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VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 1
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Advocacy in Action | Bill 118
In December, Bill 118 received Royal Assent, passing into law. The bill, with the objective of improving the affordability of insurance for snow removal companies and their customers, had been championed by the IBAO. There are lessons to be taken from this legislative success and the effect that it had in this case.
Getting Snowed
A couple of years ago Norm Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, was contacted by the owner of an excavation company that handles snow removal. They were concerned about how high the cost of their commercial insurance had become. Premiums in this sector were becoming so cost prohibitive that smaller operators were being forced out of the market. In addition to hearing about it from snow removal companies, MPP Miller was also hearing about it from individual businesses in his riding.
“A friend who owns a business was finding they would get sued inevitably at the two-year mark,” said MPP Miller. “By then, they didn’t know if it was a legitimate claim, whether anybody had really fallen or not and to what extent the individual had been injured. And the snow clearing business didn’t have the evidence to support a defense.”
MPP Miller introduced a Private Members Bill designed to remedy this situation. The bill was intended to change the notice period for a slip and fall accident from two years to ten days, with the goal of reducing frivolous and fraudulent lawsuits, making claims more predictable and ultimately lowering insurance premiums. As it went through the legislative process, the notice period was revised to a maximum of 60 days.
“The whole purpose of this bill is to minimize the nuisance and frivolous suits,” said Monica Dale, Vice President & Partner, Gifford Carr Insurance Group. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
Clearing the Way
IBAO got involved in this matter when brokers raised the issue that they weren’t able to find affordable coverage for their snow removal clients. This issue became a regular part of our position—one that brokers spoke to their MPPs about during one-on-one meetings or larger events like our Queen’s Park Advocacy Day.
“We try to pair MPPs with brokers from their riding and have them explain their local issues,” said IBAO CEO Colin Simpson. “By sharing their expertise, they can help their representatives understand the issue and how it’s affecting consumers in their own riding.”
Most private members’ bills don’t become law. According to MPP Miller, it was crucial that brokers across the entire province reached out to their local MPP, regardless of which party they’re with, and voiced support for the private members’ bill. “The individual meetings and calls to local MPPs really made them understand the issue and made them realize it made sense,” said MPP Miller. “I started hearing about it from lots of my colleagues, asking me about it—where the member’s bill was and what was going to happen with it—I think that made a real difference for getting it through all three readings, committee and royal assent.”
MPP Miller highlighted that getting some support for the bill from across the aisle helped as well.
“At debate time on the third reading, the opposition member that was there for committee, Jamie West from Sudbury, I thought he gave a better speech than I did—telling the stories of his constituents and making the case that something had to be done,” said MPP Miller. “Certainly, the support of insurance brokers across the province was key to getting this to actually become law.”
Certainly, the support of insurance brokers across the province was key to getting this to actually become law.
The Thaw
To show gratitude for the politicians who pushed the bill, we issued a press release commending the government.
“It’s important to get the word out there as much as possible—social media, press releases, communications with your members—it’s all very helpful,” said MPP Miller.
Going forward, IBAO can use the passage of Bill 118 as a template for tackling other issues facing consumers and brokers.
VOLUME 21 | ISSUE 1
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