New Elections Regulation – Eligibility of Local Government Volunteers for Elected Office

The Volunteer Eligibility for Office Regulation, B.C. Reg. 165/2011, was deposited on September 19, 2011. The Regulation provides that persons who provide volunteer services to a municipality or regional district, without monetary compensation, are not “employees” for the purpose of section 67 of the Local Government Act. Such volunteers  are not disqualified from being nominated for, being elected to or holding office as a member of a municipal council or regional district board.

The Regulation states that the following does not constitute monetary compensation:

  1. reasonable and necessary expenses actually incurred and reimbursed that arise directly out of the performance of the volunteer services for a municipality or   regional district;
  2. the provision of insurance coverage, workers’ compensation coverage, personal clothing, equipment or training directly related to the performance of the volunteer services for a municipality or regional district;
  3. gifts in recognition of long service or exemplary service in the provision of volunteer services to a municipality or regional district.

The Regulation clarifies the disqualification rules as they apply to local government volunteers, including volunteer fire fighters, following the 2008 B.C. Provincial Court decision in Cultus Lake Park Board v. Charles (referred to in the Fall 2011 edition of LoGo Notebook). In the Charles case, the volunteer fire fighter received remuneration on an hourly basis for work performed in his role as a fire fighter, and that was one of several factors that convinced the court that an employment relationship existed. Although the Regulation excludes from the term “monetary compensation” the most common categories of benefits provided to volunteers, it will still be important to examine all aspects of the local government’s volunteer program, including the nature of the benefits provided to the volunteer, to determine whether the exception under the Regulation applies.