Ontario roads safest in country but drivers pay the highest premiums, new report says

Update:

Intact Insurance. Private Ontario Automobile Insurance companies are confident that their profits will remain intact, during the Wynn government’s reign in Ontario. They will continue to rake in the about $10 Billion dollars annually in the Province and smile all the way to the bank. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

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Despite safer roads, Ontario premiums are 24% higher than Alberta’s and 100% higher than Quebec’s

A new comprehensive review of the auto insurance industry in this province has found that while Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America, Ontario drivers pay the highest premiums in the country.

The report, written by former Workplace Safety and Insurance Board CEO David Marshall and released on April 11, found that Ontario drivers pay an average insurance premium of $1,458 per vehicle, which adds up to $10 billion a year.

Yet the report, called Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario, found that while premiums here are well above the national average of $930, the province’s roads are the safest in the country.

That’s no surprise to Nesakan Thavarajah and his girlfriend Sirini Wijesekera. The two recent grads can’t afford to cover their own car insurance premiums so they are still listed as occasional drivers under their parents’ plans.

“So many people are reluctant to go through insurance if something does happen because they’re scared their premiums will go up,” said Thavarajah.

Nesakan Thavarajah & Sirini Wijesekera

Nesakan Thavarajah and his girlfriend Sirini Wijesekera. The two recent grads can’t afford to cover their own car insurance premiums, so they are still listed as occasional drivers under their parents’ plans. (Pelin Sidk (CBC)

He said he recently had a stone chip on his windshield and asked his insurance agent if he should make a claim.

“She told me, ‘You know you can, but off the record I’m telling you don’t do it because it’ll make your premiums go up,'” Thavarajah said.

In 2013, Ontario’s injury rate (62.1 per 10,000 licensed drivers) was the lowest in Canada and the province’s fatality rate (0.54 per 10,000 licensed drivers) was the second lowest in all of North America.

That’s not reflected in premiums that are 24 per cent higher than Alberta’s ($1,179) and double what drivers in Quebec pay ($724).

David Marshall

Former Workplace Safety and Insurance Board CEO David Marshall’s report, called Fair Benefits Fairly Delivered: A Review of the Auto Insurance System in Ontario, was released Apr. 11. (Canadian Underwriter)

Marshall wrote that despite consistent reductions in automobile accidents, especially serious ones, the cost of claims have consistently risen, thanks to “one of the least effective insurance systems in Canada.”

Steve Kee, a spokesperson with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said Marshall’s report is a welcome first step in improving the insurance system in the province, which has a hybrid structure: it’s a government-mandated service delivered by private industry.

The report recommended that Ontario steer clear of switching to a government-run auto insurance system.

‘A lot of medical costs and costs to lawyers’

“We have a regulated market in terms of  the product we sell, delivered by private insurers. It’s worked well and will continue to serve Ontario drivers,” said Kee.

As for the high cost to drivers, Kee said it’s a complicated system with many moving parts.

“Claims costs are high and there are a lot of people that are involved in the process and I don’t know why claims costs are as high in Ontario as they are. There are a lot of medical costs and costs to lawyers,” said Kee.

“We’ve seen a reduction in collisions, roads are safe in Ontario and cars are safer to drive so we’d like to see claims costs come down as well.”

Marshall wrote that there is a significant amount of leakage of funds from the system from claims totaling about $1.4 billion a year, with much of those insurance benefits not going directly to those involved in accidents.

Steve Kee

Steve Kee, spokesperson for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said Marshall’s report is a welcome first step in improving the insurance system in the province, which has a hybrid structure: government-mandated service delivered by private industry. (CBC)

“Insurers shared with me that it is taking them over a year to close even the simplest claims [and] accident victims are having a difficult time getting what they perceive to be fair benefits,” wrote Marshall.

He also points out that “one out of three accident-benefits claims goes into a dispute resolution system.”

Marshall recommends that, “Insurers should make sure that seriously injured persons are given top priority and do not need to hire lawyers or other professionals to get their entitlement.”

Lawyers an ‘essential part’ of the system

Personal injury lawyer Mike Smitiuch says the problems with the insurance system shouldn’t be blamed on the province’s lawyers.

“Lawyers play an essential part in holding insurers accountable and obtaining justice for individuals, so to paint all lawyers with the same brush is I think a mistake and dangerous to do,” said Smitiuch.

