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Ontario launches consultations to cut red tape in financial services sector


December 1, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The province of Ontario is launching consultations until the end of January 2017, asking businesses and the public to help identify and improve regulations that are “unclear, outdated, redundant or unnecessarily costly” for the financial services sector.

Feedback can be provided online at ontario.ca/RedTapeChallenge, a crowd-sourced platform that gives businesses and the public the chance to review current regulations and suggest improvements. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2017, the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth noted in a press release on Thursday.

Input from the Red Tape Challenge will be “used to help make it simpler for businesses to interact with government, innovate and grow, without jeopardizing essential standards that protect the public interest,” the release said.

The Red Tape Challenge is broken into several “regulation categories,” including financial services, insurance, employment and labour, health and safety, corporate and commercial law, land use and planning, and taxation and financial reporting. The insurance category is further broken down into more than 50 sub-categories, including: auto insurance dispute resolution: assessing expenses and expenditures; automobile insurance – contract requirements; automobile insurance – statutory accident benefits schedule (before Jan. 1, 1994); Automobile Insurance Rate Stabilization Act; Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act; Insurance Act; Insurance brokers – licensing and general requirements;  and reinsurance.

“We know that modern, flexible regulations are essential to Ontario’s economically important financial services sector,” Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, said in the release. “The Red Tape Challenge is a vital consultation tool because it gives us valuable input directly from those who deal with and are impacted by these regulations every day. Engaging with this group will help us achieve an environment in which Ontario businesses can continue to thrive while ensuring consumers and investors are appropriately protected. It complements the province’s work in modernizing the insurance and credit union and caisse populaires sectors, as well as establishing the initial parameters for the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario, a new independent and flexible regulator of the financial services sector designed to protect consumers.”

Ontario’s financial services sector is the second-largest in North America after New York, based on employment, with approximately 12,000 companies employing more than 380,000 people across the province, the ministry reported. It has been one of the fastest-growing parts of Ontario’s economy for more than four decades, creating jobs more than twice as fast as the overall provincial economy, and accounted for almost 10% of Ontario’s gross domestic product in 2015.

This is the third sector of focus for the Red Tape Challenge. Previous sectors included automotive parts manufacturing and food processing. Future consultations will focus on mining, chemical manufacturing, forestry and tourism.