October 19, 2016 2:18 pm
Updated: October 19, 2016 5:02 pm

Ontario auto insurance rates increase despite Liberal pledge to cut them by 15%

Traffic crawls during morning rush hour in Toronto on June 29, 2015.


TORONTO — Auto insurance rates are rising in Ontario, moving the Liberal government even further away from a self-imposed target of an average 15-per-cent reduction.

The Liberals promised in 2013 to cut auto insurance premiums an average of 15 per cent by August 2015, but after that deadline came and went, Premier Kathleen Wynne later admitted that was what she called a “stretch goal.”

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Approved rates in the third quarter of 2016 increased by an average of 1.5 per cent, according to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

READ MORE: Ontario auto insurance rates rise again despite government pledge to lower them

That knocks the average decrease since August 2013 – which at one point was over 10 per cent – back down to about 8.35 per cent, or a little over halfway to their goal.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said programs that will reduce rates further have yet to come into effect, so though reductions are taking time, “they’re happening.”

“Our target to reduce rates doesn’t change,” he said. “Our desire to have a sustained approach over a long period of time, that’s what we’re trying to establish.”

READ MORE: Kathleen Wynne says pledge to cut auto insurance 15 per cent was a ‘stretch goal’

The government still wants to see rates cut by an average of 15 per cent, Sousa said, though there’s no longer a deadline attached to the goal.

Premier Kathleen Wynne called the work on rates so far a “success.”

“We’re going to continue to work with the industry to find other ways to take costs out of the system,” she said.

READ MORE: Ontario auto insurance rates drop, but still short of August 2015 target

The promise in 2013 came as part of a deal to get NDP support for that year’s budget when the Liberals were still a minority government. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government is putting the interests of insurance companies over those of Ontario drivers.

“It’s no doubt that the Liberals have betrayed the discussions that we had during that minority parliament, but more importantly they’re betraying the people of the province yet again,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Sousa noted that the government has lowered the maximum interest rate that an insurer can charge for monthly auto premium payments and prohibited minor at-fault accidents from boosting premiums. As well, it has appointed a special adviser to look at ways to lower costs and further reduce rates.

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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