31st Parliament, 4th Session

L101 - Tue 28 Oct 1980 / Mar 28 oct 1980

The House resumed at 8:02 p.m.


Hon. Mr. Drea moved second reading of Bill 164, An Act to amend the Insurance Act.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I believe I covered the purpose of the amendments to the Insurance Act in a statement on October 10. The major amendment, of course, is raising the minimum for third party liability coverage from $100,000 to $200,000.

One of our concerns has always been that the minimum coverage in effect in the province, particularly with the introduction of compulsory insurance, should be a realistic figure. I realize that in the past there have been some concerns that putting in a very high minimum might lead to exorbitant claims and some other difficulties.

I think we have to be realistic. Right now, even with inflation, only about four per cent of the claims initially are for more than the $100,000 figure. But, by the same token, with the number of costs increasing, particularly in terms of the basic damage injured innocent parties suffer, in that they are not able to work or indeed may not be able to return to the source of livelihood they once had, when we measure wages today we have to be realistic.

I would point out that by far the majority of Ontario automobile drivers have in excess already of the $100,000 -- in fact, in excess of $200,000. Four out of five, or 81 per cent, now carry minimums voluntarily of over $200,000.

An area that is not in the automobile field, the amendments regarding the definitions of insurance and life insurance, is extremely significant because this is very protective legislation. There have been court decisions in the western provinces that have eroded certain protections that had been accepted as normal, particularly for widows.

The definitions of insurance and life insurance are being amended to make certain that annuities entered into by insurers are life insurance within the defined meaning of the term, so that those can be protected from the claims of an insured’s creditors -- particularly in the case where the beneficiary is a spouse, a parent, a child or a grandchild -- in effect, in the same manner as the proceeds of life insurance contracts are so protected under the Insurance Act.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support this bill on second reading. The minister has outlined the two themes contained in it and with your permission I will just comment briefly on both of them.

With respect to the first area concerning the amendments to the definition of the insurance term, I am pleased to turn to page 167 of the fourth report of the select committee on life insurance matters, of which I have the honour to be the chairman. With your indulgence, I would just read two brief paragraphs:

“The committee has reviewed the annuity business of life insurance companies in this province and is concerned about the lack of explicit reference in the Insurance Act to this increasingly important component of the overall life insurance market. The committee’s concern is magnified by the important role that annuities, particularly life annuities, play in the retirement and pension income system in this country. Accordingly,

“The committee recommends that immediate attention be given to amending the Insurance Act in Ontario to include annuity contracts explicitly within the scope of the insurance business governed by the act. Attention should be given in the act to defining both a life annuity and an annuity certain in a practical and non-ambiguous manner. Amendments to the act should further ensure that the provisions of the Insurance Act which apply to life insurance apply uniformly to annuities, except where specifically excluded for reasons of inappropriateness.”

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to table that report on behalf of the select committee on June 9. We have seen it immediately accepted by the minister, legislation was brought in on October 10, and tonight, presumably, that legislation will pass. I think that perhaps has to be the quickest response to any select committee report on any subject that I have ever known in my time in this House and I congratulate the minister on that.

Certainly this whole matter of defining the annuity more precisely as part of the insurance term is welcomed both in the general definition, which is item 30 in the definition of life insurance to include disability insurance and to include the annuity subject. I commend the minister for his quick response to this and I think it is something that will benefit many people within Ontario.

The other theme the minister referred to is the change with respect to the limitation for compulsory automobile insurance coverage in Ontario from $100,000 to $200,000. In this regard I would refer the members of the House back to the first report of the select committee on company law dealing with insurance, which was under the chairmanship of our colleague, Vernon Singer, the member for Wilson Heights at that time. I would refer the members to chapter six, a very brief chapter, dealing with unlimited third party liability coverage.

8:10 p.m.

The last time this topic was amended, we referred to it in our select committee report. We commented that before 1932 there was no minimum limit within Ontario and, since then, by $10,000 and $20,000 at a time, it has been increased until in 1966 the minimum limits were set at least $35,000 in respect to any one accident, in 1969, it was increased to $50,000 and as of January 1, 1977, the limits were set at $100,000.

That bill was introduced by the Honourable Sidney Handleman, at that time Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, since no longer a member of the House, and it was followed up by the member for St. Andrew-St. Patrick (Mr. Grossman) in his term in that ministry.

