Ontarians Seriously Injured in Auto Accidents Left to Fend for Themselves

TORONTO, Nov. 2 /CNW/ - Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan accommodated the powerful insurance lobby today by announcing deep cuts to basic benefits for auto accident victims.

"With today's announcement, the province is forcing U.S.-style 'pay as you go' health care on people badly hurt in motor vehicle accidents," says Nick Gurevich of the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers.

Mandatory rehabilitation and medical benefits will now be slashed from $100,000 to $50,000. As a result, the auto insurance industry in the province will save hundreds of millions of dollars in claims costs.

Accident victims will end up looking for rehabilitation and medical treatment in the public health care system. Unfortunately, what they'll find is that many services have been de-listed, and waits are so long that timely intervention becomes almost impossible.

"These people will be forced to pay out of their own pockets for private care. Many will end up in debt," Gurevich notes. "The Liberal government has just abandoned them."

As well, the government's announced changes will restrict the rights of accident victims in other ways. They will no longer be able to challenge the assessments conducted by their insurers, and minor injuries will be limited to $3,500 in benefits.

"Insurers can have their cake and eat it too," Gurevich says. "They get windfall savings and double-digit premium increases. Individuals, on the other hand, are left unprotected and vulnerable."

For months, the Alliance has been urging the government to maintain the $100,000 benefit level. Its members are on the front lines of providing care to victims of motor vehicle accidents, and they know what it takes to put people's lives back together.

"If you have only $50,000 of coverage, you should be aware that you will NOT have enough to get better after a serious accident," Gurevich notes.

Consumers will be able to purchase extra insurance coverage, but most people do not 'buy up' especially in today's more difficult economy. "People typically buy only basic insurance, figuring that a serious accident will never happen to them," he explains.

The Alliance will track the impact of today's announcement on accident victims, and will publicly release a report in the future that examines the financial and human health cost of these benefit cutbacks.

The Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers is a coalition of 63 organizations in Ontario providing direct clinical services to victims of motor vehicle accidents. The majority of their work involves rehabilitating persons with serious injuries.

SOURCE REHAB RESULTS INC.

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, contact: Robert Stephens, (416) 777-0368

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