About OSFI

Introduction

OSFI is an independent agency of the Government of Canada. It is responsible for the prudential regulation and supervision of federally regulated financial institutions, as well as private pension plans subject to federal oversight.

OSFI monitors these institutions for solvency, liquidity, and safety and soundness. However, management, boards of directors and plan administrators are ultimately responsible for the day-to-day operations of financial institutions and pension plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q. Please explain to me what a federally regulated financial institution is?

    A. A federally regulated financial institution is any entity in Canada that has been created or allowed to offer financial services under one of the federal financial institution laws. Banks, for example, are incorporated or registered under the Bank Act, while insurance companies — both life companies as well as property and casualty insurers – are incorporated or registered under the Insurance Companies Act. Both laws specify a number of "dos and don'ts" that govern the activities of these institutions in the public interest.

  2. Q. Can you tell me the type of different bodies that OSFI regulates?

    A. OSFI regulates:

    • Banks
    • Trust Companies
    • Loan Companies
    • Cooperative Credit Associations
    • Cooperative Retail Associations
    • Life Insurance Companies
    • Fraternal Benefit Societies
    • Property & Casualty Insurance Companies
    • Foreign Bank Representative Offices

    For the list of organizations regulated by OSFI, see Who We Regulate.

  3. Q. If I am having trouble with my bank, and their credit card charges, may I contact OSFI for your assistance?

    A. No. OSFI's mandate does not include consumer-related issues or the securities industry. For credit card complaints and other issues with regard to banks, there is another agency I suggest you contact, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. (For more information on OSFI's role, see the OSFI webpage titled About Us.)

  4. Q. How does OSFI fit in the federal system of financial regulation? Are there other federal agencies involved, and, if so, what are they?

    A. In addition to OSFI, there are: the Department of Finance, the Bank of Canada, Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. They meet on a quarterly basis to exchange information relating to the supervision of federally regulated financial institutions, as members of the Financial Institutions Supervisory Committee (FISC), chaired by the Superintendent of OSFI. The organizations that form FISC constitute Canada's federal network of financial regulation and supervision, and together they provide a system of depositor and policyholder protection to you and all other Canadians.

  5. Q. Does that mean OSFI's mandate includes monetary policy?

    A. No, the Bank of Canada is responsible for monetary policy.

  6. Q. Does OSFI oversee stock markets and their behaviour?

    A. No, market conduct is regulated by provincial regulators and security commissions, while bank-related consumer protection is handled by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

  7. Q. Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, I have been hearing about OSFI's international role. What does that mean?

    A. Financial institutions operate within an extensive worldwide business web. Their products and the markets in which they operate are increasingly global, complex and interconnected. Since the crisis of 2008-2009, you have likely heard more about the global financial system. OSFI monitors issues that affect the global system and collaborates extensively with international bodies like the Financial Stability Board, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.

  8. Q. What are OSFI's objectives in participating in these international organizations?

    A. Through active participation in such organizations, OSFI is able to share Canadian perspectives and help shape international regulatory and supervisory standards. For more information, see Annual Reports.

  9. Q. Please explain how OSFI is funded.

    A. OSFI recovers its costs through assessments of the financial services industry and the private pension plans OSFI regulates and supervises, and through a user-pay program for selected services. The Government of Canada contributes a small appropriation for actuarial services OSFI provides to public sector pension and benefit plans. For more information, you can consult the Financial Review and Highlights chapter of OSFI Annual Reports.

  10. Q. To whom does OSFI report?

    A. OSFI is an independent agency of the Government of Canada. Under OSFI's governing legislation, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act (OSFI Act), the Superintendent reports to Parliament through the Minister of Finance.

  11. Q. Who appoints the Superintendent of OSFI and for how long?

    A. The Governor General appoints the Superintendent to a seven-year term, on the advice of the federal Cabinet.

  12. Q. May I reproduce OSFI documentation for commercial or non-commercial use?

    A. For information on the use of OSFI documentation, you can consult the Terms and Conditions page of our website, where you will find our copyright/permission to reproduce procedure.

  13. Q. Can I subscribe to email notification of updates /new postings to your website?

    A. You can subscribe by scrolling down to Email Notifications under "Stay Connected" on the bottom right-hand side of the home page of OSFI's website, then following the prompts to click on the notifications that are of interest to you.