As the minister has said tonight, there were certain concerns at the time with respect to increasing the limits even to the $100,000 figure. It was thought it might increase some public expectations of rewards, it might encourage greater litigation and it might bring reinsurance and accounting problems. But we found in our report that none of those things was likely to occur.

I would quote just one paragraph. “The committee is convinced that the insurance industry, with its immense statistical experience and its adaptability, is quite capable of providing unlimited third party liability coverage.”

We found that in studying the automobile system not only in the United Kingdom and Switzerland but in Sweden, France and other European countries, there was unlimited liability. Reinsurance was obtained. It was the practice to ensure that whoever suffered as a result of a most severe automobile accident would be covered for whatever awards were made by the courts.

It is apparent that in the years up to 1976 there were certain cases of very large losses from single accidents. Indeed, even by 1975, only about 10 per cent of all policy holders carried the minimum limits required. The minister comments that now some 81 per cent are insuring their possible liability or obligation at even greater amounts than Ontario has set as the minimum. I believe the $100,000 limit is probably still the highest in North America, although there may be several states of the United States that have improved their limits since then.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Nova Scotia.

Mr. Breithaupt: The $100,000 limit is still the highest. It becomes then twice as high.

We thought at the time, and the recommendation was, that the act should be amended so as to provide mandatory third party liability coverage to be in an unlimited amount. It may be that we will progress to reach that stage in years to come. At the present time, though, we are moving to the $200,000 figure and, as the minister has said, the vast majority, some 81 per cent of peoople who are driving on Ontario’s roads, who are insured in Ontario, are covering more than those minimum limits now.

I think it would be worthwhile for the minister to comment in his summary remarks on the enforcement of the obligations of insurance with respect to people travelling to Ontario. It may well be that a variety of tourists have much lower coverages than we would expect within the province. They could find themselves in some financial difficulties unless there is clear reciprocation on coverages for the obligations they might meet within Ontario.

This might be an opportunity for the minister to comment upon the system so that here, as we are moving to this substantially high level, albeit at a comparatively small increase in premium, we would have within this debate for anyone who wished to look, the comments as to the expectations that travellers would have and the coverages that would occur.

Companion legislation that will deal with the motor vehicle accident claims fund is the next bill and it deals with the necessary changes to cover any obligations that would occur there.

I am certainly pleased to see these two steps. The legislative program before the House has been composed of a variety of bits and pieces during these last several weeks; vicious dogs and the warble fly and a few other topics perhaps not of great public concern have been and are being dealt with through the fall session.

This bill, one might think as well, is somewhat brief and mechanical; but it is an acceptance by the government -- and I think it is to be approved of -- of two particularly important items quite different in their substance, but both of great value to the people in Ontario. I commend the minister for bringing this legislation forward, and it certainly has our support.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Like my colleague from Kitchener, I rise on behalf of my party to support the bill on second reading, essentially because we can find nothing wrong with the bill, not for anything intrinsically memorable or advanced about the bill.

Like my colleague from Kitchener, I would be interested in bearing the minister’s comments on tourists, of people from outside the province driving here and how they will be affected. However, before the minister makes his comments, I could tell him not to worry about Tasmania and other such jurisdictions because fortunately, unlike Ontario, they have decent public auto insurance programs, and I am sure are fully and adequately covered at affordable --

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am not worried about Tasmania, but I am worried about Saskatchewan.

Mr. M. N. Davison: As I say, the bill has nothing wrong with it. A Socialist like me would not oppose the redefinition of insurance and life insurance to include annuities; not even a raving Socialist like the member for Hamilton Mountain (Mr. Charlton) would oppose that alteration in the bill, and enough said.

The aspect of increasing the third party liability minimums from $100,000 to $200,000 is perfectly reasonable, and the government should be commended on the step. I had a call from my insurance company about six months ago when my policy came up for renewal. They suggested to me that I should increase my coverage from $500,000 to $1 million in third party liability. I suspect it has something to do with the way I drive every day, or perhaps the distances covered.

If the minister were being advised by my insurance company, I suspect it would be going up a great deal more than the doubling from $100,000 to $200,000, although it should be realized, as the minister has pointed out, that in Ontario there haven’t been the numbers of incredibly high claims we have seen in some other jurisdictions in North America during the past several years. We have been relatively fortunate in Ontario in that respect, and $200,000 in most cases should be a sufficient minimum amount.