“Lawyers are being blamed for driving up costs, but lawyers are essential because insurers are denying and forcing [customers] to prove why they need the benefits.”

For example, Marshall points out that the determination of whether or not an accident victim fits what’s known as the catastrophic injury definition is extremely important, since the benefits payable to an accident victim judged to fit that category are many times higher — $1 million vs. $65,000..

 Mike Smitiuch

Personal injury lawyer Mike Smitiuch says the problems with the insurance system shouldn’t be blamed on the province’s lawyers. (CBC)

Tens of thousands of dollars — in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 — are spent by the claimant and the insurer on medical reports to arrive at or challenge a determination.

“The process to access benefits is so complex, the accident victim often hires a lawyer in order to properly access them. What can happen then, is the accident victim may ultimately find themselves with significantly less than the $1-million benefit to which they were entitled, since this amount would be partially reduced by the cost of medical exams and legal fees,” writes Marshall.

The report recommends the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care develop a service to assess the costs for lifetime management of care for seriously injured accident victims.

But Smitiuch says that was tried before.

“Independent evaluators in hospitals to mediate disputes was an utter failure,” he said. “It reminds me of that movie Groundhog Day. We’re going back to past and living it over and over again.”

Black man racially profiled by T.O. cop: Courts

Update:

Toronto Police Cruiser. In the original decision, Justice F.L. Myers awarded Elmardy $27,000 in compensation. Elmardy appealed and a panel of three justices increased compensation from $27,000 to $80,000 and $20,000 in costs.  photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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He was guilty only of Walking While Black.

Mutaz Elmardy, 38, was on his way home from prayers, just minding his own business as he walked along Shuter St. on a cold winter’s night in January 2011. Stopped by police, he refused their demand to take his hands out of his pockets. And for that, he was punched twice in the face, unlawfully searched and then left handcuffed on the ice for almost half an hour in the -10C cold.

The Sudanese refugee claimed he’d been racially profiled and sued Const. Andrew Pak and the police services board for $75,000. In 2015, Justice F.L. Myers awarded Elmardy $27,000 in compensation, finding police had no legal justification for stopping or punching him. But the judge didn’t agree the misconduct was racially motivated.

For Elmardy, though, that was the crux of his complaint. So he appealed — and won.

The Supreme Court has decided that any compensation from a Charter breach must be against the Toronto Police Services Board, not constable Andrew Pak who breached Mutaz Elmardy’s Charter rights by his actions, as a Toronto police officer. The taxpayers of Toronto, not constable Pak, will pay for the compensation ordered by the court.  Apparently, officer Pak walks away, unscathed and without a blemish on his personnel file. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

In a blistering decision against Toronto Police, the Divisional Court has just tripled Elmardy’s damages to $80,000 and awarded him $20,000 in costs after finding he was carded only because he was a black man.

“Racial profiling has a serious impact on the credibility and effectiveness of our police services. It has  led to distrust and injustice. It must stop,” wrote Justice Harriet Sachs on behalf of the three-judge panel.

Elmardy “was an innocent man who had fled his country looking for a society in which his rights would be respected. Instead of finding the respect to which he is entitled, he was subjected to humiliating, violent and oppressive behaviour from one of this city’s police officers, all because of the colour of his skin.”

And when questioned about their behaviour, “the police officers were found to have lied to the Court,” she wrote.

The cops testified they had a “hunch” Elmardy was violating his bail and carrying a gun — with no evidence whatsoever. They assumed he must be a guilty criminal, the court said, simply because he was black. “This is the essence of racial profiling.”

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, commonly referred to as “the Charter“. There are three purposes that Charter damages may serve: compensation, vindication and deterrence. The court found that the conduct of the Toronto Police Services violated Elmardy’s Charter rights under sections 8,9,10(a) & (b). As a result, the court awarded Elmardy $50,000.00.

And enough is enough.

For breaching his Charter rights, the court decided to substantially increase Elmardy’s award from $9,000 to $50,000 “to vindicate society’s interest in having a police service comprised of officers who do not brutalize its citizens because of the colour of their skin and that sends the message to that service that this conduct must stop. The courts and others have already made statements about the serious, wrongful nature of this type of conduct. Yet it continues to occur.”

The court also increased the punitive damages against the police officer from $18,000 to $25,000 to “punish and deter him for his misconduct” — but acknowledged the police services board will likely pay it for him. Elmardy was also awarded $5,000 for his physical injuries and $20,000 for his legal costs.

