Jeff Richert: BC Liberals took hands off the ICBC wheel, and young drivers paying the price


Recently, word has spread about young drivers getting hammered over their insurance premiums. It’s tough enough for young adults to get out on their own already, now tack on insurance premiums up to $400 or $500 a month. People are mad, and rightfully so.

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What is rather ironic about this situation is when BC Liberal MLAs start ranting on the issue as if they had nothing to do with the ICBC premium changes. On the contrary, they are the root cause of it.

Remember, the BC Liberals were in power for 16 years and during that time the accounts of Crown corporations were raided in the form of dividends in order to help balance the budget. Mismanage some money? No worries, take more dividends out of ICBC and BC Hydro. That was the BC Liberal modus operandi.

There is no argument that ICBC, under the watch of the BC Liberals, was mismanaged. And with the NDP now in power, we are starting to get glimpses of the fallout from the previous government. Honestly, it's quite entertaining listening to BC Liberals cry bloody murder over premium increases that are a direct result of their collective incompetence. It's the definition of hypocrisy if you ask me.

This is not a defence of the NDP, mind you — approaching the issue of premium increases in a scorched earth manner as we are seeing is hardly a prudent and responsible approach. I would like to see this issue addressed in an incremental approach to reduce the sticker shock to young drivers, but that may make too much sense.

Stepping back from this issue and seeing how expensive it is to live in BC (Bring Cash), I wonder if we're sending the wrong message to our young adults.

The cost of living in our province is expensive, and we have a negative savings rate as a result. Housing prices are ridiculous, and on top of student loans and trying to earn a living entering the work force, already difficult enough, we have now added sky high insurance premiums to the mix for our young drivers. This is not a good setup for future economic prospects.

The long-term impacts of this situation are not good.

Imagine loading up an entire generation with debt before they even get their feet on the ground; that's what's happening right now.

Imagine an economy driven by consumption impacted by an entire generation tapped out of purchasing power before their peak spending years even start.

Imagine the baby boomer generation unable to sell their homes at peak prices to fund their retirement.

Think I'm crazy? Watch as this generational debt trap unfolds right before our eyes.

Jeff Richert lives in Taylor.

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