The release of the 2015 Ontario Budget by the Liberals seeks a dramatic and unprecedented cut in auto insurance coverage for residents of Ontario. Most of the media reporting and politicking on the past 18 months has focused on a 15 percent rate cut for drivers. The rate cuts are now being leveraged as a reason for cutting benefits by far more than that 15 percent. And worse, the benefits to be cut are those for the injured accident victims who need it most, those who are paralyzed or have traumatic brain injuries.
Under the proposed changes, a young man or woman with a spinal cord injury from a car accident will see their coverage cut in half, likely meaning that they will not get the care or support they need.
Do not be led into believing these changes affect only drivers. They will have life-altering consequences for anyone who owns a car, rides in a car, drives a car, rents a car, walks in a city, rides a bike near cars, rides a bus, rides a streetcar, rides a subway or has family members that do any of the above.
Consider a 20 year old university student, hit by a car while riding their bike and sustaining a spinal cord injury. She is now brain injured and wheel-chair bound for her life, needs accessible housing and assistance throughout the day as she cannot live independently and is not able to return to school or work. Under the current insurance regime she would have access to $1million of medical benefits and $1 million of attendant care assistance to last her lifetime. She will also get an income supplement called a non-earner benefit worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in her lifetime. Under the current system, those benefits are often not enough for a person who needs assistance 24 hours a day.
Under the new changes, her benefits will be cut in half and the income supplement will end after only two years. She will not have the funding to get the care she needs. Her options are either to not get treatment and care, use the limited government programs, rely on charities, or seek help from their friends and family members. It will probably be a combination of all of the above.
Life-changing injuries are not going to go away. No one wants to access these benefits, but when an accident occurs, the benefits need to be there. The insurance companies and our government disagree.
Support your friends and families. Come join a rally at Queen’s Park on June 3, 2015 at 12 noon to show your opposition to these drastic changes. For more information, click here.
For more information about head injuries, check out The Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s “Are You Aware” campaign supporting Brain Injury Awareness Month in Ontario.
Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.