Another rebate cheque from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) could be on the way in the new year, along with lower insurance rates kicking in as early as April.

MPI is asking for a 1.2-per cent rate decrease for Manitoba drivers next year and is also looking to bump up its rebate request to $335 million from the original forecasted amount of $202 million.

“MPI continues to demonstrate strong financial performance, which has resulted in its applying for a third consecutive rate decrease, and in time, applying for a third consecutive customer rebate,” Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton said.

But attorney with the Public Interest Law Centre Katrine Dilay says it’s actually an increase disguised as a decrease.

“Last year, MPI asked for essentially what amounts to a five per cent discount on rates. So that was included in the large rate decrease last year (8.8 per cent),” Dilay said.

“And MPI is asking to remove that discount this year, so in effect, our rates are going to go up by 3.8 per cent on average if MPI gets what it is asking for.”

Dilay says the discount was included in rates last year to return excess capital that MPI had in the bank.

The Public Utilities Board is holding a three-week hearing that began Tuesday.

The Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC Manitoba), says it will argue on behalf of consumers that MPI over-collected insurance premiums and should be rebating approximately $665 per driver to its customers.

Instead, the CAC says MPI wants to transfer some of that surplus to another part of the company to cover costs which are usually government’s responsibility, reducing the average rebate to just $496 per person.

“Our insurance premiums are supposed to fund insurance lines of business, period,” Gloria Desorcy, Executive Director of CAC Manitoba said. “As ratepayers we expect MPI to provide full rebates to drivers and we will make that case before the PUB.”

If approved, rebate cheques will be mailed out in the winter of 2022. The average cheque amount and how many cheques will be mailed will be announced in the coming months.

A decision from the Public Utilities Board is expected in December.

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