Toronto, Ontario – A number of health care professionals and organizations are speaking out against proposed changes to auto insurance in Ontario which, if implemented, would slash basic accident benefits from $100,000 to $25,000.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is now reviewing recommendations from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario on the reduction. A decision is expected by the end of June.

“It’s a huge step backwards,” said Dr. Peter Rumney of Bloorview Kids Rehab, who treats children with brain injuries, often resulting from auto collisions. “The proposed $25,000 cap for rehab services for non-catastrophic claims would, in most cases, be exhausted in three months. It might cover a wheelchair, a couple of modifications to a house, and a month of nursing care. It would not cover the multiple therapies needed in the first two years to produce the best long-term outcomes.”

Under the proposed new regime in Ontario, children walking or riding a bicycle when struck by a vehicle would be limited to $25,000 in accident benefits if the drivers had only basic coverage.

In a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, the Ontario Home Care Association said that adoption of the recommendation would shift responsibility for rehabilitation from private providers, paid for by insurance companies, to the public health care system, resulting in longer wait periods and fewer services for all Ontario residents.

Some 12,000 people sustain serious injuries from car crashes in Ontario each year, often requiring many months or years of services.

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