07/18/2013 10:36 EDT | Updated 09/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario gives green light for mandatory qualifications for condo managers

TORONTO - Ontario's consumer services minister says the growth of condominiums in the province means changes are needed, including qualifications for condo managers.

Tracy MacCharles says while the condo industry has boomed in recent years, managers currently aren't required to have any training, despite handling massive operating budgets worth millions of dollars.

She says 10 per cent of Ontario residents live in a condo, adding today's condominiums are complex operations that require a high level of competence to run.

So the province has given a "green light" to bring in mandatory qualifications for condo managers in the first of several expected changes to come out of its Condominium Act Review.

MacCharles says a group of condo owners, residents and industry experts will look at what mandatory qualifications for condo managers should be.

They will also decide how to set up an independent, regulatory authority to oversee licensing and standards.

The group is to give its report to government by the end of the summer.

"There is an overwhelming consensus that condominium managers be qualified to carry out their significant responsibilities," MacCharles said Thursday.

"One in 10 people in Ontario live in a condominium and their quality of life depends to a great degree on qualified, well-trained condominium managers."

New Democrat MPP Rosario Marchese said the government has long known that many condo managers are underqualified and mandatory licensing is overdue.

The review of the Condominium Act is taking too long, delaying needed reforms, he said.

Marchese also criticized the government's proposed expert panel, saying it's "stacked" with people linked to two condo industry lobby groups.

"This government has a fondness for self-regulatory models that entrench private interests while shutting out consumers," said Marchese.

The province says there are about 600,000 condominium units in Ontario, represented by 9,000 corporations, and condos represent half of all new homes built in Ontario.

The ministry says managers don't necessarily have an understanding of the bylaws governing condos, including building maintenance or contracting out services such as cleaning and landscaping.

"We are pleased that the government recognizes the importance of a regulated condominium management profession," said Dean McCabe, past president of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario.

"This commitment today will add value to condominiums of all sizes across the province."