Budget failed to address skyrocketing insurance rates

By MPP Bobbi Ann Brady

I recently had an opportunity to debate the government’s budget bill—Bill 85, The Building a Strong Ontario Act, it is the most expensive budget bill the province has seen in terms of dollars spent.

There are measures in the bill that could help make life better. Infrastructure funding should expand high-speed Internet in the riding. Government members say the bill is a plan to build the economy, highways, infrastructure, keep costs down, and better serve the public. It sounds great, but I’m not certain the measures contained will help families as they continue to grapple with inflation.

With the amount of money being spent, the bill is not doing enough to make life more affordable for Ontario residents, and in particular, the people in Haldimand-Norfolk. 

The past three years have been difficult for the people of Ontario. I hear it, and I see it. Folks who have never used a food bank are now relying on one to feed their family. Homelessness can be seen in most of our small towns.

But there needed to be more from the budget, especially for rural Ontario, skyrocketing auto insurance rates are one thing my constituents are constantly contacting me about. Many people are struggling to pay their insurance bill, despite having no claims and a clean driving record.

I remember the days when I had a new car, and after the initial price hike, rates decreased as the vehicle aged. This no longer occurs. 

How many times have you heard a story of a person who got in a small fender bender and was told by their insurance company their rates would go up if they made a claim? Isn’t that the reason we have insurance? 

Coupled with the federal government’s carbon tax that pushes up the cost of gasoline, high insurance rates are making the cost of operating a vehicle more expensive. This is seen not only for individuals, but also adds to transportation costs for everything from food to furniture. 

Astronomical insurance rates disproportionately target rural residents. We need vehicles to go to work, get groceries, visit friends and families and travel. And then there’s the whole issue of the exorbitant rates teenagers pay for insurance. I have two young people at home, so I am well aware of this.

I realize statistically young drivers are in more collisions than experienced drivers, but question why drivers should pay as much for insurance as the cost of the vehicles they drive. Using the example of a typical teen vehicle being several years old and having higher kilometres, by the time rates come down – even for a driver with a clean record – they have paid insurance rates that could have bought another vehicle.

One of the government’s talking points on auto insurance is about ending what they label as discrimination by postal code. Translated, this means that the higher rates paid in some cities where there are more collisions and theft will end. That means we in rural Ontario will be picking up the difference.

I recently wrote Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy about insurance rates, pointing out some of the points mentioned above and asking for a better solution for car insurance. I await an answer.

Bobbi Ann Brady is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk