At Economical Insurance's annual meeting last week in Kitchener, much frustration was expressed by both company officials and mutual policyholders about how slowly the federal government is moving to draft regulations to enable property and casualty companies like Economical to demutualize and become publicly traded firms.
The federal department of finance has been moving with glacial speed on this file, which has been in its hands for about two years now.
In the meantime, Economical says it is missing out on acquisition and growth opportunities and falling behind its peers in the property and casualty market.
The folks in Ottawa so far have given no indication when the regulations will appear apart from assuring stakeholders that something is in the works.
When I checked with the Department of Finance this week it was the same old story. This was the response from a finance official:
"The Government understands the importance of this issue and its complexity, that's why next steps are being carefully considered in a thorough fashion. The Government is actively working to develop regulations that will provide balance for both companies that choose to demutualize with an orderly and transparent process while also ensuring policyholders are treated fairly and equitably."
While Ottawa deserves little sympathy for the extraordinary delay on this file, the second sentence of its response provides an obvious clue.
It still hasn't come up with a formula on how the lucrative demutualization benefits should be shared among policyholders.
Economical feels they should go to mutual policyholders only while others in the industry believe they should be shared among all policyholders.