Re-introduction of Bill S-212: Boards of Modernization Act

Today, I reintroduced Bill S-212, An Act to Modernize the Composition of the Boards of Directors of Certain Corporations, Financial Institutions and Parent Crown Corporations, and in Particular to Ensure the Balanced Representation of Women and Men on those Boards. This Bill essentially calls for a minimum requirement of 40 percent for each gender on boards of directors.

Bill S-212 focuses on balanced representation and flexibility. Not only does the 40 percent requirement apply to both genders, but its application is deferred. Affected corporations will have three years after the law comes into force to give men and women at least 20 percent of the seats on their boards of directors. The 40 percent target must be reached six years following the enforcement of the law.

Now, more than ever, is the time to take action! Provinces such as Quebec and Ontario have already acted upon this issue – in 2006, the Quebec Government passed legislation requiring 50 percent of women on boards of Crown Corporations, and just this year the Ontario Government in their 2013 Budget requested that the Ontario Securities Commission make recommendations as to the best way to move forward with enhanced gender diversity disclosure to facilitate the participation of women on boards and in senior management.

Canada’s progress on gender diversity among directors is stagnant. In fact, the proportion of female directors is at 13.1%, unchanged from a year ago and up less than 1 percentage point since 2009.

However, in order to achieve gender balance on boards, it is imperative that legislation such as what I am proposing is passed.