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Changes to Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule

Earlier this year, the Ontario government announced that the 2015 Ontario Budget will include new auto insurance changes. Specifically, the changes will reduce the amount injured victims receive under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). These changes will reduce the coverage of everybody in Ontario who has auto insurance, or who is injured in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • reducing coverage to a combined total of $65,000 for medical and rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits as compared to the prior available amounts of $50,000 medical and rehabilitation benefits plus $76,000 for attendant care benefits;
  • reducing the standard duration of medical and rehabilitation benefits from 10 years to 5 years for all claimants except children and those with catastrophic impairments; and
  • reducing coverage for those with catastrophic injuries to a combined total of $1 million for medical and rehabilitation benefits and attendant care benefits, whereas injured people formerly could receive $1 million for medical and rehabilitation benefits and $1 million for attendant care benefits for a combined total of $2 million.

Even though benefits are being slashed dramatically, there is no sign that auto insurance premiums paid by Ontario drivers will also be reduced. In contrast, auto insurance company profits are soaring. A recent report by Dr. Fred Lazar and Dr. Eli Prisman, from the York University Schulich School of Business, shows that Ontario drivers have overpaid for auto insurance between $3 billion and $4 billion for the period of 2001 to 2013.

After the proposed changes were announced, they were met with some resistance by Ontario drivers. However, drivers’ objections had no effect on the proposed changes. In fact, this past Wednesday, the proposed changes to the SABS passed in the Ontario legislature as part of the provincial budget.

Hundreds of protestors outside Queen’s Park rallied against the changes on Wednesday. Though all victims are affected by the reduction, those catastrophically injured will be affected the most.

Since 1996, catastrophically injured victims have been entitled to reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitation services/benefits up to $1 million per the SABS. In addition, they were also entitled to receive up to $1 million in attendant care benefits. These are services provided by an aide or attendant or services provided by a long term care facility like a nursing home, home for the aged, or chronic care hospital.

The change combines these 2 coverages and cuts the amount of benefits available by 50%. Therefore, catastrophically injured victims will only receive up to $1 million for both medical/rehabilitation and attendant care benefits.

Many Ontarians are outraged because they feel that they are cutting benefits for the victims who need them most.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa stated, “Ontario is the most generous in Canada when it comes to providing coverage for auto insurance.”

With these significant cuts, is it still generous?

Stay tuned for more articles about how this reduction may impact drivers, passengers and pedestrians injured in Ontario accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured in an Ontario auto accident, feel free to call the car accident lawyers at Bergeron Clifford to schedule a FREE consultation. 1-866-384-5886

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