Auto Insurance

Is Quebec spending enough money on its roads?

By: Jessica Mach on December 13, 2017

It would take roughly $20-million to repair just one road on CAA-Quebec’s annual ranking of the worst roads.

But the province has only banked $4.5-million to repair the 10 roads that appear on the list, the non-profit federation has found.

The road in question is the Chemin Kilmar in the Laurentides region of Quebec. It ranked first on CAA-Quebec’s 2017 Worst Roads list.

Crumbling infrastructure is a long-standing issue in the province. In the past few years, Montreal, Quebec’s largest city, has seen a spate of dangerous, occasionally fatal, accidents involving collapsed tunnels, overpasses, and bridges.

In Quebec, all drivers are covered by the province’s public automobile insurance plan, which offers no-fault coverage. That means all Quebecers involved in a traffic accident in the province are covered by the plan, whether or not they were responsible.

But comprehensive insurance, which covers repairs for damage not caused by collisions, is paid for out-of-pocket.

With a comprehensive insurance policy, damage caused by factors you have little control over — potholes, uneven asphalt, and falling concrete for example — wouldn't trigger an increase in your annual premium.

On the other hand, your rates may indeed go up if you have a lot of claims on your record. The likelihood of that happening increases if you routinely drive on a potholed street.

Until the funding gap narrows, Quebec drivers need to use extra caution. Although all signs indicate it’ll be a while before the former scenario happens. The amount of money that the Quebec government’s local road network maintenance assistance program has budgeted for road infrastructure has not increased since 1993 — nearly 25 years.

Meanwhile, snow removal and roadwork costs have increased. Between 2009 and 2013, these expenses increased by 19% while the budget to pay for them remained stagnant.

“The municipalities in Quebec's regions are tasked with maintaining many kilometres of roads with revenues from a limited number of taxpayers,” said Richard Lehoux, president of the Fédération québécoise des municipalités (FQM), an organization that represents about 1,000 municipalities across the province.

“It's easy to imagine the revenue shortfall facing many cities and towns,” he adds.