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Posts Tagged "ICBC"

30Aug

‘I am almost not a person’: ICBC denies photo ID to Richmond woman over middle initial | CBC News

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Nyoka Campbell has been a Canadian citizen for more than a decade, but her ongoing struggle to secure a B.C. photo ID has left her feeling like an outsider.

The 29-year-old has spent much of her life on the move, immigrating to Canada from Jamaica when she was just a child. Now living in the Lower Mainland, she has two primary pieces of ID to her name: a Canadian passport and a B.C. services card without a photo.

The two cards would usually be enough for someone to qualify for a B.C. photo identification card. But a small discrepancy between her documents — her passport includes her middle initial, while her care card does not — has kept ICBC from issuing her a card.

ICBC is the provincial Crown corporation that insures cars and is also responsible for issuing B.C. ID cards.

“I feel like I am almost not a person because of the way they’ve treated me.” Campbell told CBC News from her Richmond home.

“I am Canadian, I am a citizen of the Province of British Columbia, and I feel that I am entitled to be able to identify myself,” she added.

ICBC confirmed with CBC News that the documents she’s provided are insufficient for a photo identification card.

“In this case, while we sympathize with Ms. Campbell, we’ve reviewed the provided documents and unfortunately, they do not meet the requirements,” spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins said in an e-mailed statement.

Campbell says she now needs to obtain a citizenship certificate in order to clear up her ID troubles, but she can’t afford it.

Nyoka Campbell says a small discrepancy between two government-issued IDs has kept ICBC from issuing her a photo ID card. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A prolonged dispute

Campbell moved to Vancouver in 2015. She says she was issued a provincial care card which by default did not include her middle initial.

“I didn’t choose the way my name was presented on the [services card], it was just generated by Health Insurance B.C.” said Campbell.

She doesn’t have her Jamaican birth certificate, and her Canadian citizenship card was stolen along with her wallet several years ago.

When she sought out a photo ID from ICBC in 2016 using what documents she had left, she was denied by staff. She claims her account has been red flagged by staff as potentially fraudulent due to the discrepancy between her passport and services card.

She’s kept pursuing the ID ever since, providing the insurance provider with mail, her SIN card, her son’s birth certificate and bank statements, but says it hasn’t swayed ICBC’s position.

“We do look at customer’s situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases where there isn’t a verified photo record in our database,” said ICBC’s spokesperson.

ICBC says it looks at customers’ situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases when there isn’t a verified photo record in its database. (David Horemans/CBC)

Hard times

The Canadian government no longer issues citizenship cards, but Campbell has been advised to apply for a citizenship certificate — a commemorative slip of paper that doesn’t qualify as identification but would confirm her citizenship. She could use it at the ICBC office. It can take up to five months before a certificate arrives.

However, the document requires a primary piece of photo ID. The only photo ID Campbell has — her passport — is now expired. She says doesn’t have sufficient documents to renew it.

And even if she could, Campbell, a single mother living off disability payments, says she would have trouble finding the money — about $200 in total — to retrieve both documents.

“I get about $1,500 per month … [my rent is] $1,248 plus my utilities, plus my insurance — and I also have my eight year old,” said Campbell.

She wonders just how long it will be before she has an official photo ID to her name — a circumstance she says is particularly troubling because it prevents her from boarding an airplane. Her grandmother, who lives in Ontario, is struggling with kidney failure.

“At any moment I could need to go to Ontario, but I’m not able to,” she said.

5Jun

Government defends ICBC cap in response to lawsuit filed by trial lawyers

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Damaged vehicles are seen at ICBC’s Lower Mainland Salvage Yard.


DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The B.C. government is defending its decision to impose a cap on ICBC claims for minor injuries, in a response to a lawsuit filed by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

In April, the association sued in B.C. Supreme Court, saying the $5,500 cap on minor injury claims and the establishment of a civil resolution tribunal to adjudicate certain claims were unconstitutional and should be struck down.

The NDP government had passed the legislation enacting the changes last year after declaring that ICBC, which has reported losses of $2.2 billion in the past two years, was in a financial crisis and measures were needed to protect the interests of B.C. drivers and keep premiums down.

