Horwath calls for more at home health care, lower insurance

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath speaks with media at Queens Park in Toronto.

Credits: Dave ThomasToronto Sun/QMI Agency


TORONTO – Ontario New Democrats have put a 15% cut in auto insurance rates and a five-day home health-care guarantee at the top of their priorities for the coming legislative session.

"For a lot of Ontarians, paycheques aren't growing but the cost of living keeps going up," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday in announcing her expanded to-do list.

Her proposals would leave an extra $226 in the pocket of the average driver, and make sure families aren't on lengthy waiting lists for services that help keep seniors in their homes, she said.

The home care promise would require an extra $30 million, while slashing auto insurance rates wouldn't cost the government anything, Horwath said.

Liberal premier-designate Kathleen Wynne is looking for support from the opposition benches, and Horwath is likely her best option to strike a budget deal and keep her minority government alive.

Wynne was in private meetings Monday, unavailable to comment on whether she would consider adopting the NDP proposals.

Ontario Tories released their second negative ad on Wynne -- an online spot -- in which they question whether the Dalton McGuinty supporter will take the province's debt problem seriously.

"She wants to wait another five years to balance the budget, making Ontario the last province to do so," Tory MPP Peter Shurman said Monday. "Essentially what we're doing is we're putting her on notice. We expect a plan to address the jobs crisis and a plan to address the financial crisis that this province is in.

"I can't put a precise number on it for the coming budget, but we have to see significant progress towards balancing the budget. And it certainly can't take five years," he said.

Horwath's call for a 15% cut in auto insurance rates is based on "silliness" rather than a real understanding of what's required, Shurman said.

The NDP would order the Financial Services Commission to work with auto insurance companies to lower premiums in a year, arguing the industry saved about $2 billion through 2010 measures that decreased payments to accident victims.

Pete Karageorgos, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said companies saw a total profit in Ontario from auto insurance of $233 million in 2011, up from a $1.76-billion loss the previous year.

If Horwath wants to cut auto premiums, she should focus on implementing anti-fraud measures, he said.

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