I appreciate the opportunity to report to you on the business of your association over the past year. I hope my words spur consideration, discussion, suggestions for action and your recommendations on where we stay the course and where we pursue change in the year ahead.
As it did throughout 2020, COVID continued to offer us no alternative but to hold our meetings and our convention in virtual formats through Microsoft Teams in 2021. While gathering online can never replace getting together in person at our convention, we are pleased that we are able to collaborate virtually and continue to conduct the important business of the SAA.
The pandemic changed how we do business, and it changed the way the world conducts business. Auctioneers have felt the effects. The push to doing things online has fast-tracked more timed auctions and squeezed out live auctions. I suspect it’s very unlikely things will swing back to the way they used to be, and the SAA will need to monitor the situation closely to ensure the interests of our members is protected.
Unlicensed Online Auctions
Unlicensed online auctions were becoming a problem prior to the onset of COVID, and not being able to gather in groups for nearly two years has pushed even more organizations to sell, buy, and fundraise virtually through online auctions.
Current government regulations are anything but current as they haven’t been changed to reflect the emergence of online auctions. These outdated regulations present a very real threat to your Association and to the public we serve as allowing unregulated auctions can result in defrauding the buyer and the seller with no consequences or access to restitution. Our reputation is at risk as people unfamiliar with the auction process are unlikely to understand that there is no affiliation between us and unregulated online auctions, and that is unacceptable. When online auctions operate under the table and outside regulations strip the government of tax revenue, and one would think the government would find that unacceptable. These outdated regulations and unregulated auctions need to change.
Your board of directors reached out to the Consumer Protection Branch of Sask Justice (CPB) to advise them of the growing problems posed by unregulated online auctions and to suggest that the SAA would work with CPB to amend existing legislation to include online auctions and to actively enforce them.
As a result of our request, the Executive Director, Consumer Protection Division Denny Huyghebaert attended the May 12, 2021 SAA directors meeting and participated in discussion regarding the current legislation and why change is needed. He seemed receptive to our plight and he did his best to understand the gaps in the current legislation. Mr. Huyghebaert asked that we submit a position paper to him and he undertook to discuss it with the Minister with a view to amending existing legislation.
SAA’s May 24, 2021 position paper was submitted to Mr. Huyghebaert. We remain optimistic that we will receive a positive reply.
We are also in touch with representatives of the Alberta Auctioneers Association (AAA) who reached out to us with similar challenges and concerns with a wave of online auctions and lagging legislation to govern them. On March 10, 2021, AAA representatives president Joe Perlich, director Gord Musgrove, and strategic consultant and executive director Jacqueline Biollo joined our director’s meeting. It was interesting and productive hearing their challenges and discussing how they were attempting to facilitate the required changes to the legislation in their province.
We’re also dealing with Consumer and Corporate Affairs on a problem brought to light by an SAA member’s experience. Currently, auction companies are listed under The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act as suppliers in the consumer act. In reality, we are agents for the consigner with our own binding terms and conditions for conducting sales for the consigner.
Currently, The Auctioneers Act is not listed among the legislations exempt by Division 2 of The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Regulations ̶ the Division that applies to internet auction sales as outlined in the Regulations. We have asked that The Auctioneers Act be added to the exemption list. In response, Mr. Huyghebaert asked us for our detailed rationale, concrete examples, and evidence to support our suggestions for amendment, and we have provided same to him. As it often seems to be when dealing with governments and bureaucrat organizations, there is a lot of hurry-up and wait. We await his reply.
Web Page, Newsletter and Social Media
You may notice we have an updated SAA logo since our last convention. We have also launched a new look for our web page late last year and, as she does with our newsletter and Facebook page, our office administrator Jo-Ann Ganzert keeps things current with updates and information on upcoming meetings, events, and items of interest.
We are continually looking for content for our publications and your input is always appreciated.
If you have stories, photos, items, or articles of interest for the web page, newsletter, or our social media, forward them to Jo-Ann. We’re interested in seeing and sharing what you are doing, and we want to actively promote members of the association, so don’t be shy to share your photos, upcoming and recently conducted sales, and public-interest stories with us. These are the things that make our publications really come to life and we can’t do it without you.
By their very nature, auctioneers are busy people. We all have businesses, families, and community commitments leaving us little time to take on additional roles and interests. The SAA appreciate everyone who takes the time to be involved and particularly those who are actively involved. By attending meetings, staying in touch and sharing your concerns and goals, you are giving direction to your Association and its directors. We want to hear from you, and we appreciate when you reach out to us with your observations, needs and suggestions – positive or otherwise.
I’m pleased to say a high majority of Saskatchewan’s auctioneers and auctioneering companies are SAA members. Unfortunately, member participation in the Association has been faltering and that can’t be blamed on COVID as there are many opportunities to be involved virtually. Like any organization, we are only as strong as the members who belong, and if we want this association to remain active and strong we need member involvement in a meaningful way. The load gets heavier when fewer people are carrying it, and we can’t keep replying on the same people to do the work. Having input and assistance from a wide variety of members can only benefit and strengthen the Association.
If you have suggestions on what we could be doing differently to get our members involved, please let one of your SAA directors know.
Your finances will be reviewed in detail during convention. For the moment, we are in reasonable shape financially. That will change if we don’t maintain and grow our membership.
Again, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, please share them with a SAA board member.
I’d like to thank my fellow executive board members Barrie Jung, Dan Heslip, Kelly Clarke, Riley McChesney, Terry McDougall, Kelly Schneider, and also, Jo-Ann Ganzert for serving the Association and for helping me navigate my time as president. This group has put in a lot of time, thought, and effort doing their very best to move the Association forward. They are a great group and I appreciate everything they have done for the Association and our members.
Your elected executive are here to assist you. Don’t be shy to approach them with concerns, ideas, and questions, because if it’s on your mind, other people are thinking about it, too.
When it comes time for elections, I hope you will consider volunteering to run or agreeing to let your name stand. All full members of the SAA are eligible for positions on the board and encouraged to allow their nomination at the AGM. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the association and the challenges we are facing, and to work with some motivated and talented people. Participation is key. Don’t be intimidated if you are new to either the association or being a board member. Whether you are new or seasoned, you bring valuable insight and perspective to the table.
In closing, thank you for making the time to attend our annual convention. Your participation is important and it is appreciated. As always, thank you to Jo-Ann for her work keeping everything in order and in line. When things are done well, they look simple and seamless, and that is the result of Jo-Ann’s organizational prowess and hard work. Putting together financials, licenses, correspondence, and co-ordinating our Board meetings and a convention of a group of busy and headstrong auctioneers requires a lot of patience and juggling by Jo-Ann, and for that we are very appreciative.
I challenge everyone to do what they can to improve and promote the SAA. Let people know that when they are dealing with you, they are working with a regulated and licensed member of the Saskatchewan Auctioneers Association and, as such, they are offered a level of protection that non-licensed auctioneers simply can’t provide.
Thank you for trusting me with this important role and the opportunity to serve as your president.