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B.C. to cut ICBC rates 20 per cent and switch to 'no-fault' insurance – Vancouver Sun

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Premier John Horgan unveiled Thursday the largest reforms to auto insurance since the creation of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. more than four decades ago, as his government struggles to stop continuing financial losses at ICBC.

VICTORIA – B.C. motorists are about to see a dramatic change to their auto insurance, as well as a 20 per cent cut to their premiums next year, under a new no-fault system announced by the B.C. government.

Premier John Horgan unveiled Thursday the largest reforms to auto insurance since the creation of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. more than four decades ago, as his government struggles to stop continuing financial losses at ICBC.

No-fault insurance will mean people involved in vehicle crashes can no longer sue each other for damages — except in cases involving court convictions for offences like negligence, street racing, impaired driving, as well as in cases of faulty manufacturing, botched repairs and the over-service of alcohol by a business.

Instead, people will receive benefits, payments for medical treatment and compensation directly from ICBC, using amounts set by the province depending on the type of injury.

“It’s time for change at ICBC,” said Horgan.

A 20 per cent decrease in rates in the years ahead is a symbol to the people of British Columbia that we are going to wrestle this problem to the ground.”

The switch will upend B.C.’s litigation-based insurance model, in the process saving ICBC an estimated $1.5 billion annually in legal fees that the NDP government pledged will be redirected to cut rates, boost treatment benefits and quicken response times for claims.

“You shouldn’t need a lawyer to access the benefits you’ve paid for,” said Attorney General David Eby.

The current auto insurance system in British Columbia simply doesn’t work.”

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The government will introduce enabling legislation in the spring session of the legislature, which starts next week. But the no-fault system won’t come in until May 1, 2021 – just five months before the scheduled provincial election.

In the meantime, ICBC’s basic rates will not increase in 2020, the government revealed Thursday.

In 2021, when no-fault takes effect, basic and optional rates will be reduced an average of 20 per cent, saving motorists on average $400 a year, said Eby.

Had the government not made the change, rates would have risen 36 per cent over the next five years, adding an average of $650 million to an annual insurance package, according to government estimates.


A B.C. government chart outlining the estimated savings for motorists under the new no-fault insurance system.

The cuts to premiums come after ICBC redesigned its rate risk structure in 2018, leading to savings for some motorists but steep hikes for inexperienced drivers and youth. Government figures appear to show the rate cut in 2021 would save a Burnaby driver with one year’s experience as much as $1,570 annually on basic and optional insurance.

Eby admitted it sounds “too good to be true” that B.C. will move to a model that boosts benefits and cuts premiums. But he pointed to other provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan as already operating such systems.

“It’s only because we see it actually being delivered in two other province that we believe we can do it,” he said.

The new no-fault system will boost the maximum lifetime care benefits an injured person could receive from $300,000 to $7.5 million, with the additional promise that more funding will be available for visits to physiotherapists, chiropractors, counsellors and other recovery services.

For example, the amount ICBC will pay in lost wages is set to increase to $1,200 a week under no-fault, compared to $740 a week set in 2019 and only $300 a week before that. People who earn more than that amount can choose to purchase additional optional insurance for extra wage benefits.

A person’s doctor, not ICBC, will decide what recovery treatments are needed and for how long, according to the province.

In another scenario, involving an injured child, ICBC said no-fault would provide new up-front permanent care aides worth $10,000 a month, homemaking costs, missed school compensation of up to $20,000 a year and recreational benefits that would under the current system require a lawsuit and court awarded judgement.

The government says the benefits will be available for as long as a person needs, meaning funding for care aides and supports for more seriously injured victims could be sustained for a person’s entire lifetime and not, under the current system, simply involve a one-time lump sum payment in court that must be rationed by the victim for future years and can’t be re-litigated.

Money for pain and suffering will be eliminated for minor injuries, but for major injuries cash compensation will bet set by categories of benefits with maximum amounts set by ICBC, according to government. Repairs to vehicles will still be handled by auto adjustors with traditional damage assessments.

The model virtually eliminates the role of personal injury lawyers, who typically take one-third of the total amount awarded in a settlement and represent a powerful lobby group that continues to fight government reforms. They have argued a no-fault system would leave the most vulnerable victims, with the most catastrophic injuries, alone to face ICBC without legal help.

