News / Vancouver

'Cutting pages…to hide the truth' on ICBC: Eby

B.C. Liberals ignored, censored 2014 study's fixes

Attorney General David Eby speaks about the changes coming to ICBC during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 6.

CHAD HIPOLITO / The Canadian Press

Attorney General David Eby speaks about the changes coming to ICBC during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 6.

B.C.'s Attorney General finally got his hands on a controversial 2014 report on how to fix the province's public auto insurer, now bleeding $1.3 billion a year — and it reveals that the B.C. Liberals were warned about skyrocketing minor injury claims and advised of reforms four years ago.

Despite his high office David Eby couldn't, however, get the taxpayer-funded study about the Insurance Corporation of B.C. (ICBC) from his B.C. Liberal government predecessors, who'd guarded the three-year-old consultant report under "Cabinet confidence," releasing only a censored version to the public.

Instead, Eby got it after Postmedia published a poorly copied, uncensored original draft Thursday in the Vancouver Sun.

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The 54-page 2014 draft report, "ICBC Claims Management Review," was by consultants Ernst Young.

Censored from its public version was an entire section on "claims costs findings and recommendations — areas that would require government involvement." It included measures such as "transition to driver-based risk rating," "product reform" and changing the approach to capital reserves the Crown corporation holds. The B.C. Liberals also redacted an appendix of recommendations.

"B.C.'s automobile insurance product is tort based with no limits on amounts payable for soft tissue injuries, unlike many Canadian provinces who have introduced limits and restrictions on tort benefits for non-catastrophic soft-tissue (minor) injuries," one of the redacted sections reads. "… Savings would be approximately 8-10% of claims costs, or $136M-170M of savings annually."

Those are among the fixes Eby announced last month to stop yearly driver rates rising $400. Eby criticized ex-transport minister Todd Stone — once responsible for ICBC — and former finance minister Mike De Jong for the redactions.

"Cutting pages out of consultant reports to hide the truth," Eby said. "… Mr. Stone and Mr. de Jong and other people who were involved in this report not being released to the public have some explanations to give."

Eby repeatedly said he wasn't allowed to see it because of "Cabinet confidence" rules protecting the previous government decisions. Ex-finance minister Mike de Jong told Radio NL that he would be OK with letting Eby see it — but not releasing it publicy.

"If Mr. Eby wants to look at a report I don't have any problem with that," de Jong said. "There are cabinet document confidences that need to be respected."

ICBC is set to lose $1.3 billion in public money this year; Eby launched an external probe of the agency's financials and "years of reckless decisions by the previous government."

ICBC attributes its losses to more crashes and high damages.

"Unlike the standard practices of other Canadian provinces B.C. has a vehicle based, as opposed to a driver based, risk rating model," a censored paragraph states. "… essentially the rating is based on the vehicle and not on the driver's track record or behaviour … responsible drivers are subsidizing poor and risky drivers."

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