May 16, 2018 by Monica Kuzyk, President, Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association
Ontario’s provincial election is just weeks away. The Ontario Liberals have been in power almost 15 years. According to a 2017 CBC news article, only three provincial parties have stayed in power longer than the Liberals in Ontario.
There are several significant issues for Ontario residents to consider this election cycle: Housing availability; minimum wage; hydro rates; auto insurance rates, and infrastructure (climate change, transit). For the insurance industry, auto insurance and climate change are relevant and timely issues.
The Ontario Liberal Government remains focused on reducing insurance premiums by combatting fraud, undertaking a review of risk factors used by insurers to calculate premiums and delivering on the recommendations set out in the Marshall Report of April 2017. The report reinforces the need to ensure that at the time of claim, insurance dollars go to those injured rather than to assessments and dispute processes. While industry opinions vary, most believe there is opportunity within the Fair Auto Insurance plan to stabilize auto insurance and address public concerns.
The New Democratic Party promises Ontario drivers would see a 15-percent savings, while protecting benefits. They also promise to tackle the regional inequities in auto insurance which, they say, “disproportionately affect low-income and racialized communities, and continue to drive toward greater affordability.”
The Progressive Conservative Party also promises to bring an end to “geographic discrimination” for auto insurance, while not allowing insurance companies to raise rates in other parts of the province. In addition, they want to crack down on fraud and uninsured drivers.
Severe weather events like floods, wildfires and microbursts are happening with greater frequency and severity. These events strain critical infrastructure and become economic tragedies for homeowners and communities. Recognizing climate change is already having lasting impacts on communities throughout Ontario, the insurance industry has lobbied for improved planning, enhanced understanding of regional vulnerabilities, and more resilient infrastructure.
The Liberal government’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan was released in November 2017 and provides $190 billion in public infrastructure investment over 13 years. The focus is on life-cycle assessments as part of planning and an improved decision-making framework to ensure appropriate land-use planning and robust infrastructure.
The New Democratic Party outlines a commitment to update Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights and ensure proceeds from carbon pricing help those regions most affected by climate change.
In their vision, “The People’s Guarantee”, the Progressive Conservatives promise to build $5 billion worth of subways in the Greater Toronto Area. As well, they will “fulfill the existing commitments to all-day, two way GO train service and to complete projects already underway,” such as LRT in Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Ottawa. This document also outlines initiatives with respect to cleaning up the Great Lakes, taking action against sewage dumping into lakes and streams. They purpose to cancel the Climate Change Action Plan and withdraw from the Western Climate Initiative. Instead they will opt into the Federal carbon price backstop.
An election is the opportunity for the citizens to determine the path to the future. Elections are increasingly defined by leaders rather than ideas or policies. In the weeks ahead, the leaders of each party will endeavor to connect with Ontario residents and share their vision for a better Ontario. With the electoral process well underway, our televisions and social media feeds will be filled with the latest political information, insight and scandal.
Let’s remember, since 2016, we have learned that democracy is vulnerable. In Canada, we face the same risks as other countries; those in power use the same social media services and voting systems which are increasingly vulnerable to digital interference.
Stewart Prest, a Vancouver-based political scientist, reminds us: “Canada and other countries need to prepare for foreign operations and put their democratic houses in order. Now, it’s time to act. We need streamlined, trustworthy processes to inform the public when foreign information operations are occurring. We need serious reforms of campaign spending and other electoral regulations to address the digital interference by foreign actors. We need media platforms to better address hate speech and harassment online. Canadians must prepare themselves for campaigns that seek to turn us against each other as well.’
It can be overwhelming to think that Canadian democracy is at risk. However that should not deter us from heading to polls this June. In fact it should embolden us to exercise our right with more enthusiasm than ever before, knowing that in less fortunate countries, citizens stand in line for hours to cast a vote in democratic elections. In Ontario, most employers provide time for employees to vote – we have no excuse. It is our absolute responsibility to listen, learn, get involved, ask questions about issues relevant to us and then, with great pride, take action, get out and vote. ?