Pacific Blue Cross broke the law when it indefinitely deferred the PBC Society’s annual general meeting—due no later than this month—because of an ongoing labour dispute, claims a petition filed today at the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

The petition, filed by the Vancouver legal firm McGrady & Company on behalf of two PBC members, argues that it is contrary to the Societies Act and against the law to indefinitely defer the PBC Society’s AGM. The petition, asking that the time limit provisions for holding the meeting be suspended, calls for the AGM to be held within 30 days of the petition being heard.

“This petition makes clear that the only reason PBC took this extraordinary step was so that its current board of directors would not have to be held accountable—nor, indeed, would the PBC leadership group—for the consequences of the labour dispute with CUPE Local 1816,” said CUPE BC President Paul Faoro.

“PBC must not be allowed to circumvent the democratic process of its own society in order to shirk its responsibilities. This deferment has only enabled the current Board and leadership group to avoid reporting to members or providing important information on bargaining, and avoid criticism or having to adopt alternate courses of action at the members’ direction.”

Section 71(1) of the Societies Act includes a bylaw stating that a Society must hold its AGM once every calendar year and no more than 15 months apart. The next AGM for the PBC Society was due on or before September 22.

Pacific Blue Cross cancelled the September meeting only one day after one of the petitioners, Andrew Healey, mailed to the PBC Health Benefits Society special resolutions calling for the removal of seven directors from the board.