Pak was never disciplined and remains on the job. Elmardy had lodged a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director but an investigation found his complaints couldn’t be substantiated. Given this scathing decision, is he still in the clear?

“The matter has been turned over to Profession

al Standards for investigation,” said police spokesman Meaghan Gray, declining to comment further.

Elmardy could have walked away with his $27,000 two years ago. But the publicity shy man, now a Canadian citizen, was determined to appeal and prove that racism was behind the unlawful detention and beating he suffered that cold winter night.

“In his view it was all about being racially profiled,” said his lawyer Andrew MacDonald. “It was a big letdown for him at the trial. I think now, with what’s happened here, he has really been vindicated and the truth has come out.”

See SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE – ONTARIO’s Justice F.L. Myers J. decision on costs.

Justice F. L. Myers stated in his May 7, 2015 decision (Elmardy v. Toronto Police Services Board, 2015 ONSC 2952) “The defendants rely on s.25 of the Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1985, c.C-46, to protect Constable Pak for his use of force.  However, that section does not apply where, as here, the peace officer is found to have been acting unlawfully and outside the proper scope of executing his duties.”. photo by fightyourtickets.ca.

 

Ontario commits to releasing past and future SIU reports

Update:

Image result for photos of Justice Michael Tulloch
Justice Michael Tulloch was commissioned to write his report by the Liberal government last year amid growing controversy about police use of force and mounting public pressure for greater transparency from police watchdogs. His report offers 129 recommendations.

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Justice Michael Tulloch’s report into police oversight in Ontario makes 129 recommendations including call for release of all future and past Special Investigations Unit (SIU) director’s reports

Crucial information about investigations into deaths involving officers in Ontario will soon be routinely disclosed to the public following the release Thursday of a sweeping report on police oversight.

Ontario will also now require police watchdogs to begin collecting demographic data, including statistics on race, ethnicity and Indigenous status, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi announced shortly after the release of the much-anticipated Independent Police Oversight Review, led by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch.

After a January 2015 shooting involving police, officers attempted to access and copy security footage ahead of civilian investigators, according to a letter from the SIU to Toronto’s police chief. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“I’ve seen a great appetite for change in the province,” Tulloch told a packed conference room at a downtown hotel Thursday afternoon.

“The people of Ontario are entitled and deserve to know that, when it comes to the operation of police services in the province, justice is not only done, but is seen to be done.”

Tulloch’s report makes 129 recommendations to improve police oversight in Ontario. These range from measures to increase transparency to the creation of a new professional policing college to the drafting of special watchdog legislation separate from the province’s Police Services Act.

Calling the report “extremely thoughtful,” Naqvi committed to taking immediate action on key elements of the report — “our work begins today,” he said — although he did not commit to the wholesale implementation of Tulloch’s report.

Naqvi said he would move on a central recommendation: the call for the release of past and future Special Investigations Unit (SIU) director’s reports detailing cases where the watchdog has deemed no criminal charges should be laid.

However, the release comes with the significant caveat that no identifying information about officers or witnesses be released.

On the “polarizing” issue of naming officers who used lethal force, Tulloch and the review team determined the release of the officer’s name was not necessary.

“Releasing the officer’s name would not make the SIU investigation any better. And it would not improve transparency in a meaningful way. That is, it would not make it any easier to understand what the SIU did to investigate, or why the SIU did not lay charges,” the report states.

That decision drew significant criticism from rights’ groups Thursday, including from members of Black Lives Matter Toronto, whose protests of shootings of black people involving police helped prompt Tulloch’s government-commissioned review last spring.

In a dozen investigations, the SIU says police appear to have violated their legal duty to co-operate with the provincial watchdog, including allegations police failed to immediately notify the SIU of a serious civilian injury or interfered with a scene after the watchdog took over an investigation. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Calling the decision to release all SIU director’s reports a “very, very positive step in the right direction,” Pascale Diverlus, a co-founder of the group, said she is, nonetheless, upset the names of officers won’t be routinely disclosed, saying they should be released in every case.

Donardo Jones, director of legal services with the African Canadian Legal Clinic, was equally disappointed, saying he doesn’t understand why the consideration for possible retaliation against officers was given so much weight — particularly when the names of officers will ultimately come out at a coroner’s inquest.

“The fact that police are being given special recognition, I think is almost a double standard,” he said. “Police are no exception; their job doesn’t put them in some kind of sacred space.”

Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner Brian Beamish has previously said officers’ names may be disclosed in “circumstances of significant public interest,” despite government claims they are protected under freedom of information and privacy legislation.

Tulloch’s report says the calls for releasing officer names is a “by-product” of public mistrust of police oversight, caused in large part by a lack of transparency.

He, therefore, recommends the watchdog must begin publicly releasing, on its website, the SIU director’s report, a document that currently can only be seen by Ontario’s attorney general. The report must contain a “detailed narrative of the event,” the reasons for the director’s decision, any audio, photo or video evidence, and more.

“The public needs to know whether the SIU is doing the job it is supposed to be doing,” the report states.

Tulloch also called for the release of all previous director’s reports into police-involved deaths — prioritizing cases where no coroner’s inquest was held — but says the names of officers and witnesses must be withheld.

Naqvi committed to releasing those past reports, saying the timeline for the release from 2005 to today is December, and that, by summer, 2018 the government will release reports from 1990 to 2004.

Answering fervent calls from rights groups, including the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the report recommends oversight agencies begin collecting demographic data, including data related to gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, mental health status, disability and indigenous status. Advisory committees should be established to advise the agencies on the best practices of data collection, it recommends.

Tulloch said Thursday that the data was vital for evidence-based policy and decision-making, accountability and transparency, and, if used properly, it may build public confidence in policing and police oversight.

University of Toronto criminology professor Scot Wortley praised Tulloch for the recommendation. The lack of data has made attempting to research racial disparities in the justice system “exceedingly difficult,” Wortley said.

“In many ways, I think the lack of data has contributed to the crisis in confidence that the justice system has experienced over the last few years,” Wortley said in an interview.

“Rightly or wrongly, it can give the impression that the system has something to hide, and I think this (recommendation) will go a long way toward helping discovering disparities and addressing them.”

Bullets were found laying on the street (as indicated by the yellow markers placed on street). Tensions over the SIU letters arose again in 2013 when then-SIU director Ian Scott publicly criticized former Toronto police chief Bill Blair for refusing to respond to more than 100 letters containing complaints about officers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In a brief statement issued after the report’s release, SIU director Tony Loparco said the agency welcomed the review, but will need time to consider the contents carefully.

“That being said, I am committing the SIU to take the steps required to implement the recommendations that may be legislated, with the increased resources Mr. Justice Tulloch has deemed necessary to conduct civilian oversight properly,” Loparco said.

Tulloch recommends the creation of a regulatory body for police officers to create a culture of professionalism, just as many other professions in Ontario, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers, have in place.

Policing, Tulloch said, “should be seen as a distinguished profession.”

He recommends that the College of Policing develop a “curriculum for a professional degree in policing,” which would incorporate areas such as mental health, domestic abuse, the serving of vulnerable communities, and anti-racism and equity studies.

The college would set ethical and professional standards for the job of police officer, and should work to create a police culture “that is more progressive and inclusive,” describing the traditional culture as “white, male and hyper-masculine.”

While Tulloch’s review received praise for being a step in the right direction, many stressed the importance of moving from talk to action.

“The million-dollar question is whether the government will act on the report,” said former SIU director André Marin, who, in his subsequent role as Ontario ombudsman, prepared two reports on the SIU.

“This report is a courageous and important step forward towards restoring the public’s confidence in our police. It is critical for these recommendations to be implemented as soon as possible,” said Daniel Brown, a Toronto director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

Tulloch’s review was commissioned by the Liberal government last spring, amid growing controversy about police use of force and mounting public pressure for greater transparency from police watchdogs, including the SIU.

The review, tasked with “enhancing the transparency and accountability” of Ontario’s police oversight bodies, was struck after weeks of protest sparked by the SIU’s decision to clear an unnamed Toronto police officer in the July 2015 death of Andrew Loku, a mentally ill South Sudanese man shot dead in the hallway of his apartment building.

The SIU ruled the officer’s lethal force was justified because Loku was advancing on police while holding a hammer.

The watchdog did not explain how investigators weighed evidence from an eye witness who said Loku did not pose a threat at the time.

The decision prompted a 15-day camp-out by Black Lives Matter Toronto outside police headquarters.

 

Demonstrators demanded the name of the officer who shot Loku and more information about the incident.

Tulloch also recommends the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) have their own legislation, separate from Ontario’s Police Services Act. “It could confirm their importance and their independence,” the report says.

