The NDP made a major promise on Sunday (Oct. 4), just short of halfway through the short provincial election campaign.
In a news release, the NDP pledged to return any profits earned by the Insurance Corp. of B.C. during the pandemic to drivers if the party was re-elected. The party said the rebate would come on May 1, the same time as they promise an average 20 per cent reduction in insurance premiums for the average driver.
The promise, released by Vancouver-Point Grey candidate – and former minister in charge of ICBC – David Eby stands in contrast to earlier statements from Eby and the auto insurer. In April, during the height of the pandemic, ICBC said it had been “directed by government to analyze the impact of the pandemic on our organization,” although there was no news of a rebate in the following months.
In a statement to Black Press Media in mid-September, just over a week prior to calling the election, Eby’s office did not commit to a rebate.
“If ICBC does end up with a surplus as a result of the pandemic, combined with money saving reforms we have already implemented, we have passed a law requiring that surplus must be used to benefit drivers,” he said. “It could be through a rebate, a capital build that helps keep future rates low, or some combination of the two.”
The auto insurer saw a 37 per cent reduction in claims between April and June of this year, compared to the same time in 2019, as British Columbians stayed home and fewer vehicles were out on the roads. That amounts to roughly $329.5 million in financial savings in claim costs.
In a social media post, BC Liberals candidate for Richmond-Queensborough Jas Johal said that the NDP should have announced an ICBC rebate months ago.
“Public and private insurers across North America returned money to drivers many months ago. The NDP holds on to the cash, calls an unnecessary pandemic election, and then wants kudos for promising to return the public’s money during an election,” Johal said.
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