Already facing a serious funding crisis, the Canadian Foundation for the Advancement of Investor Rights (a.k.a. FAIR Canada), an independent investor advocacy group, has found itself in deeper financial turmoil.
The group announced today that it has returned $2.4 million to the Jarislowsky Foundation, which provided it with $2 million in 2012 for an endowment fund to support its mission. The founder of the Jarislowsky Foundation, Stephen Jarislowsky, has also resigned as a board member of FAIR Canada.
Unless it receives additional financial support, “the board will have to make a decision to [either] continue operating until the end of next year with a full complement of staff, or to continue operating with a reduced staff,” said Ermanno Pascutto, executive director of FAIR Canada in Toronto.
“We still have the $2 million provided by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) in the endowment fund,” Pascutto added. To cover FAIR Canada’s operating expenses, “we will have to draw down on it.”
The 2012 Jarislowsky donation came with the condition that FAIR Canada had to find $4 million in matching donations. The initial deadline to do so was Sept. 30, 2014, but was extended several times over the past five years, with a final deadline of Sept. 30, 2019.
In 2014, FAIR Canada obtained $2 million in endowment funding from the OSC, but has been unsuccessful in securing the remaining $2 million.
In a release, FAIR Canada said it “has applied to governments, regulators and SROs over the years to support its mission of enhancing the interests and rights of the everyday Canadians” but that “governments, securities regulators and self-regulatory organizations have been generally unwilling to provide adequate support.
“Most regulatory or governmental organizations offered no support at all.”
In 2012, the OSC provided $1 million in funding for operations over two years, and an additional $500,000 in funding for operations in 2014.
The predecessor organizations to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) had provided the initial funding for the creation of FAIR Canada in 2008, and IIROC made further donations for total funding of $4.65 million.
Recently, however, “IIROC has generally advised FAIR Canada to seek sustainable funding elsewhere,” the release stated. Last year, FAIR Canada applied to IIROC “as a last resort” for the $2 million in endowment funding, but the application was rejected, although IIROC agreed to provide $250,000 in operational funding after a reapplication.
The release noted that the MFDA “has never offered financial support and has in excess of $5 million in its restricted funds based on the most recent published information.”
In the release, Jarislowsky said, “It is my view that the governments, regulators and the financial industry do not want FAIR Canada to fulfill its mission as a positive force to make the financial consumer better protected and informed. Corporations prefer to keep retail investors dependent and underinformed.”
Jarislowsky added that while he still supports FAIR Canada’s mission, “We do not feel that we should lend out more to an organization to advance a mission that is a governmental and regulator responsibility which governments and regulators refuse to fulfill.”