Former cabinet minister Joy MacPhail is introduced as new chair of the ICBC board, Feb. 26, 2018. Board compensation has been cut by 17 per cent since the NDP government took over. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Is ICBC adding staff and increasing salaries? No, David Eby says

Accounting, bonus changes misread, staff and salaries cut overall

Reports of the Insurance Corporation of B.C. adding more high-priced staff and increasing salaries as it struggles with two years of billion-dollar deficits are not accurate, ICBC and Attorney General David Eby say.

Statistics compiled from ICBC financial statements show that in the last complete fiscal year, 2018-19, the corporation added 195 additional staff in the $75-$100,000 salary range, and reduced the number of positions earning higher salaries.

The increased staff are needed to handle the rising number of claims, ICBC said in a statement provided to Black Press this week.

“Over the last two years, ICBC had to recruit more claims staff to respond to the growing volume of reported claims due to ongoing lawsuits, and to meet customer needs,” the statement says.

Corporation documents show that from 2017-18 to 2018-19, the number of employees earning $100,000 to $150,000 declined by 10 per cent, from 526 to 472. The number of staff earning salaries of $150,000 to $200,000 declined from 117 to 72, a 38 per cent decrease. Those earning salaries of $200,000 and up went from 32 to 11, a 34 per cent decrease.

“We’ve also been very successful in driving down compensation at ICBC, so I’m quite frustrated by reporting that suggests we’ve somehow increased those numbers, when actually we’ve made a very concerted effort to reduce those numbers,” Eby told reporters at the B.C. legislature last week. “We’ve reduced executive compensation at the board level by 17 per cent since we took over the corporation.”

There have been two recent changes at ICBC that create the appearance of increased costs. One is the elimination of the ICBC bonus program, part of the previous government’s approach to hold back a portion of staff salaries until performance targets were met. That change took place in the 2017-18 fiscal year, and holdback amounts were rolled into base pay, creating the appearance of higher salaries.

The other change was a switch from calendar year reporting to fiscal years, to match the government’s own books. That change produced a 15-month fiscal year for 2016-17, covering the period from January 2016 to March 2017, producing higher costs than the 12-month fiscal years that followed.

RELATED: ICBC ‘needs brokers’ to navigate rate changes

RELATED: Executive pay, bonuses reduced starting in 2018

B.C. Liberal critic Jas Johal used those “huge increases” to claim staff costs are adding to ICBC’s financial woes, which prompted Finance Minister Carole James to bail out the corporation with more than $1 billion in the February provincial budget.

At the time, ICBC was projecting a $1.8 billion deficit for the current 2019-20 fiscal year, even with an increase of 6.3 per cent in basic insurance rates for 2019.

In its latest financial report this year, ICBC showed a net income of $55 million for the first quarter, April through June. The corporation said the improvement is mostly due to strong investment returns on real estate and bonds, which won’t be repeated this year.

The corporation warns that legal challenges from the B.C. Trial Lawyers Association to its major reforms, capping “pain and suffering” payouts at $5,500 and sending smaller disputes to an administrative tribunal, could cost the corporation hundreds of millions per year.

Injury claims against ICBC prior to the reforms taking effect April 1 total more than 100,000 claims, representing $12 billion in costs still to be paid.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Witset chosen for housing innovation funding program

Proposal to build healing lodge for at-risk youth one of four selected in B.C.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and hereditary chiefs agree to future meeting

Scott Fraser was in Smithers on Jan. 22 and spoke with Office of the Wet’suwet’en representatives

Unist’ot’en Camp say RCMP have changed 27 kilometre roadblock rules

Footage shows RCMP telling an unidentified lawyer they can’t re-enter the checkpoint

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Telkwa bridge struck by empty logging truck

The truck hit the bridge on its east side and appears to have damaged a wooden beam

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

UBC grad and sister killed in Iran plane crash had bright futures ahead, close friend says

Asadi-Lari siblings Mohammad Hussein and Zeynab were two of 57 Canadians aboard downed Flight PS752

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Coastal GasLink work camp in Vanderhoof gets approved by the ALC

The work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport was first rejected by the commission in October last year

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

Most Read