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AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE - Accident benefits - Income replacement

Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 8:54 AM  


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Appeal by Holt from the dismissal of her appeal from a decision by Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) in relation to her income replacement benefit (IRB) entitlement. Holt was a student when she was injured in a 2005 motor vehicle accident. She applied for benefits, including an IRB. She was granted an IRB calculated based on the industrial average wage (IAW) for the position for which she was studying at the time of the accident. She did not appeal from the 2006 decision to calculate her IRB in this manner. Two adjustments to Holt’s IRB were made in subsequent years, one of which increased her entitlement using the consumer price index (CPI), and the other decreased her entitlement for various statutory deductions. Ultimately, in 2015, her yearly employment income increased to $41,030. In May 2015, Holt took issue with the way in which SGI had adjusted her IRB each year, pointing to the disparity between the 12-month average IAW, which was by then $49,798, and her adjusted benefit. She sought the difference between what she would have received since 2006 compared to what she had received, had the IAW been used to calculate her IRB. Her request was denied and her appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench was unsuccessful. The judge determined that the IAW was to be adopted to establish a student’s yearly employment income at the time of the accident, while the CPI was to be used for indexation of benefits thereafter.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The judge reasonably interpreted the legislation in a manner that ensured that students would not be treated better than other IRB recipients. To use the IAW each year would result in double indexation and enhanced benefits for students. The potential inequity that could exist between student claimants, based on the year in which they were injured, was not the fault of the legislation, but was attributable to the independent processes of calculating the IAW and the CPI which were beyond the Legislature’s control. It was foreseeable, with variations in the IAW and CPI, that a future student might receive a greater benefit based on the trial judge’s interpretation of the legislation than the interpretation suggested by Holt.

Holt v. Saskatchewan Government, [2018] S.J. No. 23, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, R.G. Richards, N.W. Caldwell and L.M. Schwann JJ.A., January 26, 2018. Digest No. TLD-Feb192018009