The legislation, I am sure, will not be considered terribly significant historically. If it does work its way into the history books, it will no doubt be in the context of one more chance the Tories and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations had to bring in a public auto insurance scheme in Ontario. Once again, they failed to do so, thereby costing the consumers of this province annually something between $50 million and $100 million in excess premiums paid to the industry. We will wait, I suppose, still some time before we see that kind of plan.

As a matter of fact, just before I conclude --

Hon. Mr. Gregory: You will have a long grey beard, Michael.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I hope not. I may go bald before I see public auto insurance in this province, but the grey beard I am not sure about.

Mr. Speaker: As a matter of fact, it is not even mentioned in the bill, so it is not a principle.

Mr. M. N. Davison: That is its central failing.

By way of conclusion, I can only say it will be pleasant after the next election when we have a minister who will not only bring us affordable public auto insurance, but will ensure fair food prices and will let us see Academy Award-winning films.

8:20 p.m.

Mr. Kerrio: Mr. Minister, I am pleased to join in supporting our leadoff member in the bill.

There are a couple of matters that cause me a little bit of anxiety. Certainly I am pleased we are raising the limits, since we have seen fit to pass legislation that would have all drivers carry insurance. Because of the circumstances of heavy traffic congestion in Niagara Falls, we already have higher rates than much of the rest of Ontario.

I would like to hear the minister’s comments so we can be assured that we can set up some method of reciprocal arrangements with our neighbours to the south. Because our people are already paying higher premiums for protection in the area, they should have the feeling that our visitors are going to have adequate protection in the event of an accident. That would be the one concern I would have.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I want to join my colleague in supporting this legislation. These amendments, as far as I am concerned, are none too early. Those of us who have to be out there earning a living, apart from the turmoil of this place, have run into circumstances --

Mr. Speaker: Is the member suggesting that we, who are here, are not earning a living?

Mr. Roy: I am suggesting no such thing, Mr. Speaker. I would not dare suggest such a thing to my colleagues here. I just leave members to draw their own conclusions.

All I am saying is that in the practice of law, some of us have run into circumstances where not only victims were not able to collect the full measure of their damages, but insured drivers were severely penalized because they bad not had the forethought to get something more than $100,000 minimum liability.

There was a very unfortunate incident in which our firm was involved. It was a serious accident at the corner of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive, which is one of the major intersections in Ottawa. An ambulance came through a red light and struck a vehicle that was proceeding on a green light and was driven by a paraplegic.

Subsequent to the accident, three elderly people were seriously injured. One was paralyzed from the neck down. Their damages were way over the $100,000 limit. The victims were from the province of Quebec, and unfortunately the lawyers there forgot to take action against the province of Ontario. That is another amendment that is needed here.

Anyway, they forgot to take action against the ambulance within the six-month limitation period. This must be done against public bodies under the -- I do not recall what act it is. In any event, their not having done so, that claim was proscribed by statute and the liability then focused exclusively against the driver of the motor vehicle, who was a paraplegic. Unfortunately that individual had a judgement against him of something over $150,000.

That clearly illustrates why this type of legislation is necessary. I know the $100,000 limit has not been in force all that many years. Would it be 10 years that these limits have been in force? Three years? It gives one an indication of how quickly awards are moving upwards.

I cite that as one example of an unfortunate victim who, had he had the minimum prescribed by statute here, would not, as a paraplegic, have had to face a personal judgement against him of some $50,000. I have another example in my office right now of a similar situation where there is a $100,000 limit, and it looks as though the judgement will be something in the area of $350,000.

To those of us who are supporting this type of amendment it is an exercise which has vivid importance because we see it, unfortunately, as an occurrence out there. I am very pleased to see the amendments coming forward. I am just very surprised there has not been more demand or more pressure to increase the limits prior to this date. I have seen situation after situation like the one I have explained where it is clear that the limit of $100,000 was not sufficient.

I quite appreciate that the vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are much below the $100,000 limit which existed in the present policies. Nevertheless, it seems to me that was an occurrence that was happening more frequently than ever. We are very pleased to support these amendments.

Mr. B. Newman: Mr. Speaker, I rise to enforce the concern of both the member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) and the member for Niagara Falls (Mr. Kerrio) in my instance in relation to accidents involving tourists coming in from the other side of the river.

The minister is aware of the fact that in the state of Michigan, if I am not mistaken, the public liability is substantially lower than here, only $50,000. So a resident of the city of Windsor who is involved in an accident with an American is substantially limited in the extent to which he could sue or obtain a judgement from an American.

