Forgotten issues in the Ontario election campaign

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M. Spector M. Spector's picture
Forgotten issues in the Ontario election campaign

I realize it's frowned upon to actually raise issues on babble during an election campaign, rather than just following opinion polls and making predictions about seats under the FPTP system, but, like Ellen Roseman of the [url=http://www.moneyville.ca/article/1064536--roseman-car-insurance-should-b... Star[/url], I wonder why no one has made an issue of car insurance in this election campaign.

Roseman wrote:
McGuinty’s car insurance reforms, which took effect a year ago, slashed benefits to accident victims in the hopes of stabilizing car insurance rates.

The benefits for serious, but not catastrophic, injuries were cut to $50,000 (from $100,000). Assessment costs were included as part of the benefits, cutting the amount for treating serious injuries to less than $50,000.

Car insurance companies in Ontario will save more than $1 billion a year in payouts to victims. And they can now deny funding for medical services without getting a second opinion....

Ontario motorists may not realize they’re getting less value for their money. If they did, they’d be buying extra coverage to replace what they lost. Only 1.3 per cent of policyholders have opted to pay extra to get more than $50,000 in medical and rehabilitation benefits....

Most people are sticking with the standard coverage, which will force them to pay huge out-of-pocket costs if they’re injured in an accident.

Hudak and Horwath talk about removing the HST from home heating or gasoline. But that’s insignificant, compared to the impact of car insurance on a typical household’s budget.

Costs are creeping up again since the insurance reforms took effect. Auto insurance rates in Ontario increased 6.4 per cent in the second quarter of this year, compared to the same period a year ago, according to Kanetix, an online insurance quote website....

But shouldn’t rates have stayed the same or dropped after Ontario made such big concessions to car insurers?

The issue popped up this week in Brampton, which has lots of commuters paying higher than average premiums. Horwath called for more transparency in setting car insurance rates. Hudak promised to target criminals who stage phony car accidents....

What other issues have been forgotten in this election?

Sean in Ottawa

Standards for environmental and energy efficiency in rental housing. Lost in the rush to give home-owners one more chance to upgrade their own efficiency.

Tenants who pay their own energy bills have nothing -- higher costs do not encourage landlords to upgrade because they don't pay them and Ontario has no standards at all.

Idiots say the market takes care of that but if all landlords do about the same and there is a shortage of affordable housing how does the market do anything?

Joke is the cost of putting in standards to the government is nothing. They can still do the retrofit program for home owners and this at the same time.

No party is looking at this. Funny thing is this is where the worst enviro energy wast is now becuase there has ever been either incentives or regulations to do something about it.

Fidel

I think astronomers have considered declaring Ontario a bottomless nuclear money pit, a kind of neutron absorber swallowing everything in the visible light spectrum, and that super-set of all matter in general. And I have a strong feeling that our Liberal Government of Ontario are really Steven King's Langoliers consuming everything in sight. Pinocchio McGuilty's nick name could just as easily be Pac Man. Seriously.

Uncle John

Car insurance conveniently forgets those of us who do not drive cars. Expensive car insurance will get drivers off the road, which is what we want, isn't it? Through underfunding, transit becomes 'productive' and 'cost-effective'.

The $250 billion elephant in the room is Ontario's debt. Whoever had won the election (NDP included) a huge raft of cuts is on its way. The economists will want Dave Duncan to cut $8 billion out of the healthcare budget and $8 billion out of everything else, which is about a 15% cut across the board. Bob Rae showed to his misfortune that it is easier to fire 15% than it is to get 100% to take a 15% pay cut.

The first line will be "We can no longer afford labour peace with the public sector". The next line will be "Ontario needs to maintain international competitiveness. Minimum wage needs to be 'reformed'". This way profitable private sector 'first movers' will operate former unionized government positions on wages 1/3 to 1/4 of before, all at the largesse of taxpaying workers, and with zero or negative savings. Tell us it ain't so, Libroolz...

I think the other forgotten thing was when Dalton said to Bob Rae, "I hear the weather in Manitoba is really nice this time of year. Why don't you come back on October 7th?". And kudos to Andrea for saying "He's the leader of the federal Liberal Party, isn't he?"

 

theleftyinvestor

None of the parties were willing to touch with a ten-foot pole the issue of Catholic school funding. A big fuss has come out of the fact that these schools have been vehemently fending off measures that would make schools safer for LGBT youth among others. This has led to some calls that perhaps we should be vehemently fending off their funding.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Uncle John wrote:

Car insurance conveniently forgets those of us who do not drive cars.

You don't have to be a car driver to get injured in a motor vehicle accident.

 

Aristotleded24

Uncle John wrote:
Car insurance conveniently forgets those of us who do not drive cars. Expensive car insurance will get drivers off the road, which is what we want, isn't it?

Not in remote rural and northern areas where driving around is necessary.

Fidel

CUPE complained like hell to Rae's NDP government warning them not to bring in public auto during a recession. They said their insurance industry workers working in car insurance would have a tough time finding jobs in a downturn. 

And here we are enduring neoliberal meltdown part three or four or whatever it's at now. They are all Bob Rae now with spending us into a bottomless hole. We should be bankrupt several times over in Ontario by next election.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Fidel wrote:

They said their insurance industry workers working in car insurance would have a tough time finding jobs in a downturn.

CUPE organized the insurance industry? Who knew?

And why wouldn't they be able to find jobs with a new public auto insurance commission, which would need their expertise?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

More issues ignored by the bourgeois politicians in the election:

 

[url=http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/anita-krajnc/2011/10/babe-lettuce-and-to... inadequate animal welfare laws[/url]

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/central-canada/waterloo-ontario-votes-out-flouri... health policy[/url]

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/central-canada/civic-elections-transit-issues]Pu... transit[/url]

 

Gee, I wonder why voter turnout was so low?

 

genstrike

Fidel wrote:

CUPE complained like hell to Rae's NDP government warning them not to bring in public auto during a recession. They said their insurance industry workers working in car insurance would have a tough time finding jobs in a downturn. 

And here we are enduring neoliberal meltdown part three or four or whatever it's at now. They are all Bob Rae now with spending us into a bottomless hole. We should be bankrupt several times over in Ontario by next election.

Do you have any sources for that?  I am not aware of any private insurance companies which have been organized by CUPE, and everything I've seen from CUPE regarding public auto insurance has been very supportive.

Plus, I'm sure some sort of successor rights to jobs in public auto insurance could easily be worked into any deal.

Fidel

M. Spector wrote:
Gee, I wonder why voter turnout was so low?

 

Well apparently you want to know, so here goes...

It's because worst past the post nurtures "safe ridings" across Ontario where millions of votes are guaranteed to be wasted. Seriously, voting is a waste of time for millions in Ontario, and those people are not stupid. They've known pretty much their entire lives that voting is a complete waste of time for them. In Ontario and every other province and territory, it's where you live that determines whether your vote is counted or not.

In Puerto Ontario and all of the neoliberalized northern colonies loosely affiliated with Ottawa, it's the democracy gap that counts on election day. Millions of Banadians living in Bananada don't vote because worst past the post is tantamount to electoral fraud. 

madmax

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Standards for environmental and energy efficiency in rental housing. Lost in the rush to give home-owners one more chance to upgrade their own efficiency.

Tenants who pay their own energy bills have nothing -- higher costs do not encourage landlords to upgrade because they don't pay them and Ontario has no standards at all.

Idiots say the market takes care of that but if all landlords do about the same and there is a shortage of affordable housing how does the market do anything?

No party is looking at this. Funny thing is this is where the worst enviro energy wast is now becuase there has ever been either incentives or regulations to do something about it.

From the Ontario NDP platform.

 

"In addition, lower-income homeowners and tenants can qualiy or grants of up to

 $5,000.

We will also offer up to $10,000 in low-interest loans that can..."

 

 That is more said, then ANY other party period regarding tenants.... infact, Tenants are never addressed by the other parties with regards to energy efficiency.

Sean in Ottawa

Hardly.

So tenants can apply for a $5,000 grant to replace the landlord's furnace while paying the remaining 50% or so themselves?

How about the windows?

Should the tenant replace the fridge? Most landlords own all the appliances.

Whomever came up with that policy thinking it helps tenants clearly is not a tenant.

Simply adding the word tenant does not make it a policy tenants can use or one that can help them.

