Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 25, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Tuesday, February 25, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 5 Public being deceived by Autopac By Fred Cleverley, Winnipeg Free Press commentator IVF W -M-J WINNIPEG After more than a year of virtual silence, the private insurance industry in Manitoba is mounting a strong attack on compulsory government automobile insur- ance, here, basing the attack on what private industry labels as a government plan to deceive the public as to the ac- tual costs of public insurance. The first shot in the battle was fired by Larry McCombe, the Winnipeg branch manager of the Canadian Indemnity In- surance Company, a firm long associated with the fight against" Autopac, the trade name of the compulsory government insurance scheme. Canadian Indemnity wound up its earlier campaign against government insurance with a farewell cocktail party for 13 executives who were be- ing transferred to Toronto, and presented each with a framed cartoon showing Premier Schreyer and then minister of public insurance, Howard Pawley, kicking private industry out of the province. Mr. McCombe's first shot was a big one. He openly ac- cused Autopac of lying about its rates, and said the bills would be much higher than the ll-to-14 per cent inreases announced earlier by the pre- sent insurance minister, Bill Uruski. Mr. McCombe said the rate books distributed to agents showed a 30 per cent increase, the highest ever presented to motorists in Manitoba in a single year. Mr. McCombe's figures were backed up the day he issued them by a report in one Winnipeg daily newspaper which told of owners of small imported cars such as Dat- suns, Toyota's, and Volkswagens, getting insur- ance bills 46 per cent higher than those they paid the pre- vious year. Mr. McCombe's figures came from research eon- ducted by one of the largest insurance brokerage firms in the country, after this firm finally decided that it was time the government was call- ed to task for its statements. "Off hand, I'd say your plant is dying because you've talked to it too much." A few weeks earlier the president of one of the largest private insurance companies in Canada, G. C. Trites of the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, had accused Auto- pac of instituting 30 per cent increases, but Mr. Trites had included the cost of increased drivers' licences and the promised two-per-cent-a- gallon gasoline tax on top of the promised 11 to 14 per cent rate increases announced by the government. In fact, Manitoba motorists face a confusing jungle of ap- parently unrelated charges if they attempt to discover just what they are paying for au- tomobile insurance. Although Autopac claims the lowest rates in Canada, an indepen- dent survey of agents across the country conducted by one Winnipeg newspaper showed that accident free drivers in Halifax, Toronto, Hamilton, Regina, Edmonton and Calgary were paying less than the advertised rates for government insurance in Manitoba. In addition to these rates, motorists are required this year to pay insurance sur- charge on their yearly driver's licences, a figure which could add if a man and his wife drives, and up to if they have a teen age son, since younger drivers are sur- charged for insurance pur- poses. Although government insur- ance is advertised as no fault insurance, heavy penalties are imposed oil drivers' licences owned by motorists who accumulate demerit points, or even become involv- ed in two or more accidents in a single year. Six demerit points (four are awarded for a single moving traffic violation) results in an addi- tion licence surcharge, and if a motorist is held 50 per cent responsible for two acci- dents in a single year, his li- cence is surcharged an extra This amount rises to for a third accident. Since many accidents involve traf- fic violations some motorists find themselves with an extra or to pay on a driver's licence after one bad year. What bothers the private in- dustry more in Manitoba is the decreasing coverage available for the money paid to the government. Standard automobile policies issued elsewhere in Canada leave the insurance company on the hook for a claim as long as the driver involved is "qualified or authorized" to operate a vehicle. Not so in Manitoba. Here the law states that in order to have a valid claim, the driver must be both "qualified and authorized by law." This means that a slip of memory in the renewal of a drivers licence automatically in- validates all insurance a ruling extended to cover vehicles loaned to friends. In to be entirely safe before loaning his automobile, a cautious Manitoban will make sure the person borrow- ing the car is both qualified and "authorized by law." Should the government in- surance decide you have been undercharged by as little as for the year, and if you do not pay the amount promptly, your driver's licence will be cancelled as will your in- surance. This happened to both a man and his son when a notice requiring the extra pay- ment was mailed to their summer farm address at a time they were living in the city. Since the vehicle in- volved, a light farm truck, was registered to both, they suddenly found themselves without licences, or insurance on two other vehicles they owned. All over The problem faced by Auto- pac in Manitoba is