The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia hasn't adjusted to the realities of the world's economy and has actually been increasing wages and staff, says B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon.
His assessment comes after a government review released Thursday said the corporation has too many employees and needs to cut up to 195 staff.
Cuts are expected to come largely from the ranks of managers. There are about 65 unionized staff in Kamloops and eight managers.
"To suggest cuts will come in Kamloops is a big leap," said ICBC spokesman Mark Jan Vrem. "I don't think they've started the work yet."
One of those leaving the public auto insurer is chief executive officer Jon Schubert.
ICBC board chair Paul Taylor told reporters that Schubert's departure was a "mutual decision" with the corporation.
The review found wages for senior management at the Crown corporation have gone up 70 per cent since 2007, while revenues from its investments have declined. It also showed the corporation increased its management personnel by 32 per cent.
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon called the figures unacceptable, given the unstable world economy over the last few years.
"In spite of what was going on around the world we saw increases in the senior management and managers and professional staff, non-unionized staff at ICBC."
ICBC is a monopoly in the province and provides mandatory-basic and optional insurance for 3.3 million customers.
The corporation currently has a request before the B.C. Utilities Commission to implement an 11.2 per cent insurance rate increase for basic insurance for drivers starting in December.
At the time the rate increase was announced last December, Schubert said the corporation's income for the first nine months of last year dropped $279 million, most of it due to a $200 million increase in insurance claim costs.
Schubert will end his daily duties at ICBC on Nov. 15, but will stay on as a consultant at full salary until June 2013.
His successor will start the job at a 10 per cent pay cut, noted Taylor.
Taylor said ICBC has already implemented five of the review's 24 recommendations and has managed to cut spending.
"We've accomplished a $26 million reduction in the past year, we'll reduce by a further $15 million this year and a further $9 million in 2013," said Taylor.
New Democrat ICBC critic Mable Elmore said hiring excessive senior staff and paying them more is a "typical pattern" of the Liberal government.
"I'm surprised to hear they're just figuring it out now," said Elmore, who said the opposition has brought up the issue many times in the legislature.
"I think that that's a telling statistic - that they got more managers to manage less people."
The review did find that the Crown corporation has done a good job of managing its investments overall and keeping premium increases lower over the last decade.
The ICBC report is part of an overall review by the provincial government of all Crown corporations, announced in the B.C. budget earlier this year.
THE DAILY NEWS/ THE CANADIAN PRESS