TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) today published its 2021-2022 Statement of Priorities, which outlines 20 priority areas on which the OSC will focus resources and actions over the coming fiscal year, as well as the expected outcomes.
“We are addressing rapid change in our markets, driven by a dramatic increase in retail investor participation, relentless industry innovation, and swift adaptation in the face of the pandemic,” said Grant Vingoe, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the OSC. “I have the utmost confidence that OSC staff will tackle these priorities with the same grit and dedication they have applied to the extraordinary circumstances of the past year.”
November 2020 Call for Stakeholder Feedback
On November 16, 2020, the OSC published its draft 2021-2022 Statement of Priorities for stakeholder comment and received sixteen comment letters in response. Feedback was broadly supportive of plans to address the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce recommendations, the OSC’s continued focus on investor protection and its ongoing work to reduce regulatory burden.
Revisions and Updates to the Statement of Priorities
Since publishing the draft 2021-2022 Statement of Priorities for comment, new priorities have been added to reflect the OSC’s role in developing and implementing the policy direction provided in the 2021 Ontario Budget. This includes supporting the Ministry of Finance in drafting the Capital Markets Act, integrating the additional mandate of fostering capital formation and competition into OSC activities, mandating enhanced disclosure of material Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) information by public companies and integrating the structural governance changes to the OSC as set out in the forthcoming Securities Commission Act.
Additional revisions relate to recent market developments or reflect progress updates on various files, including two new priorities: Strengthen Oversight of Crypto Asset Trading Platforms and Other Dealers, and Develop an Enhanced Framework for Reducing Regulatory Burden and Modernizing Regulation. Changes also capture final amendments to ban the use of the DSC option, and the upcoming publication of a position paper addressing the framework for Self-Regulatory Organizations in July 2021.
Progress against 2020-2021 Priorities
The OSC also published today its Report on the Statement of Priorities for Fiscal 2020-2021, which summarizes progress made against the 2020-2021 priorities.
This period saw a significant increase to the workloads of OSC employees, broadly stemming from impacts of the pandemic, a surge in novel products and historically high volumes of prospectus filings. A few key accomplishments from fiscal 2020-2021 include:
Promote confidence in Ontario’s capital markets: Raised awareness about significant investor protection risks associated with unregistered crypto asset trading platforms through the public release of an investigative report on QuadrigaCX. Demonstrated OSC’s commitment to crypto regulatory enforcement through enforcement proceedings against a crypto asset trading platform that admitted to conducting around 840,000 illicit wash trades worth almost $5.5 billion. Settled the OSC’s first matter involving retaliation against a whistleblower, and increased awareness of the OSC Whistleblower program resulting in a 13 per cent year-over-year increase in tips. Helped investors navigate the pandemic with the new GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca resource hub.
Reduce regulatory burden: Completed 62 of the initiatives set out in the 2019 Reducing Regulatory Burden in Ontario’s Capital Markets report. By December 31, 2021, 85 (79 per cent) of the total initiatives are projected to be completed.
Facilitate financial innovation: Created both the Office of Economic Growth and Innovation Charter and the Modernizing Regulation Unit within the Innovation Office.
Strengthen our organizational foundation: Launched the redeveloped OSC website in February 2021. Adopted systems related, but not limited to, key enforcement, compliance and financial activities. Published an updated Service Commitment in November 2020 with increased transparency on the standards and timelines that investors, registrants and market participants can expect when they interact with the OSC.
The mandate of the OSC is to provide protection to investors from unfair, improper or fraudulent practices, to foster fair, efficient and competitive capital markets and confidence in the capital markets, to foster capital formation, and to contribute to the stability of the financial system and the reduction of systemic risk. Investors are urged to check the registration of any persons or company offering an investment opportunity and to review the OSC investor materials available at http://www.osc.ca.