The Trial Lawyers Association responded on social media by saying that the change puts the rights of injured and vulnerable British Columbians “at grave risk.”

Eliminating costly legal fees is key to driving down the premiums, said Eby, though he acknowledged the change will be aggressively challenged by trial lawyers.

The only time an injured person will still be able to sue for compensation under the new no-fault model will be if the at-fault driver is convicted of intoxication, dangerous driving or other criminal negligence.

Disputes on settlements will be handled by the civil resolution tribunal, a retooled ICBC fairness commissioner and the provincial ombudsperson, though drivers can also go to court for a judicial review of decisions.

Although the system is called no-fault insurance, government officials who briefed the media Thursday said ICBC will continue to determine fault in crashes for the purpose of penalizing the at-fault driver with higher insurance premiums based on their crash history. However, everyone involved in a crash, regardless of fault, will have access to the same medical benefits – which for an at-fault driver means new care for things like permanent impairment.

Drivers will still be able to choose their deductible levels under no-fault, and purchase additional optional insurance from either ICBC or private providers — though optional insurance will mainly cover the areas of collision, comprehensive and travel outside of B.C.

Despite having a monopoly on basic rates, ICBC lost $2.5 billion over the past two years and is struggling to return to break-even status this year. It has blamed rising claims costs, as well as legal fees that amount to $700 million annually or one-quarter of all its expenditures.

B.C. had for years been the last province in the country to allow a purely litigation-based insurance model, called the tort system. It took a step toward reform last year with a $5,500 cap on pain and suffering costs in minor injury cases that is currently being challenged in court by the Trial Lawyers Association.

B.C.’s new no-fault system appears to align most closely with the structure of Manitoba, but with a more lucrative benefit maximum that compares to Saskatchewan’s levels.

In Manitoba, the Crown automobile insurer with control of compulsory basic insurance has had no-fault in place since 1993. Manitoba’s auto insurance premiums have risen 24 per cent since 2001, compared to more than 60 per cent in B.C. during the same time. Manitoba is dropping rates by almost one per cent in 2020.

In Saskatchewan, rates have not increased during the past five years and the province recorded the lowest number of road fatalities in its history in 2019.

However, B.C. did not copy Saskatchewan’s hybrid model for no-fault, in which motorists can opt-out and pay to the retain the right to sue. It also chose not to follow Ontario’s partial no-fault system, in which legal action is still allowed if your injuries are severe — a loss of a limb, spinal cord damage, blindness, and traumatic brain injury, among others. Ontario also has a fully private marketplace, with no government role in selling insurance.

Although the announcement of a new no-fault system took up much of Thursday’s announcement, Eby also revealed the province has retooled its efforts to cut down the number of expert reports used in court cases before the no-fault system comes into effect in 2021. Its first attempt to set caps on reports last year was overturned by the BC Supreme Court as an inappropriate infringement on judicial independence.

The government will amend the Evidence Act to set a limit of three medical expert reports per case, though leave it up to judicial discretion whether to allow more. The amount ICBC will pay per report will also be capped at $3,000 and no more than five per cent of the total settlement disbursement.

Some of those expert report case limits will apply to the 90,000 claims still on books at ICBC from before 2018’s minor injury cap, which accounts for as much as $10 billion in unsettled liabilities.

rshaw@postmedia.com

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Posthaste: Toronto, Vancouver housing markets face deepest decline in 50 years, says RBC – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Good Morning!

The toll that rising interest rates are taking across Canada’s housing markets became even more apparent this past week as reports from local real estate boards revealed the downturn was deepening from coast to coast.

“Prices are sliding fast, and the exuberance that permeated these markets earlier this year is being replaced by fear,” wrote RBC assistant chief economist Robert Hogue in a recent note.

“In the Toronto and Vancouver areas, the decline in activity is quickly becoming one of the deepest of the past half a century.”

Apart from the dive housing took in the early COVID-19 lockdown, home sales in Toronto have fallen to the slowest pace in 13 years, Hogue said.

Meanwhile, inventories are climbing quickly, up 58% from a year ago, and buyers are now managing to get “meaningful price concessions” from sellers, he said.

Since March the composite MLS Home Price Index has shed $178,000, or 13%, falling to $1.16 million. In July alone prices declined 3.9% or $47,000.

Toronto is not a buyer’s market yet, according to the sales to new listings ratio, but RBC expects home hunters in the GTA to continue to find better deals, especially in the 905 areas outside of the core where prices soared during the pandemic.

Vancouver, where home sales are down 40% over the past four months, is also experiencing a big chill. July saw an estimated 9% decline.

Home prices have fallen 4.5% since April, or more than $57,000, but RBC thinks the correction here is still in its early stages.

It expects prices to fall more rapidly in coming months, especially in the detached home sector.

The heavy hit to Canada’s two most expensive cities was predictable, but signs of the correction are now cropping up in more affordable cities as well.

“The downturn may be more contained in other markets but unmistaken nonetheless,” wrote Hogue.

Home sales in Montreal this year have been slowing gradually and by July had declined to 17% below pre-pandemic levels. That and a rise in inventories have returned the market to balance, said Hogue.

Previously this had just slowed the growth in prices, but July could be a turning point, with both single-family homes and condo prices actually declining.

“This development took place across the region, suggesting a board-based price correction may be underway,” said Hogue.

Even in Calgary, this year’s real estate star, there are signs the market is softening. Home sales remain at historically high levels, but have calmed since the buying frenzy seen at the beginning of the year.

Higher interest rates are pushing buyers to more affordable options, like condos, and demand for more expensive detached homes is down.

Calgary’s composite MLS HPI peaked in May and has slipped lower since, he said.

A speedy rise to interest rates are the reason for the cross-country correction and with rates expected to go even higher (RBC forecasts another 75 basis by the fall) it will only get worse.

“We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates,” said Hogue.

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THE TEAM BEHIND THE ‘NUMBER’ Canadians are in a historic, inflationary moment — the likes of which some have never seen in their lifetime. The drumbeat of grim, inflation statistics has been steadily pounding for over a year now, pushing the consumer price index to a high of 8.1% in June. But have you ever wondered who calculates “the number” and how they do it? The Financial Post’s Joe O’Connor goes behind the scenes at Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Division and meets economists like Andrew Barclay, above, to get the scoop on the price “nerds.” Photo by Statistics Canada

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  • Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of the defence staff, will hold a media one-on-one call back on the topic of Arctic security and international collaboration following discussions with representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and the United States regarding the evolving security environment in the Arctic, opportunities for enhanced co-operation as well as Canada’s Arctic defence capabilities and initiatives
    Meeting requested by four members of the Transport, Infrastructure and Communities committee to discuss their request to undertake a study of airport delays and cancellations

  • Vic Fedeli, Ontario minister of economic development, job creation and trade, will make an announcement

  • A fireside chat with Katie Keita, Shopify Inc. senior director of investor relations, at the KeyBanc technology leadership forum in Vail, Colorado

  • Earnings: Barrick Gold, Hudbay Minerals, WSP Global, RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, Curaleaf, Hudbay Minerals

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Canada’s job numbers Friday surprised economists who had been expecting a gain in employment. Instead the economy shed almost 31,000 positions after losing 43,000 jobs in June. Many saw this as a sign that the economy is cooling, but don’t think that will stop the Bank of Canada from hiking rates. “For the Bank of Canada, the takeaway will be that while growth is clearly cooling, conditions remain drum-tight and wages are stirring,” wrote BMO chief economist Douglas Porter after the data came out Friday. “We believe this backdrop is consistent with another rate hike at the September meeting, but of a less aggressive nature than the mega 100 bp move in July. We look for a 50 bp hike at that time.”

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The rise in food prices is pushing 10% and more than two in five Canadians say they’ve been affected by rising costs.

With inflation impacting the prices of everyday goods, finding ways to save money on your grocery bill is more than welcome.

From planning ahead to buying “ugly food,” our content partner MoneyWise has six strategies to help you lower your costs the next time you go to the grocery store.

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Today’s Posthaste was written by Pamela Heaven (@pamheaven), with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

Have a story idea, pitch, embargoed report, or a suggestion for this newsletter? Email us at posthaste@postmedia.com, or hit reply to send us a note.

Listen to Down to Business for in-depth discussions and insights into the latest in Canadian business, available wherever you get your podcasts. Check out the latest episode below:

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Metrolinx cancels some GO train trips due to staffing issues – CP24

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Metrolinx cancelled a number of GO train trips Monday and says more cancellations are possible this week amid staffing shortages.

