Rideau Canal work includes Kingston Mills locks

A new phase of restoration work on the historic Rideau Canal is getting underway, focusing on Kingston Mills Locks. It’s a part of a five-year, $3-billion investment by the federal government to rehabilitate parks and national historic sites.

Parks Canada says the work will include stone replacement and repair, repointing and grouting within the locks and select concrete repairs.

“We’re rehabilitating all four locks,” Jamie Dickey, the project engineer with Parks Canada, said. “We’ll be working on the basin as well and working on the flight locks down below. We’re starting this year up at Lock 46 up at the top and then each year we’re working our way down to the lower lock.”

Dickey says the work is needed as the last major rehabilitation done at Kingston Mills was in the 1970s. The project will take three years to complete. Working in the boating off-season isn’t ideal, Dickey says, because of the colder temperatures.

“The cold weather is tricky, especially with the masonry. You have to keep it at a certain temperature to cure. So that’s why we’re putting trusses over the locks to cover them and heat them up to get them to a controlled environment, right humidity and the right temperature so we can get the work done.”

The $13.4-million Kingston Mills project is supposed to be done by the spring of 2021. The Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site stretching from Kingston and the foot of Lake Ontario to Ottawa. It first opened in 1832.

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Opinion | Missing From Top Colleges: Veterans

This article is part of the Opinion Today newsletter. You can sign up here to receive the newsletter each weekday.

Regular readers know that socioeconomic diversity on college campuses is an obsession of mine. A lot of colleges, public and private, like to think of their campuses as highly diverse. And they are diverse racially, religiously and geographically. But many of them remain dominated by affluent students.

One twist on this problem is the embarrassingly small number of military veterans at many top colleges. “Veterans,” says Catharine Bond Hill, the former president of Vassar, who now runs Ithaka S+R, a research group, “are underrepresented at the set of schools with the highest graduation rates and the most resources.” Some top colleges enroll fewer than five veterans a year. My colleague Frank Bruni listed some of the miserable numbers in a 2016 column.

But now there are at least some small signs of progress. I attended a conference at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday where several colleges promised to increase veteran enrollment.

Cornell, which now has about 40 veterans among its undergraduates, plans to raise that number to 100 by 2020, for example. Indiana University, the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania also said they would increase their numbers. And the College Board announced it would make it easier for colleges to identify veterans with solid standardized-test scores.

Right now, many colleges aren’t even trying to recruit veterans. Among the colleges that recruit on military bases, “You don’t see Cornell. You don’t see the University of Maryland,” Piragash Swargaloganathan, a Navy veteran and recent Cornell graduate, told me at the conference. “It’s mostly online schools and for-profit schools.” (And many online and for-profit colleges have terrible records.)

The good news is that the veterans who do enroll in strong four-year colleges tend to do very well. They have higher grades and graduation rates than average. Recruiting more veterans to these colleges, as Hill says, will help the veterans, the colleges and ultimately the country.

Amazon’s power play. Big business has become too big and too powerful. It has the power to hold down wages and overly influence government policy, among other problems.

For now, our corporate giants face few real threats to their size and power. But I am hopeful that the politics of big business is starting to change. On both the political left and right, you can see growing concern about this issue.

The latest episode of “The Argument” podcast takes on the problem of corporate gigantism, tied to Amazon’s search for a second headquarters. You’ll hear that Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and I all found that search to be unseemly. As Ross says, the whole process has helped radicalize him on this issue.

For more on Amazon, read Shira Ovide in Bloomberg Opinion, Derek Thompson in The Atlantic or Jim Swift in The Weekly Standard.

Outrage culture. “It seems like every not-so-carefully-worded public misstep must be punished to the fullest extent, replete with soapbox lectures and demands for apologies,” Dan Crenshaw, a Republican congressman-elect, writes in The Washington Post. “Anyone who doesn’t show the expected level of outrage will be labeled a coward or an apologist for bad behavior.”

