Attorney General says newly revealed ICBC report gives him valuable info

VICTORIA — Attorney General David Eby says he’s pleased that Postmedia News has released a confidential 2014 report into the Insurance Corporation of B.C. because it meant he could finally read recommendations that were scrubbed from the report and change his approach to fixing ICBC’s financial woes.

“I’ve now had the opportunity to read the report that Postmedia made public,” Eby said Thursday. “I’m glad for the opportunity to read it.”

Eby zeroed in on a section of the report that had been erased by the previous Liberal government, which outlined changing how ICBC manages its finances and capital ratios.

“Based on the release of the report, I’ve asked for a briefing from ICBC, particularly on the capital ratio piece that the report goes into in some detail,” he said. “It’s not something that we’ve been looking at in detail, so I’m asking ICBC for an update on that, as well as comparing the piece in the report related to drive risk rating, that bad drivers should pay more and good drivers should pay less, (and) making sure that we’re incorporating those recommendations.

“And finally to ensure the projections around minor injuries claims are accurate. So all of those pieces are informed by the release of the report. So I’m very grateful those pages have been finally released.”

Postmedia obtained the report and wrote about its contents on Jan. 22. However, when Eby said publicly on Wednesday that he was unable to see a copy because it was deemed confidential by the previous Liberal government, the newspaper posted the document on its website.

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“We are releasing this report in the public interest,” Vancouver Sun editor-in-chief Harold Munro said on Thursday. “The people of B.C. have a right to know this important information about ICBC given the continued financial difficulties facing the Crown corporation.”

The report shows the previous Liberal government scrubbed several key pages that warned of a coming financial crunch within ICBC and recommended “a bold change in policy direction,” including caps on minor injury claims and higher premiums for high-risk drivers. The then-Liberal government erased the pages before the report was released in 2015.

The idea of caps on minor injury claims and steeper rates for bad drivers have resurfaced now that ICBC is in a financial crisis and set to lose an estimated $1.3 billion this year. Eby announced the changes last month, in a bid to save the Crown auto insurer from becoming insolvent or hiking rates as much as 40 per cent.

“There’s no question that had the government taken action in 2014 based on this report … ICBC would be in a very different position today,” said Eby. “We’re doing some of the exact same recommendations that were made three years ago, three years later.”

Eby called it a “missed opportunity” and said the Liberals should have released the report in full even if they disagreed with it, to inform the public about the options.

The report has prompted finger-pointing within the Liberal party, which now sits in opposition.

Former finance minister Mike de Jong has said he remembers government removing sections because there was no appetite to act upon them and therefore they did not need to be included. That occurred during government’s Treasury Board process.

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Former transportation minister Todd Stone, who had technical responsibility for ICBC at the time, has said he never saw the unredacted draft version. ICBC’s board of directors, said they never saw it either.

In the PDF linked to this article, the portions of the report that were removed are marked with box outlines around the text, and include two pages in the table of contents as well as pages eight to 10, 30 to 35 and 43.

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