New Democrats fire back at Liberals over auto insurance bill

NetNewsledger.com Developing StoryQUEEN’S PARK – The New Democrats are firing back at the Liberals, and Thunder Bay Atitkokan MPP Bill Mauro. New Democrat Consumer Affairs Critic Jagmeet Singh said “It’s sad to see Liberals defending an auto insurance industry that charges the highest rates in Canada”.

“Life is expensive enough without sky-high insurance bills making life even more expensive,” said Singh. “The same-old tired ideas put forward by the McGuinty Liberals just aren’t working for drivers. If Dalton McGuinty and the insurance industry want to have a debate then I urge them to support our efforts to do exactly that.”

Singh has proposed a private member’s bill that would ban insurer’s practice of discriminating by neighbourhood. It would mean premiums would be set by a person’s driving record, not the neighbourhood they live in.

Experts disagree with statements made by MADD Canada on Bill 45. Asked about the remarks in a Legislative committee last week, Brian Patterson, President of the Ontario Safety League, said: “I’m not sure on what basis he drew those conclusions. Those would not be consistent with the conclusions we’ve drawn… I don’t see the risks.” (Hansard, Auto Insurance Industry Review, May 30, 2012).

In fact, under Singh’s bill, bad drivers that put families in danger would pay more, not less.

“Bad drivers that put families at risk should pay more, not less,” said Singh. “Bill 45 brings more fairness for good drivers. Bad and dangerous drivers, like those with driving convictions, won’t get any breaks.”

Experts also disagree with Liberal claims that the bill will drive up rates in the North. Independent insurance expert and University of Waterloo CIBC Professor of Financial Risk Management Dr. Mary Hardy issued a letter stating “there is no reason why the premiums outside the major [urban areas] should change. The major impact would be on premiums charged in and around Toronto.”

Ontario has the highest auto insurance rates in the country. According to a recent report from the Auditor General, Ontario premiums – which average just over $1,400 per vehicle – are as much as 75% higher than other provinces. This is why New Democrats have arranged open hearings on auto insurance: to push for solutions.