Audit Committee Charter
The primary function of the audit committee (the "Committee") is to assist the board of directors in fulfilling its financial oversight responsibilities by reviewing the financial reports and other financial information provided by the Corporation to regulatory authorities and shareholders, the Corporation's systems of internal controls regarding finance and accounting and the Corporation's auditing, accounting and financial reporting processes. The Committee's primary duties and responsibilities are to:
- Serve as an independent and objective party to monitor the Corporation's financial reporting and internal control system and review the Corporation's financial statements.
- Review and appraise the performance of the Corporation's external auditors.
- Provide an open avenue of communication among the Corporation's auditors, financial and senior management and the Board of Directors.
The Committee shall be comprised of up to four directors as determined by the Board of Directors, the majority of whom shall be free from any relationship that, in the opinion of the Board of Directors, would interfere with the exercise of his or her independent judgment as a member of the Committee. At least one member of the Committee shall have accounting or related financial management expertise. All members of the Committee that are not financially literate will work towards becoming financially literate to obtain a working familiarity with basic finance and accounting practices. For the purposes of the Audit Committee Charter, the definition of “financially literate” is 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 presumably be expected to be raised by the Corporation's financial statements.
The members of the Committee shall be elected by the Board of Directors at its first meeting following the annual shareholders' meeting. Unless a Chair is elected by the full Board of Directors, the members of the Committee may designate a Chair by a majority vote of the full Committee membership.
The Committee shall meet a four times annually, or more frequently as circumstances dictate. As part of its job to foster open communication, the Committee will meet at least annually with the Chief Financial Officer and the external auditors in separate sessions.
Responsibilities and Duties
To fulfill its responsibilities and duties, the Committee shall:
- Review and update the Charter annually.
- Review the Corporation's financial statements, MD&A and any annual and interim earnings, press releases before the Corporation publicly discloses this information and any reports or other financial information (including quarterly financial statements), which are submitted to any governmental body, or to the public, including any certification, report, opinion, or review rendered by the external auditors.
- Review annually, the performance of the external auditors who shall be ultimately accountable to the Board of Directors and the Committee as representatives of the shareholders of the Corporation.
- Recommend to the Board of Directors the selection and, where applicable, the replacement of the external auditors nominated annually for shareholder approval.
- Review with management and the external auditors the audit plan for the year-end financial statements and intended template for such statements.
- Review and pre-approve all audit and audit-related services and the fees and other compensation related thereto, and any non-audit services, provided by the Corporation's external auditors.
Provided the pre-approval of the non-audit services is presented to the Committee's first scheduled meeting following such approval such authority may be delegated by the Committee to one or more independent members of the Committee.
Financial Reporting Processes
- In consultation with the external auditors, review with management the integrity of the Corporation's financial reporting process, both internal and external.
- Consider the external auditors' judgments about the quality and appropriateness of the Corporation's accounting principles as applied in its financial reporting.
- Consider and approve, if appropriate, changes to the Corporation's auditing and accounting principles and practices as suggested by the external auditors and management.
- Following completion of the annual audit, review separately with management and the external auditors any significant difficulties encountered during the course of the audit, including any restrictions on the scope of work or access to required information.