The Role of our Audit Committee
The Audit Committee plays a key role in assisting the board to fulfill its oversight responsibilities in areas including the financial reporting process, the audit process, the company's system of internal controls and compliance with laws and regulations
The Audit Committee (the "Committee") is appointed by and shall assist the Board of Directors (the —"Board—") of FirstService Corporation (the —"Company—") in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities in the following principal areas: (i) accounting policies and practices, (ii) the financial reporting process, (iii) financial statements provided by the Company to the public, (iv) risk management including systems of internal accounting and financial controls, (v) appointing, overseeing and evaluating the work of the external auditors, and (vi) compliance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
In addition to the responsibilities specifically enumerated in this Mandate, the Board may refer to the Committee such matters and questions relating to the financial position of the Company and its subsidiaries as the Board may from time to time see fit.
The Committee shall consist of at least three directors appointed annually by the Board and shall be selected based upon the following, in accordance with applicable rules and regulations:
- Independence. Each member shall be independent in accordance with applicable legal and regulatory requirements and in such regard shall have no direct or indirect material relationship with the Company which could, in the view of the Board, reasonably interfere with the exercise of a member's independent judgment.
- Financially Literate. Each member shall be financially literate or must become financially literate within a reasonable period of time after his or her appointment to the Committee. For these purposes, an individual is financially literate if he or she has the ability to read and understand a set of financial statements that present a breadth and level of complexity of accounting issues that are generally comparable to the breadth and complexity of the issues that can reasonably be expected to be raised by the Company's financial statements.
- Commitment. In addition to being a member of the Committee, if a member is also on the audit committee or board of directors of other public companies, the Board shall determine that such simultaneous service does not impair the ability of such member to serve effectively on the Company's Audit Committee.
Chair And Secretary
The Chair of the Audit Committee shall be selected by the Board. If the Chair is not present, the members of the Committee may designate a Chair for the meeting by majority vote of the members present. The Secretary of the Company shall be the Secretary of the Audit Committee, provided that if the Secretary is not present, the Chair of the meeting may appoint a secretary for the meeting with the consent of the other Committee members who are present.
The times and locations of meetings of the Committee and the calling of such meetings, shall be determined from time to time by the Chair of the Committee, in consultation with management when necessary, provided that there shall be a minimum of four meetings per year. The Committee shall have sufficient notice in order to prepare for each meeting. Notice of each meeting shall also be given to the external auditors of the Company, and meetings shall be convened whenever requested by the external auditors or any member of the Committee in accordance with applicable law.
Agendas for meetings of the Audit Committee shall be developed by the Chair of the Committee in consultation with management and the corporate secretary, and shall be circulated to the Committee members prior to any meetings.
Resources And Authority
The Committee shall have the resources and the authority to discharge its responsibilities, including the authority to engage, at the expense of the Company, outside consultants, independent legal counsel and other advisors as it determines necessary to carry out its duties, without seeking approval of the Board or management.
The Committee shall have the authority to conduct any investigation necessary and appropriate to fulfilling its responsibilities, and has direct access to communicate with the external auditors, legal counsel, and officers and employees of the Company.
The members of the Committee have the right, for the purpose of performing their duties, to inspect the books and records of the Company and to discuss such accounts and records and any matters relating to the financial position, risk management and internal controls of the Company with the officers and external auditors of the Company.
The Company's management is responsible for preparing the Company's financial statements while the external auditors are responsible for auditing those financial statements. The Committee is responsible for overseeing the conduct of those activities by the Company's management and external auditors, and overseeing the activities of any internal audit initiatives. The Company's external auditors are accountable to the Committee as representatives of the Company's shareholders.
It is recognized that members of the Committee are not full-time employees of the Company and do not represent themselves to be accountants or auditors by profession or experts in the fields of accounting or auditing or the preparation of financial statements. It is not the duty or responsibility of the Committee or its members to conduct "field work" or other types of auditing or accounting reviews or procedures. Each member of the Committee shall be entitled to rely on (i) the integrity of those persons and organizations within and outside the Company from whom it receives information, and (ii) the accuracy of the financial and other information provided to the Committee by such persons or organizations absent actual knowledge to the contrary.
