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Ontario NDP promises to lower auto insurance rates by 40 per cent if elected

Ontario's New Democrats say they'll lower auto insurance rates by 40 per cent if elected next month.

Party leader Andrea Horwath says she will ban rate increases for 18 months

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announces her party’s election platform for the north of the province in Sudbury, Ont., on May 9. (Gino Donato/The Canadian Press)

Ontario's New Democrats say they'll lower auto insurance rates by 40 per cent if elected next month, leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday.

Horwath said she would ban rate increases for 18 months while a commission investigates and recommends a new system.

"Within two years you will see the 40 per cent reduction in bills," Horwath said at a campaign stop in an autobody shop in Brampton, Ont. on Wednesday.

She said the auto insurance system is broken and that a new commission would examine all possibilities for a new system, from a public, government-run one to fully private.

Horwath would also ban the practice of different auto insurance rates based on postal codes.

"This is not a gimmick, we will work hard to change the system," she said.

The commission would explore the no-fault insurance systems in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia and Quebec's public and private hybrid system, she said.

Auto insurance rates would be frozen now and the 40 per cent reduction would be pegged to that rate freeze, Horwath said.

The former Liberal government promised to decrease car insurance rates by 15 per cent in 2015, but failed with then premier Kathleen Wynne later admitting it was a "stretch goal."

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said Wednesday he is focusing on the broader issue of affordability, pointing to his "buck-a-ride" transit pledge.

"We'll continue to look for ways to make auto insurance accessible and affordable and fair for people regardless of where they live in this province," he said at a campaign stop in Toronto.

The Progressive Conservatives, who are seeking re-election, said in their April budget that they want to tweak auto insurance rules to allow more choice, ensure fairness and crack down on fraud.

A government-commissioned report in 2017 found that Ontario has the most expensive auto insurance premiums in Canada, despite also having one of the lowest levels of collisions and fatalities.

The Liberal government only achieved a 3.3 per cent rate reduction by the end of their term, the finance ministry said in 2018, shortly before Doug Ford and the PCs became government.

A Progressive Conservative spokeswoman said Wednesday the party's plan to help drivers also includes continuing to build roads and highways, taking the tolls off Highways 412 and 418, and scrapping the licence plate sticker tax.

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