If the new NDP government (with a scattering of Greens) wants to do something to prove itself, repairing ICBC would be the best start.
It was the NDP that created ICBC in the first place, back in the 1970s. There have been calls to return to private insurance for years, but somehow successive Social Credit and Liberal governments never quite got around to it.
In the case of the Liberals, it was likely because ICBC was too tempting a target for cash. They sucked out hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, which is one cause of the current $1.3 billion deficit. When the attorney general, David Eby, comes out and calls the situation a dumpster fire, things are pretty bad.
Yet Eby hasn’t pulled out the big guns yet. He’s neither rushing headlong into privatized insurance, nor is he slapping on regulations that would limit injury and damage claims by accident victims.
The former course – privatization – would be anathema to a lot of core NDP supporters. And it would create a giant headache as the government had to unwind its driver licensing system from the public insurer.
Eby is looking at capping claims on minor injuires, something five other provinces have done so far.
Limiting all injury claims would anger an extremely dangerous group – lawyers.
If the province wants to keep funding ICBC, perhaps it should levy a new fee on the agency’s best customers. No, not drivers. It could levy increasing costs on the lawyers who have, year after year, driven up the injury claims and amounts in this province.