The specific responsibilities of the Committee are as follows:
1. Financial Reporting Process and Financial Statements
- In consultation with the external auditors and management, review the integrity of the Company's financial reporting process, both internal and external, and any major issues as to the adequacy of the internal controls and any special audit procedures adopted in light of any material control deficiencies;
- Review all material transactions and contracts entered into by the Company with any insider or related party of the Company, other than officer or employee compensation arrangements which are approved by the Compensation Committee;
- Review with management and the external auditors the Company's annual audited consolidated financial statements and discuss with the external auditors all matters required to be discussed by generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) in Canada and the United States. This would include reviewing an annual report prepared by the external auditors describing: (i) all critical accounting policies used by the Company, (ii) any material alternative accounting treatments within generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) that have been discussed with management of the Company, including the ramifications of the use of such alternative treatments and disclosures, and (iii) any other material written communications between the external auditors and management;
- Following completion of the annual audit, review with management and the external auditors any significant issues, concerns or difficulties encountered;
- Resolve any disagreements between management and the external auditors regarding financial reporting;
- Review the interim quarterly and annual financial statements and annual and interim press releases prior to the release of earnings information including earnings guidance provided to analysts;
- Review and be satisfied that adequate procedures are in place for the review of the public disclosure of financial information by the Company and periodically assess the adequacy of those procedures; and
- Meet separately, periodically, with management and with the external auditors.
2. External auditors
- The Committee is responsible for the selection, nomination, compensation, retention, termination and oversight of the work of the external auditors engaged for the purpose of issuing an auditor's report or performing other audit, review or attest services for the Company, and in such regard recommend to the Board the external auditors to be nominated for approval by the shareholders;
- Pre-approve all audit engagements and the provision by the external auditors of all non-audit services, including fees and terms for all audit engagements and non-audit engagements, and in such regard the Committee may establish the types of non-audit services the external auditors shall be prohibited from providing and shall establish the types of audit, audit related and non-audit services for which the Committee will retain the external auditors;
- Review and approve the Company's policies for the hiring of partners and employees and former partners and employees of the external auditing firm;
- Consider, assess and report to the Board with regard to the independence and performance of the external auditors; and
- Request and review annually a report by the external auditors regarding the auditing firm's internal quality-control procedures, any material issues raised by the most recent internal quality-control review of the auditing firm, or by any inquiry or investigation by governmental or professional authorities, within the past five years.
3. Internal Controls and Risk Management
- Oversee management's design, implementation and evaluation of the Company's internal controls over financial reporting including compliance with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Receive and review reports from management and the external auditors with regard to the reliability and effective operation of the Company's accounting systems and internal controls;
- Discuss with management the Company's approach to risk assessment and risk management and it's assessment of the need for internal auditing. The Company's approach includes assessing and managing the risks related with personal and sensitive data that is collected, transmitted or stored by the Company and the control environment in place to protect the privacy of such data;
- Establish policies and procedures for the confidential, anonymous submission by employees of the Company of any concerns regarding questionable accounting or other acts and for the receipt, retention and treatment of any such submissions.
4. Legal and Regulatory Requirements
- Receive and review timely analysis by management of significant issues relating to public disclosure and reporting, including, prior to finalization, the Management's Discussion and Analysis and Annual Information Form;
- Prepare the report of the Audit Committee required to be included with the Company's periodic filings; and
- Assist the Board in the oversight of compliance with legal and regulatory matters.
5. Additional Responsibilities
- Report regularly to the Board, including matters such as the quality and integrity of the Company's financial statements, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, the results of any internal audit initiatives including evaluation of internal controls over financial reporting for purposes of compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, and the performance and independence of the external auditors; and
- Review and reassess annually the adequacy of the Audit Committee's Mandate and prepare and review with the Board an annual performance evaluation of the Audit Committee.
Last review: October 2020