“The recommendations for the OIPRD in the report would, if implemented and properly resourced, increase the transparency and accountability of the complaints system,” said Gerry McNeilly, independent police review director.

Karyn Greenwood-Graham, whose son Trevor Graham was killed by Waterloo police in 2007 and who runs a group for families affected by fatal police incidents, commended Tulloch for “reminding the Ministry of the Attorney General of what it’s supposed to be doing.”

“I really would like to thank Justice Tulloch. The affected families of police homicide were heard, they were valued, and were treated very well in this whole process,” she said.

Image result for Photos of SIU symbol

Joanne MacIsaac, whose brother Michael was shot and killed by Durham police in December 2013, said she was especially pleased that Naqvi is open to discussing legal funding for families at coroner’s inquests. An inquest into Michael’s death is set to begin in July, and MacIsaac and her family are looking to meet with the attorney general soon to discuss legal aid coverage.

“We sit around in these coroner meetings and the police officer has a lawyer there, the police service has a lawyer, the coroner has the Crown.

“We’re the only people who don’t have any funding for a lawyer,” MacIsaac said.

As for the recommendation to not name officers cleared of criminal wrongdoing, MacIsaac called the logic “silly,” as the names will eventually be released at the coroner’s inquest.

“Give us the names. Don’t make us wait,” she said.

Some critics argued that Tulloch did not go far enough in his recommendations on the participation of the subject officer in an SIU investigation.

While the judge recommended that the officer be compelled to turn over his or her notes that were drafted prior to SIU involvement, Tulloch did not suggest that the officer should also be compelled to give investigators an interview.

The rationale has always been that a subject officer has the same right to silence enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as anyone else under criminal investigation, but observers have said it’s time to change that and let the courts decide whether this right actually applies to a police officer under investigation for actions taken while on the job.

“I recognize there’s a good argument that officers have the same Charter rights that you and I do,” said lawyer and former SIU director Howard Morton, who said the lack of recommendations on the issue was a disappointment.

“But I’ve always felt that they do not have the same Charter rights because they are not only public servants, they are public servants of the highest order, they are authorized to use deadly force, and, to say that an officer should not be required to subject herself or himself to an SIU interview, is simply wrong.”

Lawyer Peter Rosenthal, who has represented many families of people killed by police, shared Morton’s disappointment.

“I would recommend that (the subject officer) be required to give a statement, and then the courts would have the possibility of determining what, if any, use that statement would be.”

Morton said the recommendation that officers would be open to being charged with an offence for failure to cooperate with the SIU was “wonderful,” saying he often struggled as SIU director in the mid-1990s in securing cooperation. He did say, however, that he believes this has improved.

Failure to cooperate “should be an offence. The only way you can ensure cooperation is if there’s a penalty for failing to do so,” Rosenthal added.

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack told the Star the duty to cooperate with an SIU investigation has always existed, “and our officers have always cooperated fully with the investigators.”

Bruce Chapman, president of the Police Association of Ontario, said in a statement Thursday that Tulloch’s report “confirms what police officers have known for a long time: Ontario has a rigorous police accountability system in place.”

“No other jurisdiction in North America has more oversight than Ontario does, and we are pleased that we do . . . as it protects both the public and police officers.”

Toronto man battles to get licence back amid bureaucratic nightmare

Update:

This year, on Family Day, Strachan was pulled over by an OPP officer.  He was told that his licence was under suspension, and had been since 2013.  When he went to Service Ontario to pay whatever fine may be outstanding, he was told he would have to re-apply for a driver’s licence and to through the entire process again, despite having been licensed for 24 years. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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James Strachan stunned to discover his licence was suspended — four years after the fact — after he was late to pay a speeding ticket. Now the province wants him to start over like he’s a brand new driver.

James Strachan is fighting to get his licence back amid a bureaucratic nightmare that stems from paying a speeding ticket a couple of months late.

Strachan is 40 years old, works downtown, lives in a semi-detached house in Leslieville with his dog, a Great Dane named Nina Simone, and says he’s never been in trouble in his life.

He’s had parking tickets, and he did receive a couple of speeding tickets over the years, but they weren’t anything serious. The last one, back in 2013, was issued on the 401 out near Oshawa and the citation said he was going 15 kilometres over the speed limit.

He put the ticket in the glove box and forgot about it.

