Online business

Ontario’s new online business registry plagued by ‘system outages and technical issues’, lawyers say

Ontario’s new online business registry is so flawed it’s costing time and money, 16 major law firms have told the Ford government.

Just over a month ago, Minister of Government and Consumer Services Ross Romano launched the registerpromising 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 Ontario’s Business Registry (ORB) negatively affects them, their clients and service providers, and “has a chilling effect on business conduct.” business in Ontario generally”.

“System downtime, technical issues and background issues associated with the new ORB are causing significant disruption, delaying transactions and incurring significant costs for businesses,” the attorneys said.

The companies, who said they represent hundreds of thousands of entities trying to do business in Ontario, said: “Given our collective experiences with OBR 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At its launchPremier Doug Ford’s government says Ontario’s new Business Registry will replace an outdated and inefficient process, giving business owners and non-profit operators direct access to government services, available online 24 24 hours, 365 days a year.

The government has also said that registrations or filings that used to be submitted by post or fax, taking four to six weeks, can now go through the online register instantly; while annual returns can now be completed online, meaning companies can keep all their important documents in one place.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said, “It’s quite shocking” and “disturbing that small businesses have to go through all kinds of hurdles just to complete the paperwork.” (Radio Canada)

Additionally, the government said Ontario’s new Business Registry is integrated with the Canada Revenue Agency, allowing the identification of a business or not-for-profit corporation by a business number. unique, which further simplifies administrative processes.

But based on the letter from the law firms, the promised reduction in “unnecessary charges” has not materialized.

“Many of the law firms[…]now recommend to their lawyers and clients to avoid the creation or use of Ontario entities in corporate transactions where possible, and to recommend the use of federal entities or other provincial jurisdictions so as not to not jeopardize the success of many year-end transactions,” the letter continued.

“Pretty shocking” problems, 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 sorts of hurdles just to file documents.”

Horwath said “the flawed system this government has launched” will likely lead to consequences that will be problematic for businesses.

“I 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 gate… for the kids, they don’t couldn’t get the right one [anti-carbon tax] good stickers,” Horwath said.

“Things like this system…are basic functions of government and yet Doug Ford and his gang can’t seem to get it right.”

“The proof is always in the pudding”

During Question Period at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Romano defended the new online business register, saying it protects small businesses from long wait times and legal fees.

He said under the old system, a non-profit charity or small business would have to fill boxes of documents, check them in at service counters and line up Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 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 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Romano said.

“You can now complete a transaction in 16 seconds that previously took 16 weeks…and you no longer need to hire a very expensive lawyer.”

According to Romano, complicated technology deployments are never perfect or error free and all law firms know this.

“The proof is always in the pudding,” he said, adding that in the first 30 days, 120,000 transactions were processed using the online system.