Lack of transparency in calculations, insufficient context and significant variations by issuer and industry, a “stronger tool was needed to take appropriate regulatory action”, said the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) when they first presented their new set of rules to regulate disclosure of non-GAAP financial metrics. That was in 2018.

Many comment letters and three versions later, we now have the final version of the National Instrument 52-112 Non-GAAP and Other Financial Measures Disclosure (the Instrument).

Unlike the existing guidance on non-GAAP financial measures (Staff Notice 52-306), the new Instrument has the force of law. This means that the “adjusted earnings”, “adjusted EBITDA”, “free cash flow”, “pro forma earnings” and other financial measures of this world will soon be the target of much scrutiny, because the new Instrument, while short, is accompanied by a 20-pages long Companion Policy, which clearly spells out the intention of the legislators. Continue Reading Fill in the Non-GAAP: New Disclosure Requirements to Become Mandatory in August 2021

On May 20, 2021, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) announced [1] a 120-day comment period for proposed amendments to National Instrument 51-102 Continuous Disclosure Obligations (“NI 51-102”)[2] under the unwieldy title “Proposed Amendments to National Instrument 51-102 Continuous Disclosure Obligations and Other Amendments and Changes Relating to Annual and Interim Filings of Non-Investment Fund Reporting Issuers and Seeking Feedback on a Proposed Framework for Semi-Annual Reporting – Venture Issuers on a Voluntary Basis[3]. The proposed amendments and request for comments follow CSA Consultation Paper 51-404 Considerations for Reducing Regulatory Burden for Non-Investment Fund Reporting Issuers issued in April 2017[4].

The proposed amendments to NI 51-102 include combining an issuer’s annual financial statements, management’s discussion and analysis (MD&A) and annual information form into one annual reporting document called an “annual disclosure statement”, and combining interim financial statements and MD&A into an “interim disclosure statement” for quarterly reporting purposes, all as set out in proposed Part 3A of NI 51-102. According to the CSA, subject to the comment process and required regulatory approvals, the final amendments to NI 51-102 are expected to become effective on December 15, 2023. Continue Reading For Non-TSX Companies, Twice a Year May be Enough

On March 29, 2021, the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA”) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (“IIROC”) jointly published Staff Notice 21-329 Guidance for Crypto-Asset Trading Platforms: Compliance with Regulatory Requirements (“Notice 21-329”)[1]. Notice 21-329 provides guidance on how securities legislation will be applied to crypto-asset trading platforms (“CTPs”) and in doing so expands on the regulatory guidance previously set out in CSA Staff Notice 21-327[2] and joint CSA/IIROC Consultation Paper 21-402[3].

On the same day, the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) issued a news release imposing a deadline of April 19, 2021 for CTPs to contact OSC regarding bringing their operations into compliance. The OSC intends to take enforcement actions towards those CTPs who fails to do so by the deadline, including CTPs located outside of Ontario that allow access to Ontarians. Continue Reading CSA and IIROC publish updated guidance on cryptocurrency regulatory issues; OSC issues deadline for cryptocurrency companies to begin regulatory compliance efforts

On March 24, 2021, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (the “Minister”) announced updates to the Guidelines on the National Security Review of Investments (the “Guidelines”) issued under the Investment Canada Act (the “ICA”).

This first update since the Guidelines were issued on December 21, 2016 appears to respond to widely expressed concerns about the sanctity of personal information, vulnerability of Canadian intellectual property, and the growing importance of things like critical minerals to Canada’s geopolitical positioning and the basic health and safety of citizens in a post-pandemic world. Additionally, areas of technology broadly understood to be of concern to the Government of Canada (the “Government”) have been expressly listed, with the only potential surprise being “Advanced Ocean Technologies.” Continue Reading A Step in the Right Direction: Updated Guidelines on Canada’s National Security Review Bring Greater Clarity

On March 11, 2021, the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA”) published Staff Notice 51-363 – Observations on Disclosure by Crypto Assets Reporting (“Notice 51-363”), the first update from CSA regarding entities dealing in crypto assets in more than a year[1]. Based on the disclosure of reporting issuers acting in the crypto asset space, Notice 51-363 provides staff guidance on expectations for disclosure in this industry.

