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Ontario NDP’s proposed auto insurance changes a bad idea | Joshua Goldberg

Friday, May 27, 2022 @ 2:11 PM | By Joshua Goldberg


Joshua Goldberg %>
Joshua Goldberg
On June 2, Ontarians will be heading to the polls to decide on an upcoming provincial election. One of the three major parties, the NDP, has pledged to reform provincial auto insurance and it is a recipe for disaster. The NDP is proposing a reform of the system into a government-controlled, no-fault insurance system, similar to what is used in Manitoba and B.C. This is a terrible idea.

Yes, the current insurance regime in Ontario has shortcomings, but it is still far superior to the complete no-fault system in place in other parts of Canada.

As many people know, Ontario has a partial no-fault system, where those injured in accidents have some treatment options available to them under their policies. If that is not enough, they can sue for damages to cover long-term pain and suffering. Under the current system, people injured on our highways can work with a personal injury lawyer to make sure that their insurance company is giving them the compensation they deserve.

By comparison, B.C. drivers are generally not allowed to sue for pain and suffering. Section 115 of B.C.’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act states:

(a) a person has no right of action and must not commence or maintain proceedings respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident, and
(b) no action or proceeding may be commenced or maintained respecting bodily injury caused by a vehicle arising out of an accident.

There are a few exceptions, however. Those who can be named as defendants in B.C. motor vehicle personal injury lawsuits include vehicle manufacturers, at-fault drivers convicted of “prescribed” criminal offences and people who are licensed to serve alcohol.

The Trial Lawyers of British Columbia agrees that the shift to no-fault insurance is “a deliberate taking away of the right of British Columbians to receive fair access to the courts and a fair settlement to those injured on our roads.”

If Ontario moves to a government-run no-fault insurance system where lawsuits for damages are not allowed, we will have a system that doesn’t really look after the injured. People suffering long-term pain will have to deal with government bureaucrats who couldn’t care less.

According to the Ontario NDP platform, if the party is elected on June 2, it will set up a commission to investigate and recommend a new insurance system. In interviews, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has expressed interest in the no-fault systems in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as Quebec’s public/private hybrid system.

Horwath’s comments worry me. Not only do I and other personal injury lawyers think a move to a complete no-fault system would be a bad idea, insurance companies also oppose it.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), which is usually at odds with the personal injury bar, is for once on the same side. The IBC believes that the NDP’s proposal would “place an enormous burden on taxpayers — whether they drive or not — with billions of dollars in new costs. That includes establishing a new government bureaucracy. That means less money to invest in hospitals and schools. Government-run no-fault insurance systems typically also remove the right of people injured in accidents to sue for the care and support they need to recover,” stated the IBC.

The non-partisan C.D. Howe Institute also recommends that Ontario not implement a government-run system such as in Quebec or Saskatchewan.

I am originally from Montreal, and have friends who have been seriously injured in auto accidents in Quebec. These victims only receive basic benefits because that is what is dictated by that province’s legislation, which relies on charts and averages to determine how much compensation people injured in accidents deserve.

In Ontario, every case is different. People who retain a personal injury lawyer can win fair compensation, which is usually beyond what the insurance company wants to offer. Further, personal injury lawyers are only paid if they reach a settlement, from which they take a certain percentage. This payment system allows for greater access to justice, as many people cannot afford to pay a lawyer up front.

The NDP’s plan is just bad. Whichever party does take over should, rather than overhaul the system, look at ways to increase care for those most seriously injured. These are the people our society needs to protect.

Joshua Goldberg, of Joshua Goldberg Law, has practised litigation, primarily in the area of personal injury, disability and insurance law. He mostly handles motor vehicle accidents, occupiers’ liability and disability insurance claims but has a small practice of general litigation files. Goldberg had previously spent several years in China, where he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese.

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