High salaries spur calls for ICBC review

'ICBC is broken ... and needs to be fixed,' says NDP critic.

In the wake of news highlighting hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on certain ICBC salaries and expenses, more than one person is calling for a closer look at the Crown corporation.

The latest news reports come on the heels of ICBC applying to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) for a rate hike that would see most motorists pay about $30 more in premiums next year. Basic premiums will rise by 11.2 per cent and optional premiums will be about six per cent lower if the BCUC approves the increase.

ICBC president and CEO Jon Schubert said the rate increase is needed because of climbing claims costs, which rose $200 million in the first nine months of 2011. Bodily injury costs, which will hit $1.7 billion this year, are up $350 million from five years ago.

But ICBC financial statements show Art Kirkner, a U.S. citizen hired as one of ICBC’s 15 vice-presidents in 2008 to help cut costs, received more than $188,000 for expenses claimed in 2010 – in addition to his $315,000 annual salary. In 2010, Kirkner’s salary and expenses totalled $504,505, the second-highest salary in the Crown corporation after Schubert, who pulled in $504,771. Kirkner left ICBC in July and received 12 months severance pay.

In reaction, Minister for Public Safety and Solicitor General Shirley Bond said Wednesday she has asked for a review into ICBC, which will start sometime in the new year.

Consumers Association of Canada president Bruce Cran also suggested the Crown corporation needs closer scrutiny.

“I think we need an inquiry into what’s happening at ICBC,” he said. “I have great respect for the people who work there, but they overcharge for the cost of insurance and have been for years.”

Cran doesn’t agree with the fact the provincial government takes millions from ICBC every year in dividends – $1.215 billion in the past few years; $580 million for 2010-2011 alone.

“The government is in the middle of removing $1.2 billion from ICBC and now, automobile owners and insurers face a rate hike to pay for the money the provincial government has stolen from our premiums,” Cran said. “That money should go back to the drivers, not the provincial government. It is absolutely frightening and disgusting.”

Kathy Corrigan, the NDP critic for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor-General (the ministry responsible for ICBC), agrees the government has its hands in ICBC’s pockets far too much.

“Over the last few years government has taken hundreds of millions of dollars … they said they would take less (in ICBC dividends) each of those years but they actually took more,” Corrigan said. “That indicates to me that we have an imprudent government.”

Corrigan said the government’s and ICBC’s decisions end up hurting the average person the most, as well as those who can least afford a rate hike.

“I think ICBC is broken right now and needs to be fixed.”

– with files from CBC News

Just Posted

Harrison approves budget, considers future of business tax rates

Residents and businesses will see a 2.37 per cent tax increase for 2019

Chilliwack-Kent MLA unimpressed with ‘classic NDP high-tax-and-spend budget’

Laurie Throness said there was nothing in Tuesday’s presentation for Chilliwack

ACES grows the love of gardening with annual seed exchange

The event will be returning to Harrison Mills Community Hall on March 1

Murder charge formally dropped against woman accused in downtown Chilliwack killing

Stay of proceedings ordered for Victoria Purcell; Kirkland Russell to be sentenced for manslaughter

WATCH: Latest Heritage Minute episode filmed near Hope and features some dark local history

Airing on Feb. 20, the 60-second film tells the story of the Asahi and features the Tashme Museum

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Most Read