Crypto asset reporting issuers have the same obligations as other public companies in disclosing material information and changes that affecting their businesses, as well as the financial impacts of such risks. Notice 51-363 reiterates the importance of fulfilling these obligations, and at the same time, recognizes the emerging nature of the crypto asset industry and novel issues reporting issuers may face.

Notice 51-363 can assist current and future reporting issuers because it provides detailed guidance on disclosure expectations in the context of crypto assets industry and highlights perceived insufficiencies in the disclosure of current reporting issuers. Continue Reading CSA urging crypto asset reporting issuers to improve disclosure quality

On March 15, 2021, the Investment Funds and Structured Products Branch (IFSP Branch) of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) issued an eNews communication advising that the IFSP Branch will consider requests for filing date extensions on a case-by-case basis for investment fund issuers that are unable to meet filing requirements as a result of difficulties arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Investment fund issuers that are experiencing challenges with meeting the upcoming deadline on March 31, 2021 for the filing of December 31, 2020 annual financial statements can submit a request for a filing deadline extension by providing the IFSP Branch with a detailed submission explaining why an extension is required and the length of the required extension.

In the event that the request for a filing extension is considered novel by the IFSP Branch, the IFSP Branch may have consultations with the other members of the Canadian Securities Administrators.

Introduction

Recently, the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”) released its reasons for a September order dismissing an application for exemptive relief from the minimum tender requirement under Canada’s securities take-over bid regime.[1] ESW Capital, LLC (“ESW”), the largest shareholder of Optiva Inc. (“Optiva”), sought the relief in connection with a contested proposed take-over bid involving shares of Optiva (“Voting Shares”). The application is the first instance in which a Canadian securities regulator has been asked to grant exemptive relief from the minimum tender requirement. The OSC concluded that “there were no exceptional circumstances or abusive or improper conduct that undermined minority shareholder choice to warrant intervention…[and that] predictability is an important aspect of take-over bid regulation and [OSC] must be cautious in granting exemptive relief that alters the recently recalibrated bid regime”. Continue Reading OSC Releases Reasons for Rejection of Application to Waive Minimum Tender Condition

The author wishes to thank Gilles Leclerc for his advice and contributions.

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” This quote from Estragon, one of the main characters in Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”, summarizes well the previous year from an economic and social perspective. Today, while the hopes of a vaccine rollout and economic recovery are looming on the horizon,
the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a material adverse impact on our economy. It poses widespread challenges for many businesses, including challenges in reporting and disclosing the effect of Covid-19 to investors.

In a series of bulletins[1] published last year, we highlighted the guidance provided by both the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA“) and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission relating to the continuous disclosure obligations of public issuers in the context of Covid-19. On February 25, 2021,  CSA issued Staff Notice 51-362 (the “Staff Notice“) to report the results of  their review of the disclosure provided by reporting issuers on the impact of Covid-19 on their business. CSA examined the filings of approximately 90 issuers Continue Reading Continuous Disclosure Obligations in Times of a Continuous Pandemic: Canadian Securities Regulators’ Review of Issuers’ Disclosure

On January 3, 2019, the final phase of the Canadian Securities Administrators (“CSA”)’s Modernization of Investment Fund Product Regulation Project relating to the establishment of a regulatory framework for alternative mutual funds came into effect. These amendments introduced a new category of mutual funds, “alternative mutual funds”, which are mutual funds that have adopted investment objectives that permit those funds to invest in physical commodities or specified derivatives, borrow cash or engage in short selling in a manner not typically permitted for “regular” mutual funds.

