Investors demand accountability on Dollarama warehouse and distribution centre costs and concerns with greenwashing

Canada's largest dollar store faced two shareholder proposals from the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU), earning backing from major investors

Dollarama, Canada's largest dollar store, faced pressure from shareholders today as the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) presented two shareholder proposals at the company’s virtual annual meeting of shareholders.

  • Sustainability linked loan transparency: Sustainability-linked loans (SLLs) and bonds are increasingly being issued by Canadian companies looking to incorporate their ESG commitments into their financing needs. Dollarama has not disclosed the specific terms and targets for the sustainability performance targets (SPTs) in its SLL and has included goals it has already met. Investors today asked why Dollarama is reluctant to provide additional disclosure on its ESG loan metrics. The proposal asked for greater disclosure about the company’s SLL it entered in 2022 due to greenwashing concerns. Investors voted 18.6% in favour of this motion.
  • Warehouse and distribution centre costs: Dollarama outsources all its warehouse and distribution center work to eight competing staffing agencies in Quebec. With plans to expand by opening 700 stores in the next decade, along with the planned opening of its seventh warehouse in Laval, Dollarama's use of temp agencies to meet staffing needs has drawn increased attention. Shareholders requested more information about the financial costs of temp agencies including a breakdown of fees paid, and an analysis of why the costs outweigh the risks given the potential for increased injuries. Investors voted 21.3% in favour of this motion.

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith released the following comments on today's votes, stating:

One in five Dollarama investors today agreed that they want greater disclosure about the company’s sustainability linked loan. Looking ahead, investor concerns about sustainability linked financial products are only going to increase. We hope that this vote pushes Dollarama to provide investors with greater clarity.

Today’s vote demonstrates that shareholders are clearly still unconvinced that Dollarama is adequately addressing the risks faced by its warehouse and distribution center workers. Investors need more information on why Dollarama believes the benefits of using staffing agencies outweighs the risks to workers—risks that have prompted increased government oversight on staffing agencies in Quebec.

Sustainability linked financial products have seen a meteoric rise, going from a marginal portion of total sustainable Canadian debt issued in 2020 to five per cent by the end of 2021 according to the Global Risk Institute (GRI). A Reuters analysis reviewing targets set by sustainability linked bonds found that nearly half included a target that allowed the borrower to improve at a slower rate than they had done previously. Of the resolution, Groupe Investissement Responsible (GIR) writes:

If Dollarama does not strengthen its targets for sustainability lending, it exposes itself to risks of greenwashing, reputational damage, and future regulatory non-compliance in the face of demands for more stringent regulation of such lending.A forthcoming study from the University of Laval in collaboration with the Immigrant Worker Centre examines working conditions at Dollarama warehouses using surveys and in-depth interviews. The study reveals difficult working conditions and a predominantly male and racialized workforce where most workers have precarious immigration status. Dollarama's reliance on temp agencies allows the company to evade various employer responsibilities while capitalizing on a vulnerable workforce devoid of many labor rights, including the right to unionization and collective bargaining. Workers surveyed expressed an overwhelming preference for direct employment by Dollarama rather than agency contracts. The study emphasizes the link between labour conditions and precarious immigration status, placing the Dollarama workforce at a significantly higher level of vulnerability.

In 2018, BCGEU launched a responsible investment program aimed at leveraging its influence as an investor to protect and grow its members' assets while encouraging portfolio companies to take progressive action on issues concerning working people, such as climate change, corporate governance, human rights, and labour protections.

View the BCGEU's proxy memo here.

The company's responses to the proposals can be found in its management circular on page B-1-B-5.


The B.C. General Employees’ Union represents over 85,000 workers in almost every community and economic sector in British Columbia. Under BCGEU’s capital stewardship strategy, the union has submitted shareholder proposals at some of Canada’s largest companies on topics like human rights, racial equity, and executive compensation. The union’s strategy has succeeded in achieving strong commitments on ESG issues.