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B.C. Government Encourages Employee Ownership

April 1, 1988 -

The government of British Columbia is convinced that employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) are good for the province's economy, and in January announced plans to encourage private sector firms to set one up. The new program, called "Sharing the Future," will provide three forms of aid: (1) an incentive payment to employees equal to 20% of the price of shares bought from the company (e.g., I buy $100 worth of company shares and the government will give me $20); (2) payment of up to half the costs (e.g., legal and accounting fees) involved in setting up an ESOP; and (3) free information and workshops on why and how to establish an ESOP.

Minister of Economic Development Grace McCarthy believes employee share ownership benefits both employees and companies and so enhances the overall economic climate. As evidence, she pointed to several firms where worker ownership has preserved existing jobs and created new ones, and cited a study of companies trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange which shows that companies with ESOPs substantially outperform those without in the areas of profits, growth, and productivity.

By encouraging workers to share in the fortunes of their employer, the B.C. government no doubt intends to promote an alternative to the adversarial labour relations climate now often bogging down the province's economy.