To all SIO members:
Today in the Ontario legislature, MPPs debated a private member's motion calling on the Ontario Securities Commission to conduct a consultation into best practice on corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and governance reporting standards. The SIO supports the resolution, and I was in attendance at the legislature with a number of SIO members and staff from the OSC to watch the debate. The vote will be held later today, but it appears that the resolution will pass with the support of Liberal and NDP MPPs.
The motion was from Laurel Broten (Liberal - Etobicoke-Lakeshore), who is former Ontario environment minister. She's a lawyer by background and has a professional and political interest in this from her time as environment minister. She spoke eloquently about the need for ESG disclosure to provide investors with a better understanding of the full picture of their investments. The motion was also supported by Peter Tabuns (NDP Toronto-Danforth) who spoke about the current financial and economic crisis and the lessons from the crisis about providing investors with more information on environmental and social risks. Ted Chudleigh (PC Halton) spoke against the resolution, saying that ESG issues are not relevant at this time, and saying the compliance costs would outweigh benefits. Other Liberal members of the legislature spoke in support of the motion.
To quote from the resolution:
"That, in the opinion of this House, the province of Ontario should undertake a review of Ontario's current corporate disclosure reporting requirements, standards and compliance therewith, with a particular emphasis on additional financial and non-financial information to ensure that Ontario investors have access to all information material to them in making investment decisions.
"That, in undertaking such a review, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) should undertake a broad consultation with its own advisory bodies including the Continuous Disclosure Committee, concerned stakeholders, appropriate interest groups and individuals and other securities regulators, to establish best practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting standards.
"That, the OSC seek to develop and adopt an enhanced standardized reporting framework for both quantitative and qualitative social and environmental information, to ensure corporate disclosures are understandable, comparable and outcome focused."
The motion calls on the OSC to report back to the Minister of Finance by January 1, 2010 with recommendations for next steps.
The SIO believes this consultation will be an important step forward in bringing ESG disclosure to Ontario and, possibly to other jurisdictions, through the Canadian Securities Administrators. This is an important public policy priority for the socially responsible investment industry. I have already indicated the willingness of the SIO to work with the OSC on the consultation, and we will keep members informed so that they can make their views known.
Social Investment Organization
416-461-6042 ext. 111