A new initiative has been launched that aims to enhance the advocacy efforts of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) so that the REALTOR® voice is heard loud and clear in government circles.
The REALTOR® Advocacy Project, also known as RAP, will focus on government relations and is a strategy to implement and lead lobbying programs that educate, empower and encourage REALTORS® to advocate on industry issues with provincial and municipal government officials.
Ray Ferris, president of OREA, and Valerie Miles, chair of the OREA government relations committee, announced the RAP project at the political affairs conference (PAC) held in Toronto recently.
“Your leaders want to take the opportunity to make OREA a top-tier advocacy group in Ontario,” Ferris told the audience. “To achieve that goal, our plan is to build on a strong foundation at OREA, while leveraging our most valuable asset – you, our members.”
“RAP is founded on a considerable amount of research and consultation with member boards and analysis around best practices at Realtor associations across Canada and in the U.S.,” Miles added. “The research revealed some interesting results.”
Almost all Ontario real estate boards have a government relations or political action committee, which is good, she said. However, a majority of boards do not have regularly scheduled meetings with provincial officials outside of the OREA political affairs conference, which is “not so good.”
“Your leaders want to take the opportunity to make OREA a top-tier advocacy group in Ontario.”
Moreover, she noted that a majority of boards do not have an advocacy strategy for local or municipal issues, and most boards lack dedicated staff, resources and knowledge to do lobbying work. For this reason, the majority of real estate boards look to OREA and to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) for government relations assistance.
“In short, boards have the framework to do good local and provincial advocacy, but the problem comes in the form of a lack of resources, training and staff to execute an advocacy plan,” said Miles. “That’s where RAP comes in.”
Ferris noted that through the RAP initiative, OREA will launch five new programs over the next three years:
- A Spring Political Affairs Seminar in 2017 (offered on March 2 during the OREA annual conference) that briefs board delegates on issues that OREA will tackle in the year ahead and how real estate boards can support the broader advocacy strategy.
- A brand new advocacy training course called PAC 101 that will be delivered for the first time during the Spring Seminar, for PAC chairs and Board Executive Officers. This is a cutting-edge training course designed jointly by OREA’s GR and Leadership Development teams that they say is unlike anything else available in Canada.
- An MPP Liaison Program modeled after the CREA PAC program, to begin in 2018.
- An Issues Mobilization Grant Program, to begin in 2018.
- The addition of regional Government Relations staff members to the OREA advocacy team in 2019.
“There are some exciting things on the horizon at OREA with respect to advocacy,” Ferris said. “We are working to establish OREA as a top-tier advocacy organization in Ontario, and with your help, we can make it happen.”
Keep watching for more details in the months ahead in the REALTOR® EDGE newsletter, the blog and the OREA website at www.orea.com.