Ontario’s Deficit and Insurer Accountability

The ORA was invited to present to the Ministry of Finance’s Pre-Budget Hearings. Here’s what Executive Director, Laurie Davis had to say:

This government has made changes to mandatory auto insurance that dramatically reduce insured coverage for those who are serious injured in motor vehicle accidents. Insurance companies with happy shareholders and healthy profits cry poor and this government responds. The past six years have been a death by a thousand cuts to the basic auto insurance package that insurers are required to provide. This coming June, the biggest cuts to date will take effect. Those with serious and catastrophic injuries will find themselves running out of insured benefits for their rehabilitation long before they are able to return to their pre-accident lives. They won’t return to school or jobs or be able to look after their families. In many cases their lives will be changed forever, and not for the better.

Parallel to these changes we’ve seen publically-funded rehab eroded to the vanishing point. For example, physiotherapy has pretty much been delisted from OHIP and CCAC-funded home care rehab has almost disappeared.

So, these cuts to auto insurance will mean further strain on our shrinking public health and social services systems, and therefore the Provincial budget. Without the proper treatment post-accident, there will be more trips to emergency rooms, more visits to family physicians, more prescriptions to manage pain for longer periods, more poverty, more family breakdown, more mental health issues, more addictions – more misery.

Ontarians are paying a high price because of the effectiveness of the insurance lobby.

This is sad. What is also sad is that most drivers and passengers have no idea about what will happen to them if they or their children are hurt in a car accident. They believe, wrongly, that their car insurance will cover them. They believe, wrongly, that OHIP can pick up any slack in their insured benefits.

If this government wishes to impact the deficit it need only change its auto insurance policy and once again hold insurers accountable for providing sufficient coverage. If this government won’t do that it must educate Ontarians about auto insurance so that they can make informed choices and buy additional, optional benefits before it’s too late.

I respectfully ask you as Associate Minister of Finance to rebalance the priorities from insurer profitability to protecting Ontario drivers – and ensure they get the coverage they need, and pay for, when they buy auto insurance.

To read the presentation please click here.