After years of searching, FAIR Canada has received substantial operating dollars — an amount the organization’s new executive director says will provide much-needed stability.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has announced $3.75 million in funding for the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (a.k.a. FAIR Canada). FAIR Canada will receive the funds, which come from the OSC’s Designated Fund, over five years in annual instalments of $750,000.
This cash injection follows a lengthy funding search. In 2012, the Stephen Jarislowsky Foundation provided $2 million to FAIR Canada on the condition that the investor advocacy organization find another $4 million in matching funds by Sept. 30, 2014. That deadline was extended several times but with no luck — in October 2019, FAIR Canada returned the original endowment.
Jean-Paul Bureaud, executive director of FAIR Canada, said in an interview that the OSC’s funding represents “a vote of confidence in the contributions we make in terms of public policy discussions that affect retail investors.”
The funding will also “allow us to rebuild the organization and try to bring it to the next level,” Bureaud said. “What I think is important is the duration of the agreement — it provides us with that stability which has been missing.”
Bureaud is a lawyer who previously worked with the World Bank and the OSC. He became FAIR Canada’s executive director in August and replaced Ermanno Pascutto, who founded FAIR Canada in 2008 and had been serving as the group’s head on an interim basis.
Grant Vingoe, acting chair and CEO of the OSC, stated in a release: “The OSC’s financial contribution will provide FAIR with stable funding over the next five years, allowing it to continue its important and valuable investor advocacy and protection work.”
Bureaud says FAIR Canada’s immediate plans are to recruit more staff with policy experience. “Our core mission is to provide informed and insightful comments on public policy,” he said, adding that he would like FAIR Canada to not just react to what is put out for public comment, but to “begin the discussion” on policy matters.
Longer-term, Bureaud plans to build more strategic partnerships “with different entities that share similar objectives and goals,” he said. “We’re stronger if we work together.”
Bureaud says FAIR Canada will remain an arms-length, independent entity from the OSC, noting that the regulator has provided FAIR with funding in the past without restrictions.
FAIR Canada also announced today that Ellen Roseman, financial journalist and consumer advocate, will serve as its chair; Preet Banerjee, financial services consultant, will serve as vice-chair. The organization has also appointed a new director, securities lawyer Neil Gross. Gross is a former executive director of FAIR Canada and chairs the OSC’s Investor Advisory Panel.
As reported in September, investor advocacy in Canada has been shifting in-house to the boards and advisory panels of the investment industry’s regulators.
At the time, Gross told Investment Executive that it was time for policy-makers to step up: “If the goal of investor advocacy is to help policy-makers bring about better regulation that improves investor protection and raises investment industry professionalism, then that goal should be supported by funding from policy-makers.”