‘Operation Infektion.’ If you haven’t watched the new Times documentary on disinformation, I encourage you to check it out. All three episodes are available here. The final one has the broadest theme. As Adam Ellick, the executive producer, says, “We show how today’s Western governments are ill-equipped to combat this kind of warfare, and how governments, social media platforms and societies themselves need urgent reform and regulation before it’s really too late.”

You can join me on Twitter (@DLeonhardt) and Facebook. I am also writing a daily email newsletter and invite you to subscribe.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion).

David Leonhardt is a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, and was the founding editor of The Upshot and head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns on the financial crisis. @DLeonhardt Facebook

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New Zealand launches testicle check booth

Ever thought of getting a health check but worried about having to, well, drop your pants? Meet the Testimatic.

That’s a booth to allow New Zealand men to have their testicles checked without having to face a doctor.

Testicular cancer is the number one cancer in young men in Western nations and the booth is being rolled out with fanfare at a big expo in Auckland.

How does it work? Into the booth, down with the pants and a doctor will check you anonymously through a little hole.

The booth is set up at this weekend’s Big Boys Toys expo, a huge exhibition catering to all things men stereotypically are supposed to be into.

So that’s stuff like cars, gadgets, action sports, barbeque or construction machinery.

Strolling between all those markers of perceived old school masculinity, you’ll run in the Testimatic, labelled as “the world’s first auto ball checker”.

What you do is muster your courage, step up to the booth, pull a curtain around you and drop your pants.

What then happens is not some fancy high tech screening process – instead, there’s a good old urologist sitting in the booth who – through a hole – will have a little feel of your balls.

In a matter of minutes, you’ll be good to go again.

The project is in line with Testicular Cancer New Zealand’s goal to raise awareness of the illness. The cancer has very high rates of being cured, but it all depends on how early it’s diagnosed.

According to Testicular Cancer New Zealand, 90% of cases are cured – if detected at an early stage, the rate is about 99%.

The UK’s National Health Service says this form of cancer is the most common form of the disease in men aged between 15 to 45. But it points out that testicular cancer is actually “one of the less common cancers”.

“Typical symptoms are a painless swelling or lump in one of the testicles, or any change in shape or texture of the testicles.”

About 2,200 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK, the NHS says.

But cancer groups warn that not enough men get regular check-ups and are not aware that they should regularly check themselves.

Cancer Research UK says “testicular cancer is more common in white males than in Asian or black males”.

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'We will not extend Article 50' – Theresa May states that Britain will leave the EU in March as planned

Britain will leave the European Union on March 29 and will not suspend the process of leaving, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday, adding that it would meet its legal obligations on a financial settlement with the bloc.

“We will not extend Article 50,” May told parliament, when asked about the clause in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty which allows for countries to leave the bloc.

Lawmakers will have to consider the British people’s vote to leave the European Union when parliament is asked to vote on a final Brexit deal.

She said she shared the concerns of those who believe a Brexit backstop to avoid a border on the island of Ireland impinges on British sovereignty, but it was an improvement on previous proposals.

“The references to the backstop do raise some difficult issues,” May told parliament.

“I fully accept that across the house, there are concerns in relation to the backstop. Indeed, I share some of those concerns,” she said.

Mrs May is battling to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest at an agreement they say will trap Britain in the bloc’s orbit for years.

Just over 12 hours after she announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.

Their departure, and the resignations of two junior ministers, shakes May’s divided government and her Brexit strategy, raising the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. Some lawmakers in London openly questioned whether May’s government will survive.

Raab is the second Brexit secretary to quit over May’s plans to leave the EU, the biggest shift in British policy in more than 40 years. By leaving now, some suggested that Raab could be positioning himself as a possible successor to May.

But the prime minister showed little sign of backing down in parliament, where she warned lawmakers they now faced a stark decision.

“The choice is clear. We can choose to leave with no deal, we can risk no Brexit at all, or we can choose to unite and support the best deal that can be negotiated,” she said.

More to follow…

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European shares sink as Brexit turmoil derails recovery; banks, auto fall

LONDON (Reuters) – European shares reversed early gains, falling into negative territory on Thursday in a broadbased rout as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government was plunged into fresh crisis over Brexit, with autos and banking stocks leading the fallers.

The resignation of two British cabinet ministers including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab triggered a rout in UK housebuilders and banks, while investors continued to fret about Rome’s standoff with Brussels and Washington’s row over trade with Beijing.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.5 percent by 1036 GMT, with German, Spanish and French bourses firmly in negative territory. Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was flat.

Optimism after China delivered a written response to U.S. demands for wide-ranging trade reforms ahead of an expected meeting between the two countries’ leaders evaporated as worries over a global economic slowdown returned.

With the steady stream of resignations, the UK’s deal with Europe over Brexit may be dead in the water.

“Risk appetite has taken a hit across the board, as this breakdown comes just as Italy ramps up its standoff with Brussels, and investors continue to fret that the great boom in tech earnings has come to an end,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

Autos .SXAP hit the skids, down 1.4 percent after the Chinese government doused hopes that Beijing was preparing to cut auto purchases taxes in a bid to shore up demand and boost the world’s second-largest economy.

Daimler (DAIGn.DE) was at the bottom of the DAX, also knocked by a Citi downgrade.

The banking sector, the worst performing industry along with autos this year, also dropped 1.8 percent led by UK banks as sterling plunged after the cabinet resignations.

UK housebuilders – Barratt Development (BDEV.L), Persimmon (PSN.L) and Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) – were also hit hard.

Capita Plc sank 7.8 percent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 index after a Financial Times report that the outsourcing group faces the loss of an NHS deal after a blunder over sending letters to women about their cervical screening results. on.ft.com/2Dky8BU

Basic materials stocks .SXPP were among the few gainers, up 0.3 percent buoyed by higher copper and industrial metals prices and a weaker U.S. dollar.

British asset manager Intermediate Capital Group (ICP.L) jumped 9.4 percent to the top of the STOXX and London’s FTSE midcap index after reporting record net inflows.

French conglomerate Bouygues (BOUY.PA) rose 3.4 percent after delivering better-than-expected nine-month profits.

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Italy Deputy PM says looking to avoid EU sanctions on budget

ROME (Reuters) – Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Thursday the government was looking to avoid EU sanctions over its 2019 budget, but stressed that he did not want Italians to have to make any sacrifices.

Asked if he preferred sanctions from Brussels for infringing European deficit rules rather than debt rules, Di Maio said: “We are working to avoid any (disciplinary) procedure.”

Newspaper reports on Thursday said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was trying to convince Brussels that any sanctions imposed on Rome over the contested budget would be for breaching EU fiscal rules on excessive deficit rather than debt.

Di Maio added that he was disappointed by the uncompromising stance taken by Austria and the Netherlands in regard to Italy’s budget plan. Newspapers said both countries were urging the European Commission to sanction Rome over its fiscal plans.

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Futures rise on trade hope, Walmart inches higher after results

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, as signs that the United States and China were working to resolve a bitter trade war eased nerves ahead of retail sales data.

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) shares rose 0.7 percent in premarket trading after the company beat comparable sales estimate for the third quarter, as more shoppers in the U.S. purchased goods at its stores and on its website.

The results come during a big week for retail earnings, with department store operator Macy’s Inc (M.N) raising its annual earnings forecast on Wednesday, signaling a strong holiday shopping season.

Shares in rival J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) slumped more than 11 percent after quarterly comparable-store sales fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Strong results for network gear maker Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and steadying oil prices also helped early trading as investors cheered the news that Beijing had delivered a written response to U.S. trade demands.

That lifted hopes ahead of an expected meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Argentina at the end of November.

U.S. stocks have gotten off to a shaky start this month after a sharp selloff in October as investors weigh the prospect of rising interest rates, slowing global economy and trade tensions.

The S&P 500 .SPX posted its fifth straight day of declines on Wednesday, as financial stocks were hit by fears of tighter regulations once the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.

Banking stocks looked to rebound, with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) rising 1.6 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) added a $4.02 billion stake in the lender.

The rise in U.S. equity futures came even as European markets were hammered as British Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save a draft divorce deal with the European Union after her Brexit secretary and other ministers quit in protest.

