God, you people make me so glad I'm from Manitoba.
First, something to note that almost all kinds of insurance in Manitoba is through a non-profit Crown Corporation called Manitoba Public Insurance. All auto insurance is through them. They also handle driver licensing, so I never have to bother with this "proof of insurance" stuff some of you have to. It's basically a one-stop shop. Most MPI's are super roomy inside, with maybe 20-30 seats. Even when super busy with long time wait times, I don't think I've ever seen people have to stand because they ran out of seats.
Of course, that's because when you walk in and go to the reception counter, if you don't need something that has to be handled directly by MPI it's self and it's there 45+ minute wait time, they'll direct you to go to the nearest private insurance company instead for a shorter wait.
Remember when I said almost all insurance is through MPI? That's true. But there's a number of private insurance places that will sell you extended insurance packages. The base insurance is still through MPI, but they're just selling you cool extras to go with it. MPI also has these private insurers do basic driver licensing duties. When my girlfriend had to renew her license last month, we first went to MPI but were told that there was a long wait time so they directed us to a private insurer a block down. She was in and out in 5-10 minutes.
Of course, you'd think that with MPI being a government monopoly that the insurance rates would be through the roof, wouldn't you? No. They're actually really not that bad, thanks to everyone having to pay into the same pool. They're also remarkably sensible. Couple of years ago I totaled a rental car on a large hole in the road that looked like it had been left by some construction and was filled with water. Broke the axle. MPI ruled me not at fault and my insurance rate didn't go up a single cent. It also really helps to know that every driver on the road with you has at least the same basic insurance as you do, including crash and a million dollars worth of liability. And they've recently introduced their winter tire financing program, where they will totally finance your winter tires for you at a rediculously low interest rate, up to 2000 dollars. If your tires actually cost 2000 grand, you'd pay it off after 4 years and MPI would have charged you... 43 dollars in interest.
Since I've started driving, and have been hearing horror stories of places outside of Manitoba about the DMV and such, I've become a huge fan of MPI...
"A mind is like a parachute. It only works when it is open."
-Sir James Dewar
Life should have a soundtrack.