Western Canadian economists, financial analysts lukewarm to benefits of national securities regulator

March 2, 2010

CALGARY, AB, March 2, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Economists and financial analysts across western Canada are largely in favour of a federal initiative to replace provincial regulatory bodies with a national securities regulator but a smaller number felt that it would improve their province’s ability to raise capital, according to the results of a survey released today.

The survey showed that that 69.1 per cent of respondents were in favour of the federal initiative, but only 40.6 per cent were, at best, cautiously optimistic about what it would mean for their province.

The electronic survey, Winter 2010 Survey of Western Economic Expectations, was conducted jointly by the Canada West Foundation and the Western Centre for Economic Research at the University of Alberta’s School of Business.

Over 300 economists and financial analysts in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba completed the survey between January 25 and February 12. Support for the initiative was highest in British Columbia, with over eight out of 10 BC respondents in favour of the national securities regulator, compared to six in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and seven in Alberta. BC also had the highest rate of people who felt the initiative would lead to greater capital, with approximately half the respondents saying it would be a great or moderate improvement.

Overall, only nine per cent of respondents thought that a national regulator would be a great improvement to their province’s ability to raise capital. The largest group, 31.6 per cent, thought that it would be a moderate improvement. Just over one in 10 saw the initiative as hindering their province, with 9.6 per cent seeing it as a moderate impediment and 3.3 per cent as a great impediment. Far greater were the 26.9 per cent who felt it would have no impact.

The respondents were also asked their opinion on the assertion by the governments of Quebec and Alberta that a national regulator would infringe on provincial jurisdiction. Overall 40.5 per cent of respondents said “no,” with 28.2 per cent saying “yes” and 31.2 per cent saying they “don’t know.” Alberta had the highest number of yes answers, and was the only province where “yes” was not the least frequent response, but still had more answers of “no.” The second highest number of yes answers came from Saskatchewan, with Manitoba third and BC last.

On February 5, the Alberta government filed a court challenge to Ottawa’s plan to create a national securities regulator in the Alberta Court of Appeal. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has vowed to replace provincial securities regulators with one national Canadian securities commission. 

The online Western Economic Expectations survey solicits views on the future economic performance of the western provinces and the country from over 2,000 economists and financial analysts who are closest to the working details of the Western Canadian economy.

The survey covers people who use economics in their work, in universities and colleges, industry associations, economic development agencies, the private sector and the public service across Western Canada.

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