Re: “More financial grit needed,” editorial, Feb. 22.
While I agree with the thrust of the editorial, I would like to correct a misimpression. The editorial stated that the NDP administration of the 1990s took money from the Insurance Corporation of B.C. This is not strictly true, as the governing legislation forbade the government from transferring ICBC’s money to provincial revenue. What the NDP did, starting in 1998, was to saddle the public auto insurer with some $50 million annually in costs associated with administering the driver’s licence program, while continuing to charge the driving public a fee for these licences.
It was in 2010 that the Liberal government, desperate for revenue, changed the legislation and ordered ICBC to transfer “excess” reserves from their optional business to government. These reserves had grown rapidly after 2004 to meet high targets set by the government. Rather than return the funds to drivers through rate reductions or a dividend to policy holders (as the NDP did in the late 1990s as an election ploy), this government decided to re-create ICBC as a profit centre.
Both the NDP and the Liberals have used ICBC to fund non-insurance programs, but using only driver’s licensing and the recent reserve grab during the 2001 to 2012 period, this government has taken almost $1.3 billion from drivers, including $600 million for licensing and $680 million in reserves to meet their need for revenue.
One would hope that a new government will be more forthcoming about profiting from those who buy insurance from ICBC, and recognize that auto insurance should be seen in the same light as workers’ compensation insurance.
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