With the Insurance Corp. of B.C. projected to get back in the black this year, the B.C. government is moving to end the practice of transferring surplus funds to help the province’s overall bottom line.
Attorney General David Eby said Monday he is introducing legislation this week to make it illegal to direct ICBC to turn over excess revenues. That would mean a future government would need a majority vote in the B.C. legislature to change the law before doing it again.
The previous B.C. Liberal government last took what was called a “dividend to shareholders” in 2015, transferring $138 million from the Crown corporation for what was then a surplus budget. The annual transfers were as high as $576 million in 2009-10, diminishing in the following years as ICBC’s costs and claims began rising.
After losses of $2.5 billion in the past two years, Finance Minister Carole James’ February budget projects a loss of $91 million for the fiscal year ending March 31. With a cap on minor injury payouts and an administrative tribunal taking injury disputes out of court, the budget projects an $86 million surplus for 2020-21, increasing to $191 million in two years.
Eby expects further legal battles with the personal injury lawyers who have challenged his reforms in court. A B.C. Supreme Court judge struck down his first effort to limit the number of expert witnesses in injury cases last year.
Since that decision, Eby has moved to further restrict the ability of injured people to sue. Further legislation is expected to move to the “no fault” system for most injury cases, with a prescribed payout similar to the way WorkSafeBC deals with injuries or death on the job.