Quebec Transport Minister tells SAAQ to shell out $1 billion to retired accident victims

Bonnardel’s legislated revisions will also make digital log-keeping mandatory on trucks

The CAQ government’s Minister of Transport François Bonnardel has announced some forthcoming legislative changes that will see $1 billion from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) repurposed to compensate retired Quebecers who were seriously injured in road accidents and collisions.

Last week, Bonnardel unveiled a proposed new law, Bill 22, to amend changes that had been made by previous governments to provincial public auto insurance regulations (Loi sur l’assurance automobile LAA), as well as the Highway Safety Code (Code de la sécurité routière CSR).

$4.8 billion surplus at SAAQ

In addition to its mandate to manage the province’s public no-fault auto insurance system, the SAAQ also administers Quebec’s system for driver licensing and vehicle plates. According to a recent media report, the SAAQ currently is sitting on a surplus of $4.8 billion.

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel has tabled legislative revisions that will increase payouts to some accident victims, while introducing some changes to the trucking industry. (Photo: Courtesy of Coalition Avenir Québec)

The proposed changes, according to a news release from Bonnardel’s ministry, would modify compensation from the SAAQ to accident victims older than 67 years, so that amounts paid out to injured retirees make allowance for the rising cost of living.

“This proposed law takes into account, among other things, that persons who were road accident victims will be able to have a decent retirement, because since 1990 they no longer had access to the indemnity to replace revenue at 68 years,” the ministry said in its statement.

Other changes in Bill 22

According to the transport ministry, the legislation also aims to improve client service at the SAAQ, to spruce up the public auto insurance system and clarify some road safety regulations, while dealing with a few other issues raised in recent years by auto insurance users and players in the truck transport industry.

The revised system would provide retired beneficiaries with revenues based on the average wage of Quebec workers in cases where injuries were deemed most serious, as well as to compensate for their loss of income over the span of a career.

In one example, the amount typically allowed for the home care of someone who becomes quadriplegic after a road accident would increase from $949 to $1,500 per week. As well, the indemnity for funeral costs would increase to $7,500. And benefits paid to a deceased beneficiary’s surviving partner would no longer be based on the age of the deceased.

Fixing an error, says Bonnardel

“This proposed law will allow us to correct an error made by governments which came before us and which has been having major financial consequences on victims older than 67 years,” Bonnardel said during a webcast press conference from Quebec City last week to announce the changes.

‘This proposed law will allow us to correct an error made by governments which came before us,’ says bonnardel

“This is a billion dollars that we are returning to accident victims and their families thanks to this proposal,” he added. “Our government is also responding to several preoccupations by citizens and in the road transport industry, which have to do with service to the clientele.”

The provincial transport ministry says the primary purpose of the proposed modifications to the LAA is to “better reflect the prevailing cost of living, while offering better financial compensation to road accident victims and their families.”

Digital logging on trucks

The changes “aim to help avoid that certain persons who had to absent themselves from their work because of a long recovery period should find themselves with a significant loss of revenues once they reach the age of 68,” the transport ministry said.

Among other things also contained in Bill 22 will be changes to the Highway Safety Code, making it mandatory for transport trucks to be equipped with digital logging devices to replace the now often-handwritten logbooks that many truckers had continued using in recent years to record their periods of work and mandatory rest while on the road.

Efficient data collection

“In 2022, it makes sense to have data collected on a machine like this, and not having them on paper,” Bonnardel said, noting that the devices typically cost truckers or their employers $300-$600 per vehicle and that they are becoming the standard in the industry.

Bonnardel’s announcement comes after his ministry said in April last year that the SAAQ would be remitting in 2022 and 2023 more than $1.1 billion to the 6.4 million Quebecers who hold driver’s licenses. The move is expected to amount to a savings averaging $184.11 per regular permit, and $338.15 for those licensed to operate motorcycles.