Manitobans favour keeping auto insurance in public hands by a margin of more than 3-1, and they would prefer online purchases be done directly through Manitoba Public Insurance instead of through a third party, according to a union poll.
The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union commissioned a survey in mid-June to gauge public opinion on MPI, a Crown corporation. The union represents close to 1,600 MPI head office and service centre staff.
On the question of whether auto insurance should remain public, 47.1 per cent of respondents agreed, while 13.7 per cent thought it should be privatized. A further 20.3 per cent indicated neither or both statements represented their view, while 18.9 per cent they didn't know or refused to respond.
"Manitobans have a lot of trust in MPI, and I think these results reflect that," said Jean-Guy Bourgeois, MGEU director of internal operations.
Meanwhile, 71.5 per cent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed customers should be permitted to renew their insurance online directly through MPI (as opposed to going through a broker), while 17 per cent were somewhat or strongly opposed. Another 11.5 per cent said they weren't sure.
On public versus private, respondents were given the choice of two statements and asked which one is closest to their view.
One statement said: "Auto insurance in Manitoba should remain public because rates here are among the lowest in Canada, motorists don't pay more to cover corporate profits and, overall, MPI provides good customer service."
The other said: "Auto insurance in Manitoba should be privatized because competition from private companies will lower rates, give customers more choice and improve customer service."
Bourgeois said the questions were rotated so an equal number of survey participants heard each statement first or last.
The survey question regarding online insurance sales was more leading. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "Customers should be permitted to renew their insurance online directly with MPI. Requiring customers to go through an insurance broker is less convenient and more expensive, since brokers will charge a fee to provide the service."
The MGEU poll was carried out by Viewpoints Research. The online survey sampled the opinion of 800 Manitobans. The results are considered accurate within plus-or-minus 3.5 per cent.