History of the Canada Business Corporations Act | MinuteBox Cloud Entity Management

History of the Canada Business Corporations Act


The Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) has been a cornerstone in the regulation of business corporations in Canada. Enacted in 1975, it replaced the outdated Part 1 of the Canada Corporations Act (CCA) to modernize and streamline corporate law across the nation. This article delves into the history, purpose, and impact of the CBCA, tracing its roots from the revolutionary Dickerson Report to its significant updates over the years.

Purpose of the Canada Business Corporations Act

The CBCA was established to revise and reform the law applicable to business corporations across Canada. Its primary objectives were to:

  • Provide uniformity to business law throughout Canada.
  • Allow federal corporations incorporated under Part 1 of the CCA to continue under the CBCA.
  • Simplify corporate procedures and reduce administrative burdens.

The Genesis of the CBCA: The Dickerson Report

The CBCA’s creation was heavily influenced by the “Proposals for a New Business Corporations Law for Canada” report published in 1971 by Robert W.V. Dickerson, John L. Howard, and Leon Getz, commonly referred to as “The Dickerson Report.” This report laid the foundation for the CBCA, advocating for a complete overhaul of the cumbersome and antiquated CCA.

Key Reforms Proposed by the Dickerson Report


  • Simplification of Administration: Standardization of steps from incorporation to dissolution with prescribed filing forms.
  • Removal of Administrative Discretion: Limiting the Federal Director’s role to ensuring legal compliance rather than adjudicating conflicting rights.
  • Jurisdictional Flexibility: Provisions allowing corporations to transfer their place of jurisdiction, including international transfers.


  • Simplified Articles of Incorporation: Removal of the requirement for incorporators to be individuals and reducing the minimum number of incorporators to one.
  • Corporate Powers: Granting every corporation the powers of a natural person unless expressly restricted.
  • Pre-Incorporation Contracts: Sanctioning and recognizing “one-man” corporations.
  • Procedural Changes: Removing the Federal Director’s discretion to refuse filing compliant articles of incorporation.
  • Name Display Requirements: Abolishing the requirement to post a corporation’s name at every business office.

Transfer and Issuance of Shares

  • Purchase of Own Shares: Clarification of provisions.
  • Public Securities Transfer: Establishment of a central depository to reduce expenses and delays.
  • New Rules for Redeemable Shares: Introduction of updated regulations.

Financial Regulations

  • Auditor Rules: New governance for the rights and duties of auditors.
  • Financial Statement Privacy: Exemption for private corporations from making financial statements public.
  • Dual Solvency Test: A straightforward formula for dividend payment eligibility.

Shares and Shareholder Rights

  • Minority Shareholder Protections: Enhanced remedies and protections.
  • Flexible Share Classes: Abolition of par value shares and mandatory definitions for common and preferred shares.
  • Full Payment Requirement: Prohibition against issuing unpaid shares.
  • Fractional Shares: Authorization to issue fractional shares for flexibility.

Corporate Governance

  • Director Qualifications: Elimination of the requirement for directors to hold qualifying shares.
  • Minimum Director Requirement: Reduction to one director.
  • Shareholder Rights: Empowerment to remove directors and legitimize Unanimous Shareholder Agreements.
  • Indoor Management Rule: Legal recognition, ensuring directors and officers’ authority.
  • Subsidiary Amalgamations: Simplification of the amalgamation process.

Adoption Across Provinces

Since the CBCA’s enactment, many Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, have adopted the CBCA model. The British Columbia Business Corporations Act also incorporates many CBCA provisions, demonstrating its wide influence and effectiveness.

Significant Updates: Bill S-11 (2001)

In 2001, Bill S-11 substantially updated the CBCA, introducing significant changes to modernize corporate governance and enhance shareholder protections. These updates reflect the ongoing evolution of corporate law to meet contemporary business needs.


The Canada Business Corporations Act has played a crucial role in shaping the landscape of corporate law in Canada. Its comprehensive reforms have provided clarity, flexibility, and uniformity, benefiting businesses and shareholders alike. As the business environment continues to evolve, the CBCA remains a pivotal framework ensuring effective corporate governance and legal compliance.


What is the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA)? The CBCA is a federal law enacted in 1975 to regulate business corporations in Canada, replacing Part 1 of the Canada Corporations Act.

What was the purpose of the CBCA? The CBCA aimed to revise and reform corporate law, provide uniformity across Canada, and simplify corporate procedures.

What is the Dickerson Report? The Dickerson Report, published in 1971, proposed significant reforms to the CCA and laid the foundation for the CBCA.

How did the CBCA simplify corporate administration? The CBCA introduced standardized filing forms and limited the Federal Director’s role to ensuring legal compliance, among other simplifications.

What changes did Bill S-11 introduce in 2001? Bill S-11 updated the CBCA to modernize corporate governance, enhance shareholder protections, and reflect contemporary business needs.

Which provinces have adopted the CBCA model? Provinces including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut have adopted the CBCA model.

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