Province moving to digitize services for consumers, dealers
The program will cut red tape by allowing eligible car dealerships to apply for permits, plates and validation stickers in-house, online.
Imagine buying a car from a dealership and not having to wait a day or two for it to be registered and licensed. Ontario’s current system inconveniences consumers by adding layers to the registration process for newly purchased vehicles.
However, with the Ontario government’s recently announced digital dealer registration pilot program, this is all about to change, and for the better.
The program will cut red tape by allowing eligible car dealerships to apply for permits, plates and validation stickers in-house, online. This will make new car dealerships one-stop-shops, saving consumers time and money.
Launching in the spring of 2020, the program will be developed over six months of consultation with ServiceOntario, car dealerships, rental car companies and fleet vehicle organizations.
The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association has advocated for in-house vehicle registrations for years, and our association applauds the government for making this policy change and for initiating a consultation process. Too often, governments make policy decisions without consulting with those on the ground and those who will be directly impacted. A six-month consultation period is a refreshing decision.
How will the program work? The design of the program is not fully set in stone, but based on previous pilots, we have some ideas. We envision auto dealers stocking licence plates and validation stickers in their dealerships. Upon completion of a sale or lease, the dealer would be able to electronically upload registration information through a secure portal to the Ministry of Transportation. Once completed, dealers would take the licence plate and stickers from their inventory and attach it to the vehicle.
Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador currently provide this service.
This pilot puts into policy several ideas contained in Bill 50, the Cutting Red Tape for Motor Vehicle Dealers Act, 2018. Bill 50 is a private member’s bill that was introduced in 2018 by Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga. If passed, Bill 50 would allow automobile dealers to electronically apply for permits, licence plates and validation stickers, among other things, online in their dealerships. MPP Harris met with his local dealers and heard first-hand the unnecessary length of time it took to register vehicles, and felt it was time to advocate for digitizing the vehicle-sales process.
Another important change that will affect motorists in Ontario is the decision to allow drivers the choice to use electronic proof of automobile insurance.
The move to allow drivers the option of providing a digital version of proof of insurance will provide convenience for motorists throughout Ontario.
The TADA thanks Finance Minister Rod Phillips for his leadership on making electronic automobile insurance slips a reality in Ontario.
Insurers will have the option of providing electronic insurance cards as proof of insurance, which consumers can download to their smartphones. Motorists will have the option of using an electronic insurance card or a paper version.
What happens when a phone is out of juice, out of service or has a damaged screen? Electronic insurance cards will be designed to work across all mobile platforms, but if consumers are hesitant to rely on their phones, they can continue using the printed version.
Whatever version of proof of insurance motorists opt for, they are still responsible for producing proof of insurance for a police officer when asked.
Another concern is whether they will be applicable outside of Ontario. Motorists should contact their insurance providers with questions about proof of insurance before they drive outside the province.
The move to allow automobile dealers to apply for permits, licence plates and validation stickers electronically, and to allow electronic proof of auto insurance, are examples of the provincial government’s intention to cut red tape and modernize services for drivers and dealers.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.