Victoria: 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 on 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.

The Canadian Prsss