Bains will consider targets if no improvement to diversity on corporate boards

OTTAWA — The Liberal government hopes that proposed legislation requiring publicly traded companies to disclose the gender composition of their corporate boards and senior management will lead to greater diversity, but will consider imposing specific targets if the new measures don’t work.

“We want to send a clear signal that diversity is important and you need to explain what your diversity policies are and we feel that will start moving the needle,” Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said in an interview Wednesday, adding that changes happened when the United Kingdom and Australia brought in voluntary measures.

“But in a few years, if we don’t see progress — in a few years, if we don’t see meaningful results — then we will re-evaluate our position and look at all other options at that time,” Bains said.

Last month, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-25, which would, among other things, amend the Canadian Business Corporations Act to require publicly traded companies to disclose to their shareholders the number of women on their corporate boards and in senior management, as well as their policies on diversity — or explain why they do not have any.

The Canadian Business Corporations Act affects nearly 270,000 companies, but these changes would only affect those that also issue shares and report to a securities commission — including about 600 companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange, a government official said last month.

The bill, developed following consultations that began under the previous Conservative government, came up for a second reading debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The legislation will not include targets, which is something that Catalyst, an international non-profit organization that pushes for the advancement of women in the workplace, has been calling for as the most effective way to improve the numbers.

“The rationale is simple: it’s impossible to measure progress without first having something to measure it against,” Deborah Gillis, president and CEO of Catalyst, wrote in the foreword to a June report on the issue.

The Ontario government adopted that recommendation, setting a gender diversity target for businesses to have 30 per cent of their directors be women by 2017 and 40 per cent by 2019.

There is a long way to go.

The Catalyst report showed that in 2014, women filled 20.8 per cent of the board positions at Canadian stock index companies.

The Canadian Securities Administrators, which represents provincial securities regulators, has said that despite new rules in 10 participating jurisdictions that are aimed at improving corporate gender equity at companies traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange, women occupied only 12 per cent of the positions last year.

And of the 677 companies included in the sample, the review found that 45 per cent of them did not have a single woman board member.

Bains said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing what it can to set a good example in the public sector, such as committing to gender parity in cabinet.

“We also wanted to send a clear message to corporate Canada, to businesses, that look, diversity is good for business and we need you to step up and show leadership,” Bains said.

He acknowledged, however, that even his own department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has work to do.

More than half the members of the Science, Technology and Innovation Council are women, but two boards within the portfolio —the Competition Tribunal and the Copyright Board — have no women among their combined total of seven positions.

“We know government can and must do better,” he said.

The Canadian record on gender equity also came under some international scrutiny on Wednesday, as the World Economic Forum released a report showing that Canada was ranked 35 on the overall global index, sharing a first-place ranking when it comes to educational attainment, but coming in 36th place for economic participation and opportunity.

Bains said promoting diversity and increasing the number of women on corporate boards is the right thing to do, but it can also have a positive impact on the bottom line.

“Innovation is all about having diversity of thoughts, ideas and perspectives,” Bains said.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

B.C. to bring in 15 per cent real estate tax on foreign buyers in Vancouver to rein in high home prices

The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Foreign nationals who buy real estate in Metro Vancouver would pay an additional property transfer tax of 15 per cent under legislation introduced Monday by the British Columbia government.
Finance Minister Mike de Jong unveiled the tax as part of legislation aimed at addressing low vacancy rates and high real estate prices in southern B.C.
“For example, the additional tax on the purchase of a home selling for $2 million to a foreign national will amount to an additional $300,000,” de Jong told members of the legislature.
The additional tax will take effect Aug. 2 and apply to foreign buyers registering the purchase of residential homes in Metro Vancouver, excluding treaty lands in the Tsawwassen First Nation.
All B.C. residents currently pay a one per cent tax on the first $200,000 of their purchase, two per cent on the remaining value up to $2 million and three per cent on the portion above that.
“The amendments include anti-avoidance rules designed to capture transactions that are structured specifically to avoid the additional tax,” de Jong said.
The money from the additional tax would be used to fund housing, rental and support programs, the minister said.
De Jong said recent government housing data indicate foreign nationals spent more than $1 billion on B.C. property between June 10 and July 14, with 86 per cent on purchases in the Lower Mainland area.
After the bill was introduced, Premier Christy Clark said her government is focused on increasing the housing supply, protecting buyers and sellers and boosting the rental market.
“Today we are taking measures to ensure home ownership remains within reach of the middle class,” she said.
The legislation would also enable the City of Vancouver to amend its community charter in order to levy a vacancy tax.
In May, de Jong said he wasn’t in favour of a tax on foreign investment, saying he worried it would send the wrong message to Asia-Pacific investors.

