After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

BC government didn't need an audit to find something amiss at ICBC

BC's minister of finance Kevin Falcon. Photo credit: BC government.
The BC government shouldn't have needed an audit to know that something was amiss at ICBC, especially when much of the waste was literally staring them in the face if they'd just taken a cursory peek at the insurance company's annual reports and website.
Too often in these cases, the government's approach has been wait and see if the public notices and if they do scramble a full squadron of auditors to put as much space as possible between the outcry and the politicians responsible.
IntegrityBC notes that in ICBC's 2007 Annual Report, the company's Board of Directors and senior executives posed together in a single group shot. By 2011, that same shot required two separate photos, so as to include the full complement of senior vice-presidents employed at the company.
In 2007, ICBC's website boasted biographies for six executives: Paul Taylor (President and CEO), Mark Withenshaw (VP of Driver Services), Geri Prior (Chief Financial Officer), Donnie Wing (Senior VP of Insurance, Marketing and Underwriting), Len Posyniak (VP of Human Resources and Corporate Law), and Keith Stewart (VP of Information Services)
Today, the website boasts 11 biographies: Jon Schubert (President and CEO), Mark Blucher (Senior VP, Insurance), Ward Chapin (Chief Information Officer), Steve Crombie (VP Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Engagement), Sheila Eddin (Chief Business Transformation Officer), Fred Hess (VP Driver Licensing), Craig Horton (Senior VP Claims), Len Posyniak (VP Human Resources), Geri Prior (Chief Financial Officer), Jeff Schulz (Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Customer Strategy and Marketing), and Donnie Wing (Senior VP Corporate Affairs).
This does not include 13 additional vice-presidents at the corporation, according to the government's review.
Had the BC government only consulted the Vancouver Sun's public sector salary database they would have learned that the number of company employees making more than $150,000 at ICBC grew from 48 in 2007-08 to 105 in 2010-11.
In 2007, employee salary and benefits at ICBC totalled $371 million, according to ICBC's annual reports. By 2011, salary and benefits had reached $466.2 million. 
All of which brings to mind the cliché: where there's smoke, there's fire. And it's time that the BC government was proactive in these situations instead of waiting for a team of auditors to tell them what they should have already known in the first place.
According to the government audit, in the past five years ICBC paid one manager $4,500 per month in temporary accommodation, handed out up to $18,500 in annual perks for senior managers, paid $365,000 in signing bonuses, and $25 million in severance pay.

More in Commentary

Why free trade talks with China failed

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jetted off to Beijing, the media was told to expect the announcement of a free trade agreement, the first of its kind between China and a G7 country. The first sign...

A young Iranian helps Syrian refugees adjust to Canada

A young Iranian, himself, new to Canada reaches out to help Syrian refugees settle here. But with the war in Syria, tensions between Iranians and Syrians are rising. How will he succeed?

Linda Solomon Wood on a Bloomberg presidential bid

What do you think of Bloomberg's intimation he may run for president? I think it's a terrible idea.  The last time we had a strong third party candidate in a presidential race it was Ralph Nadar...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.