OSC moving forward with 107 initiatives to simplify capital markets burden

TORONTO — Small and medium-sized firms will be able to outsource compliance functions as part of more than 100 actions designed to simplify the burden to do business in the province's capital markets, Ontario's securities regulator said Tuesday.

The Ontario Securities Commission said the changes announced Tuesday will result in enhanced service levels, less duplication and a more tailored regulatory approach.

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"We've taken a good look at our work to see how we can do things better," OSC chairwoman and chief executive Maureen Jensen said in a news release.

The changes will make it easier to start, fund and grow a business in Ontario, and make Ontario’s markets more competitive, the OSC said, noting that nearly 70 per cent of those regulated in the province are small and medium-sized companies.

The 107 initiatives outlined address 34 concerns identified by staff during a consultation process following the November 2018 launch of a task force.

In addition to allowing in appropriate cases for businesses to hire a chief compliance officer who also does that work for other firms, other initiatives include support for raising capital in public markets through a confidential prospectus review process prior to announcing an IPO or other financing.

Innovative businesses and startups will receive more flexibility in registration, resales in the secondary market, and other regulatory requirements. Startups seeking financing will see crowdfunding rules harmonized across the country.

Large businesses will see duplicative filing requirements eliminated in investment funds and registration rules. Documents such as prospectuses can be delivered electronically and public companies will be able to conduct at-the-market offerings without obtaining prior exemptive relief.

OSC initiatives will be implemented within a year while other changes that require legislative amendments or other steps will take longer.

Several initiatives were already implemented by the OSC this year, including removal of fees for delayed outside business activity filings, a pre-file program for mining issuers’ technical disclosure, removal of a dated requirement for investment fund managers to apply to act as trustees, and a flexible fees-certification process for market participants.

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips applauded efforts to streamline regulations "without compromising investor protection."

"The OSC has made major progress in reducing the burden for Ontario’s market participants."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2019.

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