Promise to cut car insurance rates by 15 per cent a 'stretch': Wynne

TORONTO -- Premier Kathleen Wynne says her government's target to cut auto insurance rates by 15 per cent by last year was a "stretch goal.

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The Liberals promised to reduce car insurance premiums an average of 15 per cent by August 2015 as part of a deal to get NDP support for the 2013 budget when they were still a minority government.

But August came and went with the government's target not even halfway met.

The latest numbers from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, for the fourth quarter of 2015, show that approved rates decreased on average by 0.15 per cent, putting the decrease at an average of roughly seven per cent from 2013.

"We always knew it was a stretch goal," Wynne said Monday.

"We always knew it was going to be a challenge and the good news is that insurance rates continue to come down."

NDP critic Jagmeet Singh said the target has never before been held out as anything other than achievable.

"This is the first time in over 2 1/2 years we've ever heard the term stretch goal," he said.

"It's something that the government clearly stated was possible and made the promise knowingly when we asked for the commitment in 2013."

Progressive Conservative critic Tim Hudak said the "stretch goal" is a brand new category of politician promises.

"It was to buy the NDP support to extend the government for another year," he said. "At least there would be some honesty in that answer."

The government has since introduced legislation that it says will lower costs for insurance companies and will lead to reduced rates for drivers.

Wynne said there are "many" companies whose rates have come down by 15 per cent since 2013, but quarterly figures appear to show it is no more than a handful, at most.

The government will keep 15 per cent as a target, Wynne said, though she would not put a new date on that pledge.



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