Term limits

Fixed terms are a tool to promote balance between renewal and experience on public agency boards.

Government policy

All public agencies have fixed term lengths for directors, with reappointment conditional on performance. For public trust, corporate enterprise, service delivery and advisory agencies, the maximum consecutive years of service for directors is 10 or fewer years. For adjudicative agencies, the maximum consecutive years of service is 12 or fewer years. In cases where new term lengths are being established, staggered appointment termination dates are used to support succession planning and continuity.

Discussion

Fixed terms are a tool to promote balance between renewal and experience on public agency boards. Leading practice suggests that setting a term of a reasonable number of years (three or four), renewable once, is an effective approach for most public agencies. Regulatory/adjudicative public agencies may benefit from the experience of longer maximum years.

Term Renewal

The precise length of term and the number of renewals allowed will be set by legislation or the public agency and their minister, as long as the total length of consecutive years of service does not exceed 10 years (12 years for regulatory/adjudicative public agencies). Reappointment is to be based on the member's performance and approval of the minister. Best practice indicates terms be staggered so that no more than one-third of the director's appointment terms expire at one time.

Most existing fixed term practices in use in public agencies meet the requirements of this policy. In all cases, reappointment for a second or third term is conditional on performance, and at the discretion of the minister.

Chair

Some public agencies find it useful to have practices that allow their chairs to serve longer periods than other directors, generally in order to accommodate at least one term as a director, followed by two terms as chair. This practice is consistent with the policy as long as the total number of consecutive years of service does not exceed 10 years (12 years for regulatory/adjudicative public agencies). As with director reappointments, the second term as chair should be contingent on satisfactory performance.

Transparency

Public agency policies regarding fixed terms must be clearly spelled out and explained to all directors. Generally, this will be accomplished most effectively through mandate and roles documents, often supplemented by by-laws. Ministers are responsible for term limits and reappointments based on sound performance.