Consumer Advisory Panel

Introduction

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) is a regulatory agency mandated to safeguard public confidence and trust in Ontario’s financial institutions, promote public education and knowledge, and protect the rights and interests of consumers. To achieve this mandate, we are committed to an open, transparent and collaborative approach that ensures consumer input and perspectives inform our direction and decisions.

“Consumers” are those who purchase or benefit from products and services delivered by the sectors that FSRA regulates, including pension plan beneficiaries and credit union members.

The Terms of Reference is intended to inform the operation of the Panel.

Purpose

The Consumer Advisory Panel (the “Panel”) will serve as an advisory body to FSRA (through the Consumer Office), and provide advice from a consumer perspective, on proposed FSRA policy changes. The Panel is an important part of FSRA’s stakeholder engagement process.

Overall, the Panel is intended to:

  • Act as an advisory body to provide advice from a consumer perspective on proposed FSRA policy-related matters and changes;
  • Provide external input and personal perspective/experience to proposed policy-related matters and changes;
  • Identify topics covered by FSRA’s mandate to be considered by the Consumer Office for potential consumer policy, outreach and education discussions that would enhance consumer protection/confidence when engaging in market activities that are delivered by the sectors that FSRA regulates; and
  • Inform and assist the Consumer Office in becoming the voice of the consumer in FSRA with regard to rule making, policy initiatives, business planning, and consumer protection.

Panel mandate

The mandate and responsibilities are:

  1. Identify annual topics for the Panel, based on FSRA’s Statement of Priorities, through an agenda-setting meeting at the outset of every Panel term;
  2. Provide feedback and input on FSRA's approach to meaningful consumer engagement;
  3. Provide input on matters in, or which should be in, FSRA’s Statement of Priorities;
  4. Provide feedback on the progress made by FSRA on its priorities from the previous annual business plan;
  5. Act as a voice for the consumer perspective during the FSRA management consultation processes on proposed policy priorities (e.g. guidance) within the framework of FSRA’s Annual Business Plan/Priorities;
  6. Provide advice on emerging consumer policy, outreach and education matters, either identified by the Panel or brought forward by the Consumer Office;
  7. Identify topics for information purposes, for the consideration of the Consumer Office, or for potential policy discussion, that would enhance consumer protection/confidence when engaging in market activities that are delivered by the sectors that FSRA regulates;
  8. Review and provide input on consumer research undertaken by FSRA, or undertaken by third parties that may be relevant;
  9. Oversee the production of an annual report by the Consumer Office outlining the key activities of the Panel; and
  10. Provide feedback to FSRA on the functioning of the Panel.

Note: The Panel is not intended to replace FSRA's Stakeholder Advisory Committees (SACs), which will also include representation of consumers by sector.

Panel authority

The Panel’s role is advisory. Their advice and recommendations will be considered as input to the Consumer Office for review and consideration and may or may not result in action or policy change.

Appointment of consumer advisory panel members

Original appointments to the Panel were made through an open, transparent and merit-based application process posted online. Selections were made by FSRA’s CEO and Chief Consumer Officer, based upon the relevant experience, skills, knowledge and perspectives of the applicants. 

FSRA will publish the names of the members of the Panel on its website.

Panel composition

Panel members provide evidence-informed consumer-focused insights to help us understand and deliver on Ontarians’ expectations of our services and policies.

The Panel is comprised of individual consumers, representatives from consumer associations, financial literacy experts, academics with background in consumer law or other recognized consumer experts in the financial services sector.

Ideally, the Panel’s membership will:

  • Bring insights from all the sectors we regulate that will help address consumer harm;
  • Include perspectives from a variety of consumer demographics including, but not limited to, seniors, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, youth and low-income Ontarians;
  • Represent a mix of both high-level expertise and experience representing consumer interests in ongoing interactions with regulatory authorities and industry; and
  • Provide insights from across Ontario.

Taking into consideration a balancing of consumer perspectives the specific composition includes sectoral representation from:

  • Individual consumers;
  • Consumer associations;
  • Consumer advocates;
  • Academics;
  • Financial literacy experts;
  • From other regulatory agencies

Administration, meetings, agendas and deliverables

The Panel will meet up to six times a year (minimum of two meetings), and additional meetings may be called as required.

The Panel will be chaired by the Chief Consumer Officer and/or their designate.

The Consumer Office may also invite observers and/or experts to assist the Panel in its duties. The CEO and other FSRA staff from Core Regulatory areas, Policy, Legal and Public Affairs, are ex-officio members of the Panel (non-quorum) and will attend when relevant matters are raised at meetings.

The Consumer Office will provide all Secretariat, Administrative and Policy support. A member of the Consumer Office will attend each Panel meeting as an observer and note taker.

The Consumer Office will prepare a summary of each Panel meeting and distribute it, including any accompanying written submissions, to members, typically within three weeks following a meeting.

FSRA also intends to publish a high-level summary of the Panel’s work on FSRA’s website within approximately three weeks of each meeting.

The agenda for each meeting will be prepared by the Consumer Office. The Consumer Office will consult the Panel on proposed meeting agendas. The final agenda for each meeting will be provided to each Panel member, targeting seven days in advance of each meeting, together with appropriate briefing materials.

A quorum for a meeting of the Panel will be more than 50% of its members present either in person via remote conferencing.

Where possible, the Panel members will use best efforts to develop consensus and to identify any issues where consensus does not exist and the reasons for an absence of consensus.

Minutes will be recorded at each meeting of the Panel outlining general discussion topics and encapsulating formal recommendations and will be accepted and approved by the Panel at its next meeting. The Minutes may also be posted on FSRA’s website.

The Panel, through the Consumer Office secretariat, is intended to provide an annual report to FSRA on its key activities and the report may be published on the FSRA website, incorporated into the FSRA annual Report or published elsewhere.

The Panel may be asked to attend other meetings (e.g. Board) as required to discuss the work of the Panel.

Public process, input from others and disclosure issues

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.F.31, as amended, will (unless otherwise specified by FSRA) apply to information provided to the Panel and to material prepared by or for the Panel for presentation or delivery to FSRA’s Chief Consumers Officer.

Panel members may be required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before assuming a position on the Panel or for specific meetings.

Members of the Panel are permitted to obtain assistance from colleagues or collaborators. However, members and those who assist them are required to maintain the confidentiality of all information provided to the Panel, or prepared by or for the Panel for presentation or delivery to FSRA (with the exception of information made public by FSRA, including any submissions by the Panel or its members as part of a public comment process sponsored by FSRA).

Remuneration and Expenses

Members of the Panel will receive a per diem remuneration of $250 for attendance at Meetings as a Panel member and will be reimbursed reasonable travel expenses in accordance with FSRA’s Travel, Meal and Hospitality Directive.

To be reimbursed travel expenses, members must receive approval from FSRA prior to making travel arrangements and will be required to submit a travel expense claim with receipts.

No additional expenditures or commitments will be made without the prior authorization of the FSRA. The meeting fees will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Term limits and reappointment

The Panel members are appointed for one-year terms, with a possibility for extension to a maximum three-year term.

Attendance at meetings

Each Panel Member is expected to devote sufficient time to Panel affairs, including the review of materials and attendance at all meetings of the Panel.

Termination of membership

The Chief Consumer Officer can choose to add or remove any member of the Panel at any time and a Panel member may resign by giving written notice.