Section 132(1) of the Health Professionals Act (Act) states in part (d) that:
A council may make bylaws respecting quorum, procedures at meetings and the holding of council, committees, tribunals and other entities meetings by mail, telephone conference, audiovisual or other electronic means.
The need and advantages to holding electronic meetings from time to time is both acknowledged and necessary. This protocol is intended to provide guidance to Council and Committees when holding and participating in these meetings.
This Protocol provides for the use of electronic means for the holding of meetings of the Council and Committees.
Electronic meetings may be used to hold Council or Committee meetings subject to due notice requirements for any such meeting being met (or waived by unanimous consent in special circumstances).
All participants must have access to the necessary equipment for participation. A right of membership is participation; therefore, the technology used must be accessible to all members to be included in the meeting.
All rules pertaining to in-person Council or Committee meetings apply equally to electronic meetings, for example, notice, pre-meeting package requirements, quorum, minute taking, voting, confidentiality requirements, etc.
All meeting participants must ensure they maintain complete privacy in their off-site meeting space. This will ensure all discussions are kept confidential and are only heard by those invited to and attending the meeting.
All provisions and policies related to in camera meetings and conflict of interest will apply equally for electronic meetings of the Council or Committees.
At no time will meeting participants record any portion of the meeting. The only exception to this is any recording made by the Corporate Secretary or other approved corporate officer for the purpose of minute taking and/or public record.
In no circumstance are discussions in the “chat” function of virtual meeting software to be copied and saved by meeting participants or included as part of the official meeting minutes.
Subject to any conditions or limitations provided for under the Act, Regulations, Bylaws or this Protocol a Council or committee member who participates in a meeting through electronic means shall be deemed to be present at the meeting and will be recorded as in attendance at and part of the quorum of the meeting.
Electronic Meeting Procedure
- The Chair of the Council or Committee will be the chair of the meeting.
- Any technology employed will enable every participant to hear and be heard by all other participants in the meeting.
- The Chair will ensure that declarations of conflict of interest are heard by all present and that those participating have an opportunity to verbally declare any conflict.
- The meeting will be administered in such a way that the rules governing conflict of interest of are complied with.
- The electronic means will enable appropriate processes to ensure the security and confidentiality of proceedings, both regular and in camera meetings. This may mean using separate connections and log-ins for scheduled in camera/executive sessions.
- Attendance shall be taken and duly recorded to ensure participants are recognized as in attendance.
- Participants will identify themselves before speaking in order to assist the recording secretary in recording the minutes.
- Those participating in an electronic meeting shall notify the Chair of their departure (either temporary or permanent) from the meeting, before absenting themselves, in order to ensure a quorum is maintained.
- All meeting participants must have a copy of the meeting package including the agenda prior to the meeting for reference during the electronic meeting.
- Wherever possible, Motions coming forward at the electronic meeting should be prepared ahead of the meeting with one of the eligible members indicating their willingness to let their name stand as mover, and another as seconder. Prior to the vote, the Chair will read each motion and indicate the member who is moving and seconding the motion.
- Voting at electronic meetings shall be carried out as follows to ensure that accurate records of votes are maintained, for example:
- When a vote is called, opposition to the motion is called first.
- If no one is opposed, the motion is considered carried.
- If there is opposition, a roll call vote is held, and the chair will announce the number of votes cast in favour or against the motion and whether the motion is carried.
- The Chair will make the decision as to whether the motion was carried or defeated.
- When the technology does not allow for those votes requiring a secret ballot, a confidential email should be in place between meeting participants and the scrutineer to facilitate secret votes.
- To avoid as much disruption as possible and to support seamless dialogue and debate, all participants will keep their electronic devices on mute unless speaking.
- Any open chat windows in the technology must be used only to resolve technological problems – it should not be used for side discussions, lobbying other members and participants or voicing support for motions on the floor. Councils and Committees meet and have authority only as a collective with due order.