The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s Position on No-Fault

Commentary: SHOCKED – just when we were working with the Attorney General to ensure victim rights and access to justice for wrongful death…

…the NDP government moves two steps backwards introducing no-fault aka no pain & suffering compensation aka victim welfare aka no access to justice.

This legislation will be disastrous for ensuring victim rights and access to justice for the citizens of the province.

Many people have inquired as to the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s position on the proposed No-Fault Legislation for motor vehicle insurance in the province of British Columbia. We’ve also been asked if we’re cooperating with any other groups regarding our position. Our Society has its own in-house experts and we’ve formed our own advisement to the public wholly independent of any outside influences.

We have sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office advising both on the history of ICBC and alternative measures that would allow us to solely focus on root cause prevention of accidents in the first place.

Root cause prevention like the Graduated Licensing Program introduced in 1998, which turned a projected $2.4 billion deficit into $600 million of profit and a 5-year rate freeze.

Root cause prevention like the UN Road Safety Strategy, abandoned by the newly elected NDP government in 2017, which in the same time period, allowed the UK to cut its motor vehicle accident rate per capita to half of what BC’s is.

How about we focus on legislation and strategies that prevent accidents in the first place without sacrificing victim rights and scapegoating the province’s legal professionals? That would be TRUE leadership.

The letter is as follows…

March 9th, 2020

RE: BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’s Position on No-Fault

To Whom it May Concern,

For your consideration, not only are we an advocacy organization promoting legislative reform to grant access to justice for the families of the wrongfully killed, but we’re also an organization seeking to prevent unnecessary wrongful deaths in the first place. We offer for your careful consideration how a no-fault insurance system will impact British Columbians. We believe that no-fault will not only make our roads less safe, but will create an underclass plantation of victim welfare recipients, who will never have the ability to be made financially whole again. We also believe this will expand the size and scope of bureaucracy, making the individual even further powerless and subordinate to the administrative state via ICBC. Further limitations to meaningful access to justice in a court of law for victims, and when wrongfully killed, victims’ families, represents a major step backwards in civil liberties for the citizens of BC.

The recent history of ICBC is especially important in analyzing no-fault. In 1996, the NDP stated that there was no other choice than to adopt the no-fault system. In 1998, the government introduced the Graduated Licensing Program. It was a big part of the reason the projected $2.4 billion debt that the NDP predicted over 5 years became an accumulated profit of $600 million – with a 5-year rate freeze. When the Liberals were elected in 2001, ICBC was going into deficit territory again because it had turned into a politically based bureaucracy. The Liberal government brought in Nick Geer from the private sector and with his savvy ICBC was restructured to turn a $389 million profit in 2004 when he left.

Taking the lessons learned from the past in implementing say for example, the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP), this drastically reduced motor vehicle accidents, deaths, and subsequent claims, which put ICBC into surplus revenues by the hundreds of millions. This was a win-win for the citizens and the province.

In 2015, Canada became a United Nations Road Safety Collaboration Partner and the federal government released the Canadian Road Safety Strategy. In 2016, BC Health Minister Terry Lake got on board with the help of the Provincial Health Officer who’s report on the problem was delivered that year and Physicians in BC were behind it 100%.

Implementing this type of strategy is the same philosophical approach as the Graduated Licensing Program – reducing MVAs, deaths, and claims – and also shoring up ICBC financially.

The tort system works because it brings the social cost of bad driving to the public arena by the rise in auto insurance premiums. Tort has a general rather than specific deterrence effect. No-fault doesn’t have the deterrent effect because the administrative state just controls costs by reducing benefits, rather than dealing with the root cause.

The United Kingdom reduced its MVA severity/fatality rate to about half what British Columbia’s is following a comprehensive road safety strategy akin to that proposed to Victoria by the Provincial Health Officer in 2016.

Further, one might argue that it is against the financial interest of Personal Injury lawyers to push a reduction in collision rates, so they cannot be scapegoated for this sort of common-sense approach. The public will understand this. No-fault is ideologically driven, and is a major step backwards for the citizens of the province.

We implore legislators at this time to withdraw support for no-fault legislation and focus on a Provincial Road Safety Strategy that will make our roads safer and simultaneously reduce costs. We implore our legislators to make decisions based on data, evidence, and best practices that have been proven to work in times past and in other jurisdictions. We believe that this truly is the best option in creating a win-win for both the citizens of BC and the provincial government.


Michael-James Pennie

President, BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society aka ‘In Their Name’ is actively campaigning to have our 174-year-old wrongful death legislation modernized. Presently, only income earners who have dependents have worth under the law. Income earners who do not have dependents, or even non-income earners who do have dependents, presently have no value. This discriminatory law especially affects vulnerable groups such as children, seniors, and the disabled, as under the current legislation they are presently valued as worthless.

All of the other provinces and the Yukon have already modernized their wrongful death legislation in many cases long ago.

We believe that creating deterrence in order to save lives first starts at ensuring dignity and protection under the law for all citizens. Only when it is not so cheap to kill in BC, can we begin with a solid foundation of incentive to make our province safer for its citizens.

Please petition your MLA to make your voice heard in supporting the modernization of our wrongful death laws in BC»


About the BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society

‘In Their Name’ is the campaign of ‘The BC Wrongful Death Law Reform Society’ – a BC registered non-profit organization comprised of volunteer families who have lost a loved one to wrongful death in BC and were denied access to justice. In response to the biggest human rights issue facing the province today, our goal is to modernize British Columbia’s antiquated wrongful death legislation, which predates confederation (1846). Under current legislation, the value of a human life is measured only by the deceased’s future lost income, so long as they had dependents.

As a result of the province’s antiquated law, access to justice has been denied to the families of the wrongfully killed who do not meet this discriminatory criteria. This has affected especially vulnerable groups, namely children, seniors, the disabled, and anyone without dependents when they are killed by the negligent or intentional acts of another.

BC is presently the last of all the provinces, yet to have undertaken this critical legislative modernization to allow for dignity, value, and protections for all its citizens under the law.

When it’s ‘free’ to kill in BC, wrongdoers are not held accountable. This lack of general deterrence holds the province back in terms of incentivizing innovation of safety measures and protocols to prevent wrongful deaths in the first place.

Here’s How You Can Get Involved…

The Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, is responsible for the modernization of BC’s wrongful death laws. Our Society provided David Eby with the drafted ‘Wrongful Death Accountability Act’ when he was acting as the Attorney General for British Columbia for 6 years between 2017-2022. The new Attorney General, Niki Sharma, also shares responsibility as she is the Minister responsible for the ‘Family Compensation Act’ – the current guiding piece of legislation that the civil courts must follow in cases of wrongful death. Minister Sharma receives feedback from the regional ‘Members of the Legislative Assembly’ (MLAs) and follows orders from the Premier, David Eby, who is ultimately responsible for modernization.

Reform is presently at a standstill, as the BC NDP government does not presently view access to justice for the surviving family members of the wrongfully killed as a priority in this province. This is despite the fact that the families behind our Society have been fighting for modernization for over two decades. And despite the fact that all other provinces, including the Yukon, have already modernized in most cases long ago.

The only way to move this forward is by creating massive public awareness and outcry for legislative modernization. Only under the scrutiny of the public and the media will our politicians be forced to take this necessary, and long overdue action.

How many more people will need to die from the same preventable wrongful actions before our politicians will do their job?

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