British Columbia

Government looting ICBC, says NDP

B.C. New Democrats are accusing the Liberal government of looting the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to pad provincial coffers, but the government says its actions will actually save tax dollars.

B.C. New Democrats are accusing the Liberal government of looting the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to pad provincial coffers, but the government says its actions will actually save tax dollars.

This week's provincial budget indicated the government will take $778 million from ICBC reserve funds over the next three years.

The money could have been used to reduce auto insurance premiums for drivers, said New Democrat House Leader Mike Farnworth.

"Why did the minister choose to tell motorists in British Columbia to take a hike, instead of allowing the board the option of giving them further rebates?" Farnworth asked. 

Finance Minister Colin Hansen said ICBC had built up a large reserve fund in the optional insurance side of its business, and such a big surplus isn't required under international insurance standards.

"It makes sense, on behalf of the shareholders and the taxpayers of British Columbia, that we actually utilize this excess capital to make sure that we can offset our borrowing requirements and thereby save taxpayers' dollars," said Hansen.

The minister also said that using the ICBC surplus would not force up auto insurance rates.