Standing Committee on Finance (FINA)

This week the House Standing Committee on Finance split its time between a clause by clause consideration of bill C-25, which enacts legislation for the creation of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPP’s), and opening its discussion on bill S-5. The committee has been examining PRPP’s for the last 5 meetings and this week members voted on the individual clauses of the bill and proposed amendments. While the government chose to take one of the opposition questions regarding the legal status of tax-exempted income for Aboriginals under consideration, the government voted down all the amendments offered by the opposition.  The bill ended up being supported by the government, with the NDP opposing the bill and the Liberals abstaining. The committee reported the bill back to the house the day after the meeting.

On Thursday, the committee turned its attention to bill S-5, commonly referred to as the Financial Systems Review Act, which the government described as a mostly technical bill dealing with upgrades to certain Acts that govern the regulation of financial institutions.  The bill was referred to the committee after its second reading in the House of Commons and was already introduced and passed by the Senate. The bill is divided into six sections: the first 4 sections make amendments to the Bank Act, the Cooperative Credit Associations Act, the Insurance Companies Act and the Trust and Loan Companies Act.  Section 5 makes amendments to other acts that govern the Bank of Canada, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), amongst others. The bill would remove duplicative disclosure requirements for foreign customers of insurance companies, would give the final say to the Minister of Finance regarding large foreign acquisitions by Canadian banks, increase the fines that the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada can levy on misbehaving institutions, and increase the numerical size of the ownership threshold on the biggest banks in Canada.  Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies appeared before the committee to introduce the legislation and answer questions from committee members.  Later on, representatives from the Canadian Bankers Association, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, OFSI and FCAC testified about the importance of passing the bill. Questions from committee members focused on the level of consultation with industry representatives the Department of Finance took when drafting the bill and the need for the continued regulation of the financial sector in Canada.

For more information on Bill C-25:

For more information on Bill S-5