B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is hoping to open up ICBC to more competition. In a wide-ranging year-end interview with Global News, Wilkinson says the public insurer needs to be looked at differently.
“Let’s look around the continent, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. Let’s see if there is a better way to do this. British Columbia is not the only place where people buy auto insurance,” Wilkinson said.
“There are a whole bunch of issues that have come up. Could we turn it into a co-op? Could we turn it into a mutual insurance company where the policyholders own the company? Should there be competition?”
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The B.C. Liberals have been widely criticized for their handling of the Crown corporation while they were in power, and Attorney General David Eby has described the financial situation as a dumpster fire.
The public insurance company lost $1.3 billion last fiscal year and is projected to lose more than $800 million this fiscal year.
The current government has announced major changes that will see good drivers pay less and bad drivers pay more. The province is also capping soft tissue injuries and limiting how much lawyers can charge to cut down on inflating bills.
“Right now, we are just bumbling around and patching up this 45-year-old monopoly, and it is not serving British Columbians very well,” Wilkinson said.
ICBC is just of many issues the Liberals are dealing with in opposition that they were criticized for while in government.
Wilkinson acknowledges the former government did not move quickly on the ride-hailing file but that the NDP has completely bungled the new legislation. The Liberal leader says the new rules give far too much power to the existing taxi industry.
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“This is nuts. The whole idea of disruptive technology is that you can do something in a different way with a different business model,” Wilkinson said. “What the NDP are trying to do is suffocate ride-hailing companies so they stay out.”
Wilkinson was elected in February after climbing up the list to defeat front runner Dianne Watts on the final ballot. As a new leader, part of the job is making sure the public knows who you are.
“My job is to get out and meet as many British Columbians as I can, talk about that idea of opportunity for everybody in B.C. and for all of B.C. and make sure people have a sense of future here,” Wilkinson said.
WATCH: Liberal leader Andrews Wilkinson explains why he got into politics
As for Wilkinson’s vision, the Liberal leader is trying to address the same core issue all B.C. politicians are faced with solving: affordability.
“Why did I go into politics? Because we need to make sure that the next generation — my kids, your kids — have the same optimism about British Columbia that we had. That you can get ahead here. That you can get a good higher education at an affordable price and then you can go out and find a good private sector job,” Wilkinson said. “That is why I do this job.”