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Laurie Janes

Annual General Meetings: their intent and value to registered members

Laurie Janes, June 28, 2019

Annual General Meetings can be interesting. Each year NANB follows specific timelines to inform nurses registered in New Brunswick on processes and timelines regarding the AGM. Each year in feedback from members NANB receives questions such as: “Why weren’t we informed about proxies? Why is so much time spent on Resolutions? Why aren’t nurses approving agendas and reports? Why are lawyers present?  Why is there no time for a discussion forum? Why are the reports from the President and Executive Director so dry, and not inspiring? Feedback from participants at the recent AGM was no different.

Non-profit organizations such as NANB are required to conduct a general meeting each year. The AGM is a business meeting, intended to inform stakeholders about the business conducted during the past year (2018). This is completed at NANB through presentation of the annual report and the President’s message to participants. A financial report is also mandatory –and this is the report that requires approval from the participants. Proxy notification is also provided to all NB registered nurses and nurse practitioners at several intervals  before the AGM.

Resolutions are also part of an AGM. Resolutions represent the organization’s or the stakeholders’ objective to change a specific aspect of NANB work. AGM discussion focuses on the resolutions. This year at the June AGM --- there was confusion on an important resolution regarding a new NANB Governance Committee. Participants in dialogue around this resolution also questioned the presence of a lawyer during the business meeting. A lawyer has historically been present during every AGM to act in the role of parliamentarian. A parliamentarian provides legal interpretation on standing rules and Robert’s Rules during meeting proceedings. NANB apologizes to participants for not being as clear and as prepared as necessary for participants to fully understand the purpose and scope of work of a Governance Committee. Information regarding the purpose of governance and a Governance Committee will be published via the NANB electronic newsletter and in print over the next few months.

What an AGM is not -- is an open discussion forum on matters that may not be inclusive to the general membership and may not be included in the AGM business agenda. This seemed to be the case for the June 2019 AGM. Registered nurses and nurse practitioners are encouraged to connect with NANB during the registration year – as issues emerge -- to participate in open, transparent dialogue. Results of those discussions may then become part of an AGM discussion or may be resolved in another manner. Whatever the issue, engaging in open discussion throughout the year allows adequate time and focus on the subject.

While personal attendance and hand-held proxies have been the norm for many years, advances in technology may change the way in which AGMs are conducted in the future and allow for electronic voting and proxies. NANB values the participation of NB nurses during AGMs, however NANB staff hope to connect with you throughout the year. More info regarding AGM processes, rules, and changes are forthcoming. Stay tuned.