Montréal – In response to the exceptional situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with the preventive measures implemented by the Government of Québec, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) wishes to let the public and its clients know about the steps it has taken to maintain its operations and continue to fulfill its market oversight and consumer protection missions.
Since last week, the AMF has made every effort to continue to operate as effectively as possible. Most of our employees are working remotely, with technological tools enabling them to remain fully operational throughout the crisis.
In addition, business continuity plans have been activated across the organization to minimize repercussions for our various clients. The actions we have taken include bolstering our monitoring activities—something we will continue to do proactively and in a structured manner—with a view to meeting industry and consumer needs.
The AMF is proceeding on a business-as-usual basis in its main sectors of activity, with the necessary adjustments in each sector, which are described in the following sections. Please note that we are analyzing developments in real time and could modify the announced new measures as the situation evolves. We therefore encourage our clients to check back regularly for updates.
Securities market oversight
The AMF is closely following the actions taken by various regulators in Canada and elsewhere in the world and supports implementing measures coordinated and aligned with our counterparts to ensure that markets operate efficiently.
Together with the other members of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), the AMF has taken several actions to ensure that market structures such as exchanges, alternative trading systems, clearing agencies, and trade repositories have instituted the measures needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of these actions, we are assured that financial market activities are currently proceeding as normal and in an orderly fashion, despite the exceptional operating and market conditions imposed by the current situation.
Again in tandem with the other members of the CSA, the AMF announced, among other things, that it was providing relief to reporting issuers by granting them a 45-day extension for their continuous disclosure filings.
Other measures are being considered and may be announced in due course.
The AMF is in constant contact with the self-regulatory organizations under its supervision in order to coordinate efforts and make sure that their members are properly supported in these trying times.
The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Montréal Exchange Regulatory Division have published notices informing their members and participants about regulatory relief measures that would enable them to continue to provide oversight and ensure the integrity of the Canadian equity markets. The AMF will work with all self-regulatory organizations to address as much as possible any regulatory concerns about the way the pandemic is being managed.
Inspection, supervision and investigation activities
The AMF has decided to limit in-person inspections, oversight and investigative activities and adapt them, as needed, to the realities of the entities or individuals concerned. For example, travel by our inspectors and investigators has been suspended and is being discussed with all entities or individuals for which an inspection or work is in progress, so adjustments can be made based on a case-by-case-basis. The AMF is continuing its inspection, supervision and investigation activities, but remotely and in a more targeted manner. This approach is already in use under normal circumstances for some of our work.
For upcoming on-site inspections and investigations, if the current situation continues, the inspectors and investigators will contact the entities and individuals involved directly in the next few weeks to discuss how to perform the work remotely while respecting everyone’s constraints. The AMF will continue to apply a risk-based approach in prioritizing its inspection and supervisory activities. It will show flexibility and take the current exceptional circumstances into consideration. As for investigations, except for on-site activities, work is proceeding as usual.
The AMF is keeping a close eye on market developments. With the current situation resulting in an increased risk of fraud and market abuse, the AMF continues to use all of its monitoring and investigative tools and will be able to intervene to protect potential victims in cases of fraud or when an offence is committed under the laws administered by it.
Lastly, in order to allow its reporting issuers to focus on their main activities, the AMF will suspend surveys and public consultations relating to regulations or guidelines where the subject matter can be delayed.
Protection of depositors
Under the Deposit Institutions and Deposit Protection Act, money deposited with an authorized deposit institution will, under certain conditions, be repaid by the AMF if the institution becomes bankrupt. Such deposit protection is automatic and provided at no cost to the depositors. The deposit institutions authorized by the AMF are financial services cooperatives (caisses), savings companies, most trust companies, and certain insurers.
The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation provides similar deposit protection for deposits made with its member institutions, including banks.
Distribution of financial products and services
Furthermore, the AMF’s resources have been mobilized to support and assist partnerships and firms in managing the crisis. The AMF encourages partnerships and firms to be proactive in contacting clients affected by the crisis in order to support them in their own crisis management efforts.
For obvious reasons, the AMF has had to suspend the career entry examination sessions for its distribution clients, but it is working on alternative solutions.
The qualification period for damage insurance firms is still going on, as is the work involved in transferring mortgage brokerage supervision to the AMF. The AMF will continue to provide this new clientele with regular progress updates.
Assistance services for consumers
The AMF is still offering assistance services to consumers, who can continue to call the Information Centre or consult our website to obtain relevant information in the current context.
The AMF has acted quickly to position itself as a neutral, objective and useful reference for investors, travellers and financial consumers. Information on travel insurance, market volatility and fraud prevention can be found in a section of our website devoted solely to COVID-19. That information is updated daily.
The AMF is also disseminating the information over social media. It is important to recall that March is fraud prevention month in Canada and that the AMF works closely with the other CSA members, not only in March but all year round.
With a view to helping workers who may be experiencing financial hardship, the AMF reminds people that it offers an array of financial and budget calculators that they can use to plan their personal finances, especially in situations like the one we are going through now. Employers may also access various tools and programs to support their employees in managing their personal finances.
The AMF maintains ties with the main consumer association organizations and seniors’ associations for the purpose of gathering any information that may need to be specifically communicated to consumers as part of its assistance mandate.
The Autorité des marchés financiers is the regulatory and oversight body for Québec’s financial sector.
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Sylvain Théberge: 514-940-2176
Québec City: 418-525-0337
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