Ontario’s new online business registry teeming with ‘system crashes, technical glitches’, say lawyers
Ontario’s new online business registry is so flawed it’s costing 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 launched the registry, promising that it would be easier and more affordable for millions of businesses and nonprofits to access government services.
But in a letter to Romano, the law firms warned that the Ontario Business Register (ORB) negatively affects them, their clients and their service providers and “has a chilling effect on doing business in Ontario in general. “.
“System downtime, technical glitches and substantive issues associated with the new ORB are causing significant disruption, delaying transactions and adding significant costs to businesses,” the lawyers said.
The firms, which have said they represent hundreds of thousands of entities trying to do business in Ontario, said: âBased on our collective OBR experiences to date, we have no confidence or assurance that year-end filings – the busiest time of year for our law firms – can be completed without jeopardizing entire transactions. “
At its launch, the government of Premier Doug Ford said the new Ontario Business Register would replace an outdated and inefficient process, giving business owners and nonprofit operators direct access to government services, available online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The government has also said that registrations or filings that were previously submitted by mail or fax, taking four to six weeks, can now go through the online registry instantly; while annual returns can now be completed online, meaning businesses can keep all of their important documents in one place.
Additionally, the government has stated that Ontario’s new Business Register is integrated with the Canada Revenue Agency, allowing for the identification of a business or non-profit corporation by a single registration number. company, further streamlining administrative processes.
But based on the letter from the law firms, the promised reduction in âunnecessary burdensâ did not happen.
“Many law firms … now recommend that their lawyers and clients avoid the creation or use of Ontario entities in business transactions where possible, and recommend the use of federal or other jurisdictions. provincial so as not to compromise the success of many end-of-year transactions, âthe letter continues.
The problems are “quite shocking”, says NDP leader
Speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said: “It’s quite shocking” and “disturbing that small businesses have to go through all kinds of hoops just to fill out papers.”
Horwath said “the failed system this government has launched” is likely to have consequences that are going to be problematic for business.
âI don’t know why they can’t get these things right. They couldn’t get the right license plates, they couldn’t get the right gateâ¦ for the kids, they couldn’t get the [anti-carbon tax] stickers right, âHorwath said.
“Things like this systemâ¦ are basic government functions and yet Doug Ford and his gang just can’t seem to do this stuff.”
“The proof is always in the pudding”
During Question Period at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Romano defended the new online business registry, saying it protects small businesses from long wait times and attorney fees.
He said under the old system, a nonprofit charity or small business would have to fill boxes of documents, check them in at service counters, and stand in line Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. .
It was either that option or hiring a lawyer at a considerable cost, he told the legislature. âUnder our new systemâ¦ it’s 24/7, 365 days a year,â Romano said.
âYou can now complete a transaction in 16 seconds that previously took 16 weeksâ¦ and you no longer need to hire an expensive lawyer. “
Complex technology deployments are never perfect or error-free, Romano says, and every law firm knows it.
âThe proof is still in the pudding,â he said, adding that in the first 30 days 120,000 transactions were processed using the online system.