OSC Issues Strategic Outlook and Priorities

Terry Flanagan

The Ontario Securities Commission has published its 2015-2017 Strategic Outlook and Priorities, which build on the OSC’s 2012-2015 Strategic Plan and reflect changes in the capital markets and in the domestic and global regulatory environment that have occurred since 2012.

“These documents outline the OSC’s vision for meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that confront us over the next two years in Ontario’s dynamic and evolving capital markets,” Howard Wetston, chair and CEO of the OSC, said in a release.

The Strategic Outlook sets out how the OSC intends to achieve its organizational goals over the next two years, including providing strong investor protection, delivering responsive regulation and effective compliance and enforcement, promoting financial stability through effective oversight and being an innovative, accountable and efficient organization.

The OSC will improve access to capital by introducing a suite of changes to the securities regulatory framework that will offer greater opportunity for companies to raise capital without a prospectus and for investors to make investments in those companies (for example, through offering memorandum and crowdfunding exemptions).

The OSC will support the transformation of the exempt market in several ways including, for example, by facilitating the registration of crowdfunding portals and the filing of offering memoranda and reports of exempt distributions by issuers who have raised capital in reliance on those exemptions.

The Statement of Priorities sets out priority areas where the OSC intends to focus key resources and actions for the coming fiscal year, as well as the expected outcomes. The OSC received 17 comment letters on its draft Statement of Priorities, which were taken into consideration.

Capital markets have become increasingly interconnected by technology, business models and investment flows. The interconnectedness of markets creates the potential for systemic risk within the wider financial framework, and securities regulators have assumed an important role in maintaining its stability, the OSC noted.

Success in managing this complex area will have a significant impact on market confidence and ultimately the health of our capital markets. It is critical for the OSC to work with other financial market regulators to design and build a regulatory framework and operational programs to effectively oversee and supervise the OTC derivatives market and its participants.

There are approximately $500 billion in corporate bonds outstanding in Canada and almost $500 billion in corporate bonds traded in the Canadian secondary market in 2014. In Canada, corporate bond trading is subject to limited post-trade transparency for both regulators and investors. The OSC is taking steps to enhance regulation in the fixed income market and to identify opportunities where changes to regulatory approaches could improve market transparency and better protect investor interests.

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