In the aftermath of the 2014 death of a 15-year-old boy, the issue of critical accident liability insurance premiums has come into the national spotlight.
The issue has also emerged as a key topic for the 2016 federal election.
As of February 1, the government is proposing to amend the accident insurance laws to require coverage of critical and life-threatening events, including car crashes.
“We’re going to require that insurers have critical accident coverages, because they are critical and they’re life-or-death, and then we’re going have to get some sort of legislation that’s in place to address this,” said Finance Minister Joe Oliver.
The proposal has prompted calls from some groups to introduce mandatory insurance for critical events.
A few members of Parliament have already called for a national policy.
But critics of the proposed changes point out that the legislation would mean a significant increase in premiums for the insureds in Canada.
In a letter to Oliver last week, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the proposed legislation could increase premiums for all Canadians by $1,700 per year, which would disproportionately affect those with a low income and low levels of education.
“Insurers could charge an extra $2,000 or more per person per year to provide critical accident or life-and-death coverage for the most vulnerable people,” said Caroline Spackman, the executive director of CCLA.
“The impact on families with children is just not good enough to justify that.”
The Association’s letter is part of a growing chorus of concerns about how the proposed policy would affect Canadians who are vulnerable.
In its submission to the government, the Association said it would continue to fight the proposed bill.
“While this proposal would not affect Canadians directly, it could affect people who are not, such as seniors or vulnerable people with disabilities, or people who don’t qualify for financial assistance or who have incomes below the provincial poverty line,” the letter says.
“This is why we will continue to call on the government to reconsider the proposed law.”
The federal government is also working on a similar proposal to ensure that people who fall into the critical and critical-injury categories get insurance.
The plan is expected to be introduced in the spring of 2018.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, which is responsible for economic development, told CBC News that the proposed change to the accident-related insurance policy would be phased in over a period of several years.
“For people who will be insured for an extended period, it would cover the cost of life-saving events,” she said.
“That is part and parcel of the new plan, and it’s part of the overall strategy for economic growth.”
The new policy will not apply to any of the provinces where the insured is a resident, as the provincial insurance system is currently in place, and only applies to the insured if he or she is in a job requiring a high level of skill or ability, or is a victim of a violent crime.
The Minister of Finance says he’s looking forward to working with stakeholders to develop the policy and its benefits for the citizens of Canada.
“I know it’s not easy, but I’m committed to doing everything I can to help Canadians in need,” said Oliver.
“These changes are designed to ensure Canadians are insured for life- and-death events.”