Being a condominium director is often a thankless job: most condominium directors in Ontario serve on an unpaid volunteer basis to deal with big-ticket items such the corporation’s finances, maintenance and repair and rule enforcement all while inevitably making themselves a target for unhappy owners. Generally speaking, the Condo Act and a condominium’s by-laws requirements to run for the board are fairly easy to meet. The beauty of this is that condominium boards are typically made up of different backgrounds, experiences and expertise. There is a place for all types of owners on a condominium board but by the same token, it raises questions as to whether directors are qualified to serve on the board: are they the right person for the job or did they simply win a popularity contest?
To address this issue and instill a basic level of condominium knowledge for all condo directors, the Condominium Authority of Ontario provides a basic Foundational Director Training program (the “FDT”). The program provides a high-level overview on crucial topics like condominium governance, financial management and maintenance/repair. The program is offered for free and can be done online. This program is mandatory for all condo directors: per the Condo Act, directors who do not complete this mandatory training within six months of their election/appointment to the board are automatically disqualified from their position.
In 2022, the CAO launched its Advanced Director Training (the “ADT”). The ADT comprises six modules on Condominium Governance, Emergency Planning & Preparedness, Finance, Issues Management, Overseeing Condominium Managers and Procurement. These modules explore issues not fully addressed in the FDT such as managing difficult conflicts within the board, effective oversight of condominium managers and how to manage the bidding/tendering process for major construction contracts. To help directors navigate the ADT, the CAO offered an informative live webinar (which is available at https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/news-media/advanced-director-training-webinar/) and if that wasn’t enough, the CAO provides comprehensive Best Practice guides on each module (https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/director-training/director-training-overview/advanced-optional-director-training/).
As someone who regularly deals with condominium matters, I am thoroughly impressed with the CAO’s training programs. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. For starters, most directors I have spoken to are unaware of the ADT though I appreciate that the program is still in its infancy. Secondly, there are important topics (namely proactive issue spotting and enforcement) that should be incorporated into the mandatory FDT with the rest of the ADT serving as a supplement to the FDT.
We will have to wait to see how effective the ADT is but the potential is certainly there. As a parting remark, Tony’s Takeaway is that all directors who haven’t completed their FDT yet do so immediately; and for those who have completed the FDT, consider the ADT and the wonderful resources the CAO provides.