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Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
The Senate of Canada
Canada, K1A 0A4
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INTRODUCTION TO THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON
BANKING, TRADE AND COMMERCE
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has the mandate to examine legislation and to study issues related to banking, insurance, trust and loan companies, credit societies, caisses populaires and small loans companies. It is also responsible for considering customs and excise issues, taxation legislation, patents, royalties, corporate affairs, and bankruptcy-related issues.
The committee has conducted major studies in areas as diverse as corporate governance, financial sector reform, insolvency, Crown corporations, taxation, business and trade, productivity, financial crimes and retirement.
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce has been part of the history of the Senate since Parliament first met in November 1867, several months after Confederation. From the beginning, the committee - originally called the Banking, Commerce and Railways Committee - had the task of reviewing legislation.
For its first 100 years, the committee considered the majority of legislation that was not examined by the Committee of the Whole. In 1968, the Rules of the Senate were changed to give committees specific mandates. The mandate of the committee was changed to include any reference relating to financial institutions generally and other specific subjects relating to corporate affairs. This focus on subjects within the general area of finance and business, combined with the opportunity to pre-study selected bills or engage in special inquiries, has helped to expand the influence of the committee.
In recent years, the committee undertook comprehensive studies relating to cyber security, digital currencies, internal trade and open banking. For example, the committee assessed issues pertaining to cyber security and cyber fraud in 2017-18. It reported that there was a shortage of cyber security professionals in Canada, which reduced the capacity of law enforcement to investigate any major threats. Furthermore, there was a lack of investment in education on this topic. In 2018- 2019, the committee examined the benefits and challenges of open banking for Canadian consumers. The final report recommended short-term measures to address the risks of using financial data sharing applications and longer-term measures, such as updating data protection and privacy legislation, that would be required before implementing an open banking framework. In 2016-17, the committee studied the concept of national corridors for transporting goods and services throughout Canada as a means of enhancing and facilitating commerce and internal trade. This study stemmed from the committee’s examination of internal barriers to trade done previously.
Moreover, the committee also undertook short-term topic studies to address immediate public policy concerns. In the 42nd Parliament, the committee examined the collection of financial information by Statistics Canada, following the publication of news articles that Statistics Canada would request transaction data and personal information belonging to 500,000 people from nine Canadian banks. The report concluded that the federal government should restructure this project to remove any personal identifiers in the data; review privacy legislation with international standards; and, review the Statistics Canada Act to address privacy concerns.
SELECTED LEGISLATIVE WORK
The committee has undertaken comprehensive legislative reviews in the past, such as the Bank Act, the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangements Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, and the Business Development Bank of Canada Act have been conducted.
Many of these studies lead to legislative changes being introduced by the government. In particular, the committee’s comprehensive hearings in relation to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies’ Creditors Arrangements Act were followed by two bills seeking to modernize Canada’s insolvency legislation.
Finally, the committee examines the subject matter of budget bills each year. During the 43rd Parliament, the committee examined the subject matter of one budget bill.
For information on the current work of the committee, you may wish to review the orders of reference the committee has received from the Senate, or review the committee proceedings. Detailed information on current work of the committee can be found on the parliamentary website at https://sencanada.ca/en/committees/banc.