POLITICS

Conservatives want Ontario to allow electronic signatures in real estate deals

03/07/2013 04:00 EST | Updated 05/06/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Ontario's Progressive Conservatives say it's time the province approved the use of electronic signatures for real estate transactions.

Belleville-area Conservative Todd Smith says Ontario is one of the last provinces to require people manually sign documents when buying and selling properties, which he calls an old fashioned way of doing business.

Smith has introduced a private member's bill that would allow people to use electronic signatures for real estate deals, which he says would clear away some red tape that hurts economic productivity.

He says the province can't afford electronic commerce laws that are stuck in the era of beepers when we live in the world of tablets and smart phones.

Sharon Short of the Quinte and District Real Estate Association believes people living in a mobile society are ready for paperless transactions, which she says make an agent's job easier and are good for their clients too.

Smith says his bill, which comes up for debate March 21, is aimed only at the real estate sector, but he's open to find other areas that could also benefit from the use of electronic signatures.

The Ontario Real Estate Association said realtors want the legal protections of the Electronic Commerce Act that Smith's bill would provide.

"Deleting the exemption from the act will remove a cumbersome piece of red tape for the real estate industry and it won't cost the province a dime," said association president Ron Abraham.

The technology "makes real estate transactions more efficient, accessible and secure," added Abraham.

Private members' bills rarely become law in Ontario.