The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) will officially roll out a new benefits program for Ontario Realtors, adding hundreds of dollars to member fees.

A meeting of OREA's 34 member boards was held on Tuesday, at which nearly 80% voted in favour of the new benefits program -- dubbed the Ontario Realtor Wellness Program (ORWP) -- which will offer various health and wellness coverage beginning in 2024.

″No one thinks the unexpected will happen to them until it does,″ said OREA President Tania Artenosi. ″But we are all just one stroke of bad luck away from our lives being turned upside down. Offering a benefits program that can assist Members during trying times has been a long-standing aspiration at OREA, and we are thrilled to have the support of our Member Boards to do something about it.″

The benefits program will provide realtors with coverage for prescription drugs, paramedical practitioners, medical services and supplies, and virtual healthcare. It also offers access to up to $100K in life insurance, up to $25K in critical illness insurance, out-of-country emergency medical travel insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

The ORWP will also give realtors the option to add dental or vision care when the plan comes into effect on January 1, 2024. Realtor family members, board/association staff, and brokerage staff will also be able to enrol in the program at that time, at an additional cost.

OREA expects the benefits package to cost each of its 96,000 members $54.99 a month, which the association notes is less than $2 per day. This will be added onto the existing $110 OREA membership fee, bringing the total annual dues to $769.88 for 2024. The increase in dues will go towards not only the benefits plan itself, but the administration of the plan.

READ: Tania Artenosi Appointed OREA President for 2023

"For healthcare alone, the coverage is worth $2,000," OREA tells STOREYS. "That’s a savings of over $1,340, including all insurance and virtual healthcare. Unlike the vast majority of private plans, there will be no medical tests or questionnaires required in order to participate in the ORWP.

"When looking at the benefits the ORWP will offer, for the price that we were able to negotiate, OREA believes this program meets the Task Force’s criteria of being sustainable, affordable, accessible, and of course, valuable to our members."