Just over 12 hours after May announced that her team of top ministers had agreed to the terms of the draft agreement, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and work and pensions minister Esther McVey quit, saying they could not support it.

At 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMc1 were up 83 points, or 0.33 percent. S&P 500 e-minis ESc1 were up 7.75 points, or 0.29 percent and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQc1 were up 39.75 points, or 0.59 percent.

Commerce Department data is expected to show that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in October after rising 0.1 percent in September. The report is due at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Oil prices stabilized, reversing earlier declines, but market sentiment remained cautious over concerns that a supply glut may emerge amid a glum economic outlook.

Cisco rose 4.9 percent after the network gear maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results, benefiting from demand for its routers and switches.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) rose 0.9 percent ahead of its results expected after the closing bell.

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Asean has to work with the world as it is: PM Lee

SINGAPORE – Asean has to work with the world as it is and try to maintain cohesion among its member states, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday (Nov 15).

Noting that “it is a reality there are tensions between the powers”, Mr Lee said he hoped that the regional grouping would not be put in a position where it would have to take sides.

He was addressing reporters at the end of the 33rd Asean Summit and related summits and said that Asean, by itself, was not big enough to be a bloc.

It tries to be friends with all other countries, he said, and many of them are present at meetings such as the East Asia Summit – which involves 18 countries including China, the United States and Australia – where issues of varying sensitivities are discussed.

“We have to understand where the sensitivities are, where we can cooperate, where different countries may have different positions, and it is not possible for us to go with one or with the other,” he said.

Some matters such as security are more complex than others, such as human resource development, for example, he noted.

While economic cooperation appears to be a positive development, should the global economy pull apart into different blocs, with hindrances to trade and investment among other matters, Asean would be put in a difficult position, Mr Lee added.

“We have to deal with this case by case,” he said.

Later, he added: “It is very desirable for us not to have to take sides, but the circumstances may come where Asean may have to choose one or the other. I hope it does not happen soon.”

On Thursday, Mr Lee was also asked about issues in three areas – the Korean Peninsula, South China Sea and Rakhine State – as well as the progress made in reconciling the differing views of various parties.

He responded that regarding the Korean Peninsula, everyone in the Asean Summit meetings was “on the same side” in hoping for regional stability, a reduction of tensions, as well as denuclearisation.

There are, however, differences when it comes to the South China Sea, although he noted that various countries’ views are well known – along with what is being done.

He was referring to a code of conduct (COC) being discussed, to manage differences in territorial disputes.

Mr Lee said it is likely the negotiating text will undergo a first reading next year, as the Chinese have suggested, although it remains unclear if the code will be settled within the next three years.

“It depends what issues come up… I’m sure all the participants will exercise their best efforts in order to try and bring it to a conclusion,” he said. “But I do not underestimate the complexity and the difficulty of the problems when you come to the substance of the COC.”

On the Rakhine state, Mr Lee noted that there have been some developments in the last few weeks, referring to efforts to repatriate the first groups of refugees primed to return to Myanmar.

“We hope it (can) be brought about, but it is just the start of the process, and I think Myanmar understands the anxieties which other countries feel about this matter,” he said.

He added: “I believe the State Counsellor (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) made an effective pitch explaining the complexity of the situation, and how Myanmar is trying its best in order to make some progress.”

Asked how the further opening of China will affect Asean member states, Mr Lee expressed hope that Singapore can continue participating in Chinese development, adding that the superpower’s growth is also a positive move on the global stage.

But he said given China’s current influence, arrangements made previously are harder to wear politically and need to be updated.

Multilateral institutions also need to be updated to reflect the shifting balance in the world economy, and new forms in which economic exchange is taking place, he said.

While he believes China’s preoccupation, when it comes to its own development, is domestic, he added that its huge population means its moves have a considerable impact on the rest of the world.

“Increasingly, it will become necessary for China to take into account its impact on the rest of the world… in formulating its policies and in pacing out and structuring its reforms,” he said..