Tenants simply do not own enough of what makes a difference in energy efficiency in a house or apartment to be able to make use of such shared cost programs. If the landlord does not do it then it will not be done. And the landlord has no incentive picking up even half of the cost of a renovation (with government paying the other half) where the entire benefit will go to the tenant who is paying the utility costs.

Landlords are business people-- most want to get the maximum return from their units. Only profit regulation and competition motivate them. With affordable housing barely existent (and only existent at all if you use a very generous definition of the concept) there is no competitive pressure to speak of. Further, almost all rentals have the same old crap. Landlords across the province are making the same decisions-- to maximize profit-- and what is available to tenants is almost identical anywhere. What makes a rental unit more valuable is the income it can generate-- this means that any increase in the value of the unit after the renovation is less than the 50% or so the landlord would have to pay. Even the distant prospect of resale value is not going to motivate the landlord if the resale value will not go up by more than the investment and when it comes to rental property it won't until there are minimum standards-- or a competitive market that will reward more efficient units over less efficient units. If all units end up rented because of low supply it remains unprofitable to provide any upgrade beyond the minimum that ensures the unit is rented.

Still it is almost amusing how many progressives who speak in theory about not trusting the market are willing to let the market dictate this-- with or without some market-based incentive. There are times when you simply have to regulate standards.

Are tenants just no important enough to need minimum standards for energy and efficiency?

Sean in Ottawa

I'll add another point to this-- do you know that tenants move on average more than once in 2 years? Any upgrade they pay for they are unlikely to enjoy.

If they live in a unit that has the potential to be owner-occupied then any upgrade they make risks having the landlord cash out by selling the place to pocket the tenant's investment. (Once sold if the new owner occupies the tenant is thrown out.

Let me give you my story on this:

I lived in a few places over the last 2 decades:

1995-7 Maitland Ontario-- had to move becuase new owner wanted to live in the unit.

1997-8 Prescott Ontario-- had to move becuase landlord moved back in

1998-2000 Richmond Ontario-- had to move because landlord's relative moved in

2000-2004 Ottawa Ontario-- had to move becuase landlord decided to sell and faked having a relative move in to kick us out

2004-2011 Ottawa Ontario-- totally terrified the owner will sell as I cannot afford market rent for a house for my family but the lower the rent goes compared to market rent the greater the chance the place will get sold.

You see a landlord knows that hanging on to a property for a long time is not worth it-- with houses if your tenants are long term you can end-run rent control by a sale and new owner and reinvest in a new market-rent place.

Rent control means little-- in apartments you have the economy of scale to create above-guideline rent increases and in houses you just have to flip them to keep those tenants in houses paying market rent.

Once you understand this-- you can appreciate how stupid it is to assume tenants can or should be upgrading the enviro efficiency of their homes.

For more information about what uses power or creates efficiency there are lots of websites to tell you. Essentially the big ones that make a difference are: windows, insulation, appliances, hot water heaters, furnaces.

madmax

LOL, Sean I am not going to argue about every aspect.  You simply made a statement something wasn't addressed. Now you are saying it wasn't addressed strong enough.

Yes Grants and Loans for Both Landlords and Tenants were part of the NDP platform and not anyone elses.

You can disect it all you like and make good points and suggestions along the way.

And you can also understand that NOT ALL TENANTS have the same situation.

I rented, paid my own Heat/Hydro/ and had to purchase the Furnace, Stove and Fridge/ Hot Water Heater... etc. I lived there for 12 years.

Regardless, I am happy to be a home owner for the past year. 

 

Sean in Ottawa

Now-- I am saying it was not addressed -- period. Having the word "tenant" included does not address tenant concerns. The Harris government renamed the "landlord tenant act" the "tenant protection act" -- do you think Harris addressed tenant protection by doing so?

Madmax, if you owned all your appliances as a tenant you were in a minority that is incredibly small as to be completely not representative of the problem. Interestingly, owning appliances is common practice in Quebec and some other provinces but not in Ontario.

