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Final Report: Ontario Capital Markets Modernization Committee Recommendations

Ontario Capital Markets Modernization Committee | Walied Soliman Taskforce Chair | Jan 22, 2021

Ontario capital markets modernization committee final report - Final Report:  Ontario Capital Markets Modernization Committee Recommendations

Job creation and economic prosperity. Fundamentally, these are the most important outputs of a successful capital markets regime. Ontario first enacted its capital markets laws in 1928. For decades, Ontario has been at the forefront of investor protection and market efficacy. We cannot fall behind. Late last year, former Minister Rod Phillips formed the Capital Markets Modernization Taskforce to review the current status of Ontario’s capital markets. By February 2020, Rupert Duchesne, Wes Hall, Melissa Kennedy, Cindy Tripp, and I were appointed to conduct this review.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, the global financial system has undergone significant changes. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to be adaptive and forward-looking in developing a modernized capital markets. The Taskforce aimed to address the issues of tomorrow’s capital markets with bold and innovative recommendations that will make Ontario one of the most attractive capital market destinations globally.

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The Taskforce worked diligently for ten months, through the COVID-19 pandemic. We met over 110 different stakeholders in our preliminary consultations, meeting with some repeatedly, and received over 130 stakeholder comment letters in response to our consultation report released in July 2020.1 The consultation meetings and formal feedback told us that the time for change is now.

One of our main objectives is to amplify growth “The recommendations we have made are and competitiveness in Ontario’s capital generational in their impact on the Ontario capital markets. The decline in new issuers and initial markets.” public offerings in Ontario is alarming. The real Walied Soliman consequences of this trend are fewer head offices, fewer entrepreneurs, and fewer growth investment opportunities, all of which could drive Ontario to become a “branch plant” economy. To address this, the Taskforce proposes recommendations to incubate junior issuers in this province by reducing the regulatory burden, providing new opportunities for capital-raising through the expansion of prospectus exemptions, and streamlining disclosure requirements, among others.

The recommendations we have made are and competitiveness in Ontario’s capital generational in their impact on the Ontario capital markets, Walied Soliman

Recommending proposals designed to spur the growth and establishment of independent dealers will increase the number of intermediaries who focus on connecting capital with smaller companies. Smaller companies, in particular, rely heavily on the independent dealer community to raise capital.

To give more choice to Ontario investors, we put forward recommendations to ensure that wealth management distribution channels provide greater access to competitive and independent wealth management products. Competition among product manufacturers leads to better and more innovative products, resulting in greater choice for investors.

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Although developing recommendations to foster growth and innovation is important, all of our recommendations were made through the lens of investor protection. Instilling confidence in our capital markets is critical and investors need to feel safe. One way that confidence is instilled in our capital markets is through a transparent and effective corporate governance framework. Changes are being recommended to modernize governance standards and the proxy voting framework for Ontario’s public companies to make it easier for companies to address stakeholder concerns, increase transparency, and encourage shareholder participation.

Our recommendations also support enhanced enforcement powers to protect investors and ensure a fair playing field for all market participants, while providing enhanced certainty and clarity on the enforcement process. We have also recommended new ways for funds to be returned to harmed investors.

In all, we have made over 70 consequential recommendations. The Taskforce was incredibly honoured to have had the confidence of , and encouragement from former Minister Rod Phillips in this endeavor. I would also like to thank the OSC for their support throughout this process. Ontario is privileged to have the hardworking individuals at the OSC working for us. They are talented, global capital markets leaders and we hope these recommendations will give them enhanced tools to help drive our capital markets objectives.

On behalf of the Taskforce, I would like to thank the stakeholders who have provided input during the preliminary consultations and submitted detailed, written comment letters. We are encouraged by the enthusiasm displayed by all stakeholders to work towards enhancing Ontario’s capital markets.

This report is a result of a dedicated team effort and I extend my greatest gratitude to my fellow Taskforce members, Rupert Duchesne, Wes Hall, Melissa Kennedy and Cindy Tripp for their tremendous dedication and commitment to public service throughout this process. I want to thank Eric de Roos, Deputy Minister Greg Orencsak, Assistant Deputy Minister David Wai, Assistant Deputy Minister Sunita Chander, Shameez Rabdi, Jeet Chatterjee, Luc Vaillancourt and Diane Yee at the Ministry of Finance. I would also like to thank my partners Heidi Reinhart and Rowan Weaver, and my colleagues Abigail Court, Daniel Weiss and Scott Thorner from Norton Rose Fulbright, f or their pro bono assistance to the Taskforce. Lastly, I would also like to thank members of the Expert Advisory Group for their advice and feedback throughout this process. The Government of Ontario is committed to modernizing our capital markets regulatory framework. The recommendations we have made are generational in their impact on the Ontario capital markets. Together, these changes will make our province more prosperous, entrepreneurial, competitive, and help position us as a global leader.

Respectfully submitted in December 2020, with thanks for this opportunity.

Walied Soliman Taskforce Chair

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