The Enforcer Cometh

The BC Government has once again decided to expand the scope of ICBC. In case you haven’t heard, Finance Minister Michael de Jong recently tabled Bill 13 – 2015 which, if passed, will make a number of legislative amendments.

The proposed amendment that has garnered the most attention and public outcry would change the Financial Administration Act to allow ICBC to refuse to issue a driver’s licence or vehicle licence plates if a person has unpaid government debts, including student loans.

I questioned whether ICBC has lost sight of its core principles and values (simplifying the insurance process and providing coverage at the lowest cost as stewards of the public interest) in the September 25, 2014 article “If This Goes On…Building trust, Driving confidence..?”

The reality is that, over time, ICBC has been transformed from a non-profit, break-even universal auto insurance provider into a revenue-driven government entity with two additional hats. These hats require ICBC to assume roles that are well outside and completely contradictory to its original mandate.

The role under the first hat is that of Revenue Generator. In addition to providing auto insurance, ICBC now runs the Motor Vehicle Branch obtaining revenue from driver and vehicle licensing, motor vehicle registration, and traffic and red light tickets. ICBC’s role under this hat is well-documented and commented upon—but it gets worse.

Under the second hat, the BC Government is assigning a growing role to ICBC as The Enforcer. In case you weren’t aware, ICBC can already refuse to issue or renew a driver’s licence if a person has not paid Criminal Code fines, Liquor Control and Licensing Act violations, Translink fines, bridge tolls, traffic tickets, or family maintenance payments. There has also been mention of adding the collection of unpaid municipal parking tickets to The Enforcer’s role.

Parking

You are probably asking what the collection of these debts (not to mention student loans) have to do with auto insurance, driver and vehicle licensing, and motor vehicle registration. Good question.

The travesty here is that ICBC could be the best insurance company in Canada if it went back to its original philosophy. Unfortunately, it is clear the BC Government has no intentions in that direction. How far then can the BC Government subvert ICBC from its intended purpose in its role as The Enforcer? Will Government debtors come to fear a big man in a dark suit and hat will knock on their door and state “I’m from ICBC. I’ve been looking for you”?

Without commenting on whether the tabled amendment to the Financial Administration Act is a good idea or completely out to lunch, the point is this: ICBC should be brought back to its core principles and values. It should provide services under its original philosophy and fulfill the role for which a state run insurer was allowed and created.

As it stands, we are on the proverbial slippery slope. Will there be a bottom? I guess we’ll find out.

 


 

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Einfeld Law is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury law firm specializing in motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other negligence claims involving bodily injury. We have successfully litigated many ICBC and other insurance claims, including out of province, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other bodily injury claims. We have collected millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. We never act for ICBC or other insurance companies.

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