I have worked with enough tenant's groups over the years to be able to speak with some knowledge not just of my own experience but also reflecting some basic facts covering a lot more. I can say that this program could not apply to the vast majority of tenants-- I would take a guess at something well more than 90-some percent. Sure there could be some rare, and sorry to say insignificant, cases but policy is not made for rare cases. The reason I say insignificant? The grant is a $5,000 value grant and covers something like a 50% share of the cost. A rare, exceptional tenant buying a $1000 appliance and getting $500 tax credit is not a significant part of the program.

I note you put "NOT ALL" in all caps and then generalized to say "same situation"-- the need to shout that is obvious. I agree everyone's situation is different -- except that well over 90% of the different situations would derive no benefit or almost no benefit from the program-- as different as they may be from each other.

Some tenants pay heat and hydro; some hydro only; some it is included; a small minority own a washing machine or a dryer; an even smaller minority might own a freezer or a second fridge; the majority don't own any appliances. Most that do, come by them second hand and would not imagine buying a brand new appliance given that it would be a burden when they move. Even when you buy a home in Ontario the appliances are usually included!

None of them own the insulation. None of them own the windows. None of them own the doors. None of them own the hot water heater or furnace although some of them would pay the rental on them-- but the retrofit program is for purchase not rentals.

It is perfectly laughable to imagine a tenant applying for a program to get a more energy efficient appliance living in a place with crappy windows, poor insulation, drafty doors, 40 year old furnace, old hot water heater etc. and then thinking this program addressed their needs.

These are the people missed by the program. The fact that you might be able to come up with an example of a few tenants among millions in Ontario who could take advantage does not change the fact that this program does not address the issues most tenants face. Not one bit. What is needed is some regulation. It would be better for the environment. Interestingly it would even be better for home-owners and here is why: if you could cut the massive waste that so many rentals have in energy you could cut the demand for new power stations that all electricity users must pay for. Interestingly, all people are forced to pay for the profit of the landlords who rent out inefficient units. Everyone would benefit from regulation.

No, a few tenants with the need and the means to buy a brand new appliance up-front to get a tax deduction later does not address the issue of energy use in rentals with little insulation, poor windows, old furnaces etc. etc. etc.

Again let's remember that regulation costs the government almost nothing. Regulation does not replace the retrofit program and really has nothing to do with it. I am not arguing against the program that was proposed or saying it should be removed except to say it does not address this issue I am raising. It is a big gaping policy hole.

Madmax can you consider rereading the thread title in the context of my post? I am saying this is an issue that was not addressed. The NDP proposal does not approach this issue -- even badly-- enough to say it addresses it at all.

I am almost amused that when I raise this critical issue for so many people there are people who come out to argue about the value of what is there instead of the loss of what is missing even though I am not suggesting anything need be cancelled. What is missing is something that affects the most vulnerable people.

when the NDP forgets an urgent need for the most vulnerable and concentrates on something of less value for those who have more even though it actually costs more to do so -- then it is fair to criticize that NDP policy.

madmax

Madmax can you consider rereading the thread title in the context of my post?
Yup, I did.
Point taken, Point made.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I am almost amused that when I raise this critical issue for so many people there are people who come out to argue about the value of what is there instead of the loss of what is missing even though I am not suggesting anything need be cancelled.

What's really amusing is that that is the standard response of social democrats to any criticism of the NDP from the left.

Sean in Ottawa

M. Spector-- I'm afraid I can't agree there.

I think there are a lot of NDP partisans who dismiss all criticisms of the NDP and the party suffers greatly for that. But there are also many who welcome and participate in criticisms in order to make the party better. Then there are those on the left who are not NDPers who want to take the party down a peg. I don't think there is a standard response-- I have identified three very different motivations and outlooks.

I am not interested in sheltering the NDP from criticism either for what it has included or what it misses. Still I believe the party makes more mistakes with the things it leaves out than what is addressed improperly.

Most of my personal major criticisms have been related to the stuff that is missed and not dealt with rather than the handling of what is dealt with. This is a contrast to my criticisms of the Conservatives whose handling of the things they deal with offends me at least as much as what they don't talk about.

In any case it is wrong to refrain from criticizing the NDP for either what it leaves out or what it handles badly. I am not alone in toning down my criticisms during an election so as not to give support to those I have more trouble with but I do believe in accountability and open discussion and if you care about the NDP you should not be giving it a free pass when it makes mistakes.