Quebec finance minister wants Crown corporation bill passed unanimously

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard. (File: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot)

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard said Tuesday that he would like to see his bill to strengthen the governance of Crown corporations passed unanimously, as was the case for the previous bill on the subject in 2006.

However, objections are already being raised about the effects of the provisions on the percentage of women on the boards of directors of Crown corporations in the province, as well as on the composition of the Construction Commission board of directors.

Tuesday marked the beginning of consultations on the bill, which deals with transparency, codes of ethics and the presence of women on the boards of directors of Crown corporations.

From the outset, Auditor General Guylaine Leclerc expressed concern that some elements of Crown corporation governance are applicable only to wholly-owned subsidiaries of Crown corporations. Thus, subsidiaries that are more than 90 per cent owned by a Crown corporation would be excluded from these provisions, the Auditor General said.

Québec Solidaire MNA Ruba Ghazal also reiterated that the desire to bring the proportion of women on these boards into the parity zone of 40 to 60 per cent will result in women being dismissed and replaced by men in the few cases where women already exceed that threshold.

Similarly, construction unions object to the fact that the Construction Commission is treated the same as other Crown corporations, even though its mandate includes managing collective agreements in the industry.

The unions are therefore keen to have equal representation of employers and workers on the board of directors, while the bill increases the number of independent members.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 18, 2021.

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