Fredericton, July 22, 2003 Hotel staff rushed to expand the ballroom at the Fredericton Inn last Thursday to accommodate a crowd of more than 175 people who wanted to hear about public auto insurance.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Senior Citizen Council had organized a Symposium on Public Auto Insurance and invited Paul Moist, Vice Chair of the Manitoba Public Auto Insurance Corporation, to explain the ins and outs of such a system.
Paul Moist dismissed the claim by New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord that the province cant afford a public auto insurance system. New Brunswick drivers should demand the true facts on the set-up costs for such a system, said Moist. Premier Bernard Lord estimates that it would cost $400 million to set up a publicly owned automobile insurance system in New Brunswick. It cost $375,000 in 1971 to set up the Manitoba Public Auto Insurance Corporation.
Moist told the audience that auto insurance premiums in Manitoba are about one third lower than the premiums in New Brunswick for comparable coverage. Last year in New Brunswick, insurance rates rose by 70 per cent while in the last few years, Manitobans enjoyed rate reductions and rates freeze.
According to CUPE NB President David Rouse, the rates in New Brunswick are an abomination. If public auto insurance works in Manitoba there is no reason why it shouldnt work in New Brunswick, said Rouse.
A few hours before the Symposium, New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord announced he would introduce new legislation forcing the insurance company to drop their rate by mid to late August, and setting a recommended reduction at about 20 per cent.
“To legislate a rate cut to insurance premiums is not the solution. The only way is the public system, said David Rouse.
CUPE NB intends to continue its campaign for a public auto insurance system.
CUPE wants to make a representation before the Auto Insurance Task Force, which is looking at a no-frills policy. Representatives from each of the Atlantic provinces sit on the Task Force, which will examine the cost, benefit and legal implications of starting a public system. The working group is supposed to present its report by the end of September.
We want to explain to the Task Force Members the benefits of a public auto system and stop the rhetoric that New Brunswick cant afford a public insurance system, said Rouse. The premium increases experienced by New Brunswickers have been the highest in Canadian history. To achieve stability and justice for New Brunswick motorists, we must endorse the public auto insurance system. There is no other way to stop this abuse by the insurance companies, said Rouse.
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President CUPE NB