It is not the first pandemic in Canadian history, but COVID-19 has proved to be the most disruptive, and the deadliest, pandemic to afflict this country in several generations.
The devastating impact on the lives and health of so many will be the saddest legacy of the disease. But the toll that it has taken on business, the exceptional burdens it has created for some workers and the painful unemployment it has led to for others, the disruption it has caused for our schools, and the less dramatic but undeniable havoc it has played with our regular day-to-day routines and the enjoyment of many simple pleasures have also been profound and unsettling. We know that MFDA Member firms and their clients have been affected in a host of ways by the pandemic itself as well as by the measures adopted to try to curb the spread of the disease. The MFDA has been, and is committed to be, sensitive and responsive to these hardships, while remaining vigilant in pursuing the goals of enhancing investor protection and strengthening public confidence in the Canadian mutual fund industry.
In the latter part of FY2020, the MFDA has temporarily adapted some of its regulatory processes to accommodate and support our Members in their adjustment to their new environment of physical distancing and working remotely, as they strive to service their clients who are also coping with heightened uncertainty. MFDA staff have been in regular communication with Members and continue to provide guidance on various operational and regulatory matters arising from the transition to these new working arrangements. MFDA Compliance and Enforcement staff have transitioned to conducting examinations and investigations remotely, and both Departments have been carrying out their regulatory mandates to their fullest extent. The form of operations may have changed, but the essential functions have not.
At this time last year, none of us foresaw how rapidly and significantly the world was about to change. But the resilience of our Members in the midst of the ‘new normal’ has also provided them opportunities to more fully utilize digital solutions to serve their clients effectively while adhering to applicable MFDA regulatory requirements. We also recognize that greater reliance on digital solutions makes it increasingly important that we be especially alert to cybersecurity risk. The MFDA has, therefore, among other things, provided guidance to Members on identifying and preventing cybersecurity threats as well as guidance to investors on working safely and effectively with their advisor in the age of social distancing. The MFDA will continue to provide ongoing support and guidance to Members and Canadian investors as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and beyond.
Despite these unexpected challenges and the resulting demands on time and resources, the MFDA has continued, during FY2020, to make significant progress on some of the major initiatives contained in our current Strategic Plan, “Achieving Better Outcomes for Canadians”, the details of which are highlighted in this Report.
I wish to extend my deepest thanks to my fellow directors for their ongoing work and dedication throughout this extraordinary and challenging year. Their insight, dedication and cooperation have been invaluable. I would like to express a particular belated note of gratitude to Susan Dujmovic, who stepped down from the Board at AGM 2019, for her contributions during her time as a director. And I also extend welcome to André Langlois, Industry Director, who was appointed to fill her position and has been a great addition to the Board over the past year.
Finally, on behalf of the Board, I would also like to extend our thanks to all the members of our MFDA management team for their extraordinary leadership this year as well as to the dedicated, talented and tireless members of MFDA staff. Your support, commitment and extraordinary efforts during these unprecedented times are inspiring and greatly appreciated. We know that brighter and healthier days for Canadians lie ahead, and I am confident that you will continue to be fully engaged as we all work together to pursue our continuing shared commitment to protect Canadian mutual fund investors.
Christopher Nicholls, B.A., LL.B., LL.M., MPA
Chair, Board of Directors