ICBC pays $650,000 for staff incentives; Bucks attract, keep top talent, it argues

By Stanley Tromp, The Province [Vancouver, B.C],  07 May 2010:


After a three-year fight, ICBC has been forced to reveal it paid $650,000 in "incentive pay" to its top executives in 2005 and 2006.

These payments, on top of salaries, include more than $216,000 to then-president Paul Taylor over the two-year period.

A freedom-of-information request was filed in 2007 for the release of the extra pay, but the Insurance Corp. of B.C. refused to release the figures until ordered to do so by Information and Privacy Commission adjudicator Celia Francis.

While Taylor was the biggest winner at the Crown corporation, four other high-ranking company brass earned two-year windfalls of nearly six figures on top of their salaries.

Chief operating officer William Gobel, chief financial officer Geri Prior, chief information officer Keith Stewart, and vice-president Donnie Wing got about $90,000 each, while vice-president Len Posyniak got $50,000 for the year 2006 alone.

Taylor resigned to work in the private sector in April 2008, after the RCMP announced an investigation into a scandal arising from the corporation's automotive research and training facility.

ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said the corporation now releases incentive pay for the company president and five top executives.

He said ICBC held back the figures in order to abide by privacy laws.

"The act requires a public body to withhold personal information which would result in an unreasonable invasion of privacy," said Grossman. "Consequently, we felt obliged to withhold it."

But Maureen Bader of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said government institutions are hiding unnecessarily behind privacy laws.

"This curtain of the privacy act is becoming overused in government now," said Bader. "Firstly, people who work in this legislated ICBC monopoly with no rational performance measurements should not be getting these payments at all.

"But if they do, we need to know the numbers, because otherwise there's no limit how high they could rise in secret."

Grossman said the incentive pay helps ICBC attract the best and brightest applicants and not lose them to competing firms.

"Because of our unique and complex nature, we need to attract an experienced and talented management team in order to be a successful company," he said.