My kids are all in their 20s and all but the youngest two have left home.
When I was their age, I was married, had kids, had bought a house and was working full-time.
Today, our kids struggle to make ends meet, pay off student loans, save for the larger purchases and develop relationships, despite having four-year degrees and great jobs. Over the past six years, their lives have become much more expensive.
(In B.C) we have the highest rents in Canada, highest real estate prices in North America, highest gas prices in North America and the highest cost of living in Canada. One of the factors contributing to the high cost of living in BC is ICBC and the vehicle insurance rates. Starting in 2017, the rates for ICBC insurance skyrocketed. By 2020, they had increased by 48%, or an average of $620 per insured person.
Due to enormous pressure, and a (provincial) election, the NDP government touted a reduction but did so by raising some rates and lowering others. Premier David Eby conceded some drivers over the age of 45 would see lower rates under a competitive insurance model but said those under 35 would see premiums increase by 18 per cent. Motorists under the age of 20 would see rates rise by a whopping 37 per cent.
The impact of those raises on our youth was devastating. It means most young adults pay more per year for insurance than their vehicles are worth.
While transit is an option for some, from my house to the UBC Okanagan campus it would take more than two hours each way. Biking to work is not practical year-round. Additionally, the distance to the university and then to a job makes transit unfeasible (for some). Which means that they must pay these exorbitant insurance rates to keep their vehicles on the road.
But the rate increases were not just for those under 30. Many drivers have paid much more under this government.
It would be one thing to pay more to get more, but that is not the case. Over the last six years, assistance for accident victims has been slashed by 30%, even as collisions increased. How is this possible? Going to “no fault” insurance, despite promises to not implement that system, has resulted in lower payments to those injured. I have heard from both the injured and those who treat them, the system is broken, difficult to navigate and it’s difficult to receive the help required.
So, if fewer people are receiving help, then surely there are huge savings in administrative costs. Sadly, that is not the case. Internal operating expenses for ICBC now exceed over $1 billion.
(There has been) an explosion of high-paid executives—45 executives and more than 1,200 management staff. The number of employees with six-figure salaries at ICBC has more than doubled under this government.
Thirty-four cents of every insurance dollar goes to operating expenses at ICBC. That is incredibly high.
British Columbians don’t have extra money to give to an inefficient Crown corporation that is giving them fewer services.
The impact of ICBC rates extends far beyond mere inconvenience, it touches the very core of British Columbian households. Families and individuals are finding themselves forced to make difficult financial decisions, sometimes even contemplating cutting back on essentials just to keep their vehicles on the road. The soaring rates have strained budgets, caused stress and anxiety for many. In the end, what's at stake is not just a matter of insurance rates but the well-being of the very people who call this beautiful province home.
The impact is real and it's time for action to ensure soaring vehicle insurance rates don't continue to leave British Columbians paying more while getting less.
My question to you is this:
What would you like to see done with ICBC?
I love hearing from you and read all of the emails you send. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.
Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.