The minister responsible for SGI, Don McMorris, has introduced coverage amendments which will improve Saskatchewan’s auto injury programs to better meet the needs of people who are injured in vehicle collisions.
“These amendments will provide better benefits for people who are injured, address inconsistencies and close gaps in coverage, and keep coverage affordable,” McMorris said. “This will help improve the quality of life for people that have been seriously injured in a collision.”
The amendments have different impacts for all of Saskatchewan’s auto injury programs: No Fault, Tort and Reduced No Fault. Reduced No Fault coverage, the new optional injury coverage available only to motorcycle owners, was implemented April 1, 2016.
In total, there are more than 20 changes, such as:
When an impaired driver causes a collision and is killed, allow an innocent party or the family impacted to sue for pain and suffering or bereavement damages (No Fault, Reduced No Fault and Tort coverage).
The list of offences that trigger the ability for an innocent party to sue for pain and suffering or bereavement damages will expand to include: criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily injury, flight from a peace officer and dangerous operation while street racing (No Fault, Reduced No Fault and Tort coverage).
Ensuring income benefits maintain pace with minimum wage (Tort and Reduced No Fault coverage).
The legislation is anticipated to be passed during the fall 2016 sitting of the Legislature, with changes taking effect January 1, 2017.
The amendments are based on recommendations from SGI resulting from consultation with and feedback from a variety of stakeholders and groups in 2014 and early 2015. These include current and former auto injury customers, representatives from the Automobile Injury Appeal Commission, medical, legal and insurance communities, an injury review panel representing a cross-section of stakeholders, SGI employees who work with the program and close to 900 public survey respondents.
The cost of implementing the changes is between $12-17 million the first year, with an additional $2-5 million each year moving forward.
Two recommendations that were previously announced in October 2015 have been deferred due to cost considerations.
The changes not moving forward at this time are:
Updating amounts paid for living expenses to reflect current market rates, increasing the overall amount available for assistance to those with cognitive impairment and implementing a process to regularly review the amounts for alignment with market rates (No Fault coverage).
Ending the practice of reducing income benefits by the amount a customer receives through Canada Pension Plan disability (No Fault coverage).
These two changes, costing between $53-63 million the first year and an additional $8 million each year moving forward, will be phased in at a later date.