Message from the Board Chair
| May 05, 2021
Patricia McLeod, Q.C.
It’s hard to believe, but RECA’s Board of Directors and Industry Councils have been working together for five months now. In many ways it feels like we have been working together for years, and in other ways it has felt like the blink of an eye! It is certainly been an unusual experience working so closely with a group of people who, thanks to the pandemic, have never even met in person!
The Board has undertaken a lot of work, and has a lot of work remaining to meet the ambitious timelines for certain projects set by Service Alberta. We are starting to truly get our legs under us and are making serious progress in a number of key areas.
Since my last message in February, the Board has met three times to work towards fulfilling our 2021 obligations to Service Alberta and to stakeholders. (Check for Board meeting agendas and minutes on reca.ca. Meeting minutes are added to the website as they are approved.)
Latest Board Activities
One of our immediate goals is to hire a permanent Chief Executive Officer for RECA. RECA has been without a permanent executive officer since August 2019, and the sooner the position is permanently filled, the sooner RECA can function fully as intended by the December 1, 2020 changes to the Real Estate Act. The Board, through the newly formed HR and Governance Committee, has approved Boyden, an external executive recruitment firm, to conduct the search. The Board hopes to have the new CEO in place in the next 90 days.
Another immediate obligation of the Board is the creation of new Bylaws pertaining to governance, Board dispute resolution, and governance training. These new Bylaws must be submitted to the Minister of Service Alberta for approval by June 30, 2021. The Board must also develop Bylaws regarding the divestment of education and the Industry Council elections. These must be on the Minister’s desk by August 31, 2021. Work on all of these Bylaws is underway, and will be a priority for the Board over the Spring and Summer.
The Board has also worked closely with the Industry Councils in ensuring we are all working under the same education divestment framework. By working from the same framework, we can ensure education standards remain as consistent as possible across each sector and that each Industry Council can meet the deadline of December 1, 2022 to divest all licensing education from RECA. This is a massive undertaking that must be carefully planned to ensure all new licensees entering the industry are competent and ready to assist and protect the public of Alberta. More information on the divestment project will be sent to all stakeholders when feedback is sought and as decisions are made. Keep an eye on your inbox!
Further Amendments to the Real Estate Act
Service Alberta introduced further changes to the Real Estate Act in Bill 62, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act 2021, on April 8, 2021. These amendments clarify some of the authority the Board has over creating bylaws around education divestment and Industry Council elections, clarify some of the Minister’s authority concerning approving new Bylaws and Rules for the industry, and allow for the staggering of appointments to the Board and Industry Councils. Be sure to be on the lookout for more information from RECA on these amendments should they be passed in the Legislature.
At its March 5 meeting, the Board approved a new Stakeholder Engagement Policy that outlines how, why, and with whom RECA will engage on issues. The Policy ensures all RECA stakeholder engagement will be timely, equal, consistent, transparent, and meaningful.
I hope you had the chance to join the Board of Directors at our Online Engagement Session on April 14. We had nearly 150 stakeholders take part in a short presentation of current Board activities followed by a lengthy question and answer session. The session was an example of self-regulation in action! Thank you to everyone who tuned in and to everyone who asked questions. The session is available online, and I encourage everyone to learn what your regulatory body is up to. I was impressed by the level of engagement from the stakeholders that attended.
The Board believes strongly in transparency and accountability. During the session certain themes in the questions came up, and I’d like to address them here:
The KPMG Report Recommendations
The KPMG Report contained many recommendations to the Minister of Service Alberta. The Minister acted on those recommendations, resulting in the dismissal of the old Council, and the creation of the new governance structure for RECA. Through making this governance structure change, many further recommendations in the report were not required, as they were recommendations to be followed should the Minster not change the governance structure.
Some of the other recommendations already enacted and enshrined in the Real Estate Act are mandatory governance training, a requirement to create a dispute resolution bylaw, and executive director performance reviews. We have already undergone governance training, and are in the process of creating relevant bylaws and processes for the rest of those recommendations.
An additional recommendation was the creation of an Enterprise Risk Management process for RECA. RECA had already begun this process at the time of the KPMG review, and that work will continue under the Board’s Finance and Audit Committee.
RECA’s Office Building
A few questions pertained to RECA’s office building purchase in 2018. Like all of RECA’s assets and investments, decisions regarding RECA’s building are a Board matter, and one we will manage with the same care, diligence, and transparency that we will provide for all of RECA’s investments. For anyone concerned about transparency, RECA’s finances are, and always have been, audited annually by a third-party auditor, and financial statements are posted on the RECA website.
The Board will review the decisions that led to the purchase of the building; however, the fact remains that RECA owns the building where its offices are located, and the Board will make determinations about the building moving forward the same way we would make a determination about any of RECA’s assets and investments. The Board will act in the best interest of RECA, the industry, and the Alberta public.
Some attendees had questions about Bill 62, which I spoke about above. In particular they had questions about the Board’s involvement with these changes.
Bill 62 was written by the Government of Alberta, and the Board was not consulted in its writing. That being said, the Board supports more clarity in the Real Estate Act. We will have more to say about the amendments should they be passed in the Legislature.
The Board Online Engagement Session was just the beginning. The Residential Real Estate Broker Industry Council held their Online Engagement Session on April 26, and each of the other Industry Councils will host their own sessions in the coming weeks. Please see the Chair’s messages from the Industry Councils for more information.
A quick note on the Online Engagement Sessions
We have appreciated the feedback and questions we have received during the stakeholder engagement process. After these engagements we have realized we need to make some clarifications and changes to improve the stakeholder engagement process.
- We want to make it clear the Q&A portion of the online engagement sessions is curated. We reserve the right to place parameters to ensure a courteous and collaborative exchange of ideas and concerns.
- Duplicate questions will not be read. If multiple questions relate to the same topic, the host may ask a general question based on the common theme they are seeing, and not read every question verbatim.
- Questions or comments containing defamatory or misleading information, will not be read during the session.
- Anonymous participants will not be accepted. All participants will need to identify themselves. This is a reasonable collaborative discussion expectation in a self-regulatory environment.
It is my hope that if we all keep a professional mindset in the stakeholder engagement sessions, we will best be able to work together to ensure robust and effective engagement.
Beyond these Online Engagement Sessions, you can reach the Board through the Board email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can fill out our Strategic Planning form, and let us know what issues, trends, or concerns you see in the industry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we want to hear from you! Meaningful engagement is how the privilege of self-regulation remains a reality for the industry in Alberta. So, take part! All feedback received will help the Board set a multi-year strategic plan for RECA.