I wonder if the minister has ever made an attempt to obtain reciprocal agreements with certain jurisdictions in the United States so that the Ontario auto driver is not in a substantially detrimental financial picture as a result of that accident.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, first, in summary, there is reciprocity in Canada so that any driver from another province who is in Ontario is automatically covered under the agreements for our minimums, whatever they are.

Second, in terms of the American driver, this is a rather difficult situation. New York state, with much higher premiums, has compulsory insurance. I do not think I will amaze officials in New York state tonight if I suggest that on any given day one out of four drivers in New York state, notwithstanding compulsory insurance, do not have any insurance. I do not think I would amaze the state of Michigan -- and I say this to the honourable member for Windsor-Walkerville -- if I said that, notwithstanding compulsory insurance again in that state, on any given day at least one out of three do not have insurance at all.

I would also say to the two honourable members from different border communities that it is not so much the tourists. We are talking of day-to-day interchanges where there is a river with, in the case of Niagara Falls, four bridges along the frontier and bridge and a tunnel at Windsor. We are talking about normal traffic intercourse, let alone tourists coming in for a week or two.

The difficulty in the past with the motor vehicle accident claims fund is that some of our most substantial claims and some of the most difficult cases to handle were in Essex county and in Lincoln and Welland counties, because the drivers were from the United States. They had horrendous accidents here, no insurance, and the fund had to pay. I can tell you the adventures the fund had in trying to collect even a penny over on the other side.

8:30 p.m.

It is also extremely difficult to write a uniform reciprocity package across 50 states, or even 10 states of the United States because they all have differing types of things. Another one of the other difficulties, just as it was with Quebec -- I was questioning some American states -- is there is a very substantial limitation on rights to tort. We were able to solve that through the very comprehensive, very full and very co-operative negotiations with Quebec, whereby the Ontario driver in Quebec has all the benefits of tort, which I believe are absolutely necessary, just as though he were in Ontario, and at the same time, he receives the full benefits of the Quebec automobile protection.

There is an opportunity, of course, for drivers from the United States to cover themselves while in Ontario, just as a driver from either Canada or the United States while driving into Mexico has the opportunity to purchase insurance, because their insurance coverage ends at the boundaries of continental United States or Canada.

Mr. B. Newman: Is that short-term coverage?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Oh yes. That is for Mexico. Their insurance is not valid once a driver leaves the continental United States or Canada.

The American insurers can issue a card that will temporarily put a driver up to the Ontario limits, a so-called yellow card, and they can file a power of attorney to appear and accept the limitations of Ontario. That is out there; that is available.

I am the first minister to tell members that quite frankly the average American visitor, no matter how many signs we put up at ports of entry, obviously does not intend to have an accident in Niagara Falls or Windsor or in any other part of Ontario or Canada and presumes that because he comes from a nation where insurance regulations are just about the same as ours they are adequately protected. I suppose a few who travel here a great deal might take the precautions. My concern, of course, would be that a great many would not.

We have the ability to protect ourselves against the underinsured driver. This is something I have brought in and I am delighted that I have the opportunity to talk about it because it is something out there that I think we, as members, can acquaint the public with. It is something new. The automobile insurance policy is something people keep renewing. After a while it gets to be automatic; when the bill comes, people send a cheque et cetera, but it is unfortunately not getting the degree of attention from the public that I wish it would.

The member for Kitchener spoke about unlimited liability, which I and the insurance industry have some concerns about. By the introduction of the new insurance clauses in this province -- the underinsured motorist endorsement -- I believe we have the best of both worlds with the $200,000 figure as a minimum, bearing in mind that four out of five are already beyond that.

There is the question of just how much insurance one really needs. Of course it depends upon driving habits and a lot of other things. To be absolutely protected and to absolutely protect your potential victims at any one time I suppose the argument is for unlimited liability, but there are substantial difficulties. What we have tried to do is establish a minimum limit that reflects what is going on, but then build in the underinsured motorist endorsement to protect people on that one in a million eventuality.

It also rewards responsibility, because the way that endorsement works is whatever amount of third party liability coverage one buys to protect the person one may injure, not just physically but materially, one is entitled to a very small additional premium. So if the other driver is underinsured one’s own insurance company will pay one up to the limit one has set for oneself. In other words, if one buys or carries $500,000 worth of insurance and one purchases this endorsement, and the other driver only has $200,000 and the judgement is $350,000, one gets the $350,000 and the insurance company then, obviously, collects from the other driver.

