to be declared about a code of conduct?

Every lobbyist who files a Registration Return must declare the following:

  • whether there is an undertaking to comply with a relevant code of conduct in place, and
  • if a relevant code of conduct is in place –
  • the name of the code of conduct;
  • where a copy of the code of conduct is publicly available; and
  • the name and business contact information of the organization that is responsible for the administration of the code of conduct (the “prescribed criteria”).
What if a lobbyist is subject to more than one code of conduct?

A lobbyist may be governed by several codes of conduct and must provide the required information for each code of conduct. Many professions and occupations have adopted a code of conduct. Examples of codes of conduct that may be relevant to lobbyists are:

  • Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct developed and administered under the Lobbying Act of Canada
  • Government Relations Institute of Canada Code of Conduct; Public Affairs Association of Canada (PAAC) Statement of Principles
  • Lawyers’ and other professional bodies’ codes of conduct
  • Codes or statements of principle adopted by lobbyists’ firms and professional associations, and some corporate and union codes of conduct
Does the Registrar of lobbyists enforce the codes of conduct declared in the lobbyist’s Registration Return?

No. The Registrar does not administer or enforce any of the codes of conduct by which lobbyists may be governed. Lobbyists are required to declare and provide links in their Registration Return to the agencies or organizations that administer or enforce the codes of conduct governing that lobbyist.

For more information, see our “Code of Conduct Guidance.”

Provincial Entities

What are Provincial entities?

Provincial entities are provincial government public sector organizations and agencies that are included in the government reporting entity but fall outside the core operations of the provincial government.  (Core government is generally understood to be comprised of government ministries, Office of the Premier, the Legislative Assembly, and Officers of the Legislature). Under the LTA, the term “Provincial entity” refers generally to provincial government agencies/organizations outside core government.

Provincial entities include:

  • Crown corporations
  • school districts
  • public sector post-secondary institutions such as colleges and universities
  • health authorities
Provincial Entities Guidance
How is the term “Provincial entity” defined in the LTA?

The term "Provincial entity” is defined in the LTA as “a prescribed Provincial entity.” The Lobbyist Transparency Regulation sets out two groupings of Provincial entities as follows:

  • The Provincial entities listed in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation, which are prescribed for the purposes of:
    • paragraph (c) (iii) of the definition of “former public office holder” in the LTA; and
    • determining whether an individual is a person employed by, or is an officer, or a director of a Provincial entity and is therefore not considered to be an in-house lobbyist when acting in their official capacity
  • For all other purposes, Provincial entities are defined as the Workers’ Compensation Board together with the entities that make up the government reporting entity within the meaning of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, except the government as reported through the consolidated revenue fund. Provincial entities that fall into this second group can be found at: gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/finances/public-accounts/financial-statements. This list is updated approximately once a year.
Is there a list of Provincial entities in the Lobbyists Registry?

Provincial entities that fall into the second group described in question above are listed in drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return.

When would a lobbyist refer to the list of Provincial entities in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation?

Refer to the Provincial entities listed in the Appendix to the Lobbyist Transparency Regulation to help determine the following:

  • whether an individual formerly occupied a prescribed position in a Provincial entity and thereby fits the definition of “former public office holder”;
  • whether an individual is a person employed by, or is an officer, or a director of a Provincial entity and is therefore not considered to be an in-house lobbyist when acting in their official capacity.
When would a lobbyist refer to the list of Provincial entities found in the drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return?

For all purposes other than those identified in the questions directly above, lobbyists should refer to the drop-down menus in the Registration Return and in the Monthly Return.

What if I am wondering if an agency is a Provincial entity, but I cannot find it in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation or in the drop-down lists in the Lobbyists Registry?

If a government agency is not currently included in the Appendix to the Lobbyists Transparency Regulation or the relevant drop-down sections of the Registration Return and/or Monthly Return, and you are not able to determine whether a particular agency is considered a Provincial entity, contact the Lobbyists Registry for assistance at info@bcorl.ca. 

Government Funding

What does government funding include?

Government funding includes:

  • government grants
  • non-repayable contributions
  • any other non-repayable funding arrangements
Government Funding Guidance
What is not included in government funding?

Government funding does not include:

  • repayable contributions
  • loans & loan guarantees
  • tax credits
  • remission orders
  • payment pursuant to a contract for goods and/or services
What is the time frame for declaring government funding?

The declaration requirement applies to funding received or requested in the preceding 12 months.

How often does government funding have to be updated in the Registration Return?

The declaration must be updated by the 15th of the month after the month that new funding is received or after a new request for government funding is made. For example, funding received on May 12 must be reported in the Registry by June 15. Funding requested on May 24 must be reported in the Registry by June 15.

Does funding only have to be declared if it is received from the government of British Columbia, a BC government agency or a BC Provincial entity?

The declaration requirement applies to any funding from Canadian or foreign governments including any municipal, provincial, territorial, regional, or state government. Funding from any government agency or Provincial entity must also be declared in the Registration Return.

Keep in mind that you only have to declare government funding received by the legal entity that is carrying on lobbying activities in BC. Examples:

  • If the client or organization carrying on lobbying activities is a corporation, lobbyists do not need to report government funding received or requested by subsidiaries or parent corporations.
  • If the client or organization carrying on lobbying activities is a local chapter of a regional, national, or international union, the local chapter does not need to declare funding received by the regional, national, or international organizations as long as the local chapter is a separate legal entity with its own constitution and bylaws.
Do I have to declare government funding for the previous 12 months, even though the LTA has not been in force for 12 months?

