Almost nobody in North America deserves a cut to their car insurance rates more than the residents of Windsor and environs. But will we get one?
The Liberal government and their NDP partners would like you to believe you are going to see a 15 per cent cut to the outrageously high car insurance rates we all pay here.
But a review of the facts suggest you might not get a reduction at all. Or it might be less than 15 per cent, and you probably won't see it for as long as two years, if ever.
Any change to the rates in a heavily regulated business have to be negotiated first, industry officials say. A lot of numbers have to be crunched, deals cut, new rates set and approved – a process likely to take more than a year.
The industry might also sue rather than work for free after giving up all their profits as the NDP blithely demand. That would mean more delay.
Does anybody really think a floundering and unpopular minority government will last that long, even with NDP support?
Between the cancelled gas plants fiasco of $600 million wasted dollars (so far) to Monday's WTO ruling against Ontario's illegal green energy tariffs, Premier Kathleen Wynne's Liberals seems to be staggering from one fiscal crisis to the next.
The insurance cuts pledged in the budget last week were just a symbolic bone thrown to long-suffering Ontario ratepayers – "bumper sticker politics," as PC Leader Tim Hudak scoffed later.
Yet many media outlets trumpeted the promised rate cut as a fact last week – even though the Liberals themselves cautioned it won't come quickly.
Frankly, the NDP's grandiose stand on the cuts and the Liberal's desperate agreement to the blackmail is one of the most dishonourable political promises I've heard in a long time.
But the motivation for the NDP's demand for the cuts is obvious: Ontario drivers who live in big cities pay some of the most punishing insurance rates in North America. We hunger for relief.
Family budgets are crippled because of high insurance rates. Young people can't afford cars – and then can't find a job because they can't get to work.
As The Star's business editor Ellen van Wageningen reported on Saturday, Windsor drivers pay an average of $2,661 per year for car insurance, or $1,000 more than the Ontario average of $1,700 per year, according to Kanetix.ca (The Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests the provincial average rate is even higher, $1,878).
Meanwhile, Quebecers pay an average of only $863 each, according to the IBC; Newfoundlanders pay $749; the residents of PEI pay a mere $649 each per year.
Folks, somebody here is getting ripped off bad. And you and I are among the victims.
Windsor's rates are among the highest in Ontario, where the rates are higher than the rest of Canada's, and higher than the U.S. average of $1,500 — in a country virtually ruled by TV accident lawyers.
But forgive my cynicism when I predict that premiums will not change in a meaningful way so long as the Liberals or the NDP are messing with them.
The rates probably won't come down soon even if the PCs are elected, either: there are so many bigger emergencies embedded in Ontario's ruined finances it could be years before insurance is addressed by a new government.
There is simply no way the rates can come down as long as organized crime milks the system in Toronto, Windsor and other urban centres.
And it's difficult to imagine that any Liberal pledge to crack down on the fraud will be successful. Police say some of the fraud is being conducted by several identifiable groups, both native and immigrant.
Can you imagine the Liberals, who blew $600 million (and counting) to save a mere two seats in an election, targeting any favoured minority group for prosecution, even if massive fraud is suspected?
The other guilty parties in the insurance fraud industry are doctors and lawyers. The Liberal/NDP alliance won't go after either of those groups, either.
Many doctors, who are justifiably fed up with being used by government as unpaid gatekeepers to prevent abuses of health care, have simply stopped caring about insurance fraud. They just sign everything put in front of them and let the lawyers clean up the rest.
And clean up they do – but not in a way that helps control insurance rates.
I predict we won't see lower insurance rates no matter who forms the next government. Not until somebody has the guts to anger all the bleeding hearts groups by tackling the rampant fraud.
So if you thought lower insurance rates was the only good thing about a bad budget, think again. There wasn't anything good in there for us at all.
Source: The Windsor Star - firstname.lastname@example.org 519-255-6852 or on Twitter @winstarvander.