After many consultations and years of discussion, it was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on October 17 that the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) would be the single external complaints body for banking effective November 1, 2024. The designation in part is based on the recommendation of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) which was made based on a review of application material for external complaints bodies wishing to serve as Canada’s single banking complaints body.

Since 2009, Canada has had two approved external complaints bodies (OBSI and ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office) to address banking complaints, and banks were allowed to choose between those two. Consumers can have a complaint reviewed by an external complaints body if the complaint has not been resolved through a bank’s internal process or if at least 56 days have passed since the bank received the complaint. Prior reports from the FCAC had shown that banking consumers were subject to delays when escalating complaints, and that the multiple complaints bodies model resulted in complexities and was inconsistent with international standards.

There will be a transition period of twelve months, during which time the two existing external complaints bodies will still handle complaints, supervised by the FCAC.

It should be noted that this development is separate and apart from the potential development of a proposal for public comment by the Canadian Securities Administrators to provide OBSI with binding authority. All registered advisers and dealers (except in Québec) are already required to use OBSI as a dispute resolution service.

October 31, 2023