VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party caucus, introduced legislation to enable B.C. businesses to incorporate as benefit companies. The legislation would establish a legal framework for companies pursuing social and environmental goals, rather than just profit.
“B.C. is home to incredibly innovative companies that want to play a bigger role in addressing the challenges and opportunities our province faces,” said Weaver.
“This legislation recognizes the important work being done by companies that want to have a social and environmental mission driving their business model, in addition to a profit motive. By extending legal recognition to benefit companies, B.C. will encourage more businesses to adopt this innovative business model.
“Moreover, this legislation is part of positioning our province to be a leader in the cutting edge of global economic trends. As the world turns to solutions to address major issues like climate change and technological innovation, we are seeing shifts in consumer patterns and behaviour, particularly among younger demographics. By becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada to legally acknowledge benefit companies, B.C. can best position our economy for success.”
The legislation would amend the Business Corporations Act, creating a new Part in the Act that enables companies to incorporate as benefit companies in BC. Companies would be required to commit to operating in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner, and to promote specific public benefits. They would also need to report their progress against an independent third-party standard.
This legislation would ensure mission-driven companies can stay true to their mission as they grow. It is also important for allowing mission-driven companies to attract capital by providing investors with certainty about the mandate of the company, without being overly prescriptive with regards to how companies must spend profits. According to B Lab, benefit companies, which are legally recognized in over 30 US States, have raised nearly $2 billion in capital.
Weaver’s bill is his caucus’ first bill to be put through the official legislative drafting process. If passed, this legislation could become the first Private Member’s Bill from an opposition party member to be passed directly into law in British Columbia.
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