Board Profile - Marine Atlantic Inc.

Marine Atlantic Inc.

Corporation Mandate

To provide a safe, environmentally responsible, and quality ferry service between the Island of Newfoundland and the Province of Nova Scotia in a reliable, courteous and cost-effective manner.

Marine Atlantic operates on two routes.  The first is a year round, 96 nautical mile daily ferry service between Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.  The second, offered from mid-June until late September, is a 280 nautical mile tri-weekly ferry service between Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Board operates by delegating certain of its responsibilities to management and reserving certain powers for itself. The Board's principal duties fall into the following categories:

  • Adoption and monitoring of strategic and business planning processes and plans;
  • Appointing, monitoring and compensating executive management, excluding the President and CEO;
  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance of the CEO and making recommendations based on this evaluation to the shareholder;
  • Overseeing the management of enterprise risk;
  • Establishing and upholding MAI's integrity, ethics and social responsibility;
  • Overseeing the integrity of the system of internal control and management information;
  • Providing for effective communication with stakeholders; and
  • Establishing and maintaining effective governance practices.

Challenges, Issues and Initiatives

In 2010/2011 Marine Atlantic introduced two new vessels into its fleet.  Customer satisfaction has increased with the new fleet and the Corporation is focused on continued improvements to customer service.

In 2012, Marine Atlantic's major projects focused on shore-based upgrades at all three ports to facilitate and improve traffic flow and strengthen service reliabilities.

In recent years, Marine Atlantic has been challenged by the change in traffic mix with passenger related traffic declining and commercial related traffic increasing.

In order to achieve ongoing cost efficiencies and to develop sustainable long term funding, Marine Atlantic is focused on how it runs its business by improving cost effectiveness through improved business processes and developing cost containment strategies.

A key initiative is improving the safety culture throughout the organization with a focus on safety in every aspect of its operations.

Core Values, Attributes, Competencies and Experience

Directors are expected to carry out their duties and responsibilities and interaction with others in a manner which promotes the Corporate Values of the Corporation which are binding on all employees of Marine Atlantic.  The Corporate Values of Marine Atlantic are: Safety, Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Commitment.  


Protection of people, property, and the environment is our ultimate priority. Excellence in managing health, safety and environmental performance is critical to our sustainability and long-term business success.


We say what we mean, mean what we say and do what we say. Honesty and credibility opens the path to engagement. Our actions always align with what we say. The reputation of our business is dependent on our ethical behaviour in everything we do.


We are passionate about our internal and external customers and our services. We take pride in what we do and are committed to continuously improving how we operate through innovation and information sharing. We always focus on the needs of our internal and external customers and are dedicated to satisfying those needs with a sense of urgency.


We always help each other. Working together always results in better outcomes.


We are all responsible for our performance and the success of the business. We understand our commitments to each other and to our customers.

In addition to the Corporate Values of Marine Atlantic applicable to both employees and Directors of Marine Atlantic, each Director is expected to possess the following core attributes, competencies and experience:

  • Informed Judgment

    The ability to provide wise, thoughtful counsel, to analyze, ask relevant questions at the strategic level, consider the different stakeholders' perspectives, understand situations and problems by addressing underlying issues.

  • Accountability

    Demonstrating high ethical standards and integrity, being willing to act on and remain accountable for board decisions, meeting the accountabilities outlined in the law, by-laws and rules of the board, seeing oneself as serving the interests of Canadians.

  • Impact and Influence

    The awareness of the impact of organizational issues, policies and decisions on public interest and concern. The capacity to be sensitive to the differing needs and agendas of multiple stakeholders and to act to convince or influence others in order to have a specific impact or effect.

  • Financial Literacy

    The ability to read and assess financial statements.

  • Public Policy

    Experience in or knowledge of public policy.

Specific Skills, Knowledge and Experience

As a whole, the Board of Directors should include individuals who possess a strong mix and balance of skills, knowledge and experience.  The specific skills and experience expected to comprise the Board, but not necessarily in each individual director include the following areas:

Human Resources – Extensive experience and expertise in managing the human resources and labour relations functions of a corporation.

Finance – Financial expertise and experience to provide the skill required for the Audit Committee requirements (i.e. CA or equivalent). 

Public, Government and Stakeholder Relations – An understanding of government functions and public policy considerations.  The ability to understand and take the interests of different stakeholders, including customers, into account in the decision making process.

Transportation and Marine Industry – An understanding of vessel management and marine operations.  Knowledge and understanding of the transportation industry, including trucking and an understanding of tourism and hospitality operations.

Knowledge of the local communities where Marine Atlantic operates would be an asset.  These communities include: Port aux Basques and Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador and North Sydney, Nova Scotia. 


The Board representation consists of a diversified range of skills.  Ongoing representation should include marine expertise, legal, human resources, consumer satisfaction/marketing expertise, organizational change and transformation management. 

The Board should reflect local regional representation and gender balance. 

Working Conditions

The Working Conditions for the Board are as follows:

  1. Meetings
    • Four regularly scheduled Board meetings per year, once a quarter in March, June, September and December and one annual strategy session and an annual public meeting;
    • Conference call meetings are required from time to time;
    • Meetings are usually held in the Corporate Office in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  2. Annual Time Commitment
    • On average, Directors are expected to commit to approximately 10-12 days in meetings plus travel and preparation time;
    • The Chair of Board is expected to commit to approximately 20 days plus travel and preparation time;
    • The Chair of a Committee must commit to an additional 5-6 days.
  3. Committee Work
    • The Board of Directors has delegated certain responsibilities to three Committees:
      • Human Resources and Pension Management Committee
      • Audit and Risk Committee
      • Safety, Corporate Governance and Accountability Committee
    • A Director is appointed as Chair to each of these Committees by the Chair of the Board, based upon their individual experience and knowledge;
    • All Directors are required to sit on one Committee and may sit on 2 Committees.
  4. Code of Conduct

    In addition to the Conflict of Interest Act and the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders as outlined in Accountable Government, Directors are required to comply with Marine Atlantic's Board of Directors Conflict of Interest Guidelines and Code of Conduct for Directors.

  5. Remuneration and Expenses

    Directors receive per diem remuneration as set out in the Remuneration Guidelines for Part-Time Governor in Council Appointees in Crown corporations, along with Board approved expenses, in accordance with Marine Atlantic's Expense Guidelines.