02/04/2013 03:20 EST | Updated 04/06/2013 05:12 EDT

Ontario NDP calls for 15% car insurance premium cut

Ontario residents could get a break on their auto insurance if an NDP proposal to cut premiums by 15 per cent gets the OK from the provincial government.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath on Monday called on premier-designate Kathleen Wynne and her government to legislate the proposed cut when the legislature sits again later this month.

Major changes to auto insurance regulations in 2010 "dramatically" reduced benefits for drivers and turned out to be a huge "bonus" for companies, Horwath said. In 2011, the value of statutory accident payouts dropped by 50 per cent from the year before, to just under $2 billion, she said.

"Ontarians are tired of waiting," Horwath said. "Changes have been made to the Ontario insurance system that have allowed the companies to have far, far less in their payouts. And yet, that's not being realized in savings, in rates, to Ontarians,"

A car premium break of 15 per cent is fair for both insurers and drivers, she added. Horwath has indicated to industry leaders that they should make this change, and if they don't, the government should mandate it through the provincial regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

"Fifteen per cent is reasonable when you consider that their payouts reduced by 50 per cent. That's a reasonable expectation," she said.

"And it's not one that Ontarians should be waiting another two or three years to achieve... It's a target that has to be met within a year."

The move is part of a list of demands that the NDP have in exchange for propping up the Liberal minority government.

Horwath also called Monday for $30 million in funding to eliminate home care waiting lists and institute a five-day guarantee for seniors who need home care.

"I'm not saying these are the specific details that need to be in a budget," Horwath said at a news conference on Monday.

"But I am saying we have a session upcoming, and these things are very achievable and they need to be part of the government's plan going forward in this session."