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On a clear spring day in March 2017, an Ontario judge delivered his decision to the Toronto Stock Exchange.
He had just ruled that two firms with a combined market capitalization of $2.5 billion were too big to fail.
It was the most consequential ruling in Ontario’s history, setting a new standard for how a financial institution should be regulated.
The verdict was a huge setback for the firms and their investors.
In his ruling, Judge David Kewland declared that there was “no basis” for the companies to continue as public companies, meaning the Ontario Securities Commission could take no action to shut them down.
The result was a swift and dramatic fall for both firms, which had become the focus of a bitter, decades-long battle.
In December, the Ontario Superior Court struck down the firm-size rule as it relates to two other public companies with an annual income of $1.8 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
The decision has brought the stock market to a grinding halt in Ontario.
It has also made the Ontario courts and the courts in the province’s capital region the focus for a new wave of lawsuits.
The impact of the ruling has been enormous.
While some investors, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are now lining up to buy stocks in both firms and the companies that had failed, there is no sign of a repeat of the stock price collapse.
As a result, there has been a slowdown in activity in Ontario, which has seen a drop in investment in the rest of the country.
But it has also had an immediate impact on the jobs and livelihoods of many Ontarians, including a drop of over 70 per cent in the number of people working in the Ontario public sector, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
What’s behind the slowdown?
The Ontario Securities Act, enacted in 2013, allows regulators to take action when they feel that a firm or company is too big.
For example, it’s possible for a company to fail because of bad business practices.
But the regulator can only take action to protect consumers and the economy from a failure of a company that poses a significant risk to the economy.
This includes measures such as requiring the firm to offer a “clear and reasonable prospect of success” or to offer an alternative financial product, such as a “revenue sharing” model.
In Ontario, the rules for what constitutes a firm have changed, and the province has become a leader in setting up and overseeing public companies.
There are no regulations that explicitly say that the rules should apply to public companies that are not publicly traded, but that is a relatively new trend in the country, said David Pimentel, an expert on corporate governance at the University of Toronto.
The new rules have been a boon to firms like the Suez Company of Canada, which bought a controlling interest in the Toronto-Dominion Bank in 2013.
The bank is the largest private-sector bank in the world.
The transaction allowed the Shes to get a seat at the table in the regulatory process.
As the company grew, it expanded its reach in the Canadian economy, buying more assets and buying into more companies.
Suez has grown to become one of the largest banks in the United States.
The Toronto-based bank is now Canada’s second largest private sector bank.
And while the Ontario court ruled that the company had failed to meet the requirements of the new rules, Ontario is not alone in the situation.
A number of other states have also created their own rules for publicly traded firms, said Pimentels co-author Mark Taylor, an associate professor of law at the Université de Montréal.
Many of these states have created rules that require public companies to have a plan to make a profit and not to have too many competitors.
Ontario’s rules have not been uniform, and some states have adopted rules that have been more restrictive, Taylor said.
“There is no clear way to define success or failure,” he said.
Some public companies have been able to survive the downturn thanks to a strong economy and a booming stock market, but other companies have struggled to make their mark and have had to lay off staff, Taylor added.
In the wake of the court decision, Ontario’s public sector lost over 1,100 jobs, which is a rate of roughly three per cent a year, according the Canadian Labour Congress.
Meanwhile, the number working in Ontario public-sector jobs fell by roughly 40 per cent between 2016 and 2018, according Statistics Canada.
“That’s a pretty significant impact on jobs and on wages,” said Taylor.
“So there are some people who are actually not going to have any employment.”
Ontario has one of Canada’s highest levels of inequality, with the top 10 per cent of earners making a larger share of the province, than the bottom 10 per.
For many Ontarian families, the