The association’s lawsuit argues that the new regulations have the potential to discriminate against people with brain injuries, psychiatric injuries and chronic pain by treating those injuries differently than other injuries.

It said that the scheme would have a “disproportionately adverse effect” upon women, the elderly and persons with pre-existing injuries or other disabilities.

The establishment of the tribunal would create “significant barriers” to access to justice before the superior courts for many claimants, said the suit.

But a response filed in court by the Attorney General’s Ministry emphasized that the substantial increases in ICBC claims costs had jeopardized the Crown corporation’s long-term sustainability and its ability to keep basic insurance rates affordable for drivers.

The ministry denied that the cap disproportionately adversely affects women, the elderly or persons with pre-existing conditions. “The defendants further deny that the minor injury definition includes conditions that have been subject to prejudice and stereotyping, historically or at all.”

Any distinction that the cap may draw among accident claimants is based on severity of injury, not mental or physical disability, says the ministry’s response.

The response defended the establishment of the tribunal, saying that its mandate was to resolve claims within its jurisdiction in a manner that is “accessible, speedy, economical, informal and flexible.”

The tribunal does not create a barrier to access to justice in the superior courts, the ministry said.

“There is no constitutional or fundamental right to have vehicle accident claims determined by a superior court,” it said. “Historically and at Confederation, the superior courts exercised concurrent jurisdiction with inferior courts and tribunals for personal injury claims.

“The minor injury amendments do not impair the core jurisdiction of the superior courts, nor do they otherwise cause undue hardship thereby impeding access to justice for accident claimants to whom they apply.”

No date has been set for a trial.

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2Apr

Eby’s bumpy, make-it-up-as-you-go-along ride on challenging ICBC file

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VICTORIA — Portrait of a cabinet minister making things up as he goes along:

Feb. 7: David Eby, wearing his cabinet minister for ICBC hat, reacts to news the government-owned auto insurance company missed its financial target for the first full year under the NDP.

ICBC forecast a loss of $684 million. Instead it will lose $1.18 billion, not much less than the $1.296 billon it lost in the financial year shared with the departed B.C. Liberal government.

Not to worry says Eby, still wedded to the belief that ICBC can be put on a break-even footing by 2020.

He’s already consulting with “stakeholders” on a new way to rein in legal and court costs: “The big one we’re concerned about are the cost of expert reports.”

Feb. 11: Eby, now wearing his attorney-general’s hat, signs a cabinet order rewriting the rules for court cases involving motor vehicle accident claims.

“We’re reforming the Supreme Court civil rules to limit the number of experts and expert reports allowed in certain cases,” he tells reporters.

The new limits are expected to deliver “in excess of $400 million” in savings for ICBC, starting that very day, which is when the new rules take effect.

Supreme Court rules are supposed to be vetted by a committee of lawyers and judges, jointly appointed by Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson and the attorney-general.

How involved was the committee in these changes?

Eby cites “discussions” with “a multi-stakeholder group” and “ministry staff.” But he never says whether these changes were approved in advance by the rules committee or to what extent the committee was even consulted.

Later that day the Trial Lawyers Association comes out and says what Eby won’t say, namely that the attorney-general pushed through the rule changes unilaterally.

“He is doing so despite a protest from the independent rules committee,” reports Ian Mulgrew in The Vancouver Sun.

Feb. 27: It has taken more than two weeks, but the attorney-general finally admits the trial lawyers were correct about the rule changes.

“I would like to clarify the process that was followed in relation to these changes,” reads the statement put out by his office.

He goes on to say the rules committee was “engaged” before the changes were announced. And it did offer “feedback,” which Eby claims to “very much appreciated.”

However: “The rules committee did not recommend these changes and was not asked to approve these changes. These changes were a decision made by government.”

Meaning government in the person of David Eby, an attorney-general who gets to preside over a unilateral rewrite of the court rules to suit the minister for ICBC, who is, of course, one and the same.

And lest there be any doubt on the part of the committee or anyone else, “government will continue its work on additional changes to the rules of court,” says Eby.

March 25: Eby announces via press release that he is pulling back on two provisions in the edict on the use of experts.

The new limits won’t apply to cases scheduled to go to court before the end of this calendar year. Litigants who incurred costs for experts before the Feb. 11 change of rules will be permitted to recover those costs.

