MPI dishes out rebates averaging $100 per customer
2nd round of rebates for customers due to fewer vehicle collisions than expected
Manitoba drivers have an extra present to look forward to after Christmas, as public-health orders that kept vehicles parked have resulted in fewer collisions.
Manitoba Public Insurance will return $69 million to ratepayers, which averages out to $100 per customer, Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton announced at a Monday media briefing.
"Both our government and Manitoba Public Insurance are imminently aware of the financial impacts to Manitobans as a result of the pandemic and are leveraging all sources of relief available to Manitobans," Wharton said.
The refund follows a $110-million rebate MPI issued in the spring, which was also due to a drop in collision claims, as well as stronger than anticipated year-end numbers.
The public insurer said it can cut this round of cheques because of 20 per cent fewer collision claims recorded from mid-March to late October versus the previous year, and a forecast that the number of crashes will remain lower than normal in the coming months.
MPI expects the roughly 675,000 cheques will be sent between the end of December and early January.
Rate decrease expected next year
The refund does not affect MPI's request to cut rates for customers next year. The Public Utilities Board is expected to rule this month on an average rate decrease of 8.8 per cent, which is a savings of roughly $110 per customer.
The savings for customers shouldn't have an adverse effect on the Crown corporation's financial picture, Satvir Jatana, acting CEO and president of MPI, said in a news release.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the provincial government shouldn't trumpet a rebate it had nothing to do with.
"This is political interference. This is the government reaching into MPI and treating it like a piggy bank," he said.
Lamont said these decisions should be left to the Crown corporation and the Public Utilities Board, the latter being the independent body that must sign off on the rebate.
"The minister should have nothing to do with it, and he certainly shouldn't be treating this like some kind of Christmas bonus," Lamont said.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the province is trying to gloss over a 2.9 per cent rate hike coming for Manitoba Hydro customers, beginning tomorrow.
"I think the government pretty cynically put out this announcement to try and cover up for the hydro increase that they legislated, that there was no public hearing for, that they're implementing on families right before the holidays."
With files from Bryce Hoye