July 9, 2020
As businesses continue to grapple with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has worked to alleviate regulatory burdens on Canadian corporations during the pandemic. In the early days of the outbreak, Canadian Securities Regulators offered issuers a number of exemptions from filing requirements and shareholder meeting rules. In Ontario, the provincial government issued additional relief for Ontario Corporations by allowing greater flexibility for statutorily mandated corporate meetings. In addition to government relief, regulatory bodies such as the TSX have supplemented the government relief by providing additional flexibility for exchange filing requirements.
As we move into the next stage of the pandemic, governments are moving away from emergency, acute relief and are increasingly focused on making sustainable changes to regulatory frameworks that will help businesses navigate a changed economic landscape. In furthering that goal, the federal government has recently launched a new digital solution that seeks to assist corporations with business registrations and reporting. The tool is known as the Multi-Jurisdictional Registry Access (MRAS) and is designed to allow corporations to streamline the process of registering and reporting on their business across multiple Canadian jurisdictions. Rather than having to create and submit registrations and reports within each province in which the corporation operates, a corporation can now fulfill their corporate law obligations in a one-stop shop.
The MRAS system has currently been implemented in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba with other jurisdictions expected to join in the coming months. In addition to providing a streamlined experience for corporations, the MRAS system also allows for increased transparency of corporate documents as outside parties can now access all of a corporation’s registration documents and reports from a single location. The MRAS system is one part of a larger inter-government initiative known as the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table aimed at streamlining inter-provincial commerce. Although the MRAS system has been in the works for a number of years, its recent launch means that businesses will have one less thing to worry about in a rapidly changing and novel economic landscape. In this case, the pandemic has expedited the use of technology to bring old systems up to more efficient standards.
Author: Aryan Pour-Bahreini