Maureen Jensen, chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, stated this week that the OSC's new whistleblower office is expected to receive final approval in June 2016 and begin operations in "early summer" 2016. According to The Globe and Mail, the OSC will be the first securities regulator in Canada to adopt a whistleblower program.
On October 28, 2015, the OSC published and sought comments from the public on its "Proposed OSC Policy 15-601 - Whistleblower Program." Under the proposed program, if a whistleblower provides the OSC with information that leads to a contested hearing or a settlement resulting in total monetary sanctions of $1,000,000 or more, the OSC will pay that whistleblower an award of between 5% and 15% of the total monetary sanctions imposed and/or voluntary payments made. The maximum amount of the award is capped at $5,000,000.
By comparison, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission promises whistleblowers an award of between 10% and 30% of the total monetary sanctions collected when the amount exceeds $1 million, with no maximum award. In September 2014, for example, the SEC issued its largest whistleblower award to date, in the amount of $30 million. In addition, as with the SEC's program, the OSC's proposed program requires the OSC to "make all reasonable efforts" to keep the identity of whistleblowers confidential, and allows whistleblowers to submit information anonymously if represented by a lawyer.
Jensen told The Globe and Mail that the OSC has already received numerous calls about the program, indicating a high level of interest. She cautioned that the program would not rival the scale of the SEC's program, but said she believes it will provide the OSC will access to cases that would otherwise be "invisible" to anyone on the outside of a company. She predicted the OSC program will be "very big," and pointed to the ongoing Panama Papers matter as the most recent proof of the impact a whistleblower can have.
Québec’s financial regulator (Autorité des marchés financiers, or the “AMF”) announced in February 2016 that it would not follow the OSC and offer financial rewards to whistleblowers who report violations of the laws. AMF said that after reviewing the SEC and OSC programs, as well as the "non-rewards" whistleblower programs offered by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, "it cannot be established with certainty, based on specific data, that a financial incentive generates more quality whistleblowing."