is a self-regulatory organization of financial firms (mostly brokerage
houses) in canada
The IDA mandates capital requirements for their members, as well as policy and procedural rules. It supplements the provincial securities commissions in regulating the behaviour of RRs, basically, on the theory that a self-regulatory organization is better equipped to understand the industry (and so not make unrealistic rules), and better capable of enforcement than the cash-strapped and perpetually backlogged securities commission administrators. The IDA is not a branch of government; it has no legal powers of prosecution.
Members of the IDA offer better protection to their clients through the CIPF, the Canadian Investor Protection Fund, which insures client accounts in the case of a firm going under. Further, the IDA capital requirements help to prevent such happenings - the IDA name means investors can deal with a small or a large firm and still be assured that its quality, credibility, and business practices meet high standards.