Professionalism & Self-Regulation
| November 16, 2021
Message from Russ Morrow CEO, RECA
It’s been a busy three months since I started at RECA on August 9. I’ve had the privilege of continuing to meet with many of our stakeholder groups, and I look forward to meeting more regularly as discussions ramp up during RECA’s strategic planning process.
As I said in my introductory message to the new licensing year, my short-term goal has been to get to know everyone I can in the industry to best prepare myself, and RECA, for success. I am responsible for RECA’s administration and that is a responsibility I do not take lightly.
A word on professionalism and self-regulation
I’d like to take a moment to re-iterate some of what I said in my October 1 email to all licensees. It relates to professionalism and self-regulation. I feel it’s important that we all understand what professionalism means in the context of a regulated industry, as I think sometimes the concept of professionalism gets lost when there is no rule that says explicitly “be professional” and defines what that is.
Professionalism can’t be separated from regulatory standards. Professionalism is at the heart of and is the essence of regulatory standards. Professionalism and regulatory standards have a causal relationship—professionalism drives regulatory standards and regulatory standards ensure professionalism in a self-regulated environment. They are not the same thing, but rather they are intertwined in the legislation.
The Real Estate Act recognizes that it’s impossible to have rules to cover every possible circumstance an individual or a brokerage might face, and it speaks to the concept of conduct deserving of sanction. This phrase and other similar phrases (e.g., conduct unbecoming) have been used in statutes regulating other professionals to cover circumstances that—while not specifically described in the legislation—harm the public or the integrity of the industry.
Licensees have the primary responsibility for effective self-regulation. The collective professional mindset they bring to the services they provide ensures their competence, ethical conduct, and compliance with the rules. All of this determines the integrity of an industry, and ensures the industry is one consumers can trust.
Licensees with a professional mindset are guided by the spirit and intent of the applicable rule. They seek to comply with the rules and act ethically, not to seeking ways to “get around” the rules or professional standards.
RECA’s role in ensuring professionalism is the same as its role to set regulatory standards. RECA must act in accordance with the legislation in the Real Estate Act, which includes enforcing the standards of practice and investigating and handing down discipline in the event RECA finds conduct deserving of sanction. This is not a role that RECA can relegate to another body.
I know the vast majority of licensees see themselves as professionals, and take that aspect of their business seriously. After all, a professional, accountable industry is one consumers can trust.
I hope I have made it clearer how RECA views professionalism in the industry, and I hope we can all work together to increase the professionalism and integrity of the industry, all in the public interest.
Reach out to RECA
I’m interested to hear from more stakeholders about this notion of professional conduct and how it relates to consumer protection. I encourage everyone to provide feedback through the strategic planning form on reca.ca, and reach out to your Industry Council.
Self-regulation is a privilege that can be taken away if we all don’t take it seriously. Governments in BC and Ontario have done so within the last few years, and now Alberta stands alone as the last truly self-regulated jurisdiction for real estate and mortgage brokerages. Together, we can make sure things stay that way.