In May 2021, British Columbia’s ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia), implemented a new system called Enhanced Care, introduced under Bill 11 which was passed in 2020 in the province of British Columbia. The system changed how people injured in a motor vehicle accident could seek compensation, removing the right to sue “at-fault drivers”, except in certain criminal cases.
Enhanced Care is a “no-fault benefits” system that allows drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to receive payments approved by the province to cover rehabilitation, personal care, and lost wages without going through the legal system. ICBC says that this new program aims to cut down on legal costs and lower premiums for drivers across British Columbia.
However, critics argue that Enhanced Care goes against the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, leaving victims without basic protections and the ability to seek full and fair compensation. The non-profit Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia has launched a civil claim against ICBC, arguing that the system denies people legal recognition of their pain and suffering, contrary to Section 15 of the Charter that guarantees equal rights, equal protection, and equal benefits of the law, to all Canadians.
While ICBC claims that the new system provides more affordable auto insurance with significantly improved care, recovery, and income replacement benefits, opponents like Tim Schober, an advocate for crash victims in the B.C. area, are concerned that more people will find out the hard way that the new system does not work. Schober argues that people will not get great care, but they won’t know about that, until they or a family member suffer a serious injury.
Ultimately, the constitutional challenge to Enhanced Care and the no-fault benefits system highlights the need for more discussion and consideration of the impact on accident victims and their right to seek compensation.
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