McGuinty Refuses to Listen on Auto Insurance(August 31, 2009) One issue facing Ontarians which seems to be consistently swept under the rug is the McGuinty Government’s inability to control the costs of auto insurance. Rising costs have become a major problem throughout Premier McGuinty’s tenure. Last year auto insurance rates went up an average of 5.6 percent across the province, a substantial hike which only hurts Ontarians already feeling the pinch from the poor economic situation. This is in sharp contrast to the 2003 Liberal campaign promise to “reduce premiums by an average of at least 10%” within 90 days of forming government.
The Liberal Government has failed to adequately publicize the Financial Services Commission of Ontario’s five-year report and the so-called "consultation" which accompanied it. Unlike the McGuinty Liberals who’ve left consumers in the dark on their proposed changes, the Progressive Conservative Caucus wants to hear first from Ontarians before any action is taken.
On May 14, 2009, my colleague MPP Bob Runciman (Leeds-Grenville) asked the Finance Minister in the Legislature for comprehensive consultations with stakeholders but was flatly rejected by Minister Duncan. Mr. Runciman also met with representatives of the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers, who mentioned concerns relating to regulatory changes to auto insurance. In their view, the changes will reduce protection for victims in automobile accidents and shift the cost and work burdens onto publicly funded services.
As pointed out by Mr. Runciman, two serious issues with the proposed changes are the reduction of the basic accident benefit from $100,000 to $25,000 with no premium reduction, and the lack of public awareness about these changes. The Alliance pointed out that many of the roughly 60,000 people hurt in car accidents per annum require some level of long-term rehabilitation. They believe that the proposed benefit reduction will only provide a fraction of what victims will need to put their lives back together.
This seems to be yet another example of the McGuinty Government’s “go it alone” attitude. It would seem reasonable to hold some level of consultative process to ensure Ontarians get the coverage they need and deserve.