VANCOUVER, British Columbia -

The provincial government has announced proposed amendments to the Motor Dealer Act of British Columbia.

In an effort to strengthen its consumer legislation to increase protections for motor vehicles buyers, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Minister Mike Morris introduced the changes in mid-February.

The amendments are designed to increase certainty to consumers when buying a vehicle and increase the professionalism of the auto retail industry. Officials aim for it to bring B.C.’s motor vehicle sales regulations in alignment with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Morris said, “British Columbians deserve safe, reliable transportation and they deserve to know what they are buying. Failing to disclose damage on a vehicle, or rolling back the odometer is simply wrong. It can cause financial hardship, injury, even death.

“This government has taken a tough stance in order to protect B.C. consumers. I am proud of the work that has been done to keep B.C. drivers safe and keep money in their pockets,” he continued.

The B.C. government consulted with the New Car Dealers Association, the Automotive Retailers Association, the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association and the Vehicle Sales Authority to draft the proposed amendments.

Here’s a rundown of the proposed changes dealers and auto industry professionals might want to keep in mind:

First off is the expansion of who is regulated and licensed under the act. The Ministry is proposing growing the act to include used-vehicle wholesalers, and broker agents who act on behalf of consumers when purchasing a vehicle.

The licensing of wholesalers was brought up to improve the disclosure of vehicle histories to buyers.

“As an unlicensed group, wholesalers have not had a legal obligation to disclose vehicle histories when selling vehicles to dealers,” the Ministry’s press release noted. “There has also been nothing in place to prohibit broker-agents from receiving money from both the buyer and seller, putting them in a position of conflict.”

The government is also looking to add administrative penalties, compliance orders and undertakings to the current administrative enforcement options it has and will improve the ability of the Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) of British Columbia to address violations of the Motor Dealer Act.

According to the Ministry’s release, other changes to the Motor Dealer Act include the following, as listed by the Ministry:

  • The creation of a new Consumer Advancement Fund to receive payments from administrative penalties under the Motor Dealer Act, which will be used to promote consumer and industry education.
  • Providing for the transfer of oversight for the Customer Compensation Fund from government to the Vehicle Sales Authority, saving government time and expense in managing the fund.
  • Enhancing fairness and transparency by modernizing and clarifying provisions for:
    • service notices and orders under the act
    • the publishing of licensing and enforcement decisions, and
    • reconsiderations of enforcement actions by the regulator
  • Providing regulation-making authority to establish and enforce a code of professional conduct for motor dealers, to further support a responsible and professional vehicle sales industry.

Blair Qualey, president and chief executive officer of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C., said,  “This legislation helps to ensure that brokers, broker-agents and wholesalers are properly regulated and held to the same standards and level of accountability as new car and truck dealers. Consumers absolutely deserve full protection and transparency when making an investment as significant as a vehicle.

“This legislation addresses important regulatory gaps in the supply chain and helps to raise the level of accountability across our industry,” Qualey said.