The BIST board of directors has written a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne and MPP Eric Hoskins to express our opposition to the proposed changes to no-fault accident benefits as outlined in the Ontario budget.
As described in the letter, the changes aim to drastically reduce available no-fault accident benefits for the most seriously injured motor vehicle accident victims in Ontario, which include many brain injury survivors.
There is a rally planned at Queen’s Park on June 3 (tentative). We will update everyone when more information is available.
The Honourable Kathleen O. Wynne, Premier of Ontario and
Honourable Eric Hoskins, MPP St. Pauls
Dear Premier Wynne and Mr. Hoskins,
The Brain Injury Society of Toronto (“BIST”) is a non-profit charitable organization which represents the interests of and advocates for individuals with acquired brain injury (“ABI”) and their family members in the Toronto area.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am writing to express our opposition to Schedule 17 of Bill 91, an Act to Implement Budget Measures and to Enact and Amend Various Acts in Ontario (“Schedule 17”). Schedule 17 will drastically reduce available no-fault accident benefits for the most seriously injured motor vehicle accident victims in Ontario. These proposed changes will worsen the lives of many ABI survivors and will increase the burden on our already overly strained publicly funded health care system.
Our primary issues with Schedule 17 are the following:
- We oppose the proposed drastic reduction of available attendant care benefits and medical and rehabilitation benefits for catastrophically injured ABI survivors. Under this Budget, people with severe ABI, spinal cord injury, blindness or amputation will see their lifetime auto insurance health care benefits reduced from $2,000,000 to $1,000,000. This 50% reduction in available benefits will make life much more difficult for ABI survivors and their families. These vulnerable people are precisely the population that the auto insurance product was designed to protect.
- We oppose the proposed re-definition of the term catastrophic impairment in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. Our understanding is that this definition will be re-defined to make it more difficult for ABI survivors to access the higher level of benefits available to people with catastrophic injuries. The Liberal government is going to be exponentially harming ABI survivors and their families by concurrently reducing the non-catastrophic coverage while further restricting the ability of people to be confirmed as catastrophically impaired.
- We oppose reduction of the standard duration of non-catastrophic medical and rehabilitation benefits from ten years to five years for all claimants except children. The shortened duration of medical and rehabilitation benefits is going to leave ABI survivors with poorer long-term outcomes and will therefore place a larger burden on the O.H.I.P. funded system.
- We oppose the elimination of the $185 per week non-earner benefit beyond the two year anniversary of the motor vehicle accident. In order to qualify for this benefit, an accident victim must already have suffered “a complete inability to carry on a normal life.” People who qualify for a non-earner benefit are profoundly impaired. By eliminating this $185 per week non-earner benefit for people who were not working at the time they were hurt, your government is increasing the burden on the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Ontario Works program.
- We note that Schedule 17 links the $30,000 deductible for pain and suffering claims in tort claims to inflation. We would like to note that the income replacement benefit in the auto insurance product has been capped at $400.00 per week since 1996. If this amount were linked to inflation it would currently be $570.85 per week.
On behalf of our organization, we are writing to express our opposition to Schedule 17. Reducing the available coverage to such a great degree will certainly result in ABI survivors receiving less privately funded medical and rehabilitation. Individuals who do not receive full compensation for their losses often end up relying on government funded organizations for the care and services that they require. In the ABI service sector, publicly funded services are already stretched to the breaking point. There is no capacity in the system to meet the needs of the current demand let alone any additional demand that would be diverted as a result of these changes. Wait lists for specialized ABI residential services exceed 10 years and in some jurisdictions are non-existent.
It is the position of BIST that Schedule 17 should be amended so as to eliminate the changes to the definition of catastrophic impairment and to maintain the current level of benefits available to the catastrophically impaired. We also recommend that non-catastrophic claimants continue to have 10 years to use their benefits, that the income replacement benefit be linked to inflation and that the non-earner benefit remain payable as it is under the current system.
Thank you for your consideration of our letter.
Yours very truly,
Judy Moir, Chair of the Board of Directors
Brain Injury Society of Toronto