Canadian banks, life insurance companies to hold 2023 annual meetings as “electronic-only or hybrid”

INSURANCE

Canadian banks, life insurance companies to hold 2023 annual meetings as “electronic-only or hybrid”

Several Canadian banks and life insurance companies will hold their 2023 annual meetings as “electronic-only or hybrid” due to the “unpredictable nature of COVID-19.”

A joint statement from BMO, CIBC, Canadian Western Bank, Laurentian Bank, National Bank, RBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group, Great-West Lifeco, Canada Life, Manulife and Sun Life said that this decision came from each company’s continuous monitoring of “ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the directives and recommendations from public health and government authorities.”

While the pandemic has eased over the past year, the 12 companies said they carefully considered alternatives for their annual meetings to protect the “health and well-being of their employees, clients and communities,” as well as their shareholders and policyholders.

The statement revealed that the companies were able to obtain a court order enabling their 2023 annual meetings to be held electronically or through a hybrid set-up “as determined by each financial institution.” This order allows each company to hold their meetings over webcasting, teleconference or other means, in addition to or instead of having them in-person. The order will also allow the distribution of meeting materials through “alternative means.”

Canadian banks and insurance companies aren’t typically allowed to hold their annual meetings electronically in lieu of having them in-person “without relief from the court,” the statement said, adding that the 12 companies had to obtain a similar court order back in March 2020, December 20202, and December 21.

“We believe these are prudent and precautionary measures that balance public health and well-being with the ability of shareholders and policyholders to attend and exercise their rights,” the joint statement said. “Each institution is committed to presenting their respective meeting in a manner that supports constructive shareholder engagement.”

The companies said they will make separate announcements regarding the details of each annual meeting ahead of their scheduled date, calling on shareholders and policyholders to view their websites for more information.

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