By Mike Starchuk MLA
VICTORIA. If I told most British Columbians a year ago that our government under John Horgan would be able to put out the dumpster fire at ICBC and actually give money back to people, they would have been extremely skeptical.
As a former firefighter who has seen many dumpster fires, I knew we could put this out. After 16 years of BC Liberal mismanagement, ICBC was broken. This resulted in steep losses at the public auto insurer and higher rates for drivers. In less than four years, the BC NDP government has turned that mess around. ICBC is now operating the black instead of the red. This year, the average driver will see a reduction in their rates of 20%, or $400. And starting in March, they will receive a $190 rebate (on average) from ICBC because it is able to pass on savings it has achieved due to lower collision rates during COVID-19. None of this would have been possible had we stayed on the dangerous course of the BC Liberals, who not only caused the problems at ICBC, but attempted to block the BC NDP’s efforts to fix it.
They brought in reckless tax breaks for the richest 1% of British Columbians, and they made British Columbians pay for it by raiding $1.2 billion from ICBC. That hurt ICBC and drove up rates for people. Our government introduced two important changes to improve service at ICBC, reduce rates, and get the public auto insurer on strong financial footing.
We brought in an insurance system modelled after those used in public insurance companies in other provinces that have operated successfully for decades. The system takes hundreds of millions in legal costs out of the system, allowing ICBC to offer better care to people injured in collisions and reduce car insurance rates for people. In addition, we brought in legislation that bans the raiding of ICBC so that no future government can take money from the company like the BC Liberals did.
The BC Liberals opposed these measures. If they had their way, ICBC would still be in the red, car insurance rates would be going up instead of down by $400, and the company would not be able to provide the $190 COVID-19 rebate. Governing is about choices.
The BC Liberals chose to put their wealthy friends first and they raided ICBC to pay for it. This resulted in higher car insurance rates that took money out of the pockets of British Columbians. Our government took steps to make ICBC work for people again through better rates, more affordable service, and more money in their pockets.
And we’re going to keep working hard for people by fixing the messes left after 16 years of BC Liberals putting the wealthy and well-connected ahead of everyone else.
Mike Starchuk is the BC NDP MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale.