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A Key that Fits: Where Ontario’s party leaders stand on auto insurance rates

Toronto, Ontario — Ontarians will be off to the polls in less than a month to elect their new premier and the cost of auto insurance has quickly become a hot button issue for many voters, as each party has laid out a different approach to addressing this bipartisan issue.

According to data from the General Insurance Statistical Agency and reported by the CBC, Ontarians pay the second-highest insurance rates in Canada at an average of $1,505 annually, just shy of B.C.’s $1,832.

The incumbent Progressive Conservative Party, led by Doug Ford, points to its “Putting Drivers First: A Blueprint for Ontario’s Auto Insurance System” plan as an established record for how its government has increased options for auto insurance customers and allowed for electronic proof of insurance.

“The current mandatory insurance product may not offer the choices Ontario drivers deserve,” reads the PC pre-election budget. “This is why the government intends to propose changes that over time would provide consumers with more options when purchasing automobile insurance.”

The PC’s have yet to specify what the additional options for purchasing auto insurance are.

The common culprit for why premiums go up is often considered to be insurance fraud, according to the government, and so an additional part of the PC’s plan involves collaborating more with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to better track fraud data as well as reform how auto insurance rates are formulated.

“As part of the new strategy, FSRA will be developing a new framework for ensuring fairness in rates that would replace outdated guidance,” the budget says.

Andrea Horwath, leader of Ontario’s New Democratic Party, promised last Wednesday that her party would work to cut auto insurance rates by 40 percent within two years and ban all rate increases for 18 months, if voted into office.

That 18 month period of frozen rates would then be used to establish a commission to explore new auto insurance models for the province, including a public system overseen by the province.

“Ontario drivers pay some of the highest insurance premiums in Canada, and rates are climbing again. For many families this is a crushing cost,” the NDP platform says.

“For years, Liberal and Conservative governments have allowed auto insurance rates to climb and have ignored basic issues of fairness. In communities like Brampton, a driver will pay premiums nearly twice as high as a driver with the same driving record in other parts of the GTA. That’s not fair.”

The NDP says it will also take steps to end “postal code discrimination,” the practice of adjusting insurance rates based on where someone lives. The practice has drawn substantial criticism from city’s like Brampton that are disproportionately affected by high insurance premiums.

As of Monday, the Ontario Liberals have made no specific mention of auto insurance in their platform, but leader Steven Del Duca said on the campaign trail recently that his party would “continue to look for ways to make auto insurance accessible and affordable and fair for people regardless of where they live in this province.”

The Green Party also has not addressed the issue of auto insurance directly in its platform, though a spokesperson did respond to an email from the CBC saying the party opposes “any policies that will increase fossil fuel consumption from cars.”

According to the spokesperson, the Green’s focus will be directed more towards the adoption of electric vehicles and making public transportation more accessible and affordable.

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