EDMONTON — Beset by criticism from consumers and industry -- and publicly tagged for fostering a caustic work environment -- the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council is about to get a major overhaul.
The shake-up is in response to a government-ordered review as the Alberta NDP intends to take a firmer grip on the arms-length agency.
AMVIC regulates all facets of the province’s auto industry — new- and used-vehicle sales, repairs, towing, windshield replacement, detailers —and anything that requires an automotive licence, including heavy trucks and the training and licensing of sales staff.
After hundreds of complaints, Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean named George Cuff, a consultant specializing in board and council governance, to review AMVIC. She said the idea of
AMVIC is “excellent” but execution has been lacking.
McLean said the long list of complaints includes low public confidence, high levels of staff turnover, concerns over the actions of former administrators and questions about whether AMVIC acts in the best interest of consumers.
Some reports claim AMVIC was “sitting on” a $4 million compensation fund that should have been paid out to consumers; in 2016, it paid out only $2,000.
Legislation governing AMVIC requires compensation be made by licensed businesses. The fund is a last-resort measure tapped only when a licensee is unable to pay, for whatever reason.
Cuff’s 225-page report makes 23 recommendations, including redefining the role of CEO and creating a new registrar position to oversee industry legislation, registration, complaints and compensation.
It said the AMVIC board should include equal input from public and industry with the chair appointed by government. At the same time, new legislation would give the minister of Service Alberta power to issue orders related to reviews of AMVIC conduct, to dismiss board members or employees and to appoint a representative to oversee management of the compensation fund.
Operating under the Fair Trading Act and Traffic Safety Act, investigators are designated peace officers with powers to enter a business for inspection or during an investigation (with permission of the business), copy records or documents, issue tickets under the Traffic Safety Act and lay charges under the Fair Trading Act and even the Criminal Code.
McLean, who has accepted Cuff’s recommendations entirely, describes the shake-up as “complex”, with some items requiring legislation changes, but says she’s confident AMVIC will restore public faith in the industry.