Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. (QMI Agencyh Sun files)
TORONTO - Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is on a crash course with Kathleen Wynne’s new government over auto insurance rates.
”I told the premier what I expect … She knows what I want to see in the budget … If I don’t get what the people of this province deserve in terms of changes that address their problems in this budget then we will be going to the polls,” Horwath said Friday when asked if she would trigger an election over her demand for a 15% cut in auto rates.
Horwath met with executives of the major insurance companies and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
She said she agrees with the industry that there is a need to tackle fraud in auto insurance claims, but she did not accept their argument that rates were already as low as should be.
“I still believe that there are savings that should have been passed on already from the changes that happened in 2010,” Horwath said, referring to a legislated reduction in auto benefits.
Horwath has made auto insurance premiums one of her key demands to prop up Wynne’s minority government in the upcoming budget.
Wynne has only said that she’s prepared to tackle the fraud aspect of auto insurance.
”This is an issue that I think is worth fighting real hard to get results for Ontarians. And that’s what New Democrats are doing,” Horwath said.
The NDP have also asked Wynne to cut corporate tax exemptions, bring in a five-day home care wait time guarantee and implement a youth job program.
Steve Kee, spokesman for the IBC, said there needs to be a discussion about auto insurance fraud, which costs the system $1.6 billion a year.
The average claim in Ontario is $30,000, compared to Alberta where it’s $3,500, he said.
“Are we more brittle … it means that people are targeting the benefits system in this province,” Kee said.
In 1990, the NDP came to power on a pledge to introduce public auto insurance, but former Premier Bob Rae reneged on that promise after realizing tens of thousands of jobs would be lost.