Canadian Lawyer InHouse

October/November 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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Page 6 of 35 5 What legal issues have you been focusing on in the past year? COVID-19 has brought forth some of the most challenging legal issues we have ever faced in the last year. The legal department has been a critical partner in reaching our objectives, keeping apprised of new developments, evaluating the impact on our operations and advising the business on measures, plans and guidelines. In what ways did the pandemic crisis impact your work, and how did you have to adapt? It's no secret the pandemic impacted businesses across the board on varying scales. At Danone, our team was incredibly agile, allowing us to quickly pivot and prioritize the safety of our team while maintaining our business continuity. As a result, we continued driving our mission to bring healthy products to as many Canadians as possible. What is your approach to working collaboratively with other departments and supporting the whole organization? The general secretary's team mission is to help pave the way for sustainable growth. We do this by strengthening Danone's assets and license to operate, nurturing the company's reputation and building its equity across stakeholders. Our goal is to make purposeful decisions to win in the market. Collaborating with other departments requires breaking down silos, creating connections across the enterprise and engaging in dialogues with no personal or functional agenda. Tell me about any interesting initiatives that you and your team were involved in recently. I'm proud to say that earlier this year, Danone Canada was recertified as a B Corp, making it the country's largest consumer-facing organization to achieve such a feat. The certification measures a company's entire social and environmental performance through a rigorous evaluation process, examining how its operations and business model impact its workers and customers, the environment and communities. My team led this massive cross-functional project. What are your team's professional goals and priorities for the rest of this year and beyond? At Danone, everything leads back to our vision of One Planet, One Health — our fundamental belief that the health of people and the planet are connected and interdependent. This year, our general secretary team is focusing on the following areas: • Nurturing a culture of compliance in the organization by implementing new legal onboarding and training tools, and optimized validation processes for increased speed and agility. • Bringing to life the company's commitment to positively impact peoples' health while still making progress toward preserving and renewing the planet's resources. • Continuing to build Danone's culture and reputation with our employees and external stakeholders, anticipating trends and advising on key issues to capture business opportunities and address risks. Q&A Bringing healthy food to Canadians Years in the industry: 25 Size of legal team: 16 people, located between Montreal and Toronto offices Approach to working with external counsel: Typically, we will work with external counsel when we need advice regarding a very specific area of the law, a broader perspective on a key issue for which we may not have a full view, or when we simply need additional resources to complete a project. Isabelle Rayle-Doiron General secretary and general counsel, Danone Canada Program has fielded about 650 tips from across the country and from 15 different jurisdictions in its first five years, said the securities regulator in a recent update. Since its establishment, the first and only compensated program of its kind run by a Canadian securities regulator has paid more than $8.6 million to whistleblowers. It has also been involved in enforcement actions from tips leading to monetary sanctions and around $44 million of voluntary payments. The commission plans to publish a detailed report in early 2022. CCAA filings on the rise Filings under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in the first quarter of 2021 increased significantly, reversing the declining trend that had persisted during the second half of 2020, says a new report by Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. "This reversal was likely a consequence of the prolonged pandemic restrictions, which forced businesses that had previously managed on provisional arrangements to re-evaluate their financial viability and seek formal court protection to work out longer-term solutions," the report says. New hourly minimum wage announced Employment and Social Development Canada has announced a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour for workers in the federally regulated private sector, set to take effect on Dec. 29, following royal assent of Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1. The new measure aligns with recent changes to ensure robust and modern labour standards for employees in the federally regulated private sector. Unions and labour groups have also raised awareness about the importance of such changes in bettering the lives of low-wage workers and their families.

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