B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. finance minister says ‘benefit companies’ would think beyond profits

Variety of causes could reap the benefits, including charitable, educational, environmental and artistic groups

The British Columbia government has created the option of so-called benefit companies that would measure their success through service to the community, not just profits.

Finance Minister Carole James said B.C. has introduced historic and collaborative legislation to become the first province in Canada allowing companies to create a corporate structure that includes giving back.

Businesses would commit to responsible and sustainable practices while promoting public benefits and serving the interests of stakeholders, she said Tuesday.

A variety of causes could reap the benefits, including those that are charitable, educational, environmental and artistic.

James said benefit companies will help propel B.C.’s economy as the province works to rebuild from the impact of COVID-19.

A private member’s bill introduced in May 2018 by then Green party leader Andrew Weaver led to the legislation that requires businesses that want the designation to specify their public benefit goals in their articles of incorporation.

The legislation stems from the first private member’s bill from an Opposition party to be passed directly into law, said Weaver, who now sits as an independent member of the legislature.

Weaver said benefit companies present an attractive model to consumers, especially millennials, who are increasingly conscious of whether businesses are going beyond the bottom line.

“People make jokes about the avocado toast generation but there’s a very different value set associated with the younger set,” he said, adding consumers are willing to pay a bit more to buy the products and services of companies with social and environmental goals.

Weaver said the legislation is timely in the midst of a pandemic.

“What COVID is telling us as we move forward is that we’ve got to do things differently. And this is one tool in many that will allow us to do just that.”

The legislation requires the companies to publish an annual benefit report assessing their performance in promoting their stated benefits and compare their progress against an independent, third-party standard, the Finance Ministry said.

They are also required to share the report publicly by making it available at the company’s records office and on their website.

Benefit companies were introduced in the United States in 2010 and are now possible in 35 states, as well as Italy and Colombia, the Finance Ministry said.

Prior to the benefit companies legislation, B.C. was the first province to introduce the so-called community contribution company model in 2013.

While its aim is also to attract socially conscious investors, it has additional rules such as requiring a company to allocate 60 per cent of its profits toward a social purpose, with only the remainder distributed to shareholders, the Finance Ministry said.

So-called C3 companies are also required to have three directors when they incorporate and direct at least 60 per cent of their value toward a social purpose when they dissolve.

The ministry said that while community contribution companies cannot convert to benefit companies both are for-profit enterprises with a social purpose.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of North Island conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Aquaculture companies’ judicial review challenges reconciliation and Aboriginal Rights: First Nations

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

CSWM will be closing the landfill in Campbell River and opening the organics composting facility in 2022. In the meantime, the City of Campbell River was hoping for a break on yard waste drop-off for residents. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona waste board upholds yard waste drop-off fee

Campbell River had hoped for waiver until new organics facility opens

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
UPDATE: B.C.’s major salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

All three producers now confirm they’ve filed separately with the Federal Court

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

Most Read