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Prime Minister Trudeau’s Mandate Letter for the Minister of Finance Includes Regulatory Proposals and Updates

On December 16, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Finance, with a mandate letter setting out his expectations for her Ministry in moving forward with a host of proposals. In the letter, the Prime Minister states that the Minister of Finance must prioritize support for Canadians and businesses that face struggles in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister raised further objectives consistent with the expectations of the Minister of Finance prior to the election and the Liberal government’s campaign platform, including economic recovery and growth supporting the 2030 climate goals, accelerating the transition to a net-zero economy no later than 2050, affordable living for middle class Canadians, and maintaining the sound fiscal trajectory.

In particular, the Minister of Finance was directed to deliver the following commitments which financial institutions and those watching the regulation of financial institutions should monitor:

  • Establishing a single, independent ombudsperson, with the power to impose binding arbitration, to address consumer complaints involving banks.
  • Lowering the criminal rate of interest.
  • Requiring federally regulated financial institutions to offer flexible repayment options to those who face a life event causing financial stress, including a six-month deferral of mortgage payments in qualifying circumstances.
  • Advancing legislation to enhance the powers of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to review bank fees and charges and to require adjustments if they are excessive.
  • Adapting and applying to federally regulated financial institutions the Canada Business Corporations Act requirements to notify shareholders of information relating to the diversity of directors and members of senior management.
  • Supporting the Minister of Public Safety in his work to strengthen laws and investigative powers related to major financial crimes and to bring forward a proposal to establish a Canada Financial Crimes Agency.
  • Engaging with stakeholders to lower the average overall cost of interchange fees for merchants. This is intended to benefit small businesses and protect consumers’ existing reward points.
  • Working with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and with the support of the Minister of National Revenue, to implement a beneficial ownership registry.

For more information, Prime Minister Trudeau’s mandate letter to Minister Freeland is available here.

McCarthy Tetrault’s financial institutions regulatory practice provides clients with advice and insight relating to regulatory compliance and industry trends.  For more information, please contact Ana Badour, Hartley Lefton, or Lucie Tedesco.