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

MP Morrison faults federal Throne Speech as new Parliament session begins

Kootenay-Columbia representative criticizes a lack of focus on jobs, support for resource sector

Kimberley Public Library re-opens doors to the public

Library has solely offered curbside service since onset of pandemic

Wildlife camera project explores effects of forest management practices on wildlife

Findings show no detections of cougars in sites that have been clear cut

City of Kimberley looking for feedback on active transportation

What do you like about the existing trail network for walking and cycling? What needs improvement?

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Interior Health reports five new COVID-19 cases

Across the region, 34 cases are active

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Most Read