Ontario’s new online business registry is so deficient that it costs time and money, 16 major law firms have told the Ford government.
A little over a month ago, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Ross Romano opened the registry, promising to make it easier and more affordable for millions of businesses and nonprofits to access government services.
But in a letter to Romano, law firms warned that the Ontario Business Registry (ORB) is having a negative impact on them, their customers and service providers and is “having a cooling effect on doing business in Ontario in general.” .
“System shutdowns, technical glitches and substantial problems associated with the new ORB are causing significant disruptions, delaying transactions and adding significant costs to businesses,” the lawyers said.
The firms, which said they represent hundreds of thousands of entities trying to do business in Ontario, stated: “Given our OBR collective experiences to date, we have no confidence or guarantee that year-end registrations are the busiest period of the year. “law firms can be completed without risking entire transactions.”
At its launch, the government of Prime Minister Doug Ford said the new Ontario Business Registry would replace an outdated and inefficient process by giving business owners and nonprofit operators direct access to government services, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. .
The government also said that registrations or files that had previously been submitted by mail or fax, which took four to six weeks to complete, can now be made immediately through the online registry; while annual returns can now be completed online, which means corporations can keep all their important files in one place.
Furthermore, the government said the new Ontario Business Registry is integrated with the Canada Revenue Agency, enabling the identification of a business or non-profit corporation from a single business number, further simplifying administrative processes.
But according to the law firm letter, the promised reduction in “unnecessary burdens” has not happened.
“Many law firms are now advising lawyers and their clients that the creation or use of Ontario entities in corporate transactions is avoided if possible, and that the use of federal entities or other provincial jurisdictions is being recommended to avoid risk. successful completion of many year-end transactions “, the letter continues.
The problems are ‘very shocking’, says the NDP Chairman
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said:“It ‘s pretty shocking” and “disturbing that small businesses have to go through all sorts of circles just to submit documents.”
Horwath said that “the broken system that this government has launched” is likely to lead to consequences that will be problematic for businesses.
“I do not know why they could not get these things properly. They could not get the license plates properly, they could not get the portal properly … for the kids, they could not get [anti-carbon tax] the right adhesive, “Horwath said.
“Things like this system are basic functions of government and yet Doug Ford and his gang do not seem to be able to do things properly.”
“The proof is always in the pudding”
During the questioning period at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Romano defended the new online business register, saying he was protecting small businesses from long waits and attorney fees.
He said under the old system, a nonprofit charity or small business would have to fill out paperwork, register them at service counters, and wait in line Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
It was either that option, or hiring a lawyer at considerable cost, he told the legislature. “Under our new system … it’s 24/7, 365 days a year,” Romano said.
“You can make a transaction now in 16 seconds that once required 16 weeks and you no longer need to hire a high-priced lawyer.”
According to Romano, complicated technology presentations are never perfect or error-free, and all law firms are familiar with this.
“The evidence is always in the pudding,” he said, adding that in the first 30 days, 120,000 transactions were processed using the online system.
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