Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Climate Change a Hail of Issues for MPI

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Climate Change a Hail of Issues for MPI

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Climate change a hail of issues for MPI


An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published June 19:

"Blame it on the rain."

It's a pretty lousy song lyric, and also a bit of a confounding strategy to underpin an explanation for a financial loss that will inevitably be used to justify a request for a sure-to-be-unpopular revenue-boosting initiative.

But blaming it on the rain -- or, more specifically, the hail that sometimes accompanies major rainfall events in these parts -- is precisely what Manitoba Public Insurance seems to be doing in a 2016 annual report in which more than half its $85.2-million operating loss is attributed to climate change and the increased damage caused by major weather incidents.

MPI's report states $45.1 million of last year's operating losses are the direct result of vehicle-insurance claim payouts related to hailstorms, and suggests such events are part of a larger trend of meteorological volatility related to global climate change.

"For Manitoba, climate change has become synonymous with increasing and unpredictable levels of flooding, fires and severe weather conditions, including snowstorms and hailstorms," says the report, released Thursday.

On Friday, MPI announced it has filed a request to the Public Utilities Board for a 2.7 per cent rate hike for the 2018-19 insurance year, which amounts to about $29 on an average passenger vehicle. Without "an ongoing focus on fiscal prudence and cost containment" -- which, one assumes, means following the Pallister government's austerity-focused instructions -- the requested rate increase would have been 7.7 per cent.

There's little reason to doubt the accuracy of MPI's accounting -- the public insurer is in the numbers business, after all, and it's incumbent on those who prepare such reports to provide government and rate-paying customers with a precise annual assessment. …

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