OPINION: Fixing a broken ICBC and making life more affordable for you

BY PREMIER JOHN HORGAN

 

WE knew there was trouble at ICBC before the last election, but the previous government hid the problem from the public. Now we are faced with a big challenge:  to fix the problems at ICBC and keep costs down for you and your family.

For years ICBC has provided low-cost insurance for B.C. drivers. It is a public institution envied across Canada for competitive rates that have helped make life more affordable for people in B.C. Now we are faced with problems caused by years of bad decisions and mismanagement that threaten to jeopardize ICBC’s ability to deliver low-cost insurance to B.C. drivers.

ICBC’s year-end loss is currently projected to hit $1.3 billion. That is nearly the exact amount the former administration took out of ICBC to make the government’s finances appear to be better than they actually were. We never expected to find this level of neglect, but are going to do everything in our power to fix it.

We committed to make life affordable for people across the board, and we intend to keep that promise. Our government has already cut MSP premiums by 50 per cent, and we’re working towards completely eliminating this unfair fee altogether. We removed unfair bridge tolls, increased income assistance and disability payments and made adult basic education and English language learning tuition free. And we are tackling rising costs at ICBC and BC Hydro left behind by the previous government.

ICBC must become financially sustainable to keep rates affordable for British Columbians. Unless we take immediate action, B.C. drivers would see a hike of at least $400 more in their premiums by next year. We are going to do everything in can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Last week, we learned that the previous government received clear recommendations in 2014 from independent auditors that could have saved the corporation hundreds of millions of dollars. Regrettably, they did not act, they did not make these recommendations public, and they deleted them from a report presented to ICBC. They put their own interests first instead of the public. That’s wrong.

We are putting you first and will be taking strong, decisive and significant action in the coming weeks to repair the damage done. We are working on solutions that will keep rates affordable and see high-risk drivers pay more while low-risk drivers pay less.

We are also looking to cut down on legal costs and to focus instead on providing more care for those hurt in crashes. More details will be made public in the days and weeks ahead.

We’re fixing problems left behind by years of neglect and bad choices. Our government will keep working hard to make your life more affordable, improve the services people count on and create good jobs for people around B.C.

It’s time for a government that puts people first and a province that works for everyone. That’s exactly what we’re doing.

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