Doug Ford’s glitchy online business registry has major law firms telling clients to avoid Ontario

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Granthshala has learned that Premier Doug Ford’s new online business registry is so full of “system shutdowns, technical glitches and genuine problems” that major law firms are advising clients to register out of province.

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In a solemn letter to Government and Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano, Bay Street column warns months-old Ontario Business Registry “negatively affecting our firms, customers and service providers” and “having a chilling effect on doing business in Ontario in general.”

This 12-page message is a blow to Ford’s much-discussed “open for business” push because all companies and nonprofit corporations must register here to incorporate or dissolve.


“We represent hundreds of thousands of entities trying to do business in Ontario,” the law firms wrote Friday.

“System shutdowns, technical glitches and the real problems associated with the new OBR are causing significant disruption, delaying transactions and adding significant costs to businesses,” he continued.

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“Given our collective OBR experiences, we have no confidence or assurance that year-end registration and filing – the busiest time of year for our law firms – can be completed without risking the entire transaction.”

Because of that, many firms are “now recommending to their attorneys and clients to avoid the creation or use of Ontario entities in corporate transactions if possible, and that the use of federal entities or other provincial jurisdictions is being recommended.” So as not to endanger. Successfully completing many year end transactions.”

Joint letter was signed by: Aird and Burliss; Bennett Jones; Blake, Cassels and Graydon; Borden Ladner Gervais; Davis Ward Phillips & Wineburg; Denton; Fascan Martinou Dumoulin; Goodman; gouling; McCarthy Tetroult; Macmillan; Norton Rose Fulbright; Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt; Stickman Elliot; Tory; and Wildboar dellelas.

Romano’s office acknowledged there are early problems with the new system, but emphasized that they are already being addressed, including the patch installed on Monday, following a complaint letter from the firms.

“The new business registry is in its early stages of deployment and the ministry is committed to its continuous, timely improvements to better serve the Ontarian people,” said Sebastian Scamsky, Romano’s director of communications.

Unlike the old system, in which lawyers often had to close boxes of documents in government offices to register businesses, the portal is open 24 hours a day and can be used by anyone.

It was developed by Terranet and is operated by the Government of Ontario.

“The new Ontario Business Registry replaces the three-decade-old, outdated and inefficient ONBIS (Ontario Business Information System) process,” Scamsky said.

“Since its launch on October 19, more than 120,000 transactions have been successfully completed through the new business registry,” Scamsky said, adding that the ministry “takes feedback from all stakeholders very seriously.”

“In this vein, while our ministry is constantly engaged with service providers on an almost daily basis, we will re-engage (the communication committee of external stakeholders) and focus more on the role of middlemen, such as law firms.”

fees Category From $25 for dissolution of a business to $300 for incorporation. It costs $150 to register a nonprofit corporation.

While the modernization process dates back more than a decade when Liberal Premier Dalton McGinty was in office, Ford accelerated development as part of a “pro-business” agenda.

This causes a political embarrassment from the city’s most prestigious law offices to the Progressive Conservative government.

“All of our law firms are familiar with complex legal technology rollouts – they are never perfect nor error-free,” the firms wrote.

“The two authorized service providers (Die & Durham & ESC) are overwhelmed and we have been advised that they are each answering hundreds of calls related to OBR errors.”

Among the problems cited are system crashes during business hours, data migration snafus, and document-formatting bugs, so “no paragraph returns or proper spacing.”

“Collecting all sections and subsections together in one paragraph makes reviewing articles extremely difficult, time-consuming, and cumbersome. The extra time must be spent in proofreading, it is not aesthetically pleasing and more prone to error is,” he complained.

“The 100,000 character and 35-page limit for articles is arbitrary, insufficient, and completely unacceptable.”

In an unusual example, a draft business renewal appears to be correct when reviewed online, but “confirmation received indicates that it was authorized by an attorney who retired from the firm seven years earlier.”

Robert Benzie Starr is Queens Park’s bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
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