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

Snowfall warning continues for parts of B.C.’s Interior

First significant snowfall of the season prompts Environment Canada warning

Coastal GasLink receives first delivery of pipe sections

Company expects to begin welding and pipe laying in 2020

Northwest B.C. physician receives Medal of Good Citizenship Award

Dr. Peter Newbery was one of 18 people in B.C. to get provincial recognition

Northern Society for Domestic Peace remembers women killed in Montreal Massacre 30 years ago

Society will hand out 14 red roses, one for each of the victims, to women who stop by office today

Petition calls for appeal of Luke Strimbold’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says the former Burns Lake mayor’s case is under review

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read