Ontario legislature report calls for Toronto-listed firms to face more ESG disclosure

Exchange is major listing venue for mining and hydrocarbon companies.

Companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange – home to more mining and hydrocarbon companies than any other exchange in the world – could be obliged to disclose more information about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts if recommendations to Ontario’s Ministry of Finance are adopted. According to a study report commissioned by the Ontario Legislature, the regulator, the Ontario Securities Commission, should “indicate its expectation that… all issuers disclose the existence (or absence of) social policies and management systems that are fundamental to their effectiveness”.
The 72-page report is the result of a regulatory resolution filed last year by Laurel Broten, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It was prepared by Jantzi Sustainalytics, the ESG research firm, and the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University in Toronto. Speaking at a news briefing in Toronto held in tandem with this week’s Canadian Responsible Investment Conference, Kevin Ranney, global director of responsible investment services at Jantzi-Sustainalytics, said the recommendations were designed to becollaborative and “not overly proscriptive”. Co-author Ed Waitzer, of the Hennick centre, added: “We don’t need to change laws, we need to change attitudes.”
Some delegates at the conference felt the report did not go far enough in calling for more disclosure from mining companies. Only two of Canada’s largest pension funds, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and OPTrust are listed as contributing to the consultation.
Nonetheless, Waitzer told Responsible-Investor.com that it was wrong to suggest that Canada’s huge public pension plans were not involved in the process. Of the country’s major pension plans, just the CPPIB attended a consultation in December which Waitzer termed “unfortunate”; though he pointed to the large number of major Canadian institutions that are signatories to the UNPRI. Another issue considered by the study is the introduction of workable reporting metrics. Notably, it calls on the OSC to “support a shift in the direction of more standardised metrics and reporting”. In the short term, it said, this would entail extractives firms disclosing key performance indicators (KPIs).