Yes, you are required to declare in your Registration Return all government funding received or requested in the 12 months preceding the registration.

What do I need to disclose in the Government Funding section?

Any funding received or requested by a client or an organization within the previous 12 months from any government, government agency, or Provincial entity in order to fund all or part of the client’s or the organization’s operations, activities, programs, or services must be disclosed.

What if a request for funding has been made, but no funding has been received?

A request for funding must be declared even if it has not been received or a decision has not been made regarding the request.

In the Government Funding section, am I only required to disclose funding requested or received from the Government of British Columbia and agencies of the Government of British Columbia?

The LTA requires disclosure of all “government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity” funding received and requested by the client or organization within the last 12 months. The terms “government” and “government agency” include any level of government, whether foreign, federal, provincial, or municipal, and are not limited to the Government of British Columbia and its agencies.

I am preparing an application for funds on behalf of a client under a formal, established government or prescribed Provincial entity funding program. Am I lobbying? Is the client lobbying?

If you merely assist with the preparation of the formal funding application, and do not communicate with a public office holder to influence the decision about funding, then you are not lobbying. Asking questions or providing information in response to questions from public office holders, if there is no attempt to influence the decision about funding, would not be considered lobbying.

If the client submits an application for funds pursuant to a formal established government or Provincial entity program in accordance with the normal application process, and does not attempt to influence the decision about funding, then the client is not lobbying.

For example, if the funding program requires that a standard application form be submitted through a web portal, and the client simply completes the standard application form and submits it through the web portal, then the client is not lobbying. However, if the client were to separately contact a public office holder to discuss the merits of its funding application, in an attempt to influence the decision and achieve a successful application, then the client would be lobbying.

Keep in mind, the application for funding would need to be identified in the Registration Return for the client as “government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity” requested by the client in the last 12 months.

If my client or organization both requested AND received the same government funding within the last 12 months, do I need to disclose that funding in both the Government Funding “requested” section and the Government Funding “received” section?

Yes, you are required to disclose any funding requested and any funding received in the last 12 months, even if those amounts are the same.

My client or organization receives income tax credits. Do I need to disclose these credits or claims in the Government Funding section of my registration?

No. Receipt of tax incentives or credits, or other favorable tax treatment, does not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return under the LTA.

In the Government Funding section, do I need to disclose payments received pursuant to a goods or services contract?

No. Payments received by a client or organization pursuant to a goods or services contract with a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity (in which the client or organization provides goods or services to the government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity in exchange for payment) do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return.

In the Government Funding section, am I required to disclose government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received by subsidiaries or parent corporations of my client or organization?

No. The LTA only requires disclosure of government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received in the last 12 months by the client that is the subject of the consultant lobbyist’s Registration Return or the organization that is the subject of the organization’s Registration Return. It is not necessary to include the same information in respect of subsidiary corporations or parent corporations of the client or the organization.

My organization or client has had general, speculative discussions with public office holders about funding needs, but has not made any requests for funding where a decision was required or a specific dollar value was attached. Would these discussions quality as a “request” for funding in the Government Funding section of a lobbyist’s Registration Return?

No, if an organization simply had a speculative and general discussion about potential future funding needs, but did not make a specific request for funding where a decision was required on the part of the relevant government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity, then that discussion would not fall within the requirement to disclose any government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested in the last 12 months.

However, even if that type of discussion does not qualify as a “request” for funding, it might qualify as “lobbying.”

A public office holder purchased tickets to my organization’s event. Do the ticket purchase proceeds qualify as government funding?

No. The event ticket purchase proceeds are akin to a payment made in exchange for goods or services provided by your organization and therefore do not qualify as government funding received.

Payments received pursuant to a goods or services contract with a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity (in which the client or organization provides goods or services in exchange for payment) do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist return.

My organization received funding from a government to sponsor one of the organization’s events. Does that event sponsorship funding need to be disclosed in the organization’s lobbyist return?

Yes. Any funding received or requested by an organization within the last 12 months from a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity in order to fund the organization’s operations, activities, programs or services must be disclosed in the organization’s Registration Return. This includes funding which assists the organization in holding an event.

My client or organization receives “flow through” funding from government, government agencies, or prescribed Provincial entities that is completely passed on to members. Do I have to disclose this “flow through” funding amount in the Government Funding section?

No. You are not required to disclose in the Government Funding section any “flow through” funding which your organization or client directly and completely passes on to its members. You only need to identify funding received or requested that is used to support the organization’s or client’s operations, services, programs, and activities.

For example, government funding received by a medical association that the association immediately transfers to physicians does not need to be disclosed.

I work for a pharmaceutical company, and patients get reimbursed for our products under government-sponsored drug plans. Do I need to disclose the reimbursement amounts in the Government Funding section?

No. That reimbursement would not be considered government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding requested or received in the context of a lobbyist‘s Registration Return.

My client or organization received compensation or settlement payments from a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity pursuant to the terms of a legal agreement. Do I need to disclose those payments in the Government Funding section?

No. Compensation or settlement payments made by a government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity to the client or organization, pursuant to the terms of a legal agreement resolving a dispute or an issue between the parties, do not constitute government, government agency, or prescribed Provincial entity funding for the purpose of a lobbyist’s Registration Return.