Dear Travis: Stop It.

To: Treasury Board & Finance Minister Travis Toews

cc. Justice Minister Kaycee Madu QC and UCP MLAs Mickey Amery, Jason Stephan, Pete Guthrie, Miranda Rosin and Matt Jones

 

Re: Auto Accident Injury Tort Law Review 

 

Dear Minister Toews,

 

This should not even be a Treasury Board & Finance file, as tort rights are an issue of fundamental justice. Accordingly, I’ve copied the Justice Minister, who is duty bound to ensure that your ministry’s machinations in this matter not do injustice to the traditional civil legal rights of Albertans hurt by careless drivers.

 

The smokescreen created by the Auto Insurance Advisory Committee’s red herring recommendation (pure no-fault) and promised phony public consultation fails to camouflage the fact that TBF bureaucrats in Insurance Policy and the Superintendent’s Office evidently have you following the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s March 2020 “Driving Change: Auto Insurance that Works” roadmap to the letter. Clearly, the joint IBC/TBF ploy is to frame the insurance lobby’s wish list as a “made-in-Alberta compromise solution” to a contrived auto insurance crisis that has long ceased to exist. Call me a biased victims’ rights advocate (unlike the “impartial” insurance lobbyists pulling your department’s strings, of course), but I respectfully submit that you’re driving in the wrong direction, one more befitting a socialist government such as BC’s NDP regime.

 

Recent changes to motor vehicle accident law implemented by the United Conservative Party of Alberta government (not to mention the 2018 Minor Injury Regulation amendments made by the previous one), coupled with the steep downward trend (confirmed by Auto Insurance Rate Board actuaries) in bodily injury claims costs per insured vehicle, ensure that our province’s vibrant auto insurance system will continue to deliver a quality product at reasonable prices to consumers and tidy profits to insurers (mark my words, 2020 insurer profit figures will dwarf even 2019’s rosy numbers). Put bluntly sir, if you’re actually more than merely conservative in name only, you will slam on the brakes and allow time for these changes to have their intended impact. As opposed to your clearly harmful plan to grant the insurance lobby’s short-sighted request for an unjust, unnecessary and unconservative transformation from MVA tort law to no-fault with an illusory tort option, you’ll find further less intrusive means to help stabilize premiums for good Alberta motorists at the end of this blog post.

 

Including my excellent MLA, the Honourable Justice Minister Kaycee Madu QC, I’ve copied six UCP MLAs (half of them lawyers) with this email, and I implore them to help you find the spine to deep six the flawed IBC road map, take the off ramp, and refocus on preserving a FAIR Alberta that respects the long established civil legal rights of ordinary Albertans (mostly women and children) wrongfully injured by reckless drivers. By way of precedent, I remember back in 2003 when Finance Minister Patricia Nelson embarked on her ill-advised and reprehensible crusade to cap compensation for practically all non-catastrophic injuries in exchange for rate reprieve for the young and the reckless (including her son). Conservative MLA Brent Rathgeber QC courageously stood up for innocent injured Albertans and said, “I appreciate that the bureaucrats at the Department of Finance have limited interest in an unbiased and objective analysis; however we as politicians MUST insist on objectivity and fairness both in process and result.” Mrs. Nelson exercised sober second thought, made a right turn, and in 2004 implemented a cap on minor sprains and strains that heal relatively quickly. 

 

Notably, the AIRB reports that the average cost of basic auto coverage has increased from $707 in 2004 to $810 according to the most current available data -- less than a 1% per year increase, hardly the “skyrocketing, sky-is-falling” hike that left-leaning socialists and boondoggling bureaucrats might consider compelling justification for the massive marketplace meddling (ie., turfing MVA injury law in favour of privately delivered no-fault with a sham tort option) you’re so obviously envisaging. My candid feedback, Mr. Toews? Your embarrassing adherence to insurance lobby talking points has been unwavering ever since you were elected. Stop it. Remember the deficit? Work on fixing that fiasco.

 

Perhaps this former insurance industry insider said it best a year ago when she stated, “It is queer how positively aghast some allegedly free enterprise Conservative politicians in our legislature seem at the prospect that an occasional overdue market correction will cause the average cost of an automobile insurance policy to rise, when as a matter of statistical fact, the average cost of automobiles, and of automobile repairs, has risen exponentially higher over the past fifteen years than the average cost of basic insurance coverage for those automobiles. Even with anticipated increases in 2020, Alberta auto insurance is a terrific bang for the buck in terms of the liability and benefits coverage you get for your premium dollar, and is amongst the most affordable standard auto policies in the country as a percentage of disposable income. With about 50 insurers to choose from, as I said before, shop around! My expert advice to our government politicians on the auto insurance file: There’s an Auto Insurance Rate Board. Let the AIRB do its job, stay in your lane, resist any latent socialist urges to engage in needless and harmful marketplace meddling, and ABC -- always be conservative.” I admire Rachelle Leger, a lifelong Albertan, for having the courage to speak truth to power.

 

Thanks, and best wishes for peace and blessings this challenging holiday season.

 

Stay positive (and test negative),

Mark McCourt

Alberta Civil Trial Lawyer*

McCourt Law Offices

 

*Not to be confused with the “ACTLA” group of lawyers, who I’m sure can speak for themselves (and undoubtedly already have).