All in the name of fairness and avoiding “unintended consequences” according to a followup statement from the ministry of the Attorney-General.

As for the financial consequences for ICBC, the ministry estimates the pullback will knock some $20 million off the projected savings of $400 million.

March 29: Another day, another amendment to the regulations regarding ICBC claims. There’s now more leeway for claimants to recover medical, rehabilitation, disability and other costs, including funeral expenses and death benefits.

“The new (60-day) limit gives people a reasonable amount of time to submit their receipts while ensuring ICBC receives the information it needs to accurately assess the severity of claims, provide additional supports to injured people as needed and better forecast future costs,” says the statement from Eby’s ministry.

This just two days before the new claims and litigation regime takes effect.

April 1: “The key for me is we’ve got to make it to April 1,” said Eby back in February, referring to the date he set last year for the big changeover on ICBC claims.

Those changes, limiting payouts for injuries, steering claims to arbitration and capping costs for ones that go to court, were expected to save $1 billion, even without the added limits on use of experts.

Now the big day is here and the trial lawyers mark the occasion by confirming they will challenge the new regime on constitutional grounds.

All of which recalls something else Eby said back when he was announcing the new limits on the use of experts and predicting savings of $400 million or more.

“The reality is that it will depend very much on the reception of the courts and the approach of lawyers to this,” he said.

“Our hope is that the bench and the bar support the intent of these rules, understand why we’re doing this, and that we do realize these savings.”

Against those hopes, there is Eby’s record, including a lack of consultations, arbitrary rule-making, and changes at the last minute.

Not the approach that most cabinet ministers would choose if they needed co-operation from the bar and bench to make the numbers work.

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3Dec

Ron Nairne: David Eby’s Trump-like attacks on lawyers, plans for ICBC, not fair to crash victims

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Attorney General David Eby speaks about changes coming to ICBC during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday February 6, 2018.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Last month, Attorney General David Eby stated that a key driver in increasing ICBC costs is “plaintiff lawyers strategically building the value of the claim,” suggesting there is something untoward in lawyers doing their jobs. His statement implies that claims being advanced are somehow not genuine.

Eby’s swipe at the legal community is disappointing and misplaced. As a lawyer and the attorney general responsible for the administration of justice in British Columbia, Eby knows better. By taking a shot at the representation lawyers are sworn to provide their clients, Eby suggests that through the legal process injured British Columbians get compensation they don’t deserve. The effect is a loss of respect for the legal process.

Eby may be better-spoken than U.S. President Donald Trump, but the attack on the rule of law is no less alarming than Trump’s frequent jabs at the American legal system.

Insurance Corp. of B.C. claims take time to resolve because injuries sometimes take time to resolve as well. While most people will recover from injuries from a motor-vehicle accident in a few months, others develop permanent symptoms. It is often not possible to know at the time of the crash what injuries will heal and what will lead to a lifetime of disability.

Eby’s comments only serve to distract, not contribute, to an understanding of what has really happened at ICBC. As Eby knows, ICBC’s financial position is a product of mismanagement, rising crash rates and past governments treating the public insurance company as the government’s piggy bank.

No one wants to have to hire a lawyer. Our clients only want a fair settlement and to be done with the insurance-claim process as quickly as possible. If ICBC consistently made fair offers early in the process, most claims would settle and huge costs would be avoided. Instead, ICBC denies that claimants were injured, denies that they need treatment, and denies that their lives have been turned upside down by crashes caused by careless drivers.

Rather than deal fairly with injured individuals up front, claims get sent to ICBC defence counsel who (quite properly) strategically build the defence to the claim. This leads to more injured individuals needing counsel and helps drive up costs.

Last year, ICBC’s losses were revised from about $300 million to $1.3 billion over the course of a few months. The massive restatement of ICBC’s financial position demonstrates that ICBC management was asleep at the wheel — financial distracted driving at its worst.

Where was the accountability? No one at ICBC resigned or was fired. Instead, Eby rewarded ICBC by allowing the Crown corporation to design a system that “caps” compensation for British Columbians injured by careless drivers.

Eby needs to turn his attention to where it belongs by reducing the carnage on our roads caused by careless drivers, reducing distracted driving and by making those who injure others to pay for the harms and losses that they have caused.

