Opinion

ICBC bungled by the Liberals

The B.C. Liberals have completely mishandled ICBC, and the proof came last week when a review showed that the company has been hiring boatloads of senior managers and paying them more each year—with the government apparently oblivious to what was going on.

There are 32 per cent more managers than in 2007, and they are paid (as a group) 70 per cent more than managers received in 2007. Fifty-four of them made more than $200,000 each in 2011. The Liberals insisted, on taking office in 2001, that ICBC didn’t need to be privatized, nor did there need to be complete competition in the auto insurance sector. They have also insisted, especially in recent years, that substantial dividends from ICBC go back to the shareholder—the government.

This means that all ICBC customers, and that’s everyone who owns a vehicle, are paying additional insurance premiums to boost government revenues.

It’s a tax grab, hidden in the guise of insurance costs.

The government has now, very belatedly, said ICBC meeds to cut its management costs and manager compensation. This comes just after ICBC has boosted insurance rates by 11.2 per cent.

The simple fact is this: ICBC is being used by government for all sorts of purposes that are far afield from its ostensible role as a public car insurance company.

This isn’t new—the NDP did this with ICBC back in its earliest days. But it certainly points out that the Liberals are just as good as the NDP at mismanaging Crown corporations and sticking taxpayers with extra costs. It just points out another argument in favour of why ICBC needs to be privatized.

There is no real need to have government operate a car insurance company that forces all drivers to buy at least basic car insurance.

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