A new independent financial regulator is up and running in Ontario to oversee insurance, mortgage and deposit taking institutions.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) assumed regulatory duties on June 8, replacing both the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and the Deposit Insurance Corp. of Ontario (DICO).

The new regulator – led by financial services veteran Mark White – will oversee Ontario’s financial services providers, excluding securities, which are regulated by the Ontario Securities Commission.

In particular, the FSRA will regulate Ontario’s insurance sector, pension plans, loan and trust corporations, credit unions and caisses populaires, mortgage brokers and service providers that invoice auto insurers for statutory accident benefit claims.

Mr. White assumed the role of CEO of FSRA in May, 2018, and has spent the past year helping in the transition of FSCO and DICO. He brings almost 20 years experience in the regulatory, financial and legal sectors. Prior to joining FSRA, he was vice-president and head enterprise risk at Bank of Montreal. Mr. White also held the position of assistant superintendent and head of regulation sector at Canada’s bank and insurance regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI).

“Our mandate is quite broad but it centres around making sure there is financial safety, financial fairness and financial choice for people in Ontario,” Mr. White said in an interview.

Part of that transition means FSRA inherited 1,100 pieces of guidance from former regulators. Mr White said they will spend the next year looking at how they can pare back that number by either “eliminating, combining or refreshing” the regulations.

“We will look at how the regulation can work more effectively for the public, the industry and the regulator,” he adds.

Key priorities for the FSRA include, among others, the provincial government’s focus on reforming auto insurance to increasing access and affordability for drivers, and to establishing title protection for financial planners and financial advisers.

“Our government recognizes that making Ontario open for business means making sure financial services are efficient, responsive to consumers and businesses – FSRA will play a vital role in helping businesses grow while protecting consumers,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said in a statement.

Several main concerns posted on the regulator’s website on Monday afternoon address questions on whether the “age-old distinctions” between personal auto insurance and commercial insurance are still relevant; ensuring company pension assets held in trust are managed under fiduciary standards; and the concern around new products and services coming to market daily and how quickly should regulatory approval be given.

Mr. White said these are issues they plan to examine over the next year.

The Ministry of Finance will continue to administer FSCO’s Dispute Resolution Services until June 30, 2020. During the transitional period, all open cases will continue; however no new proceedings will commence.

As of July 1, 2020, any remaining cases will be extinguished, with parties able to start a new proceeding with the licence appeal tribunal.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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