By Lawrence Papoff
MONTREAL, QUE. – Quebec 25 transfers control over dealer licensing from the Quebec Automobile Association (SAAQ), which issues driver licenses and car registrations as well as being Quebec’s publicly owned auto insurer, to the Quebec Consumer Protection Bureau (OPC).
Steeve De Marchi, executive director general of the province’s used-car dealer association, AMVOQ, welcomes the change on behalf of his organization.
Before the changes, which become effective in October, the only power the SAAQ had was to refuse to issue or cancel a dealer’s license if the applicant had been convicted of theft or possession of a stolen vehicle of car parts or fraud in relation to an automobile in the five years prior to the application.
“The SAAQ’s mission is protect individuals against the risks of road accidents by issuing car registrations and drivers’ licenses and covering personal liabilities as an insurance company,” De Marchi says.
By contrast, the OPC now enforces the province’s consumer protection laws and deals with consumer complaints against new and used-car dealers.
“Over all, it will definitely help in offering a better environment for both consumers and car dealers and increase the actual value of a used-car dealership,” he says.
He says the transfer of information from the SAAQ to the OPC will also help.
“A dealer suspended by the SAAQ will show on the OPC’s radar if the dealer wants to get a license from the new authority.”
De Marchi guesses that tighter controls will see the number of registered dealers in the province drop from 5,900 to 4,000.
He expects the OPC to use its substantial resources to put heat on curbsiders.
“Curbsiders were in a legal blind spot as they were neither on the SAAQ’s nor OPC’s radar. Basically, anyone buying or selling cars, directly or indirectly, will need to have a permit and respect the law.”
Before, that was not the case.
“These curbsiders are not really overseen by any authority,” he says.
In an email, the OPC says “the management of permits [of] dealers and recyclers of road vehicles proves the missing piece: it will allow the agency to ensure full protection of consumers.”
The OPC adds that the cost of licenses would go up to finance the agency’s activities.