We are all being forced to navigate the many challenges stemming from the rapid spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). In that connection, we want to assure our registrant and investment fund clients that we are technologically equipped and fully accessible and are prepared to help respond to disruptions faced by you in this challenging time.
We are also monitoring relevant regulatory guidance as it is released and events as they unfold and we will continue to provide regular updates.
Select regulatory responses
The various regulators are taking precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of employees and the public and are coordinating their approach for market participants filing deadlines and other compliance expectations. The OSC and IIROC have announced they will continue to carry out essential and core regulatory responsibilities while recognizing that flexibility is critical at this time. The OSC and IIROC have recently released updates and guidance relating to the current situation. Some of the salient details are as follows:
OSC staff has transitioned to mostly working remotely, but all operations will continue and efforts are being made to carry out business as usual:
- On-site compliance reviews and planned Risk Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ) are postponed until further notice.
- Normal-course registration and compliance activities will continue as planned; however the OSC will be flexible on deadlines for information.
- In-person consultation with OSC advisory committees, market participants and investors will be re-scheduled as teleconference meetings.
IIROC’s offices are operating with limited staff onsite but are continuing to carry out critical regulatory responsibilities:
- IIROC expects firms to continue to meet their regulatory obligations.
- IIROC recognizes that some flexibility may be necessary to enable members to serve investors and maintain market stability and suggests that if members can meet their obligations from sites or with staff working from home, then IIROC has no objection as long as appropriate measures are in place for supervisory, confidentiality and other regulatory requirements.
- IIROC is reviewing examination schedules and moving to off-site exams, where feasible.
- Members may need to modify or enhance business continuity plan (BCP) solutions established primarily to deal with other types of disruptive events. Consistent with Dealer Member Rule 17.16, members should carefully and regularly monitor publicly available information from reputable sources, such as government web sites, considering the scope and geographic location of their own operations to ensure continued client service and compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.
- IIROC has a detailed BCP in place for each regulatory area of its organization, to preserve critical functions and activities. As a pre-emptive measure, IIROC has invoked elements of its BCP to ensure critical, core functions continue to operate without disruption ̶ all while taking steps to vigilantly protect against illness and to safeguard the wellbeing of its team of dedicated employees. It continues to carry out all its market oversight responsibilities.
The COVID-19 situation presents unprecedented challenges to registrants and market participants. Our team is closely watching the key issues it raises. Regulators are taking steps to meet this worldwide pandemic and we are positioned to continue to provide our clients with the level of services expected and required.
We will continue to deliver relevant and timely updates. In the meantime, we remain available if you need further guidance or to share our relevant experience.