WINNIPEG -- The Public Utilities Board (PUB) announced on Wednesday it has approved Manitoba Public Insurance’s application for a special rebate for policyholders.

On April 23, Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton announced the Crown corporation would be returning $110 million in order to bring financial aid to Manitobans amid the pandemic. He said that under existing legislation, MPI could immediately return $50 million, but the additional $60 million required approval from the PUB.

The board held a hearing to review the application for the rebate on April 29 and April 30.

The PUB said in a news release it has now ordered the application on an “expedited basis’ due to the state of emergency the province is in.

“The Application and the evidence at the hearing was that the proposed rebate would accelerate the return of excess capital to policyholders in the form of a one-time payment instead of accessing lower rates in the future,” the board said, noting that it has ordered MPI to issue ratepayers a percentage of their annual premiums through a special rebate by May 31, 2020, or as soon as reasonably possible.

Rebates will be based on what a person paid in 2019 and are expected to be about 11 per cent for the average policyholder, which amounts to about $140 to $160.

In a statement, MPI president and CEO Ben Graham praised the board's decision, and said the corporation will continue to assist where it can during the ongoing pandemic.

“We continue to ensure that we keep our customers’ needs and best interests at the forefront of everything we do – whether in managing our business with financial prudence, providing service options throughout the pandemic or transferring the use of some MPI facilities to assist others in dealing with COVID,” said Graham.