Ontario pledges to balance budget in five years
Ontario will make "transformative changes" to the province's "broken" auto insurance system in an attempt to lower costs and increase competition within the market, the government said in the release of its fiscal budget Thursday.
The Progressive Conservative government focused on improving the province's auto insurance market as one of its key planks in its first budget since taking office last June. It called the system "expensive and convoluted," leaving many drivers frustrated and confused.
"When it comes to driving, it is clear that Ontario's auto insurance system is broken - and drivers deserve better," said Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli in a prepared statement ahead of the release of the budget. "That is why our government is making transformative changes to the province's auto insurance system."
Ontario plans to work with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), a newly-established independent financial regulator, to reduce insurance fraud through enhanced data analystics, new rules on deceptive practices and an online claims process that would help detect fradulent activity.
The government also plans to introduce legislation to allow insurers to provide better auto insurance coverage options based on a driver's credit history or by agreeing to use preferred providers for auto repair or health care services.
As well, Ontario drivers will soon be able to use electronic proof of auto insurance rather than a physical pink slip that details their insurance details.
The FSRA will also establish new business practices to improve competition within the auto insurance market, including new concepts such as pay-as-you-go plans, reducing regulations on insurance rates and enforcing higher monetary penalities for simplified procedures while reducing the need for court-related activities.
The government also plans to support a private-member's bill that would end the practice of discriminating against drivers based on their postal code.
In other auto-related matters, the government plans to issue new license plates with a new slogan "A Place to Grow" and driver's licenses with a dark blue motif.