A word from Elisabeth Lang, Superintendent of Bankruptcy
Welcome to this special edition of OSB News! It is my pleasure to present you with the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB)’s official newsletter, the first since I was appointed Superintendent on October 7, 2018. I wanted to share some key messages from the remarks I delivered on October 26 at the CAIRP Exchange for those of you who were not in attendance.
I am so pleased to be back at the OSB, one reason being the fact that insolvency is a foundational part of a well-functioning economy. I have always been passionate about the OSB’s mandate and balancing social and economic policy considerations. And I’ve enjoyed the joint roles and responsibilities the OSB shares with Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs), debtors, creditors and other departments and levels of government.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of members of the insolvency community and get some insight into the issues that are important to them. I have also been working with my team to review all priorities and consider the way forward. In this special edition of OSB news, I want to give you some insight into my vision for the OSB which deals with the three areas of focus: Engagement, Enforcement and Organizational Excellence.
There is a concept called “Results and Delivery” which was born in the UK government and has come to Canada for very good reasons. When focussing on results for citizens, governments need to look beyond the narrow mandates of individual institutions. Instead, one asks – what one wants to achieve and then pulls the right players together to make those things happen. Ideally, ambitious goals are set along the way, reported on publicly and, by so doing, government institutions hold themselves to account.
Engagement is an absolute priority for me and is essential to achieving results. So much more can be accomplished when you engage with partners and work toward a common goal. In my prior years at the OSB, I engaged regularly with the LIT community through the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals (CAIRP) and through various committees and I’ve already taken steps to re-invigorate some of these. I met with the Chair of CAIRP on my first day on the job, and we had a very good discussion on important issues for LITs. I look forward to an ongoing, frank and candid discourse with members of the LIT community.
There will also be engagement with other partners who can make a difference for Canadians such as provincial consumer protection departments, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) – and many more. Engagement with key players enables the regular two-way sharing of major issues and to finding early, practical solutions wherever possible.
From my past experience, the LIT profession has generally been one that knows the importance of having an excellent reputation, the value of being seen as trustworthy, and in being able to provide a valuable service to Canadian debtors. The challenge in getting that message out to Canadians in a very competitive environment is not lost on me. I would humbly suggest that LITs should continually be asking themselves what debtors need, and should be making every effort to provide for those needs directly and efficiently. But this must always be within the parameters of the legal framework.
For our part, the OSB has an important compliance mandate that it must fulfil effectively. The direction I have given to the OSB is to use the full range of tools at our disposal to ensure compliance from all those we regulate. This starts with providing transparency and guidance to increase awareness regarding what is expected. For the majority of those involved in the insolvency system, knowing how to comply is all that is needed. Therefore, the OSB will focus on active communication and on providing more publications and information in that regard. Please feel free to inform us of any areas of confusion or where the need for clarity is greatest.
One of the goals of the OSB’s increased focus on enforcement will be creating a level-playing field for all LITs and to ensure that all LITs play by the rules. I would add that if you see non-compliant practices, please let the OSB know. Complaints from the industry are a valuable source of information.
I am proud to have a team at the OSB that is passionate about the mandate, skilled and knowledgeable. Over the past few years, some experienced employees have retired or left, so there will be reinvestment in the organization to ensure employees have the skills, information, and tools to do their job effectively. To achieve organizational excellence, the OSB will focus on building a high performing work force through recruitment and retention. Part of this is about creating a work environment that focuses on doing great work in a positive environment. Training will be another significant area of focus.
In addition, the OSB will move toward evidence-based decision making including finding the appropriate solution to address a problem. It will also focus on principle-based regulation and directives with a move away from prescriptive, onerous and unnecessarily detailed requirements wherever appropriate and will only regulate as much, and to the extent, necessary.
It was a pleasure for me to share with you some insight into my vision for the OSB. I know that I can count on your continued collaboration, and welcome your input on OSB priorities or issues of importance affecting the insolvency system. Please send any feedback to OSB Communications.
Superintendent of Bankruptcy