that political decisions are running the scheme so far into the red that nothing but massive increases in premiums can save economic ruin. Begun in November, 1971 the scheme admitted a loss of in 1973 (the figure was an- nounced after the June elec- tion) and Mr. Uruski says the plan lost "at least" a similar amount last year. That's 18.6 million. Private insurance companies claim that normal accounting procedures would have added an extra million to the loss, and pointed particularly to start up costs (which Autopac admitted were million) which were ignored in all accounting. In addition, since Autopac has decided it won't pay medical benefits to the Manitoba Health Services Commission, the treasury of Manitoba is short the million private insurance WHAT ARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS? Alberta's Snowmobile Advisory Committee would like to hear from you. L Your recommendations could pave the way for improved snowmobile pro- grams in Alberta. Is snowmobiling a source of recreation to you or your family? As a farmer, trapper, industrial worker, has the snowmobile become a benefit to your way of life? Do you think recreational snowmobiles should be used in specific areas only? Has snowmobiling interfered with your way of life? How? What regulations do you think should govern snowmobile operation as they relate to safety gear, horsepower, noise levels, operator training, age limits, and other factors? Recommendations or proposals should be submitted to: Alberta Snowmobile Advisory Committee, Alberta Government Recreation Committee, 14th Floor, CN Tower, Edmonton, Alberta. T5J OK5 WRITE US We want to hear from individuals, associations, organizations, land owners, recreational groups, indus- try whether you own a snowmobile or not your ideas and opinions on the above or any other related matters are important. ydberro CULTURE, YOUTH AND RECREATION J companies used to pay. In three years, that total comes to million. At the same time, Autopac consistantly refuses'to put its premiums where its costs are. While mature drivers elsewhere are benefitting from private insurance (the average mature driver in Ed- monton can purchase equivalent Autopac coverage for to a year less) the younger drivers in Manitoba are having a rate holiday. In Edmonton the rates for younger drivers are significantly higher, even when the differences in li- cences are considered. One private insurer said that the situation existed because competition forced the private insurers to collect from their high risks. In Manitoba, no one but the government is allowed to sell basic automobile insurance. But the most recent campaign against the government scheme launched by the private sector indicates that premiums costs the most visible part of the cost of government insurance have reached the point where the public might be in the mood to put enough pressure on the government to allow com- petition. Earlier arguments against competition were that the government would get stuck with all the bad risks. But when the average motorist starts paying increases up to 40 per cent and more in one year, plus a gas tax, plus licence penalties, plus a whopping deficit, the cost of carrying the bad risks doesn't seem all that bad. Books in brief "Evolution of the House" by S. Gardiner (Collier Mac- millan Canada Ltd., This is a personal account of the history of the development of the house from prehistoric to modern dwellings. The frames, doors, courtyards, windows, room function, gardens, site planning and town planning, etc. 'are each discussed comparing many different sites in Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, Britain, China and Japan. The historical events accompanying changes of style are always mentioned as conjectures. Though not orderly, it is quite a lesson in history. The chapter on Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright is less hectic and detailed, and more engaging. Two chapters (out of 11) dealing with Chinese and Japanese concepts of houses, gardens and sites also stand apart. Egypt and it's pyramids are dismissed as evidence of a loss of faith while Central America and Eastern Europe are not mentioned. Much of the book is densely written with long paragraphs and numerous examples. There are a few. mistakes but this does riot stop the develop- ment of ideas by the author in his obvious labor of love. There is an excellent index and a goodly number of drawings and black and white photographs. A. R. F. WILLIAMS "Canada's Sporting Heroes: Their Lives and Times" by S. F. Wise and Douglas Fisher (General Publishing Co. Ltd., 338 The photos in the book are superb, not from the stand- point of the dynamic sports action shots, but from the viewpoint of informative, nostalgic photos. The intrigu- ing early curling shots give a look into the sport's early days and for sheer nostalgia there's the classic shot of Terry Sawchuk having a coke and Marilyn Bell waving to the camera as she steps into Lake Ontario. The character sketches are informative, if a little stiff. One gets a slightly uncomfor- table feeling reading the science and strength section. Its almost like the authors don't feel these men quite measure up to the hockey or track stars. In summary of the book it would be safe to say that this trip through Canada's Sports and Hockey Hall of Fame is sheer nostalgia for the person who remembers