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'Chaos': Vancouver investors slam Canada's new company filing system SEDAR+

Canada's new digital filing system for public companies, known as SEDAR+, has been plagued by technical difficulties and complaints about public searchability functions since launching July 25
The launch of SEDAR+ has the CSA scrambling to fix errors and fix public search functions | SEDAR+/CSA

Some Vancouver investors are voicing their displeasure with Canada’s new electronic filing system for public companies, which is also experiencing technical problems since its much-anticipated launch on July 25.

SEDAR+ is the new system that has replaced the original System Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR). It acts as a repository for all public company filings, such as annual financial statements. Unlike its predecessor, the new system also includes filings from provincial securities commissions, such as discipline lists and cease-trade orders.

Operated by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) – an umbrella organization representing provincial securities commissions – SEDAR+ is analogous to the EDGAR system run by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Both are indispensable tools for investors to conduct their due diligence.

CSA spokesperson Ilana Kelemen told Glacier Media that while SEDAR+ is “unquestionably an improvement from SEDAR,” it has experienced technical problems. She said the CSA has received complaints about its public search functionality, which it hopes to eventually address.

“It’s not unexpected that the first new securities regulatory filing system in over 20 years does not meet everyone’s expectations out of the gate,” Kelemen told Glacier Media in an email. “We are listening carefully to the feedback and considering how we can improve the system in future releases.”

Filing system 'chaos' a barrier to already 'starved' Canadian capital flows 

Vancouver-based investor Trevor Treweeke wrote to the CSA after what he describes as “chaos” with the system’s launch.

Treweeke told Glacier Media that “SEDAR has always been known as a barrier to entry for international and U.S. investors because of its limitations and technical challenges. This new SEDAR platform has unbelievably exacerbated that issue and made it worse… not better.”

Treweeke added: “Canadian capital flows are starved enough, and it will create a further barrier for capital pools if not changed over the long-term”

Among the investors concerns are a string of outages plaguing the system.

According to the CSA website, since July 27 SEDAR+ is operating temporary operating hours (7 a.m. EST to 9 p.m. EST) for “ongoing maintenance” until further notice. The system’s user account activation is interrupted and there are temporary errors on filing fees.

“Imagine, being a publicly traded company, but operating in Europe, or Australia, international for that matter, yet only having access to SEDAR during those hours... an amateur investor, on the West Coast gets home at 6 p.m. ready to do his nightly research, only to be locked out,” said Treweeke.

Treweeke said he “couldn’t imagine” such as situation happening in the U.S. with EDGAR, leaving shareholders not being able to regularly access filings for Google, Apple and Tesla filings.

The CSA says it expects a 24-hour service soon.

Filing system limited even when working

Treweeke and others also point to public search function limitations, namely real-time chronological filings.

“The biggest issue I've found is [I] can't see new filings anymore,” Saj Karsan of Karsan Value Funds, messaged Glacier Media, noting all of one day’s filings could previously be viewed on one page, albeit a long one.

Junior stock market analyst website The Deep Dive also critisized the SEDAR+ system in an Aug. 6 article titled: New SEDAR Is Somehow Worse Than Old SEDAR.

“The old site also allowed for the viewing of filings by date, and the most recent filings for all the companies and funds as they came in. The ability to view the filings by currency was handy for journalists and swing traders, but it’s gone now, an apparent victim of the move to SEDAR+,” wrote The Deep Dive.

“Complaints from Deep Dive editors and contributors include ongoing service outages, the aforementioned elimination of easy chronological viewing of files, the downloading of every file viewed, and an inexplicable limiting of the document search results to ten items per page.”

Kelemen said CSA has received “constructive feedback” from the investment community.

“SEDAR+ provides more search options than SEDAR did, though adjustments are necessary to meet the needs of a broader user base. We know that some areas, such as chronological sorting, are not working as intended,” stated Kelemen.

She went on, adding that “fixing these areas and improving the overall search functionality is a priority for upcoming updates.”  

“In the meantime, to help those seeking investment related information, we will soon publish short ‘how to’ videos to help users better navigate the SEDAR+ search functionality,” Kelemen said.

The CSA spokesperson said that since its launch, over 6,000 filings have been successfully completed in SEDAR+ — a system she said now gives public companies a one-stop shop for filings and automated filing fees.

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