Those who make a mess must be responsible for cleaning it up. Under the system now being championed by Eby, injured British Columbians will be left holding the broom.

Ron Nairne is the incoming president of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.


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13Nov

ICBC says concussions and mental health injuries fall under new claims cap

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VICTORIA — Concussions and mental health problems caused by an automobile crash will be considered a “minor injury” and fall under the new $5,500 cap on pain and suffering, according to new rules set by the provincial government.

Attorney General David Eby signed a cabinet order that declared sprains, strains, aches, cuts, bruises, minor whiplash (including forms called TMJ and WAD), concussions and mental health issues caused by vehicle crashes to be designated minor injuries under new caps that begin April 1, 2019.

The inclusion of concussions and mental health has worried some lawyers and health care practitioners opposed to the cap, who say it can take a long time for symptoms of brain damage, depression or post-traumatic stress to show  and that the long-lasting effects are not minor for those suffering.

In response, the Insurance Corp. of B.C. said it has set special rules for concussions and mental health injuries. ICBC will consider them to become major injuries not limited to the $5,500 pain and suffering cap if they persist for more than four months, said the president and CEO, Nicolas Jimenez.

“The advice we got from the medical community is they are trickier to diagnose and trickier to, quite frankly, treat, so we are better to proceed cautiously and put them on a short time frame,” Jimenez said.

Other minor injuries — whiplash, sprains, etc. — will only be considered major if they are still problems after 2 months.

ICBC cites medical research that indicates approximately 85 per cent of people with mild concussions fully recover within three months.

Doctors of B.C., which represents physicians, was consulted on the timeline and agrees with ICBC, said president Dr. Eric Cadesky.

“When we look at things like concussions, pain and the emotional consequences of a car accident, four months is a good indicator of whether those conditions are going to improve or not,” he said.

The NDP government passed legislation to set the insurance caps earlier this year in an attempt to save more than $1 billion annually from the cash-strapped public auto insurer, reduce the rising costs of claims and prevent ICBC rate hikes. Broken bones and other more serious injuries do not fall under the $5,500 pain and suffering cap.

B.C. was the last province in Canada to have a fully tort-based insurance claims system, frequently leading to lengthy and costly court cases. Disputes over the new caps on pain and suffering claims will first go to a new civil resolution tribunal process that’s mainly been used for strata disputes. People can still sue for such things as the cost of future care and loss of wages.

To compensate for the cap, the government has raised significantly raised the fees ICBC pays for medical treatment, and added kinesiology, acupuncture, massage therapy and counselling to the list of approved services. Drivers at fault in a crash will also get full medical care costs, instead of lesser benefits outlined in the old rules.

But B.C.’s Trial Lawyers Association, which has opposed the cap, said the latest details remain troubling. Even with a four-month time frame for concussions and mental health, the new regulations set a steep definition of “incapacity” that a person will need to suffer to be considered as having a major injury, said lawyer Ron Nairne, the incoming president of the association.

That incapacity definition includes being unable to work, go to school or complete the “activities of daily living” defined in the rules as preparing your own meals, managing finances, shopping, using public transportation, cleaning your home and managing your medication.

“That is so narrowly defined that it will be very difficult for people to escape the definition of minor injury based on that particular provision,” said Nairne.

He said it appears government is trying to set rules that “capture the majority of claims” as minor, and concussions along with mental health should be excluded.

“There’s no such thing as a minor concussion because concussions are a form of brain injury,” said Nairne. “The government is doing the exact opposite, and deeming these to minor injuries.”

Other reaction was mixed.

The Physiotherapy Association of B.C. said Tuesday the changes are a positive step because ICBC is expanding the list of treatment providers and fees to enhance psychotherapy recovery.

But ROAD B.C., an organization that represents some other types of health care providers, said the new definition of minor injury is beyond what most British Columbians would consider fair.

One other change in the new rules set by Eby is that government has dropped a proposal to allow motorists to spend an extra $1,300 a year for additional insurance to get a cap of $75,000 on minor injuries.

“It was an idea,” said Jimenez. “But it’s not something that was embraced and put into our policy framework.

“These are really complicated changes, and I think quite frankly we are proceeding on the basis of get the system change in, and we’ll monitor and evaluate as we go.”

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