the athlete or the event, and it is an oppor- tunity for the young to learn about Canada's world class athletes. GARRY ALLISON Sleeping Beauty Part I By Eva Brewster, freelance writer COUTTS As a giiest speaker at the Lethbridge University Women's Club banquet in the spring of was asked to comment on the Status of Women Report. Somewhat over-awed by the unexpectedly large number of learned husbands in that audience, I made a typically feminine mistake: I suggested that a woman is able to appear fascinated by a man's talk about himself and, at the same time, plan her spring wardrobe. Granted equal status and intelligence, the men pre- sent might be able to do the same or plan tomorrow's lectures if the subject bored them. Not only did I give away a fairly well guarded secret but, judging by the miserably few concessions so far made to women in Canada, our whole male society may have followed my suggestion. When the Status of Women Report was first published, it had all the qualities of a fairy tale. The one that specifically came' to jhind was that of the Sleeping-Beauty. Whether or not this report was designed to usurp the function of Prince Charming's kiss, contrary to most lengthy findings of innumerable Royal Commissions, it was fascinating reading matter. However, translating the fairy tale into more practical terms, a ques- tion presented itself immediately: Even if it were possible to legislate on all 167 recommendations made by the Royal Com- mission on the Status of Women in Canada, how could this legislation be enforced unless the whole of our society changed its ideas and prejudices overnight? Let's take one of the first recommen- dations turned into law fay Parliament: "No discrimination against women in advertising of job opportunities. There should be equality of opportunities to share responsibilities of society as well as its privileges and prerogatives." Beautiful! But how did it work out in practice? Shortly after im- plementation, I went job-hunting with a purpose in mind: To find out how genuine were the then newly worded advertisements for a "bank a "sales a "tire service person" or any other "person" you care to mention. Almost invariably, when I called on employers who had obeyed the law and advertised for a I was told: "Sorry, it's a fellow we want." If reasons were given, they varied from "a person employed in the credit department of a bank may have to collect outstanding debts and that's too tough a job for a woman." Or, "let's face it, a woman does have her off days and this job requires a very strong physique and a stamina a female cannot possibly have." The subject has been publicly discussed ad nauseam and while attitudes might gradually change where there is too desperate a shor- tage of labor, the general consensus of opi- nion is still this: "The employer has civil rights too. If he believes he can run his business more economically employing men rather than women, he can surely not be ac- cused of discrimination as long as he uses his freedom of choice wisely." Well, can he be so accused? Here we have the first piece of legislation where the lawful wording of advertisements has no influence whatsoever on the sharing of equal opportunities between the sexes in practice. It seemed to me then, as it does now, such radical changes are only possible in a country built from scratch, like Israel, or after a revolution in which women took an active part, such as Russia and China had. Let me hasten to say, I personally would rather. remain a little unequal than see a bloody revolution. Nor am I a member of Women's Liberation for the simple reason that I enjoy being a woman and always managed to make the most of the advantages without being too depressed about the disad- vantages. In my opinion, there is something to be said for being put on a pedestal since it is so much easier to give orders from that elevated position. Losing that vantage point is one of the drawbacks of equality. Yet, I too want to see equal job opportunity and equal pay for equal work for women and simply wanted to point out the difficulties of enforc- ing such innovations. It is a sad fact that stereotyping of women has passed from one generation to another and I was just as guilty of passing on the tradition. While I taught my daughter to cook, sew and wash up, it never occurred to me to teach my son the same things. By the time we realized the necessity of a boy learn- ing these occupations, it was too late. He had already come to regard kitchen and household duties as a woman's job and will, no doubt, pass on this outlook to his children. This is where a vital omission in the Status of Women Report must be mentioned: Nowhere does it say that education must start in the home. Nuclear blackmail for food By Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review NEW DELHI A short distance outside New Delhi, I saw a long file of protest marchers walking slowly in the direction of the capital. Most of them were young adults. They were identified by their placards as. teachers, students, farmers, shopkeepers and commercial workers. One of the placards said: "Hungry People Are Human, Too." Another sign: "Is India Going To Be Thrown On The Rubbish I learned that the reason for the march was the increasing discussion in the Indian press over reports that Western nations, including the United States, are getting ready