These amendments moved most of the regulatory framework then applicable to commodity pools under National Instrument 81-104 – Commodity Pools (now renamed “Alternative Mutual Funds”) (“NI 81-104”) into National Instrument 81-102 – Investment Funds, with the exception of the proficiency standards for mutual fund dealers distributing alternative mutual funds. These proficiency standards actually prevent mutual fund restricted individuals[1] (“Restricted Individuals”) from distributing alternative mutual funds unless they possess one of the courses set forth under Part 4 of NI 81-104. These provisions were retained by the CSA “in recognition that alternative mutual funds can be more complex than other types of mutual funds and that additional proficiency may be needed for mutual funds dealers selling these products[2]”. It was the CSA’s view that maintaining more robust dealer proficiency standards for alternative mutual funds ensured Restricted Individuals were better equipped to sell these products.

Recognizing that the proficiency standards set forth under NI 81-104 have in fact limited retail investors’ access to alternative investment strategies through the mutual fund dealer channel, each member of the CSA issued on January 28, 2021 a blanket relief (the “Blanket Relief”) so as to provide Restricted Individuals and individuals designated to be responsible for the supervision of trades of securities of alternative mutual funds (“Supervisors”) with additional proficiency options in order to be authorized to distribute alternative mutual funds. These additional proficiency options are meant to expedite retail investors’ access to alternative mutual funds and enable them to benefit from additional portfolio diversification opportunities through alternative strategies.

Below is a table listing current and additional proficiency standards for Restricted Individuals and Supervisors and the terms and conditions set forth in the Blanket Relief. Note that a dealer must provide its principal regulator with a one-time notice prior to the first of any of its Restricted Individuals or Supervisors relying on the Blanket Relief.

Finally, note that this Blanket Relief is permanent in every jurisdiction except for Ontario, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories where the Blanket Relief will cease to be effective on July 28, 2022. We expect this Blanket Relief to be codified prior to that date to make these additional course options a permanent solution.

 

[1] An individual registered as a dealing representative of a registered dealer, if the activities of that individual are restricted to trading in securities of mutual funds.

[2] See CSA Notice of Publication “Modernization of Investment Fund Product Regulation – Alternative Mutual Funds”, October 4, 2018.

Le 3 janvier 2019, la dernière étape du projet de modernisation de la réglementation des produits de fonds d’investissement des Autorités canadiennes en valeurs mobilières (les « ACVM ») concernant l’établissement d’un encadrement réglementaire des organismes de placement collectif est entrée en vigueur. Ces modifications ont introduit une nouvelle catégorie d’organismes de placement (ci-après, les « OPC »), soit les « OPC alternatifs », une expression qui désigne les OPC qui ont adopté des objectifs de placement leur permettant d’investir dans des marchandises physiques ou des dérivés visés, d’emprunter des fonds ou d’effectuer des ventes à découvert d’une manière généralement non permise aux OPC « réguliers ».

Ces modifications ont transféré la majorité du cadre réglementaire alors applicable aux fonds de marché à terme en vertu du Règlement 81-104 sur les fonds marché à terme (renommé le Règlement 81-104 sur les organismes de placement collectif alternatifs) (le « règlement 81-104 ») vers le Règlement 81-102 sur les fonds d’investissement, à l’exception des normes de formation visant les courtiers en épargne collective qui font des opérations sur des OPC alternatifs. Ces normes de formation interdisent aux personnes physiques dont les activités sont restreintes aux OPC[1] (les « personnes physiques dont les activités sont restreintes ») de faire des opérations sur les titres d’un OPC alternatifs sauf si elles ont réussi l’un des cours prévus dans la partie 4 du règlement 81-104. Ces normes de formation ont été conservées par les ACVM, qui « [reconnaît] que les OPC alternatifs peuvent être plus complexes que d’autres types d’OPC, et qu’une formation additionnelle pourrait s’avérer nécessaire pour les courtiers en épargne collective offrant ces produits[2] ». Selon les ACVM, le maintien de normes de formation plus rigoureuses à l’égard des OPC alternatifs contribuera à mieux outiller les personnes physiques dont les activités sont restreintes pour offrir ces produits. Continue Reading Nouvelles options de formation pour les OPC alternatifs