Information about Canadian public company quarterly reports, insider trades, and more is only being made available to companies who pay a (secret) licensing fee. Individuals can access individual filings (after solving a CAPTCHA) but the information is not free for re-use nor available in a machine readable format.
It turns out that both SEDAR & SEDI data is available in a bulk, machine-readable format but only if you pay a licensing fee to the Alberta Securities Commission. There isn't an advertised price for the service and when I inquired a couple years ago their outsourced service provider (CDS) insisted that I needed to fill out a long form in order to get a quote. There is still no information available online and they encourage you to phone them to find out how to become a subscriber. In their annual financial statements at pg. 15 the Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) disclosed that they made $136,000* from "[d]ata distribution fees" in the first quarter of 2014.
Why isn't this critical information about Canadian companies being made available to the public for free? Both SEDAR and SEDI could distribute the information (because they offer a paid service that does this) but instead they've chosen to sell the information to those who can afford it (and can navigate their byzantine purchasing process). The result is dramatically reduced access to information for the public and no innovation in the format for distributing that information (SEDAR's website is not a model for web design best practices).
What could people do if the information was made free? In 2009 I competed in the finals of Yahoo!'s student programming competition and won with a program that provides near real-time alerts about insider trading: insidertrades.org. Five years later there's still no legal way to provide this service to Canadians. Imagine what kind of other tools could be built for the Canadian investing public if the securities commissions opened up their data.
*It's possible that the $136k in licensing fees is only the ASC's share of the licensing fees. If that's the case then the true number could be up to 4x more (if income and expenses are recorded separately by the joint owners).