Are Manitoba drivers losing out on rebate money?

The provincial NDP and Liberals said Manitoba drivers are losing out on rebate money.

The opposition parties said Manitoba Public Insurance and the province are improperly shifting surplus funds but the public insurer says it is  well within its right to do this.

“Your Autopac could have been 10 per cent cheaper this year had the government not done this,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew.

“They’re basically trying to treat MPI as a slush fund which is inappropriate,” said Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.

MPI said it is using $113 million of surplus money from its extension lines to fund technology upgrades on the driver licensing side of the business.

The opposition parties said this is wrong and the money should be used for rebates.

“You know it is the law that you’re not supposed to use money that is used for Autopac to able to move into driver licencing,” said Lamont.

But MPI said it is within its right to do this.

The surplus from its extension lines are separate from its basic insurance program, where rebates would occur.

In a statement MPI said, “Manitoba Public Insurance is not in breach, or violation, of any statute or regulations with respecting the transfer of surplus funds.”

“The president of MPI obviously felt that it was an appropriate way to cover off costs for technology,” said Premier Kelvin Goertzen.

He said the Public Utilities Board (PUB) is set to vet the decision at an upcoming rate application hearing.

“It’s certainly fair to have a debate about whether or not funds should be moved from one side of the corporation to use for a different aspect of driver licences. Those are not unfair questions to ask and certainly part of the role of the PUB.”

But some of the money has already been moved prior to the PUB hearing.

“This deal was already done before it was sent to the Public Utilities Board,” said Kinew.

MPI said during the pandemic $180 million has been returned to drivers in two rebates, adding it has recently applied to the PUB for a third one.