On June 25, 2020, the OBA welcomed Rebecca Durcan of Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc and Srikanth Mangalam of the PRISM Institute for a videoconference entitled The Changing Face of Regulation: Understanding the Impact of the Crisis on Regulatory Law. Moderated by Margaret Drent, Strategic Policy Counsel at the Law Society of Ontario, the program provided a useful moment of reflection as the regulatory community begins to absorb the lessons learned from COVID-19. It also offered participants an opportunity to weigh in on the all-important question: What letter grade would you assign to the pandemic response so far?
According to Mangalam, Ontario has largely failed. Mangalam noted, for example, how Ontario’s reliance on 3M for personal protective equipment has exposed regulators’ inability to keep pace with issues such monopolization in regulated industries. The high mortality rates in long-term care also provide a stark example of Ontario’s failure, especially when compared with British Columbia. And, perhaps most importantly, the pandemic has revealed the extent to which Canada’s regulatory infrastructure is divided into silos, encouraging territorialism and impeding effective service delivery in times of crisis. The problem, in Mangalam’s view, seems to be Ontario’s habit of stubbornly administering the regulators that already exist rather than taking a proactive, risk-based approach to regulation more generally.