NDP calls on Sask. government to lower insurance rates by using SGI reserve funding

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling for government-owned SGI to lower its rates following the release of the Saskatchewan Auto Fund's 2021 Annual Report.

The report, released Tuesday, has the Crown corporation's reserves sitting at $1.1 billion, a surplus the NDP wants to see used to lower auto insurance rates.

"The fund is overvalued at 156 per cent, to me it's common sense to return money to folks, as we saw with the cheques, and keep rates more affordable for people in Saskatchewan," said NDP Opposition Critic for SGI Aleana Young, referring to the approximately 709,000 rebate cheques given to SGI ratepayers earlier this year.

SGI has also recently applied to the Rate Review Panel to increase rates overall by 1.7 per cent alongside a 1.6 per cent decrease to capital margin for all vehicles.

According to SGI's submission, increasing damage claim costs from more complex technology, procedures and materials used in newer vehicles cancelled out what otherwise would have been a rate increase.

Meetings discussing the possible changes are scheduled to be held later in July.

The NDP said the changes send the wrong message to people in difficult financial positions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People are not doing well and we have a Crown that is doing well and on principle should be delivering for the people of Saskatchewan," Young said.

Don Morgan, the Minister in Charge of SGI, said the reserve amount is based on the recommendation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the government is not currently in a position for additional rebates.

"It would not be consistent with the reserve requirements to pay out any more at this point and time, IFRS is being changed and updated so there may be changes to the recommendations over the next while so we'll adopt a cautious approach," Morgan said. "We'll reassess over the next number of months and determine whether it's appropriate to pay it out or adjust premiums."

A total of $285 million in rebate cheques were given out to SGI ratepayers.