Special Meeting Requested by 10 Ontario Boards Regarding OREA’s Mandatory Insurance Plan

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In a bold move, ten Ontario real estate boards have joined forces to call for a special general meeting with the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). The catalyst for this unprecedented action is the controversial mandatory insurance plan set to be implemented by OREA in a few months. The contentious issue concerns the Ontario Realtor Wellness Program (ORWP), scheduled for a January 1 launch. However, these boards are pushing for a delay in its implementation.

Timing and Data Collection Concerns

The primary reason behind the boards’ request to delay implementing the ORWP is the anticipation of operational challenges. They argue that more time is needed to ensure compliance. While OREA initially rejected this request, it has recently extended the deadline for collecting required personal information from members to June 30, 2024, with interim access to ORWP.

Debate Over Mandatory Nature

The controversy extends beyond timing and data collection. Many boards are alarmed that the insurance and benefits package will be mandatory and a condition of OREA membership. This stance has ignited a heated debate, with OREA arguing that larger numbers ensure lower premiums. However, many realtors, particularly those with existing benefit plans, disagree with the need for all 96,000 association members to be involved.

Voting Process and Representation

The voting process on these critical issues is managed by the assembly, comprising all Ontario boards, with each receiving a fixed number of votes based on size. To call a special general meeting, a high enough representation of assembly votes (10 percent) is required. The ten boards leading this charge are sufficient to meet this requirement.

OREA’s Response Pending

As of now, OREA has not formally responded to the board’s request for a special general meeting. Stacey Evoy, OREA’s past president, and ORWP co-chair, has noted that they are working on setting a date and venue for the meeting. She emphasizes the transformative nature of the ORWP and the importance of addressing questions and concerns from members.

Logistical Challenges Abound

The logistics of implementing the ORWP and managing seem to fall on the shoulders of various boards. Tasks include obtaining member consent and personal information, amending invoicing, managing late payments, and reviewing contracts. These challenges are expected to increase the workload for already overworked individuals.

Notable Absence: TRREB

One conspicuous absence from the list of dissenting boards is the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), the largest in the province. With 49 percent of the assembly votes, TRREB holds significant influence. Although it appears TRREB supports the ORWP, individual members may have differing opinions.

Dissenting Boards Seek Change

The boards opposed to the ORWP being mandatory aim to have the assembly approve a motion to make insurance optional rather than mandatory for OREA membership. Bill Duce, CEO of the Waterloo Region Association of Realtors, believes that making insurance optional would address many concerns. Still, he also highlights the need for more oversight on third-party vendor contracts.

Striving for Resolution

Many voices within the real estate industry are rising to be heard after the ORWP decision. While some feel unheard and unrepresented, there is a shared desire to avoid board termination. These dissenting boards express respect for OREA staff and commitment to finding a mutually agreeable path forward.

The real estate landscape in Ontario is evolving, and the Ontario Realtor Wellness Program remains at the center of this transformation. As OREA and the dissenting boards continue to engage in this critical debate, the future of mandatory insurance in the industry hangs in the balance.

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