OP ED: Digital Dealership Project, One Year in the Making

Published on December 10, 2019

Imagine being able to walk in to a dealership, purchase your vehicle, and bring it home the same day. I am happy to share that this will start to become the reality for consumers across the province in spring 2020.

Shortly after being elected, I began to speak with auto dealers and was shocked to learn about the burdensome process they must go through to hand over the keys to their customers. The current process requires dealers to go in person to Service Ontario when they register and licence sold vehicles, costing dealerships and consumers time and money. In an age when groceries can be delivered to your door-step, it is unacceptable that auto dealerships still cannot register and licence vehicles at the point of sale. This is a perfect example of how burdensome red-tape is holding our province back.

After hearing auto dealer and consumer frustrations in Waterloo Region and from industry stakeholders such as the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, I introduced my very first Private Member’s Bill (PMB), Bill 50, the Cutting Red Tape for Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2018.

With the goal of modernizing auto sales in Ontario, Bill 50 proposed to allow auto dealers the ability to apply for permits, number plates, sticker validations and used vehicle information packages online at their dealerships. No longer would a dealer be required to send an employee to wait in line at a Service Ontario, or would an excited consumer have to make multiple trips to the lot just to pick up their vehicle.

Bill 50 was a resurrection of Bill 152 introduced by the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, while he was an MPP in opposition. Minister Clark introduced this bill three times and I was thankful for his unwavering support when my bill received unanimous consent in the Legislative Assembly at second reading one year ago today.

Since this passage, Bill 50 has received incredible support from auto dealers and consumers in my riding of Kitchener-Conestoga and across the province. Because of the tremendous response, our government is implementing many of Bill 50’s provisions and I commend the work that our Minister of Government and Consumers Services, the Honorable Lisa Thompson, is doing to move the digital dealership registration pilot project ahead.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has been engaging with dealers, fleet and rental car operators as well as consumers on the design of this pilot, which is set to lauch this spring. The response and interest from the auto industry has been overwhelming. I am continuing to work with ministry officials, especially to ensure that the pilot project addresses the concerns that I heard over the past year and I am pleased with the progress that is being made.

When our government came to office almost a year and a half ago, we set out a goal of reducing red tape for businesses by 25%. We also began to modernize and digitize our government services, to make transformations that are long overdue such as those proposed in Bill 50.

Making dealers one stop shops to purchase vehicles is good for consumers, good for business, and is just common sense. Modernizing auto sales will make this industry truly open for business.

This pilot will ensure that Ontario dealers are one step closer to being able to match the level of service their counterparts in Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and various jurisdictions across the United States have been providing for years.

It has been over a year in the making, but finally Bill 50 is becoming a reality. I look forward to sharing more in the coming months about what our government is doing to digitize dealership services and move dealerships into the 21st century.

Mike Harris
MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry