A bill now under consideration by the Ontario Legislature suggests that the concept of condominium managers becoming a self-regulated profession is not far-fetched. It may also signal that the time has come for condominium managers to step up their campaign for self-regulation.

Under Bill 138, the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2010, the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (“the Association”) would be established as the regulatory body charged with overseeing the human resources profession.

If passed, Bill 138 would:

  • authorize the Association to set qualification requirements to be admitted as a member;
  • prohibit any person who is not a member of the Association to use its designations, including “Registered Human Resources Professional” and impose fines for unauthorized use;
  • permit the Association to grant, refuse or restrict the ability of a firm to practice in the field of human resources;
  • require members to be investigated immediately upon becoming bankrupt or incapacitated;
  • establish procedures for dealing with complaints against the Association’s members and firms and establish a disciplinary process;
  • allow the appointment of investigators and inspectors to conduct investigations and inspections under the Act;
  • permit the Association to obtain a court order for custody of a members property in certain circumstances.

The current status and full text of the bill can be viewed on the legislature’s website.  See also Hicks Morley’s HR Legislative Update blog for useful expert commentary.

While the concept of regulating HR people might not generate much excitement for our blog’s loyal readers, it presents an interesting opportunity to help kickstart the movement to regulate the condo management industry. At first glance, Bill 138 appears to provide a reasonable model for converting almost any industry association into a self-regulating body. Its provisions would likely work well for the condo management industry while providing meaningful protection to the public, which should be the ultimate factor in considering the regulation of any industry.

Instituting proper regulation of the condo management industry is long overdue and the public interest demands it. Despite the good work of organizations like ACMO in raising the bar for managers and helping condo boards identify suitably qualified firms and individual practitioners, the daily news in every province and state contains stories of incompetence, misfeasance and outright theft committed by property managers. In places like Ontario where no government regulation exists, homeowners victimized by a manager are left to rely on the criminal justice system to punish the offender and must fend for themselves in civil court to recoup their losses. This government inaction costs Ontario condo unit owners countless millions of dollars each year and, even worse, allows untrained or corrupt property managers to victimize an endless stream of condominium corporations and their owners with impunity. This is a travesty that the industry, led by ACMO, seeks to address.

It is strikingly odd that human resources professionals, whose impact on the general public is relatively minimal, have made such advanced progress towards government-sanctioned self-regulation compared to condominium managers. The condo management profession is arguably a far superior candidate for self-regulation (or any form of government regulation), given that managers are entrusted with administering assets worth billions of dollars belonging to millions of Ontario home owners. The daily work of condo managers hits much closer to home, quite literally, than almost any other profession and it seems astonishing that their industry does not receive proportionate attention by the government when compared to human resources professionals as evidenced by Bill 138. While the analogy is overly simplistic, it defies logic for a person or firm that keeps track of employee sick days to be more tightly regulated than the person or firm that manages the multi-million dollar reserve funds of several condo corporations. This point (or, hopefully, a better one) needs to be made to government now, using big bright letters.

Bill 138 was introduced as a private members bill by a liberal MPP in November 2010, passed second reading on March 3, 2011 and was referred to committee. It is unclear whether the bill will become law before the current legislative session is terminated for the general election this fall. If the bill dies on the order paper, it is even less clear if the bill will be revived after the election.

Regardless of whether Bill 138 passes or sputters out and dies like most private members’ bills, its framework and laudable goal to increase professionalism can and should be salvaged, improved and customized to suit the needs of other organizations, such as ACMO in the case of the condominium managers. The managers and their clients, being the millions of condo unit owners in this province, should take advantage of whatever opportunity might arise to make their voices heard and get the government’s attention.  Work needs to begin soon on the Registered Condominium Managers Act, 2011.