The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is putting its regulatory agenda on pause due to the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.
In a notice published on Thursday, the OSC announced it will not be publishing a detailed statement of priorities (SOP) for its 2021 fiscal year (its year-end is March 31).
Ordinarily, the commission issues a draft SOP for comment, which is finalized by the end of June. That exercise largely defines the OSC’s policy agenda for the coming year.
This year, however, “Given the outbreak of Covid-19 and related financial market uncertainty, the OSC has decided not to consult on a more detailed SOP at this time,” the regulator said in the notice.
In the meantime, it invites public comments on its existing priorities by June 1.
The commission said that it has made “significant progress” on its priorities from fiscal 2020, and that it will continue to work on them over the next few months.
It also pledged to publish a progress report in June detailing its work on those priorities.
While the usual process for setting regulatory priorities is on pause, the OSC said its agenda will continue to evolve in the year ahead.
“The OSC anticipates adjusting and re-aligning priorities throughout the year to accommodate changes due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the outcomes of the Ontario government’s Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce,” it said.
The regulator also pledged to carry out a “more substantive consultation on business priorities” in the early fall, which will be used to inform its business plan for 2021–2022.
“We recognize the significant challenges affecting all of our stakeholders in this current and unprecedented environment,” said Grant Vingoe, acting chair and CEO of the OSC, in a statement.
“Investor protection remains at the forefront of everything we do, including in times of crisis like we are experiencing now. For the year ahead, we have drawn from our 2019–2020 priorities and our ongoing regulatory burden reduction work,” he said.
Canadian securities regulators have taken a number of actions in response to the Covid-19 crisis, including delaying the implementation of the client-focused reforms (CFRs), extending policy comment periods and promising no new rule proposals until May 30, at the earliest.
They’ve also provided extensive relief to the industry to facilitate compliance and relieve financial pressures on firms.