Ottawa was buzzing this week in anticipation to the federal government’s Throne Speech. The Speech from the Throne outlines the federal government’s direction moving forward likely into the next election and gives the government the opportunity to reset their agenda.
In Wednesday’s Throne Speech the federal government included many consumer protection initiatives, including a pledge to unbundle the cost of cable television channels, reduce bank fees and data roaming fees.
This trend towards more consumer protection legislation can also be seen at the provincial level. The Condominium Act Review and Bill 55, Stronger Protection for Consumers Act, 2013 are two examples of consumer protection legislation that directly impact the real estate industry.
The Condominium Act Review first emerged under the leadership of then Premier Dalton McGuinty and has continued to move forward under Premier Wynne as part of a larger consumer protection initiative. During this 18-month review process, the government hopes to overhaul the rules governing condominium properties and ensure the Act reflects the needs of condo owners and stakeholders. This September, Canada’s Public Policy Forum released the review’s stage two report called “Growing Up: Ontario’s Condominium Communities Enter a New Era”. OREA has been following the process each step of the way and making recommendations that promote condo affordability and the protection of home owners and home buyers.
Under the same umbrella of consumer protection, the government has introduced Bill 55 to address, among other things, the perceived issue of phantom offers in Ontario’s housing market. As it stands, the Bill has passed second reading and has been referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly. OREA has been working with the Ministry of Consumer Services to amend the Act and reduce the administrative burden that some sections of Bill 55 would have on Ontario real estate brokerages.
While it can present challenges for industries like organized real estate, consumer protection initiatives like Bill 55 and the Condo Act review are an important opportunity for OREA and other stakeholders to contribute to the development of public policy. In doing so, not only are we representing the interests of our member REALTORS® we are also advocating for things that are important to consumers.