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.

Just Posted

Green candidate reflects on South Okanagan-West Kootenay campaign

Rosslander Tara Howse talks about the highs and lows of running for office

Community Christmas Hamper Program seeks donations, applications

Families can register for a hamper at Boundary Family Services and Community Futures

RDKB directors divided over dam revenues and fire service

East-end directors voted in favour of using $300,000 from the dam to support the RDKB fire service

Veterans lead the line for the Border Bruins in 2019/2020

Nathan Cohen-Wallis and captain Liam Stalwick are among the team’s points leaders too

Buyout residents ask for expert representation in land negotiations

City: ‘We’re really hoping that […] we can come to agreements that preserve people’s net worth’

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Most Read