I sympathize with the points that have been made about the victim by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy). In the circumstances he has outlined involving one case, I do sympathize with the paraplegic. But by the same token, if one is going to drive an automobile then one has the obligation to be responsible enough to protect the innocent against what one may do in that automobile. I think that is very fundamental in this province.

I am the first to say we should have had compulsory insurance a quarter of a century ago. I made it the number one priority when I became the minister. I do not think there is any excuse for somebody getting a free ride and saying, “I will be as irresponsible as I please.”

With this new underinsured motorist endorsement we are rewarding responsibility while giving people, for the first time, at a reasonable price, the opportunity to meet the special situations that have been outlined by the two members from the border cities. The chances of being hit by an out-of-province motorist or a visitor in this region, or perhaps in the region the Speaker (Mr. Stokes) represents, are not quite as substantial as the daily flow in other members’ areas. So I cannot give a guarantee, nor am I in a position to look down the road and say that within two, three, four or five years we may be able to get reciprocity with the other jurisdictions.

I encouraged the select committee on company law, which was such an inspiration to me, and I mean that very sincerely. As the committee knows, I do read its reports, and I do move on them as rapidly as possible. I think one of the failings in the past has been that they were allowed to be scrutinized just a little bit too long.

I do not know at what point that reciprocity will be available. In the meantime, the underinsured motorist endorsement is a very valid protection in terms of what one accepts as one’s responsibility for what one may do. Nobody intends to have an accident, but what one may do inadvertently, none the less, is one’s responsibility. By the same token, one can protect oneself for that amount. I think there will be an added inducement for motorists to really look at their own driving habits, the places they are driving, the amount of miles they are driving, the weather they are driving in, et cetera, and buy liability insurance of a proper and appropriate amount to cover the innocent. That is the only way they can make sure, at all times, that coverage is available to them if, in any case, they become a victim.

The member for Kitchener (Mr. Breithaupt) has mentioned the limits. The province of Nova Scotia this year went to $100,000. That is by far the highest in Canada.

On the reciprocity matter, I draw to the attention of the member for Hamilton-Centre (Mr. M. N. Davison), that I am not worried about Tasmania in terms of public insurance programs.

Mr. M. N. Davison: You have never had a single problem with a driver from Tasmania.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am not worried about Tasmania. The member brought it up. I am very worried about Saskatchewan and the driving there.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Even Tasmania has public auto insurance.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, everybody out there has public automobile insurance, but how much will it pay when the driver is errant?

Mr. Roy: Tell him he looks like a Tasmanian devil.

8:40 p.m.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Do the Liberals favour this ripoff of $100 million a year?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I have to tell the member that some time later this year the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office is coming to this province to meet my officials, because they want to copy some of our programs; so he should get off this stuff about the quality of insurance in this province. There is no better package of insurance available at more reasonable rates on virtually a custom-made insurance package for each individual that one can buy on time than in this province.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Just to protect your friends in the automobile insurance business.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am very proud of the automobile insurance business in this province. I am very proud of the more than 195 insurance companies that are paying their own way. I am very proud of almost 15,000 agents and support staff in this province. I say to my friend the member for Hamilton-Wentworth, there will soon be an occasion when the member can get up in public and do his prattling and I hope he goes around this province with the remarks he has made about the insurance industry.

Mr. M N. Davison: On a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker: I absolutely resent being referred to as the member for Hamilton-Wentworth, and I hope the minister will apologize.

Hon. Mr. Drea: I am sorry if I misidentified the member; he is here so seldom.

Mr. Speaker: It is Hamilton Centre.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Hamilton Centre.

Mr. Speaker: Has the honourable minister completed his remarks?

Hon. Mr. Drea: Yes, Mr. Speaker -- provided I have answered the concerns of the five members who spoke.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.


Hon. Mr. Drea moved second reading of Bill 165, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act.

Hon. Mr Drea: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, this type of legislation is not as significant as it might have been a couple of years ago but, with the introduction of compulsory insurance, the motor vehicle accident claims fund is being phased downwards. Now, it basically covers only accidents involving a hit-and-run or a stolen car; in other words, where the driver is not identifiable.

Mr. Breithaupt: Or where there is no insurance.

