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Can we afford this gift?


Today I spent a few hours at Kelowna Toyota wrapping presents for Kelowna Santas — a toy drive and fundraiser for those in need.

Csek Creative puts on this fundraiser each year and it has been a great success.

Before becoming an MLA, I collected toys in our office each year to support this incredible endeavour.

This year, Teresa May Teschner encouraged me to come and wrap. It was an amazing experience.

As I wrapped, I was hit with the realization that each toy would be going to someone in our valley that was in need.

At one point, Susan Girard (my wrapping partner and community benefactor) asked me if everything was ok.

I looked at her and said I’m imagining what each of these kids would want, who they are, and how to give them the perfect gift. It’s overwhelming at times.

Many in our community are trying to make ends meet, with higher costs, soaring interest rates and the highest housing costs in history.

Dollars are not going as far, and the cents are not adding up to enough.

Our new Premier responded to many of these pressures with a gift for all from ICBC – a rate freeze for the next two years.

But is it a gift that he has to give?

A cabinet order has dictated that the BCUC will approve a freeze of ICBC’s basic insurance policy rate for two years. ICBC’s rate application will be dictated by Order in Council 666, which states that the BCUC must not order a rate change unless ICBC asks for one.

This cabinet order dictated the outcome so there is no real review of ICBC’s declining financials.

As many will recall, we were all shocked to have our ICBC rates skyrocket when the NDP first came to power. Some of our rates have lowered, but not all.

Many of our young adults are paying some of the highest rates in the country.

But here is where the plot thickens.

ICBC is losing money right now.

ICBC’s financials released last month show that the corporation is projected to lose $298 million this year.

Where are all of our premiums going?

Internal operating expenses at ICBC are growing to more than $1 billion next year – an increase of over 25% since 2018. The NDP have bloated the ICBC monopoly – at the same time as they have cut help to accident victims by 30%.

Last year ICBC spent more on its own costs than it gave out in benefits to drivers – the amount provided for injury claims and recovery benefits fell by 30% last year during a time collisions were up by 15%.

So a gift from a corporation that is losing money, not financially stable, and will have to have taxpayer funds put in to keep it afloat is really not a gift at all.

And right now, our community needs gifts that are real.

My question to you is this:

Do you think that the BC NDP Government should be freezing ICBC rates when the corporation is losing money?

I love to hear from you! Email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620.

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