NEWS RELEASE · 15th February 2011
COPE Union Local 378
“Status Quo” Budget = Government Still Trying to Hide Billion-dollar Cash Grab
The so-called “Status Quo” budget indicates that the BC government continues to rely on quietly diverting ICBC’s income to offset the deficit, according to budget analysis by the union representing workers at the Insurance Corporation of BC.
The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (COPE 378) found the massive cash grab buried in the 2010 budget. The enormous, 3-year, $990 million cash grab is buried even more deeply in the 2011 budget, indicating that the government is still squirming about its budgetary sleight-of-hand being exposed.
“ICBC has been a successful and profitable service for British Columbians, but rather than enhancing that service by lowering rates and giving something back to BC drivers, the government is using ICBC as a cash cow,” said David Black, Vice President of COPE 378.
“ICBC exists as a service for British Columbians, not a secret revenue stream to offset the government’s deficit,” added Black.
The specifics of the $990 million transfer are only detailed on page 26 of ICBC’s Service Plan, not even in the main budget document.
The government’s 2011 budget document does not explicitly identify the dollar amount that ICBC is remitting to general revenue. Instead, there is only a small note on page 15 that ICBC’s net income is forecast to be down by $55 million, due to the forced remittance to the government.
“This cash grab is the dirty little secret of this budget; the government knows this, and is still trying to keep it hidden,” added Black.
Meanwhile, ICBC employees who have been responsible for skyrocketing profits are being told that they can expect zero wage increases, drivers are being given only token rate reductions, and accident benefits remain stagnant and far below acceptable levels.
“The government needs to stop gouging drivers through too-high insurance rates, and instead give this money back to the people who deserve it: drivers, workers, and accident victims,” concluded Black.
The provincial government is simultaneously telling ICBC employees to expect a wage freeze and no new benefits in current collective agreement negotiations.