Measures included in the Ontario budget, released April 27, are expected to strengthen investor protection, said various financial sector organizations.

In a joint statement, representatives of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), CARP and Prosper Canada praised the budget’s proposed changes to the Ontario Securities Act that would give IIROC the legal authority to pursue the collection of disciplinary fines directly through the courts.

"We welcome these important amendments as they will add teeth to existing IIROC rules," said IIROC President and CEO Andrew J. Kriegler. "As a result of the Ontario Government's action, IIROC will be able to more effectively enforce its rules and hold wrongdoers accountable if they harm investors."

In the budget, Finance Minister Charles Sousa expressed his commitment to considering the recommendations of the Ontario Expert Committee to Consider Financial Advisory and Financial Planning Policy Alternatives, which were released in March.

Closing the gap

Sousa announced the government will work with regulatory partners over the coming year to "close the gap" that currently allows those in the financial planning and advice industry to work without regulatory oversight or professional proficiency requirements. The government intends to work with regulators and other stakeholders to restrict the use of titles related to financial planning and advice and it plans to study the feasibility of a universal statutory best interest duty.

"We welcome the government's plans to improve oversight of the financial advice and planning professions and to restrict the use of titles, as this will ultimately lead to a stronger profession and more protection for Canadian consumers," said Greg Pollock, president and CEO of Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada.

Restricting the title of financial planner

The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) also praised the government’s reiterated commitment to work with regulators in the creation of enforceable standards “that will ensure all those who use the title or hold themselves out as a ‘Financial Planner’ are qualified, ethical, overseen and accountable for their professional conduct.”

In a statement issued April 28, Cary List, FPSC President and CEO, said, “FPSC, along with our Financial Planning Coalition partners, has long advocated for title restriction on who may call themselves a “Financial Planner.” These issues have been left unaddressed for far too long and we hope that as Ontario leads the way in this vital consumer protection issue, other provinces will take note and follow suit,” notes FPSC President and CEO Cary List

Currently, only Quebec has restrictions on the use of the financial planner title.