Ford to look at liability rules that municipalities say leave them vulnerable

Some municipalities say liability rules leave them open to steep lawsuits for injuries on public property. Premier Doug Ford says he'll look at how to fix the problem.

Some municipalities concerned about facing steep lawsuits for injuries on public property

Ford spoke at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association on Monday, pledging to address the concerns municipalities have about their liability in the event of injuries on public property. (CBC)

Premier Doug Ford says Ontario will look at municipalities' concerns about the cost of insurance for municipalities and the so-called "liability chill."

In a speech to the Rural Ontario Municipal Association Monday, Ford says the province will launch consultations about joint and several liability.

"We will fix what needs fixing," said Ford.

Rural municipalities have long been calling for reforms, saying they fear the legal convention could mean they face steep lawsuits for even minor injuries on public property.

Some have even taken to banning street hockey and tobogganing.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario says the liability rule means full damages can be recovered from a defendant who has minimal responsibility — for example, if a drunk driver has no insurance, lawyers could go after the municipality, arguing that the road surface was partially responsible for a collision.

Ford says he has heard municipalities' concerns about increasing insurance costs, and its time to look at the evidence and develop solutions that make sense.

"One thing is clear: it's time we look at this. We will have more to say about the process and the timing in the very near future," he said.