Business paperwork, stats, numbers, graphs on desk with computer and pen

With public companies facing the prospect of delaying their annual general meetings (AGMs) or shifting to virtual meetings, securities regulators are providing firms with more time to provide shareholders with required meeting materials.

Under the temporary blanket relief announced by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), issuers will have until the end of the year to file their required executive compensation disclosures, and to provide shareholders with paper versions of their financial statements and management discussion and analysis (MD&A).

“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, reporting issuers may have difficulties complying with […] requests for copies of documents in paper format when their employees are working from home and complying with, or following, physical distancing requirements and recommendations of public health authorities,” the order issued by the Ontario Securities Commission said.

“This relief provides more flexibility to companies to prepare, file and mail disclosure documents,” said Louis Morisset, chair of the CSA and president and CEO of the Autorité des marchés financiers.

Issuers that decide to rely on the relief and delay their filings must first issue a news release declaring their intensions, the CSA stipulated.

“Companies are expected to provide investors with sufficient lead time to review executive compensation disclosure before their AGM,” the CSA noted.

“Companies are still responsible for providing their securityholders with the same disclosure these investors would normally receive ahead of an annual meeting,” Morriset added.

This latest form of relief follows a series of accommodations that regulators have provided to firms facing difficulty in complying with requirements due to pandemic-related restrictions.