Hon. Mr. Drea: No. The honourable member suggests no insurance. I think he forgets for a moment that under the terms of one’s own policy, if the other driver can be identified, one’s own insurance compensates one and goes after that driver. The fund covers really only in the case of the unidentifiable driver -- the stolen car or a hit-and-run and so forth.

I am very pleased to announce that, as of this reporting month, for the first time we are down now to what I regard as almost an acceptable level of motor vehicle accident claims. We are down now to fewer than 20 claims a month. That is significant when one considers the number of hit-and-runs and stolen cars in the whole province, and the vast population, because for some time after the introduction of compulsory insurance, there would be claims filed with us since the accidents had occurred prior to the March 1, 1980, mandatory introduction.

The reason for raising the limit under the MVAC to $200,000, the same as the regular insurance, is self-evident. If a person is a victim of an unidentified driver for any reason, the fund has to be paid out of their own insurance, because bear in mind it is now every driver who is paying on the basis of the $1 a year or the $3 that is collected when you renew your driver’s licence; there are no longer any contributions or the availability of contributions where you pay a penalty fee in lieu of having insurance. Basically that is your own insurance policy.

The claims continued to come in after May and June. Mind you, they all involved accidents that happened prior to March, but we were concerned because actuarially, as members know, that fund was a disaster. Had we applied the same insurance tests prior to the introduction of compulsory insurance, it would have been declared insolvent.

While the need for it is self-evident, we are pleased to say the number of accidents being claimed under that fund now is coming dlown to what was anticipated. Quite frankly, I think that is rather reassuring to the motorists of Ontario as well as to the entire population. In its heyday the MVAC was a free ride for the irresponsible. I do want to bring to the attention of the House that the penalty fee, which I kept raising and last went to $150, was really only half the price of what proper insurance would have cost.

Perhaps to save a little time later, I could reply to a point raised by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy). I think one of the false concerns about the extent of damage claims may be the result of some of the publicity that comes from the United States. The member, on the basis of his experience in litigation, does point out that he was somewhat surprised that there has not been more of a groundswell to get that basic minimum up. One of the reasons why there has not been that groundswell is a great deal of the medical cost is the repayment of the Ontario health insurance plan, which is a much lower medical cost than in the past.

By the same token, I will agree with the member, had we continued at $100,000, two or three years from now there would have been a demand that it be raised. The difficulty would have been, had we waited, that somebody would have had to be injured. The member, as a solicitor, would have had the very difficult experience of being able to obtain for them a proper judgement, only to find out half of it was valueless.

With $200,000, at least for the next year, plus the ability to reinsure oneself against coverage, we have virtually ended the day when it is beyond anybody’s ability to protect himself to the extent that a proper judgement achieved in the courts will be available to him and able to be translated into services or repayments or actual cash.

Mr. Breithaupt: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support this companion bill to the amendments to the Insurance Act. Yes, I was in error when I suggested that uninsured motorists would still be part of the accident claims fund because now with the coverages, for which one’s own insurance company in fact protects one, that problem is out of the way. However, as the minister mentioned, there are still hit-and-run accidents and there are stolen cars. These problems will no doubt be with us.

I presume from the number of claims that the minister refers to of some 20 or so a month since the summer the $1 of the $3 of the annual licence fee will be a sufficient amount of money to cover the expected costs. As I recall in the calculations we did at the time, the reserving of expected claims would have somewhat more than used up the funds and the prospects of recovery at the time. We thought it might or might not be that this $1 per year would be sufficient. I am glad to hear the circumstances have worked out so that not only are the claims down but also we will build up some cushion which we hope will see that dollar amount as sufficient at least for the expected claims that arise in the future.

8:50 p.m.

There is of course the protection of the $100,000 figure for this past three-year period, and we look forward to the commitment as of March 1, 1981, to have this matching requirement and the opportunity for payment to match that which will occur from the basic increases in coverages.

We are certainly pleased to see this necessary companion bill, and of course it has our support.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Deputy Speaker (Mr. Edighoffer) the minister and I had a little set-to on a point of privilege about the designation of my riding. I would only suggest that the minister should reconsider taking first-year logic courses. Just because the minister rarely sees me in the hours during which the Legislative Assembly sits does not necessarily mean that I am not here, but it implies the fact that my attendance is much better than the minister’s own. I would be quite happy to compare records with him at any time regarding attendance in this assembly.

Of the bill, if I can be more specific: We also support this companion bill to the Insurance Act which raises the minimums.