On its website, Metrolinx attributed the cancellations to staff illnesses and issued an apology.

“We are sorry to advise that due to staff illnesses we will need to cancel some train trips this week,” the company said in a statement. “Please check the service updates page before travelling, check the departure boards at your station, or follow our GO bus and train line Twitter handles for the status of your trip.”

Monday’s cancellations include:

  • The Oshawa GO 07:55 – Union Station 08:55
  • The Kitchener GO 07:15 – Union Station 08:58

While Metrolinx has not provided information on closures past Monday, they say the possibility of cancellations will be ongoing throughout the week.

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Canada continues to have very low unemployment rate | Canada Immigration News – Canada Immigration News

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Published on August 7th, 2022 at 08:00am EDT

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Canada’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.9% in July, matching the record low from the month before.

The total number of unemployed people held steady at one million in July. In addition, 426,000 people wanted a job but did not look for one, and therefore did not meet the definition of unemployed. This was little changed for the sixth consecutive month. The adjusted unemployment rate—which accounts for this source of potential labour supply—remained at 6.8%, the lowest rate since comparable data first became available in 1997.

In addition, employment in Canada decreased by 31,000 jobs, which according to Statistics Canada does not represent a significant change. Canada lost about 74,000 jobs from May to July, but from May 2021 to May 2022, employment had increased by more than one million.

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That being said, July marks the second consecutive month of decreased employment in Canada. Plus, the record-low unemployment coupled with more than one million job vacancies means Canada is still facing a tight labour market.

“Two consecutive months of lower employment indicates that the Canadian labour market is running up against capacity constraints, with little room for upside movement,” writes RBC economist Carrie Freestone in an economic update. “Demand for workers is still very high with job postings still 65% above pre-pandemic levels (though the number of job postings continues to fall), and there are few unemployed Canadians available to fill these vacant positions.”

Employment among public sector employees fell by 51,000 (1.2%) in July, the first decline in the sector in 12 months. The decrease was largely concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Despite the month-over-month decline, public sector employment was up 5.3% (+215,000) compared to July 2021.

The number of self-employed workers increased by 34,000 (+1.3%) in July after falling by 59,000 (-2.2%) in June. Despite this increase, self-employment remained flat on a year-over-year basis and was 214,000 (-7.4%) below its pre-pandemic February 2020 level.

Employment fell by 53,000 (-0.3%) in the services-producing sector in July. Wholesale and retail trade contributed the most to losses in this sector. The number of people working in wholesale and retail trade fell by 27,000 (-0.9%) in July, the second consecutive monthly decline. The majority of the net decrease took place in Ontario and Quebec.

“Job losses were strangely concentrated in the services sector, including wholesale and retail, education and health,” Andrew Grantham, CIBC told Reuters. “With some of those sectors reporting high vacancy rates; labour supply rather than demand appears to be the main issue. That said, the major difference between today’s report and last month’s is that wage growth unexpectedly decelerated.”

Average hourly wages for employees rose 5.2% (+$1.55 to $31.14) on a year-over-year basis in July, roughly the same year-over-year rate of increase seen in June (+5.2%; +$1.54). For a second consecutive month, average hourly wages grew at a similar pace among part-time (+5.0%; +$1.05) and full-time (+4.9%; +$1.52) employees. Earlier in 2022, wage growth had been faster among full-time employees compared to part-time workers.

The most recent inflation data indicated that the Consumer Price Index rose 8.1% on a year-over-year basis in June, the largest annual change in nearly 40 years.

“The rising cost of living is raising the temperature at the collective bargaining table,” wrote economist Liam Daly in a Conference Board of Canada media release. “Given the rate of inflation, unions argue that typical annual pay rises are simply insufficient. Amid high vacancy rates and a low unemployment rate, workers are negotiating from a strengthened position.”

Doug Porter, BMO economist, said in a statement to Reuters the main takeaway is that the job market is still very tight.

“We’re still dealing with the lowest unemployment rate in at least 50 years, and wages that are running strong,” Porter said. “But from a growth angle the reality is employers are having trouble finding employees, and, so that caps the growth of the economy.”

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