Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals say the PC government needs to curb the unprecedented bully tactics of MPI trying to force 232 businesses in the collision industry to sign a money-losing contract, and send the two sides to conciliation instead.
On March 15,2021, MPI suddenly cancelled all its trade contracts with accredited automotive repair shops and told them they would be negotiated independently.
Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, Dougald Lamont says that collision shops have been subjected to a divide-and-conquer strategy and a barrage of misleading information and threats from the Crown Corporation - which has a monopoly on auto insurance in Manitoba.
Lamont says MPI has threatened to cut off payments and strip shops of their accreditation, deny them access to software needed to do their work, and cancel access to inspections - all of which would grind auto collision repairs in Manitoba to a halt.
The new contract seeks to dump MPIs admin costs onto the collision industry and includes a clause that would allow MPI to charge shops up to $2,000.
In April, the Automotive Trade Association of Manitoba (ATA) had to take MPI to court to get an injunction to keep MPI from cutting off funds.
"No business in Manitoba should have to tolerate threats and coercive tactics like this kind from anyone, least of all from MPI Crown Corporation that we all own," said Lamont. "We are asking the Auditor General to investigate these allegations. In the meantime, the PCs need to tell MPI to negotiate in good faith. Manitoba jobs and businesses are at stake."
Lamont wrote a letter to the Auditor General asking for an investigation into MPIs tactics, as well as its finances - citing concern over whether the PCs are using the corporation as a slush fund.
In the last year, MPI has issued $179-million in rebates, over 99% of its 2019-2020 profits, which the PC government has taken credit for - including the figures in press releases, budgets and fiscal updates.
MPIs exceptional profits for that one year were the result of MPI moving its year-end one month later. It had a 13-month fiscal year, not a 12-month one.
"Pallister himself says his government should get credit for taking $179-million out of MPI. We hope the Auditor General will answer whether collision shops are now expected to pay the price for the PCs meddling."