to turn their' backs on India's need for mammoth food supplies. The reports suggest that policymakers feel there's no way of i preventing mass famine and that no amount of aid could solve the basic problem. The person whose name has been frequent- ly linked with this hard line approach to the developing nations is Garrett Hardin, professor of biology at the University of California. According to the reports, Prof. Hardin believes that the Western nations should resist efforts to help famine threatened countries. He uses the lifeboat analogy. If the survivors take more than a certain number on board, everyone will go down. Prof. Hardin's ideas and the shocked reac- tion of the young people walking toward New Delhi served to dramatize what, is rapidly becoming the most important issue before contemporary civilization. The attitudes of the rich and the poor toward one another are setting the stage for what could become the decisive showdown in history. Robert Heilbroner, in An Inquiry into the Human Prospect, foresees the possibility of atomic blackmail by hungry nations, now coming into possession of nuclear secrets, if they don't get a larger share of the world's wealth. That issue is not a misty, distant prospect but is already taking shape, as was evidenced by the protest marchers near New Delhi. It was not difficult to understand their feelings. It was not that they believed they were entitl- ed to help from the outside world, but that they were now being told, in effect, that they are not worth helping. They were protesting lifeboat analogies and a notion that some peo- ple have the right to decide whether others shall live. I left the protesters and drove back to my New Delhi hotel with its well appointed lobby and lounges. The dining room was filled with the hum of polite conversation. At the far side of the room was the rotisserie, with its exotic meats and fowls being roasted on open spits. It wasn't necessary to juxtapose the protest walk against the kind of life being lived in the cities of the Western world. Within India itself all the combustible contrasts were in full view. The greatest danger with the Hardin approach applies not to India but to the West. For Hardinism can become a wild infection in the moral consciousness. If it is possible to rationalize letting large numbers of Asians starve, it will be no time at all before we app- ly the same reasoning to people at home. Once we discover how easy it is to stare without flinching at famine in Calcutta or Dacca, it should be no trick to go unblinking at the disease ridden tenements in Harlem or Detroit or the squalor of the shacks in Ap- palachia. Famine in India and Bangladesh tests not just our capacity to respond as human beings but our ability to know" what American history is all about. We can't ignore out- stretched hands without destroying that which is most significant in the American character a sense of connection with human beings wherever they might be. Regarding life as the highest value is more important than anything America makes or sells. We need not be bashful in putting that idea to work. No 100 per cent safety From the Royal Bank of Canada Monthly letter There is no such thing as 100 per cent safety. Here and now living means facing built-in accident possibilities. Robert Benehley, whose humor centred about the difficulties of the average middle class citizen in contact with the complexities of the 20th social and mechanical life, remarked: "My only solution for the problem of habitual accidents is for everybody to stay in bed all day. Even then, there is always the chance that you will fall out." Life cannot be freed from all danger, and if it were it would become intolerably tedious. A ship that stays in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. There would be small satisfaction for a competent golfer in playing a course that was all green, with no fairway, no rough, no traps and no hazards. Absolute safety is a will o' the wisp, but ob- vious booby traps should, in the name of com- mon sense, be removed. Fear can be a person's best friend. It is a healthy mechanism, an alarm bell, a warning of impending danger. It can stir one to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Most people have the courage to encounter danger, but do not go seeking it. They do not do reckless things to show that they are not cowards. They pin-point what there is to be afraid of, and prepare for it. As Churchill iremarked: "It is very much better sometimes to have a panic feeling beforehand and then to be quite calm when things happen, than to be extremely calm beforehand and to get into a panic when things happen." An effective antibiotic By Doug Walker Some men have a penchant for leaving their hats behind them just as some ladies can't seem to remember to take their purses when they go. Judge Frank Byrne apparently has trouble that way with his pipe. When he was curling recently he set his pipe aside to make a shot and didn't think of it again until He got home. The next morning he called at the rink to ask if anyone had seen his pipe. A caretaker remembered throwing one out with the garbage so Frank rummaged in the bin until he found it. My question about whether he had steriliz- ed his pipe after its sojourn in the rink refuse was ruled an irrelevance. I suppose it is; germs are probably as repelled by pipe smells as people.