Hon. Mr. Drea: First confession of the invisible man.

Mr. M. N. Davison: What’s this? What’s this? I can ask a tangential question of the minister in his capacity as the R2-D2 of the Tory party, on the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act? Will the minister bring us up to date, statistically and numerically, on the number of people in the province who are driving at this point without automobile insurance? He supplied us with rough figures for the states of New York and Michigan, which also have compulsory auto insurance. Just for the record of the House, will he supply the figures for the province if he has them? If not, perhaps he can send them by way of letter.

Since the minister said there were 20 claims per month to the fund which were cases of stolen cars or unidentified drivers, will he bring the House up to date on the average dollar figure per claim? If he does not have those figures tonight, perhaps he will pass them along by letter -- if the minister ever finds out what is happening with this part of his ministry.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: The member is confused. Some of the claims are initial ones. We will not know the volume or the actual dollar amount for the damage for some time to come. If it is a very simple accident like a busted fender for $400, I can give members that figure, but where there is a lawsuit going into the courts, where there is a claim of $200,000, we have to wait until the lawsuit is over to find out whether the person got nothing or $20,000. An understanding of the motor vehicle accident fund -- I draw this to the attention of perhaps one other member -- is that there has to be a court judgement. There is a relatively lengthy delay. The driver who did not have insurance in the old days was given the full protection of the law. In the case of a stolen car and so forth, there is the matter of determining whether that person was in that car by consent of the owner et cetera.

I can give a dollar amount for claims which faced us two or three months ago, but the question that the member is asking is logically impossible to answer. If the member understands those facts and if he wants to ask for other data that I can provide, then he should feel free to do so.

Mr. M. N. Davison: Forgive me, I did not ask for the minister to be sophomoric and obtuse. I would be quite happy to have the minister supply me with the information he has. Even I do not expect the minister to do the impossible.

Hon. Mr. Drea: Thank you.

Mr. M. N. Davison: I will settle for the information he has. He has enough trouble doing the probable.

Finally, we extend our support to this increase in the maximum payouts in the fund, as it goes along with the increases in the Insurance Act itself.

Mr. Roy: Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of brief comments on this legislation. In reference to the minister’s earlier comments dealing with the medical claims involving these accidents, I believe an agreement has been arrived at with the insurance companies and the Ontario health insurance plan where we do not even have to cover the medical claims any more.

Mr. Breithaupt: That is in our report from the company law committee.

Mr. Roy: Yes. My colleague the member for Kitchener tells me that is as a result of one of the recommendations of the great and long-standing select committee on company law.

I just say to the minister, we do not even have that now. When he indicates to my colleagues, quite rightly, that the fund does not cover a situation where there is a lack of insurance because of the coverage by one’s own insurance, does that include even non-residents, for instance -- tourists in the province? Does one’s own insurance provide coverage if one is involved in that sort of accident?

Hon. Mr. Drea: In reply to one of the concerns put forward by the member for Ottawa East (Mr. Roy), I have to say that the model for the program we have within the province now was the extraterritorial agreements with states and insurers in the United States. Because most states did not have motor accident claims funds such as here, there obviously had to be some solution to the matter of the uninsured “foreign.”

At one time before reciprocity in Canada that was the model: your own insurance company would repay, and then -- and I want to make this point -- collect off the guilty party, or at least try to. It is not a free ride in any way, shape or form.

The reason I drew attention to the motor vehicle accident claims now being down for the first time to 20 is that we wanted to get all of this out of the MVAC fund. We wanted to get it properly out there in responsibility so that the taxpayer was not subsidizing it.

I wish there were not stolen cars or hit-and-runs but I think one has to look at the risk factor in general society. At least it was getting down there. It is about five per cent -- or maybe two per cent -- of what we used to have when for $150 one could pay a penalty fee. I think that is very significant. Obviously it is meeting the intentions of the act.

There was another question. What I raised about New York state and Michigan is by admission of their own authorities; they simply are not able to enforce their compulsory insurance. Compulsory insurance is being enforced in this province. The police -- the municipal, regional and provincial police -- are being very active. There was always the concern, “Will the police really look for that pink card?” I will state that the police are looking for it. The police are enforcing it.

Mr. M. N. Davison: What per cent are we down to?

Hon. Mr. Drea: I do not know on any given day what per cent we are down to. How do I --

Mr. M. N. Davison: Give us an average.