Province invests $7 million in Trades Training

VANCOUVER – The Province has announced today that it has invested,

through the Industry Training Authority (ITA), $7 million in Vancouver

Community College (VCC) for trades training through to March 31, 2017,

to meet industry needs and ensure quality training in high priority

trades.

In response to the objectives outlined in B.C.’s Skills for Jobs

Blueprint and the McDonald Report, the B.C. government has worked in

partnership with the ITA to begin building a demand-driven trades

training system with funding aligned to specific high priority trades.

With the government’s $7-million investment, the ITA will fund 1,870

trades training seats at Vancouver Community College in:

 

* Automotive Service Technician

* Heavy Mechanical

* Baker

* Professional Cook

* Commercial Transport Mechanic

 

The provincial government also highlighted the innovative partnership

that Vancouver Community College has developed with White Spot

Restaurants. Each year, White Spot selects cohorts of students from VCC

to train at White Spot’s state of the art culinary training facility in

Vancouver. This makes White Spot the only hospitality company in the

province to be formally accredited to deliver Professional Cook

Training 1 and 2. Students in the White Spot Culinary program return to

VCC to complete Professional Cook Training 3 and become Red Seal

graduates.

“It is a pleasure to see outstanding B.C. businesses like White Spot,
with its headquarters right here in Vancouver-Fraserview, develop
partnerships with post-secondary institutions to create this win-win
situation, Says Suzanne Anton, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview-
“This approach works – students are happy to receive hands-on
experience with a renowned business leader, and employers are training
professionals that they can retain for years to come.”

The provincial government invests more than $94 million in industry

training through the ITA. The ITA leads and co-ordinates British

Columbia’s skilled trades system by working with employers, employees,

industry, labour, training providers and government to issue

credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards and increase

opportunities in the trades.

 

 

A direct flight to improvements for B.C.’s airports

Ready for takeoff! New funding will help small and regional airports make critical upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure. Public airport operators, local governments & operating authorities can apply for infrastructure funding by April 8th. http://ow.ly/YbdGo
The Province is providing $8 million in funding this year to support infrastructure improvements at B.C. airports, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone announced today.
The funding comes from the B.C. Air Access Program, announced last year as part of the Province’s 10-year transportation plan, B.C. on the Move. The ministry committed $24 million over three years and last year announced $6 million, which funded a dozen projects at ten regional and municipal airports throughout the province.
“Applications are now being accepted for this exciting program,” said Stone. “Airports play a pivotal role in a community’s economic development by providing safe and reliable transportation for residents, tourists, for medical transport, and for keeping cargo flowing. This new funding will help small and regional airports make critical upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure.”
Through the program, the ministry shares costs with public airports on projects such as lighting and navigational systems, terminal building expansion or upgrades, and runway improvements. These types of projects allow airports to improve safety, accommodate larger aircraft, support more frequent flights and enable the continued growth of local and provincial economies. The program also encourages funding partnerships with the federal government, local and regional governments and agencies, and the private sector.
The deadline for applications for this year’s funding is April 8, 2016. Applications will be accepted from public airport operators, including local governments and other operating authorities.

Surrey MLA Amrik Virk says he could have done ‘better job’ on Kwantlen board

CASSIDY OLIVER / THE PROVINCE ,

Surrey-Tynehead MLA Amrik Virk previously sat on Kwantlen’s board of directors.

SURREY — A series of emails between former members of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s board of governors and one of the school’s past presidents challenges the conclusions of a government report that ruled the board was unaware of specific details of an employee contract that deliberately broke executive compensation guidelines. Continue reading “Surrey MLA Amrik Virk says he could have done ‘better job’ on Kwantlen board”