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Kris Sims, director of the B.C. branch of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, welcomed the rebate but criticized the government for making drivers wait months to get their own money back.

Drivers outside B.C. received auto insurance rebate cheques, some as high as $300, last spring and summer. Sims said that’s largely because private insurance companies in Ontario and Alberta, for example, know drivers can shop around for the best deal. Even Manitoba which, like B.C., offers auto insurance through a government-owned corporation, gave drivers their first rebate cheque in May and the second last month.

“We’re really at the back of the pack here,” Sims said, adding that ICBC’s monopoly on auto insurance hold drivers hostage to higher insurance rates and slow-to-come rebates.

Asked why the rebates took so long, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said ICBC needed to ensure it was on sound financial footing before passing the savings back to drivers.

“Millions of ICBC policy holders will be receiving a COVID-19 rebate, but not at the expense of ICBC’s financial stability,” Farnworth said.

“Based on the past three years of our experience working with ICBC, where there was such volatility on their financial position, we wanted to be absolutely clear we weren’t doing damage to the corporation that has just turned itself around,” Horgan said.

Farnworth said about 80 per cent of customers will receive a rebate of between $50 and $300.

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