Weeks later — he got the ticket in February 2013, and by this time it was July — he went looking for something in the glove box and came across the ticket. The next day he went to a ministry of transportation office downtown and paid it, plus an additional fine for being late with payment. Then he forgot all about it again.

Four years later, on the Family Day long weekend of this year, he was driving near Huntsville when he was pulled over by the OPP. The officer told him that his licence was under suspension — and had been since 2013.

“The cop,” said Strachan, “who was a very nice and polite guy, was driving one of those new cruisers that have technology to automatically scan and check every plate they encounter. My driver’s abstract came up on the computer screen and showed that my licence was under suspension.

“I was shocked; it was news to me.”

Strachan, who works in a legal capacity for a Crown corporation, was with a friend who drove them back to Toronto.

The OPP officer had suggested he go to a Service Ontario office to have his licence reinstated, so Strachan went to a kiosk in a store on Lake Shore Blvd. He paid $150, expecting to get his licence back.

Only then, after he had paid, was he told that his licence could not be reinstated. For that to happen, he was told, he would have to go through the province’s graduated licensing program from scratch, a process that can take up to two years and cost about $300, plus tax.

Graduated licensing is geared to help new drivers get driving experience gradually. It involves two road tests — the first to get from level one to level two (after which the new driver doesn’t have to have a licensed driver in the vehicle with them) and the second to earn full driving privileges.

Strachan is not happy about this state of affairs. He’s been driving for 24 years — since he was 16. He is determined that one way or another, whether it be through the courts or by embarrassing the ministry, he will get his licence reinstated without having to jump through hoops.

“I can understand a policy that has people go through the (graduated licensing) program who haven’t driven anything for three or four years,” he told the Star in an interview. “But I’ve been driving the whole time. To make me start over, right from the beginning, is preposterous.”

Strachan says he was never informed by anyone — the ministry, his insurance company, Service Ontario — that his licence was suspended.

“I’m not saying the ministry didn’t try to inform me,” he said. “I’m saying that I wasn’t informed. The ministry might well have sent a letter telling me of the suspension but I didn’t receive it. Somebody else might have found it in their mailbox, but I never received anything telling me this.”

Strachan also says he can’t figure out how he could have renewed his licence plate sticker at least twice, purchased another car and renewed his auto insurance several times without somebody pointing out to him that his licence was under suspension.

Bob Nichols, a spokesman for the ministry, told the Star in an email that while Strachan might have paid a higher fine back in 2013 because he was late paying off the ticket, records show he did not pay a reinstatement fee at that time.

Strachan says that, because he was not notified of the suspension, he didn’t think to ask about any reinstatement fee and that the clerk at the ministry office didn’t volunteer the information that his licence was suspended.

“While I wouldn’t have been thrilled to pay the $150 back in 2013,” he said, “I’d certainly have done it had anybody ever bothered to tell me. Why they would think anyone would put themselves into this predicament voluntarily is beyond comprehension.”

Wrote Nichols: “We’ve talked to this particular individual and have explained how and why we require retesting. Drivers are informed on their ticket that the driver’s licence can be suspended if no action is taken within a certain timeframe.

“A Notice of Suspension (NOS) is then sent to the driver advising of the unpaid fine and suspension and the steps required to reinstate their driver’s licence, including paying the reinstatement fee. Information on the back of the NOS advises that if the reinstatement is not paid, the licence will be cancelled without further notice.”

Nichols noted that if a person hasn’t had a valid driver’s licence for three years, they would have to go through the graduated licensing process as set out in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. The driver must also successfully undergo a vision, knowledge and road test, and pay the applicable fees, he said.

He added: “The suspension was not flagged when he renewed his licence plates because the ministry does not require an applicant to hold a valid driver’s licence when renewing a vehicle licence plate and/or registering a vehicle in Ontario.”

Strachan called this “a bureaucratic bit of nonsense,” and disputed several things Nichols had said.

“I have not talked to anyone from the ministry,” Strachan said. “To say that the ministry has talked to me is false. When this happened, I wrote Minister (Steven) Del Duca to ask for an explanation and asked nine specific questions. In reply, I got back something that read like a form letter and which did not answer even one of my questions. It was signed ‘VJ119.’

“I have no idea if that is even a person. That, plus a computer-generated acknowledgement of the receipt of a second email, is the only contact I have had with the ministry. I wrote the minister again and this time made a suggestion. O. Reg. 340/94, s. 24 (1) says that when there is a dispute, a temporary licence may be issued while there is an investigation. I suggested they could do this for me while this got straightened out but so far I have not received any further correspondence.

