On March 16, Vélo Québec was invited to the National Assembly’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment to present its recommendations on Bill 22. We took this opportunity to make a simple and revolutionary proposal: that all road “accidents” be treated equally and that victims be compensated for the bodily injuries that they suffer.
Seem obvious? Unfortunately, this is not the case at the present time.Under the Automobile Insurance Act, a motor vehicle must be involved in a collision for its victims to be compensated by our public insurance plan – a restriction that is difficult for us to understand, given that the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec’s mission is to “protect individuals against the risks inherent in use of the road […]”.
At a time when the SAAQ’s excellent capitalization rate allows the government to offer Quebecers a two-year driver’s license payment holiday (a gift of over one billion dollars) and increase compensation for road accident victims reaching the age of 68, we feel that Quebec society is ready to better protect and compensate vulnerable road users: pedestrians and cyclists.
Our proposal would ensure that the loved ones of Robert LeBlanc, who died following a collision with another cyclist in 2021, would have been able to benefit from financial support to pay for his funeral expenses. It would ensure that Beatrice Letourneau does not have to pay huge dental bills on her own following a fall off her bike where she struggles to prove that a motorist was involved. These examples may seem rare, but for each of the victims and families affected, they are financial worries that add to their physical and psychological suffering.
During this Committee session, we had an opportunity to show members that this type of universal compensation for victims should be offered to vulnerable users, without an additional contribution on their part to the SAAQ’s compensation fund.
Considering that 9 out of 10 cyclists have a driver’s license, it could be said that they are already contributing to the public insurance plan. Therefore, whenever cyclists use their bicycle rather than their car, they should have the peace of mind of knowing that they are covered in case of an accident. This is the least they deserve for helping to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and therefore the risks for all users – not to mention the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and the health benefits of physical activity for our entire society!
We invite you to read the other proposals contained in our brief, listen to our presentation to the parliamentary commission and share your own road collision testimonies. Have you encountered problems getting a reimbursement from the SAAQ for your medical expenses or damages to your bike? Or getting an indemnity for lost income? Have you had to deal with the insurer of a motorist regarding the material damages to his car? We want to hear from you!