Editorial: Canada’s risky business is about to get a lot riskier

The legal-risks landscape for Canadian companies will get more complicated in 2018, and that complexity is going to divert time and money from the business of building Canada’s economy.

That’s more bad news in a country where the list of taxation and regulatory burdens keeps getting longer and the competitive edge of business keeps getting duller compared with counterparts in the United States and other jurisdictions.

Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently provided a reckoning of what they see as the top legal risks facing business in Canada this year.

It is a sobering summary of the challenges ahead that should be atop executive meeting agendas now.

Among them: tax system changes, technological disruption in the form of cryptocurrencies and the looming rollout of Canada’s Cannabis Act.

However, as illustrated by the widespread repercussions that continue to be generated by the Facebook data-mining disaster, one of the most complex and potentially challenging concerns for companies in Canada and elsewhere will be cybersecurity and how to manage, store and protect customer, market and employee information.

As the BLG report points out, the country’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act is set to impose a wide range of security obligations on companies. Fines for contravening the act will range up to $100,000.

Add to the above the scheduled May enactment in the European Union of the General Data Protection Regulation, which will apply to companies in Canada that have branches in the EU or collect data on EU residents. Fines for breaching the regulation: up to 20 million euros or 4% of a company’s annual global revenue.

Analyzing and complying with complex new government regulations drains significant revenue and resource away from core businesses and bottom lines, but neglecting them has the potential to cost much more.

Welcome to the wonders of the new digital age.