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Rankin says NDP will stay the course with ICBC changes and lower rates

Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Murray Rankin is raising the spectre of higher vehicle insurance rates if the B.C. NDP does not form government.
VICTORIA, B.C.: OCTOBER 3, 2020-Murray Rankin, BC NDP candidate for Oak Bay - Gordon Head speaks to media regarding the choice in this election and how Andrew Wilkinson would make life less affordable for British Columbians in Victoria, B.C. October 3, 2020. (DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Carla Wilson.

Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate Murray Rankin is raising the spectre of higher vehicle insurance rates if the B.C. NDP does not form government.

The party plans to stick with a restructuring program introduced this year with the aim of reducing Insurance Corporation of B.C. rates, Rankin said at a press conference on Saturday.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson “wants a system that provides profits to private insurance companies,” said Rankin, adding that kind of system led to double-digit rate hikes in Alberta and the highest auto insurance rates in Ontario.

ICBC was created in 1973 by B.C.’s first NDP government.

“We want British Columbians to know that they need not worry, we are going to stay the course and try to reduce automobile insurance rates for most British Columbia drivers on an average of 20 per cent or $400 a year. That is something that we are not going to give up,” Rankin said.

NDP changes provide for better care for those injured in vehicle crashes and is aimed at stopping the financial bleeding at ICBC, Rankin said.

The agency has been plagued by financial problems, losing $1.15 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2019.

Legislation introduced in March prevents the government from taking profits from ICBC, instead leaving them with the organization. Restructuring also takes aim at legal costs and claim resolution by turning to B.C.’s civil resolution tribunal for decisions and moving to a “no-fault” insurance model that prevents people from suing for damages except in certain cases.

The NDP estimates that rates will drop by about 20 per cent, or $400 per year, once the change is in effect, starting in May 2021.

Rankin said the insurance rate reduction is part of the NDP’s affordability agenda, which includes eliminating medical services plan premiums and lowering the cost of education. NDP Leader John Horgan has announced an expanded grant program for students.

“During their 16 years in power, the B.C. Liberals took a sledgehammer to ICBC,” Rankin said.

“They treated it like their own piggy bank and raided $1.2 billion from ICBC to make their budgets look better than they really were.

“They used money from ICBC for tax giveaways to their friends at the top, and everyone else paid the price with higher car insurance rates.”

Roxanne Helme, candidate for the Liberal Party in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, dismissed Rankin’s comments. “It’s nothing but the same old NDP rhetoric.”

It is “nonsense” to say that the Liberals were not good money-managers at ICBC, she said.

Under the NDP, ICBC premiums have increased by an average of 39 per cent over three years while at the same time coverage has been significantly reduced, Helme said in an interview.

The NDP is bringing in caps for minor injuries, but many major injuries are also included, she said.

And if the no-fault coverage comes into effect, that will reduce coverage more and will mean motorists “will just be paying a tax to drive,” Helme said.

The NDP’s restructuring plan “totally guts” insurance coverage, she said.

“I’m happy to pay an ICBC premium, but I want some coverage for it. I don’t just to pay money to keep ICBC alive.”

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