Premier John Horgan and Mike Farnworth announced today that ICBC will be providing a one-time relief rebate of $110 to customers with a basic insurance policy.
Horgan said the rebate is “absolutely related” to Russian aggression overseas, which he said could continue for quite some time.
The so-called rebate, essentially a welfare cheque, for some ICBC customers, which the Province claims will “ease the financial burden of increased gas prices caused by the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces,” will arrive in bank accounts in May, if they are not set up with direct deposit they should expect a cheque in the mail by June. So instead of immediate relief for all ICBC customers by giving a tax break at the pump he opted to give relief in the future for some some ICBC customers because not everyone is elidable for the so-called rebate.
However even ICBC customers that own electric vehicles that don’t even use the pump to fill their vehicles will get a rebate while some gas vehicle owners will not get it.
John Horgan said the corporation is in a financial position to “cover” the cost of $395 million rebate. It is forecasting an annual net income of $1.9 billion for the 2021-22 fiscal year ending March 31.
A rebate, however, is something ICBC could have offered regardless of the crisis and could have been more generous, said policy analyst and retired civil servant Rick McCandless.
“They’re linking it to trying to help out at the gas pump, and that’s fine, but the main purpose is to give back excess money (to ICBC policy holders),” McCandless said.
The nation carbon tax rebate scheme failed and “most households will see a net loss” because of it
Meanwhile sources say it’s not the sanctions in place from the Russia Ukraine war but more of a supply issue and John Horgan acknowledged “we need more gasoline” in 2019 during another gas price hike.
B.C. residents have been getting hosed at the pump since prices hitting more than $2 per litre a couple of weeks ago as sanctions on Russian oil exports over the invasion of Ukraine which forced oil buyers to search else where for crude oil.
Horgan said there could be more help on the way as provincial officials continue to monitor and respond to the situation abroad and its impact on British Columbians’ bottom lines.
“We have other tools at our disposal that we are looking at,” said the premier. He did not elaborate on what his tool kit could include. He already told us once before “everything’s on the table” but took tax relief off the table before the discussion even started.
Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said about 0.5% of the national inflation rate is because of carbon tax when speaking to House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
Horgan continued to blame the Russia-Ukraine war for high gas price “People are facing increased costs through no fault of their own, but as a chain reaction that started with Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine,” said Premier John Horgan.
Marc Lee, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives explained the war was to blame for a small portion but it always comes back to supply and demand with B.C. gas prices “Basically, the demand side of the equation is exactly the same as it was a year ago, and the supply side of the equation is exactly how it was a year ago. And yet somehow people are paying 50 per cent more for gasoline,” he said. reported by CBC earlier in March 2022
In response to Friday’s announcement, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is urging Horgan to scrap the provincial carbon taxes to save money at the gas pumps, instead of merely rebating ICBC fees to drivers.
“Why is Horgan just handing drivers back their own ICBC money, when he knows that one of the main problems causing pain at the gas pumps in B.C. is the carbon taxes ?” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, in a statement.
“ICBC happens to have extra money at this moment and it should be paid back to us, but that’s like trying to pay your rent with cash you found in an old jacket.”
The province of British Columbia has two carbon taxes. The first is set to increase to 11 cents per litre on April 1, while the second is a government fuel rule that would increase the cost of gasoline by 17 cents per litre on average. The two carbon levies in British Columbia cost around 27 cents per litre when added together.
Government critics, however, called the rebate a political move that doesn’t deliver the relief consumers need or get at the root problem of unaffordability.
“This is simply them trying to get out of what they’re obviously getting bad polling numbers on, and trying to figure out a way to change the dial,” said Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar during an appearance on pundit Mike Smyth’s show on CKNW.