The Ontario government is taking care of business by speeding up repairs to its troubled online corporate registry.
As the Star first revealed three weeks ago, 16 of Canada’s leading law firms complained that “system shutdowns, technical glitches, and substantive problems” with the new Ontario Business Registry were leading to the incorporation of foreign companies. from the province.
The Bay Street firms joined forces in a 12-page letter to Government and Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano warning that it is “adversely affecting our firms, customers and service providers” and is “having a chilling effect on business in Ontario in general. “
In response, Romano said he has heeded their concerns, admitting that “complex legal technology deployments like this are never perfect or bug-free.”
“I know that you share our government’s vision of modernizing our business registry from the slow and outdated 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, paper-based technology of (the old system) ONBIS,” the minister wrote in a letter dated Friday. .
“Ministry staff have completed a preliminary analysis of the points raised in the letter, some of which have already been addressed through our continuous improvement efforts,” he added.
In an interview Tuesday, Romano said the government is working closely with the Ontario Bar Association to address the issues raised by law firms.
“I feel like we are addressing them or have addressed them. I asked the ministry staff to meet every day with the bar association, ”he said.
“We hope that all the issues (with data migration) are addressed by Christmas.”
In its salvo last month, the legal pillars noted that many firms “are now recommending to their attorneys and clients that, if possible, the creation or use of Ontario entities in corporate transactions be avoided.”
They said they would recommend registration with “federal entities or other provincial jurisdictions … so as not to jeopardize the successful completion of many year-end transactions.”
The joint letter was signed by: Aird & Berlis; Bennett Jones; Blake, Cassels and Graydon; Borden Ladner Gervais; Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg; Dentels; Fasken Martineau DuMoulin; Goodmans; Gowling; McCarthy Tetrault; McMillan; Norton Rose Fulbright; Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt; Stikeman Elliott; Torys; and Wildeboer Dellelce.
NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) mocked progressive conservatives for “modernizing business from Ontario.”
“Aside from the obvious political embarrassment to this administration, getting this right is actually very important,” Fife said last month.
Developed by Teranet and operated by the Ontario government, the new OBR system has processed more than 172,000 transactions since its launch on October 19.
It means that the incorporation documents will be stored digitally and not on paper in boxes in warehouses or on microfiche.
Fees range from $ 25 to dissolve a business, $ 150 to register a nonprofit, and $ 300 to incorporate a business.
Early users said the OBR was buggy and crashing during business hours and there were headaches with data migration and document formatting.
But under the old ONBIS system, lawyers were forced to bring boxes of documents to a government office to incorporate them.
Romano noted that with the online system, charities can now register instead of having to hire law firms.
“(ONBIS) was not available to non-profit organizations,” he said.
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