“And if it’s true that the ministry does not require a driver’s licence in order for someone to renew plates, why does it ask for that information on the application?”

Strachan misses driving his car but says it’s not the end of the world. Yes, he’s had to make some adjustments: he can’t drive his dog down to Cherry Beach to run but he exercises her in a park closer to home; he plays recreational hockey but the organization he plays in and the rink are near the northern border of North York and a return trip on public transit can take anywhere from three to four hours so he doesn’t play as often. Nor does he see his family as much. He always took transit to work, so that hasn’t changed.

So where does Strachan go from here?

“I haven’t decided,” he said. “I’m considering a lawsuit — or maybe I’ll just gate-crash the minister’s office. I’m told he doesn’t have discretionary powers in situations like this, that he can’t overrule anything or anyone, and I find that clearly bizarre.

“This whole thing defies comprehension and would appear to not be safety-driven, which I can appreciate, but revenue-driven, which I understand but don’t necessarily condone.”

Asked if the transportation ministry could tell the Star the number of drivers who have to be retested each year because they haven’t had a valid licence for more than three years, spokesman Nichols emailed back:

“We do not have that information readily available. To obtain the data, a special request would need to be submitted . . . We would then be able to provide the estimated time and cost of the request.”

Strachan said that, by coincidence, he was telling a friend about his problem and the friend replied that something similar had happened to him but that he’d had to pay the reinstatement fee before he could receive his sticker.

“I have a feeling this might be bigger than just me,” he said.

 

Flood or Sewer Back-Up Claims against the City of Toronto

Update:

When making a claim against the City for flood or sewer back-up damages it’s important to note that the City will not be responsible for your property damage if the City’s Toronto Water division has met installation and maintenance standards for its water and sewage systems.

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Flood Claims

Making a claim against the City of Toronto

When making a claim against the City for flood or sewer back-up damages it’s important to note that the City will not be responsible for your property damage if the City’s Toronto Water division has met installation and maintenance standards for its water and sewage systems, specifically:

Installation

  • Installation of water or sewer service was completed in accordance with the engineering practices that prevailed at the time.

Maintenance

  • A reasonable maintenance system is in place and adhered to. This includes proactive measures to prevent water and sewage systems from failure and to ensure mechanisms are in place to enable the City to respond appropriately to system failures.

Watermain breaks or sewer backups can be attributed to causes other than the City’s failure to properly install or maintain its infrastructure. The weather, for example, can have a significant impact.

The pressures created by the freeze/thaw cycles during the winter can also place a significant amount of strain on watermains. These pressures often result in leaks and ruptures. Severe weather systems that pass through the City can also strain the sewer system.

Significant rainfall over a short period of time can result in the City’s storm and combined sewers taking in more water than they are designed to accommodate, resulting in sewer backups.


  1. How to file a claim
  2. Claims Investigation
  3. If your claim is denied
  4. When Claims involve contracted companies
  5. Other Related Links
  6. How to file a claim

According to the City of Toronto Act you are required to submit a claim letter or e-mail to the City Clerk for property damage or injury.
The claim letter should include the following:

  • Your name, home address, phone number and e-mail address
  • Date, time and location of accident which caused the property damage or injury
  • Exact municipal address including a diagram and/or photo of accident location must be submitted with claim letter
  • Describe how the accident happened and names, phone numbers of any witnesses
  • Detailed description of your property damage or injury
  • Include documentation that you believe support your claim such as: photos, receipts and estimates
  • Outline why you believe the City is responsible for the accident
  • Did you report this accident to the City, if so, please provide name(s) of City staff involved
  • If a City contractor was involved please provide contractor’s name

Important Note:

  • Failure to provide exact municipal address will delay the processing of your claim
  • Scanned documents are acceptable- there is limit of 10 MB for each e-mail transmission

Where to submit your claim letter
Your claim letter can be received by e-mail, mail or fax

E-mail:[email protected]
Mail:City Clerk’s Office- Claims
City Hall
100 Queen Street West,
9th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N2
Fax:416-392-1870

The City Clerk’s Office forwards all claims to the City of Toronto’s insurance adjusters, ClaimsPro, for evaluation.