Hon. Mr. Drea: All I can say is that on the basis of the new applications for insurance and a number of other factors -- and bear in mind that I have to do it on the basis of one day; let’s say it is March 1, because heaven still knows that one can cancel or not pay or bounce a cheque, or what have you -- I would estimate right now that less than two per cent of all the motorists in Ontario who may be driving on a given day are not insured. I am not talking about the illegal drivers; I am talking about the others. That is an estimate.

9 p.m.

In a couple of years, with some computerization and things the insurance industry is bringing in and a great number of things my friend and colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications (Mr. Snow) has well in hand, one will not drive for a day without it. But I have to be realistic at this time. That, of course, is why one can buy, in addition to ordinary coverage, the underinsured. A person who is underinsured is only going to be paid for by one’s own insurance company up to the limits.

I brought up the question -- and I am not trying in any way, shape or form to knock New York state or the state of Michigan -- because I wanted the members from the particular border areas to understand that I recognize only too well the potential problems of residents in their areas. I see the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy), to whom I would say that, again because of the population, although probably not as much, none the less Lambton county, including Sarnia, has been a significant place in the past for motor vehicle accident claims from Michigan or American drivers. We are aware of that. The difficulty, while we can get to a realistic solution on the problem, which is the reciprocity, is that special endorsement the person can buy.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.


Mr. Watson, on behalf of Hon. Mr. Norton, moved second reading of Bill 171, An Act to provide for the Validation of Certain Adoption Orders made under the Child Welfare Act, 1978.

Mr. Watson: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to make it clear that an adoption order made by the Supreme Court or a county or district court with respect to proceedings commenced before the Child Welfare Act, 1978, came into force is a valid order notwithstanding that the order was made by a provincial court, family division, or the unified family court.

The Child Welfare Act, 1978, which came into force on June 15, 1979, transferred the jurisdiction over adoption proceedings from the county or district courts or the Supreme Court to the provincial court, family division. In an unreported decision, dated January 11, 1980, the Ontario Court of Appeal indicated that the county or district court had no further jurisdiction to entertain or to continue to entertain any adoption matter as of the day the Child Welfare Act, 1978, came into force, which was June 15, 1979.

Since June 15, 1979, more than 200 adoption orders have been made in county or district courts in proceedings commenced before that date. This proposed legislation will prevent the status of more than 200 adopted children from being challenged in the future at some point.

Mr. Blundy: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Bill 171. I would like to point out that, in my opinion, what the bill will accomplish is the only logical way to overcome the problem that has arisen. The alternative to not having such a bill would be an untenable situation. A notice could be required to be sent, if these adoptions took place or were started before June 15, 1979, that could call people back into court to have adoptions reviewed and could cause considerable difficulties for the biological parents as well as for the children.

This bill will ensure that no adoption order made on or before June 18, 1970, by the Supreme Court or the county or district court in proceedings before June 15, 1979, shall be invalid solely because the order was not made by a provincial court, family division, or the unified family court.

It is a logical bill and will offer further protection to adopting parents and to adopted children, and it will cut down on unnecessary court appearances and costs. I believe it is a proper bill, and I would like to support it fully.

Mr. McClellan: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the bill, and I do not feel any need to say much more than that. The problem is that there was a lack of a proper transitional section within the Child Welfare Act. I would have thought that, with a distinguished lawyer as the minister and a distinguished judge as the assistant deputy minister, these kinds of things might have been noticed, but they were not and the remedy before us seems to have made right the situation that resulted from the court of appeal decision in 1979.

Without further ado, we support this amendment to the Child Welfare Act.

Mr. Watson: I appreciate the support from the members opposite. To the member for Sarnia (Mr. Blundy), I would like to point out that the problem has not arisen with any of these adoptions. As the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan) mentioned, it was a court of appeal which really did not affect these specifically but alerted our ministry to the problem; it is only those that were commenced before June 15, 1979, and then followed through in that court afterwards.

If the ministry had to do it again, I say in response to the member for Bellwoods, we might have included a transitional section but at the time it was done, a major piece of legislation, it did not seem necessary. We too feel this is logical, and we want to remove any doubts or clouds that would be on any adoption solely because somebody discovered it might have been done in the wrong courts.

Motion agreed to.

Ordered for third reading.

The Deputy Speaker: I would like to advise the House that Mr. Di Santo’s motion will be discussed Thursday at 10:30 p.m.

The House adjourned at 9:09 p.m.