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IN THE LEDGE – ‘Why is the minister not taking action on strata insurance issue?’

Debate during Question Period in the B.C. Legislature, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

T. Stone: British Columbians living in condos and townhomes want the NDP to take action today. Strata insurance premiums are skyrocketing by as much as 400 percent. Judy Dryden says: “The huge increases heaped upon condos are making it difficult to meet our monthly bills. These huge increases are attacking very vulnerable people.”

My question is this to the minister: what possible reason could the minister have for not acting quickly to help Judy and the thousands of other British Columbians just like her?

Hon. C. James: As the member knows, this issue is urgent and challenging and complex. This is a private industry. These are private businesses that set their terms for condo insurance. We are looking at options to be able to tackle the challenge, both short term and long term.

As I’ve mentioned, there are issues that we believe we can look at in the short term, but there are long-term issues that also need to be addressed, which is why we’ve referred it to the B.C. Financial Services Authority to take a look at regulation. We’re examining the bill that has come forward from the member for Kamloops–South Thompson. It doesn’t appear that there are things that will address the challenges immediately, but there are some interesting pieces that we’re reviewing.

One of them, for example, is the issue of water damage and a prevention program, which the member mentioned. This is very similar to the leaky-condo program that was in place by the past, past, past government and actually cancelled by the other side. But it’s an interesting idea to bring forward. I think there are some options there that we’re certainly reviewing.

We recognize the pressure that this is putting on businesses, and that’s why we’re working with condo associations. That’s why we’re working with the industry. That’s why we’re working with the B.C. Financial Services Authority as well.

Mr. Speaker: Member, Kamloops–South Thompson, on a supplemental.

T. Stone: Well, the minister says that she’s talking and talking and talking more. This is cold comfort for the thousands of British Columbians who are facing very serious financial hardship due to these skyrocketing strata insurance costs.

It actually turns out that the Finance Minister has 75 million reasons for her delays and excuses. Budget 2020 shows that the NDP will collect an additional $75 million in tax revenue on insurance premiums over the next three years. The NDP are actually profiting on this strata insurance crisis.

Now, Laura Obsil says this….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members. Members. Order, please. We shall hear the question.

T. Stone: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Laura Obsil says this: “Enough is enough in money grabs, be it our taxes or our strata costs.”

My question is this. Why is the minister gouging British Columbians like Laura? Why is she not taking swift, decisive action to address these skyrocketing strata insurance costs?

Hon. C. James: Well, I don’t know if it’s entertainment for the other side to be able to have the member stand up and talk about gouging when we know exactly the work you did that gouged taxpayers and ratepayers at ICBC for years. Unbelievable to stand up and talk about gouging when we know exactly the work he did that gouged taxpayers and ratepayers at ICBC for years. Unbelievable. Unbelievable to hear the member talk about profits and taking profits. That’s exactly the problem we ran into at ICBC because of the work of that member over there.

So I will take no lessons from that member on the other side. Nor will the taxpayers or the ratepayers of ICBC, because they know what happens when they listen to the other side. That’s why you’re on the other side, Member, and not over on this side.

This is a very serious issue. This is a complex issue. That’s why we are working with the strata associations. That’s why we’re working with owners. That’s why we’re working with the insurance industry. That’s why we’ve engaged with our colleagues across the country, because this is not a unique issue to British Columbia.

The national commercial insurance task force is also looking at this issue, because it is an issue that’s causing problems across the country. We are working on both short-term and long-term solutions. The member will hear that when they come forward.

Source: BC Hansard.

About Mel Rothenburger (7717 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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