Former Executive Director
We are sometimes asked who speaks for members of our industry who are not members of NOTO. The answer is that NOTO does. The simple reality is that governments turn mainly to industry organizations in order to understand the views of industry. Of course, other forms of consultation often occur, particularly at a local or regional level, but it is industry associations that generally have access to a wide range of opinion within their industry and that take the time to communicate those ideas and opinions to government.
NOTO made the decision some years ago to clearly position itself as an industry rather than membership organization. This means that we try to do everything we can to understand and represent the interests of the entire industry to government. It also means that everyone in the industry can call NOTO with questions or concerns. No one who calls the NOTO office looking for help or wanting their views known is ever turned away because they are not members.
NOTO staff has acquired a lot of experience in a number of areas, from drinking water regulations to border issues, and we share our knowledge freely with the industry and your customers. For example, the NOTO office typically receives several calls per week from guests in the US who want information on how to deal with an old criminal charge such as a DUI that may prevent them from entering Canada. We provide these guests with detailed information on the procedures available to them and usually refer them directly to the people in Citizenship and Immigration Canada who can process their application. This is the kind of service that immigration consultants can charge up to $1000 for – your guests get it free, whether you belong to NOTO or not.
So why pay to join NOTO? If nobody paid to join, NOTO would not exist and none of these services would be available. If more join, we will have more resources and will be able to do more on your behalf. Those are the immediate, practical reasons to join. But there are other reasons, as well.
How can we claim to represent the entire industry when not everybody is a member? We can legitimately claim to represent the industry because everybody can be a member. Our membership is open and inclusive, and we are governed by an industry elected board of directors. Every member of the industry can become a member of NOTO, and every member can run for election to the NOTO board. Unfortunately, some in the industry choose not to take advantage of the opportunity.
For its members, NOTO provides regular updates via email regarding clarification on new and changing regulations, like the recent changes to the boating regulations regarding operation of boats and the upcoming move to harmonized sales tax in Ontario.
We do the research to ensure that our members understand what these changes mean for their businesses. We include our members as part of our research by regularly requesting input from our members on important issues. NOTO members benefit first from the research that we do.
Of course, members also receive practical money saving benefits like discounts on a range of goods and services from insurance to long distance calls. There are also advertising discounts and preferred placement in NOTO marketing publications. But these should be seen as a bonus, not the main reason to join NOTO. You should join NOTO because you need a strong industry association and your membership dollars make us stronger. We will continue to speak for you and support you whether you join or not, but without the support of the entire industry, we may not have the resources to get the job done. If you really want to influence NOTO’s direction and priorities, join and become fully engaged with the association. We exist because many in the industry support us – can you afford not to?
This article was taken from page 19 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Winter 2009 Issue