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OSC outlines new securities regulation plan

The Ontario Securities Commission on Wednesday outlined a plan it said would strengthen its oversight capabilities, as it seeks to counter criticism that its regime is lax and outdated.

The commission said it wants to better understand the concerns of investors and have that reflected in its policies and operations. To do so, it would establish the Office of the Investor to engage the public.

The commission, which oversees securities regulation in Ontario, Canada's largest province, will also develop a report on its own performance to promote transparency and accountability.

"The OSC Strategic Plan is our road map for working in the best interests of the investors and market participants of Ontario and for making the regulatory system more efficient," said the OSC's Chair Howard Wetston in a statement.

All told, the plan announced on Wednesday outlines six initiatives.

The OSC will also create an Emerging Risk Committee to consider how to best protect investors in new financial markets and products, aiming to respond more quickly than in the past.

The regulator came under heavy criticism for responding slowly last year after short-sellers issued a series of damaging reports about China-focused companies with listings in Canada.

Shares of Sino-Forest, once the largest forestry company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, was the biggest target. Its shares collapsed in June after Carson Block and his firm Muddy Waters accused the company of fraudulently exaggerating the size of its assets.

But the OSC didn't issue a cease-trade order until the end of August, and the stock remains halted as regulators continue to investigate the company.

On Wednesday, the commission said it would also create a research and analysis group to help hone its regulation of the fast-changing capital markets, as well as establish a policy coordination committee to set better communicate its priorities.

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