OSC moves forward with 107 initiatives to simplify capital markets burden

"We've taken a good look at our work to see how we can do things better", says Maureen Jensen, Chair and CEO of the OSC. "The investment funds industry, along with the investors it serves, will benefit meaningfully from the OSC's efforts to streamline and modernize how it regulates".

The OSC's highlights include a clearer set of service standards for compliance reviews, and a new option for small and medium-sized businesses to hire a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) over from an unaffiliated firm to help with meeting compliance standards. The task force had conducted a study of the regulatory environment, with a focus on enhancing competitiveness for Ontario businesses by saving time and money for issuers, registrants, investors and other capital market participants. Applications for the CCO position at fintech firms will be assessed on an applicant's wider business experience, and how that aligns with a company's business model. It consists of more than 100 specific actions, from simplified registration for large companies with multiple business lines, to the elimination of duplicative and arbitrary filings that don't reflect the adoption of technology, to "tailored" rules for small firms. Ultimately, these identified 38 underlying concerns that the task force's recommendations are aimed at addressing. Startups looking for financing will see crowdfunding guidelines harmonized throughout the nation.

Public Companies will be able to conduct at-the-market offerings without having to obtain prior exemptive relief.

In particular, IFIC welcomed the OSC's consideration of steps to reduce regulatory burden by decreasing the frequency of investment fund prospectus filings and by improving the coordination of compliance reviews with other regulators. To the extent the OSC is able to implement the decisions itself, it has indicated the majority will be implemented within about a year.

Jensen announced the creation of a burden-reduction task force last November, following the June election of Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government. Each was carefully evaluated by staff on the basis of its impact, practicality and potential cost savings.

The OSC overhaul is a central component of the Ontario government's pledge to put an "open for business" stamp on the province.

In its spring budget past year, the government laid out a five-point plan to "create confidence" in Ontario's capital markets, which included the establishment of an Office of Economic Growth and Innovation at the OSC, and an emphasis on "economically focused rule making".

The mandate of the OSC is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair and efficient capital markets and confidence in the capital markets, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk.

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