If you submitted by e-mail:

  • Claim letters submitted by e-mail will be acknowledged by the City Clerk’s Office within two business days upon receipt of your e-mail.
  • ClaimsPro will send an initial acknowledgement e-mail within two business day upon receipt of your e-mail from the City Clerk’s Office.
  • A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement e-mail within two business days of being assigned the claim.

If you submitted by mail or fax:

  • Claim letters submitted by mail or fax should receive an acknowledgement letter from the City Clerk’s Office within ten business days upon receipt of your letter.
  • ClaimsPro will send an acknowledgement letter within two business days upon receipt of your letter from the City Clerk’s Office.
  • A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement letter within two business days of being assigned the claim.
  • Generally, you should receive an acknowledgment letter within 10 business days, however delays may occur due to mail and courier service.

The ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster is your contact person for the status of your claim.

If you do not receive an acknowledgement letter please contact ClaimsPro at 416-252-4431.

  1. Claims Investigation

There will be an investigation by the City’s adjusters to determine if the City is responsible for your loss.

The investigation will consist of gathering information from you and Toronto Water. Records from the division will be reviewed to determine if reasonable maintenance, response time and installation standards were met. Division records are found in Toronto Water’s Hansen work management system database and may include service request details, completed work orders, summaries of service requests and records of preventative maintenance. In addition, Environment Canada weather records (to track temperatures and precipitation), City of Toronto rain gauge records (in the event of a severe weather system passing through the City at the time of the loss) and information about contractors or third parties that may have been carrying out work at or near the site of the incident, are collected and reviewed. If the applicable standards have not been met, the adjuster will contact you in an effort to resolve your claim.

Typically, property damage claims are completed within 90 days.

In cases of extreme storm events such as heavy rain, snowstorms or windstorms the City does receive a higher volume of claims which generally extends the time it takes to process insurance claims. In these cases, the City’s investigation may take longer than 90 days. The adjuster will advise you if your claim falls in the “storm event” category.

Repairs to your property may be expedited by making a claim through your insurance company.

  1. If your claim is denied

If Toronto Water records show that reasonable maintenance, response time and installation standards were met, the City has a defense and your claim will be denied. The City’s independent insurance adjuster will outline the results of their investigation in a letter and provide you with the division’s report that justifies the City’s denial.

It’s important to know that the majority of property damage claims made against the City of Toronto are denied as City divisions regularly meet or exceed standard service levels.

If you still wish to pursue your claim after being denied compensation, your next option is to proceed with legal action.

For more information regarding the claims process, please contact the City of Toronto’s Claims Inquiry Line at 416-397-4212.

  1. When claims involve contracted companies

The City of Toronto frequently enters into contracts with independent companies (contractors) who perform work on the City’s behalf. The City’s agreements with the contractors contain a strict requirement that they respond directly to claims for any damage or injury they caused to the public.

Upon receipt of information from the City division that a contractor had control over the accident location at the time of your loss, the City’s adjuster will forward your claim to the contractor for their investigation and liability determination. You will be advised in writing when your claim has been forwarded to the contractor. The contractor should acknowledge receipt of your claim and identify a contact person who will be investigating your claim. If you do not receive the contractor’s acknowledgement letter within 10 business days, please contact the City’s adjuster to assist you with determining the contractor’s contact person.

The contractor will conduct an investigation and make a liability decision regarding your claim. If the contractor determines they were responsible for your loss, they will resolve your claim with you directly.

If the contractor determines their work met reasonable and appropriate construction standards, they may deny your claim. In this case, their communication to you will provide the results of their investigation and clearly explain their decision. Should you disagree with the contractor’s decision, please contact the City’s adjuster to advise them of the contractor’s position.

The City adjuster can assist you with the following:

  • clarify the claims process
  • clarify the facts the led the City to its position on liability
  • advise whether this position has changed given any of the contractor’s findings

If the contractor maintains that they are not liable, the City determines that it has not been negligent, and you still wish to pursue your claim, the adjuster will provide you with the basis upon which the City has denied liability.

If you still wish to pursue you claim, you have the option of pursuing the contractor and/or the City by proceeding legal action.

  1. Other Related Links
  • Sewers and drains
  • Watermain breaks
  • Complaints Process

    A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction related to a City of Toronto program, service, staff member or the City’s insurance adjusters, ClaimsPro; where a customer believes that the City or its staff has not provided a service experience to the customer’s satisfaction at the point of service delivery, and a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected.