Craig Couillard, President
Association of Alberta Registry Agents
Your neighborhood registry agent is part of every Albertan’s life, literally from birth to death. Every significant milestonec generally goes through a registry agent at some point.
Many people are surprised to learn that a registry agents offers over 200 products and services on behalf of five government departments. We are the primary source for Albertans to register to be an organ and tissue donor. You want to become an entrepreneur so you go to a registry to learn how to incorporate. Your community association wants to run a raffle so you go to your registry agent to fill out the necessary form. Within days of new immigrants arriving in Alberta, one of their first stops is at a local registry agent.
There are 207 independent registry agents in across the province, employing 1,300 predominately female workers in stable, well-paying jobs. Our industry is non-partisan. We work for and with the government of the day.
This 25-year public-private partnership is the envy of any province or state in North America with the lowest wait times, most convenient hours, and below average retail prices.
But the retail landscape is changing, and consumers are demanding new methods of being served. The registry industry has embarked on a comprehensive modernization plan that includes putting more registry services online, such as vehicle renewals and various searches. Close to .5M Albertans have signed up for an eReminder about their vehicle registration or driver’s licence expiration date.
The industry is exploring self-service kiosks similar to an ATM machine that would allow 24/7 service at some of the larger urban registries. Proposals are being drafted to allow satellite offices to some of the remote northern communities that don’t have a full-service registry.
A registry agent largely operates in a capped fee environment. Most regulated industries such as utilities and the bottle recycling depots have a formal fee review process (fee model). Unfortunately, no such mechanism has ever been implemented for the registry industry.
The last capped fee increase to a registry agent was 2005, almost 14 years ago. As with any business, costs have increased significantly over that period, especially in salaries, rent, utilities, taxes, and IT support. For many agents, especially in the rural areas, they have reached an economic crisis point.
Further compounding this dire situation, the government has already launched one online registry service that excluded registry agents, and are considering others. The very existence of an industry that has served Albertans well for the past 25 years is threatened.
Registry agents want to modernize our industry including putting more services online. The two regulatory and/or policy changes to ensure the long-term sustainability of your local registry agent and increase the online registry services available to you are:
Implementation of a Sustainability Framework where registry fees are fairly and regularly reviewed by an independent agency that will preserve the local registry agent and allow the industry to offer more services online.
Develop of a framework for Online Registry Services that equitably includes registry agents.
In a recent survey, 90 per cent of those polled felt that losing their local registry agent would have a negative or extremely negative impact on their community. If you value your registry agent and the services they provide, please go to supportmyregistry.ca to learn more.
And click on the link to automatically send a supportive letter to all candidates in your area.
Thank you on behalf of the 207 registry agents who are proud to serve you.