Source: Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN)

Immediately following the creation of the Ministry of Just Transition, the Ontario Securities Commission gets a new mandate. Now the “Community Safety Commission,” the province’s securities regulator will move from championing shareholder interests to being entirely focused on upholding the rights of communities where Ontario companies do business. 

(Toronto, ON) The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) announced today a vastly expanded mandate that will finally give the largest securities regulator in Canada the responsibility to prevent potential harm from Ontario investment through supporting community self-determination and the power to return wealth plundered from communities.

With a renewed focus on upholding community self-determination, the Commission will fully support community lead consent processes – including the right to say no to extractive projects – as one way to put into practice previously-ignored government commitments to reconciliation.  

With the global hub of mining finance within its jurisdiction, the Commission is responsible for overseeing the conduct of more than 40% of publicly traded mining companies worldwide who raise capital on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The Commission’s new mandate has expanded to include issuing reparations to communities already facing harm from Canadian mining projects. Instead of paying out dividends to shareholders, companies must return profits to the communities where mining projects exist. Instead of using tax loopholes to avoid sharing revenue, companies are mandated to center community well-being.

Under its previous mandate, the Ontario Securities Commission worked to protect investors, enforce securities law, and ensure stability in the financial system in Ontario. The new mandate was welcomed by many at the Commission. 

“This overhauled mandate will finally allow us to support communities globally in their dealings with companies who list on the TSX,” said a representative from the newly-named Community Safety Commission. “It allows us to move beyond a narrow view of protecting investor rights to doing the important work of re-dressing harm where it has been done and preventing Canadian companies from doing any further damage. The stakes were and are too high to keep delaying on this.”

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) was one of the only places in Canada where communities harmed by Canadian mining operations could bring forward complaints, but most went unresolved. The OSC’s mandate to prioritize shareholder interests meant that when a company failed to disclose human rights or environmental abuses, the complaint would focus on the material impact for shareholders – not the impact on communities most affected by those abuses. Now, the Community Safety Commission will have the power to investigate the actual harms to communities and take the proactive steps to end corporate impunity.

The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of the new Ministry for a Just Transition,* a long overdue office now with the resources to put people first, create good, unionized jobs and move at the speed and scale of the climate crisis. 

“We know that resource extraction is a root cause of the climate crisis. But now, mining companies are positioning themselves as the solution,” said Merle Davis, a spokesperson for the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN). “A just transition means that communities have the rights to self-determination, are in control of their own futures, and that community health is protected over the pocketbooks of a few. We welcome the overhaul of the Ontario Securities Commission and look forward to its role in supporting a real and just transition.” 

*Actually, this hasn’t happened. But how much better would things be if it did?



BACKGROUND on the Ontario Securities Commission. 

There are few places where communities impacted by mining can bring forward complaints in Canada. While the OSC is one forum where complaints can be filed, its scope is limited and organizations like the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) have found recourse through the publicization of their complaints, which were typically followed by a drop in share prices, rather than the OSC’s handing of their complaints itself. Although investors see conflict with local communities as a risk to their investment, the Ontario government’s Capital Markets Modernization Task Force still recommended in January 2021 a reporting standard that does not account for the social risks and impacts of investing.