Treaty 1 Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg - Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, MLA St. Boniface, said MPI's bully tactics with collision shops are backfiring and unless Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) changes direction immediately, some communities in Manitoba will certainly lose collision shops in mid-June, when the old contract expires.
The existing deal between MPI and 232 collision shops expires on June 13. If there is no deal, it means that MPI customers will have no place to get their cars fixed. If collision shops accept MPI's new deal, which forces collision shops to do MPIs work for free and allows MPI to deny payment at random, many shops will have to close, especially in rural Manitoba.
Lamont said there is no question that MPI has been bargaining in bad faith. The Automotive Trades Association (ATA) has been in existence for 70 years - longer than MPI. This March, MPI announced they would negotiate individual deals with each of 232 shops.
The new contract gives MPI total control over what shops get paid, allows MPI to charge shops thousands of dollars without justification, and cancel contracts on a whim. Lamont said that is an abuse of power on the part of a government monopoly.
"We believe MPI has an obligation to act with integrity, be honest, and to bargain in good faith, because up until now, they have not." said Lamont. "MPI is using strong-arm tactics to force collision shops to sign a one-sided contract that will bankrupt them. That is not acceptable."
Lamont also said MPI has tended to paint its small business partners as villains, when MPI has higher rates, lower payouts, and pays less to collision shops and brokers than Saskatchewan does.
"In the fight between collision shops, and the government monopoly with total control over automotive insurance in Manitoba, collision shops are not the bad guys," said Lamont.