Car Crash Survivors Rally to Fight Proposed Changes to Auto Insurance

    TORONTO, June 18 /CNW/ - It was 2004 when a tractor trailer side-swiped
Lee-Anne Beam's car, tossing her into oncoming traffic on the Burlington
Skyway Bridge. When her car finally came to rest, Beam was seriously injured -
and her mother lay dead across her lap.
    "I suffered a brain injury, a flailed chest, broken ribs, collapsed
lungs, kidney contusions, liver lacerations, and a shattered pelvis," says
Beam. "I used $100,000 in rehabilitation and other services in just 14 months.
If I had only $25,000 in benefits, as the government is proposing, there would
be no hope of any kind of recovery."
    Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is currently considering a
recommendation by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario that, if
implemented, would slash basic rehabilitation and medical benefits from
$100,000 to just $25,000. He is now expected to make a decision in July.
    The Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers, a
coalition of 43 organizations in Ontario providing clinical services to
victims of motor vehicle accidents, is urging government to at least maintain
the current benefits. Ideally, the basic benefit level should be raised to
$240,000 to reflect the increase in the health care budget over the past 13
    Beam joined other crash survivors today in a rally at Nathan Phillips
Square to oppose proposed cuts to basic automobile insurance benefits.
Standing before a wrecked car, demolished in a horrendous accident, the
survivors spoke out against the proposed changes.
    "I have already used up over $30,000 in medical and rehabilitation
benefits, and will need much more," says survivor Kyle Brown who was run over
by a truck while riding his bike in downtown Toronto in March 2008. "The
notion that I - or those in a far worse position - would be cut off at $25,000
leaves me astonished."
    "When someone is badly hurt, the LAST thing they need to be worrying
about is money. All they should be concerned with is getting better," says
Adele Tiam Fook, who survived a crash in 1999 that left her with serious
fractures and broken bones. "I am in the tenth year of my recovery and I am
still encountering significant residual effects that affect my daily life."
    Each year there are some 60,000 individuals injured as a result of motor
vehicle accidents in Ontario. That's approximately the population of North
Bay, or Leamington, or Cornwall. Many of these people are seriously hurt,
requiring months and sometimes years of rehabilitation. With only $25,000 of
basic benefits, they'll run out of this coverage long before they get better.
    Had she only been given $25,000, Tiam Fook estimates she would have run
out of support in just six months. "I don't even want to imagine where I would
be today if that had happened - but that will be the reality for thousands of
people if this recommendation is adopted. They'll be abandoned and unable to
    Jean Fisher was struck from behind in 2004 while a pedestrian. "My auto
insurers paid close to the $100,000 cap," she says. "What are people going to
do with only $25,000 in benefits? If they have to go to court to get more,
they'll be waiting years for the funds to come in, and they won't get the
immediate attention that is so vital to recovery."
    Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also spoke at the news conference, as
did representatives from the Ontario Home Care Association, the Alliance of
Community Medical & Rehabilitation Providers, the Ontario Brain Injury
Association and others.
    "We're asking Minister Duncan to make the right choice - protect the
consumers of this province," says Patricia Howell, a spokesperson for the
Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers.
    The Alliance urges consumers to contact their MPP and email Finance
Minister Dwight Duncan directly at

    The Alliance of Community Medical & Rehabilitation Providers is a
coalition of 43 organizations in Ontario providing direct clinical services to
victims of motor vehicle accidents and employing physiotherapists,
occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, chiropractors, social
workers, psychologists, case managers and family physicians.

For further information:

For further information: Jaclyn Clare, PR POST, office (416) 777-0368,
cell (416) 275-2399

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