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 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

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

That’s Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19, 2021 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
First Houston vaccinations take place

Long term care residents, health care workers on list

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Most Read