In the wake of the shift to remote work, virtual shareholder meetings and increased reliance on electronic communication from the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government is considering whether to revise financial sector legislation.
The moves comes as part of a broader consultation on certain corporate governance issues at federally regulated financial firms.
Specifically, the government is consulting on the electronic communications models used (or under consideration) by the provincial securities regulators. A “notice-and-access” model is currently used, while the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) recently held their own consultation on an “access equals delivery” model.
Finance is seeking feedback on the suitability of these approaches for federally regulated financial firms.
Additionally, the government is consulting on whether to allow financial firms to hold fully virtual shareholder meetings.
Currently, the sector’s legislation enables companies to hold hybrid (virtual and in-person) meetings, but prohibits virtual-only meetings. The big banks and other major financial firms had to get court orders to host virtual meetings at the height of the pandemic.
Now, the government is considering changes that would enable firms to hold fully virtual meetings without a court order, as well as any requirements that should be imposed on these kinds of meetings.
For instance, the consultation asks whether there should be regulations to ensure accessibility and fairness in presenting shareholder proposals and answering shareholder questions at virtual meetings.
The consultation runs until Sept. 23.