B.C. Attorney General David Eby announces overhaul of ICBC rates and handling of claims at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 6, 2018. (B.C. government)

ICBC improving, but not yet out of the red, B.C. minister says

David Eby refutes reports of staff increase, ‘dividend’ to province

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is reducing staffing and other costs to the point where it’s climbing out of deficits and stabilizing its operations, Attorney General David Eby said Tuesday.

Eby said he was surprised to see the extent of legal costs when ICBC reported its detailed financial figures for the 2018-19 fiscal year, and they validate the NDP government’s decision to cap minor injury awards and attempt to restrict expert witnesses in major injury lawsuits.

“This is the first year we’ve reported these numbers, so they definitely were eye-opening for me,” Eby told Black Press. “When you look at the amount of money that was going to the plaintiff law firms, and assuming a 20- to 30-per-cent contingency fee agreement, that ends up being about half a billion dollars in just lawyers’ fees. It’s a very significant cost to both ICBC and motorists, and it should be a concern to people.”

Eby rejected media reports suggesting that staffing levels and salaries above $150,000 per year have increased, describing a misunderstanding of financial reports released by the Crown corporation last week.

“When I took over ICBC in 2017-18, there were too many people earning high-level category salaries,” Eby said. “We’ve reduced every category above $100,000 by a minimum of 10 per cent, and for those above $150,000, by more than 30 per cent.”

Another issue Eby addressed with reporters at the legislature was the emergence of a possible return to surplus in ICBC’s current year, which he said has been incorrectly reported.

“The second point of frustration I have is the suggestion that government is taking dividends from ICBC, or is planning on taking dividends from ICBC,” Eby said. “The books reflect the hope, and at this point it is a hope, that ICBC will be revenue positive. When ICBC is revenue positive in government’s consolidated books, it reflects as money coming to government. It’s how it’s reported in the books. It doesn’t mean it’s a dividend paid by ICBC.”

RELATED: Share crash data, private insurers urge ICBC

RELATED: New drivers pay most for optional insurance

RELATED: B.C. government bails out ICBC, BC Hydro

The province’s current budget, presented Feb. 19 by Finance Minister Carole James, included billion-dollar bailouts of ICBC and B.C. Hydro. By February ICBC was projecting a $1.18 billion loss for the fiscal year that ended March 31, adding up to a total loss over two years of $2.5 billion.

Legal fees is one area where ICBC is seeing an improvement for 2019-20, along with a slight decrease in crash figures that have climbed to record levels.

“We’re seeing a slight decrease in the representation rate, the number of people who are hiring lawyers, which is good news,” Eby said. “We’re seeing the first quarter, where ICBC has reported near break-even.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureICBC

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Heart of the City – Jason Scherr

Try and Try again - Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club

No COVID-19 public exposures in the North Health Region at this time

Northern Health Authority issued a statement on Sept. 17

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Most Read