Go to our Asean microsite for more stories and commentaries

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NTU receives $4 million for teacher training from philanthropic couple

SINGAPORE – The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) received a $4 million gift on Thursday (Nov 15) to support trainee teachers and innovations in teaching.

The donation from the estate of the late Irene Tan Liang Kheng is being matched by the Government.

The funds will go towards new master’s degree scholarships and grants at the National Institute of Education (NIE). The scholarships will be named after Mr Ong Tiong Tat and Madam Irene Tan Liang Kheng, in honour of the late philanthropic couple.

This is the second gift from the Estate to NTU, with the first being an $11 million donation to the university’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in August.

At a ceremony at NIE on Thursday, Mr Tan Hsuan Heng, the nephew of Madam Tan and the trustee of her estate, shared how his late aunt and uncle had been influenced to give towards different causes such as education and healthcare.

Mr Ong, who was an investment trader, had been close friends with the philanthropist Koh Choon Joo, a lawyer better known as CJ Koh, who had also donated to the National University of Singapore and NTU.

Mr Tan said that Mr Koh and Mr Ong shared a common heart for social reform through giving towards education. After Mr Koh’s death, Mr Ong became his estate executor and continued his friend’s legacy.

“They both gave generously during their lifetime and when their time came to an end, Irene Tan, continued their legacy by extending their giving towards law, healthcare, charity, and sciences,” he said.

Mr Ong died in 2013 when he was 74, and his wife, who had done some accounting work, continued giving until she died in 2016 at the age of 73. Like Mr Koh, the Ongs had no children.

“A great teacher can change a student’s life,” added Mr Tan. “Teachers need to keep learning and growing. It is my hope that through this gift to NIE, we can nurture inspiring role models who in turn will develop students with the means to create positive change in their lives as well as make meaningful contributions to society.”

“It is also my hope that the gift will inspire others to step forward to contribute to this worthy cause of nurturing great teachers.”

The scholarships will support students in five master’s programmes: the Master of Arts (Applied Psychology), Master of Arts (Counselling and Guidance), Master of Arts in Humanities Education, Master of Arts (Leadership and Educational Change) and Master of Education (Early Childhood) programmes.

Up to eight scholarships will be given out annually, each worth $10,000 to $20,000. In addition, several grants worth a total of $290,000 over two years will go towards supporting teachers in training, and areas like service learning projects, conference participation and innovations in teaching and learning.

The Estate is also contributing $85,000 for a new showcase of books in the CJ Koh Collection at the NIE Library and Information Services Centre. The showcase will have an interactive panel for visitors to use.

Professor Christina Goh, NIE director, was heartened by the couple’s support.

“Their friendship has further strengthened NIE’s mission through the launching of two new scholarships, four grants and a student aid fund,” she said.

According to Madam Tan’s will, the couple’s two-storey King Albert Park bungalow, which they inherited from Mr Koh, was sold last year.

Mr Tan told The Straits Times that so far, about 70 per cent of the $41 million from the proceeds has been handed out to different institutions and organisations.

These include the NUS, the Singapore University of Social Sciences, NTU and Nanyang Polytechnic. The funds will also go towards bursaries to help needy students at Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution and CHIJ Toa Payoh (Secondary).

About $300,000 and $400,000 have also been given to the primary and secondary sections of Geylang Methodist School, which Madam Tan attended in the 1960s.

The funds have also been distributed to healthcare and social causes – Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Institute of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology, Community Chest, Wicare Support Group for widows, Muscular Dystrophy Association Singapore and the Singapore Scout Association.

“Some of these organisations are specified in my auntie’s will. I also chose organisations whose causes I find meaningful and really need help,” said Mr Tan, who now spends his time liaising with different organisations.

With the help of students, the 66-year-old plans to come up with a book and an exhibition on the Ong couple and CJ Koh, and how their generosity have helped others.

He also hopes to bring together people who have benefited through the scholarships and grants to form an association in the future.

“This could give them a sense of belonging and help them understand their benefactors, and inspire them to pay back to society,” he said.

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Fraser Institute suggests ICBC charges more to young drivers to cover financial loss

The Fraser Institute has released a report suggesting there are multiple areas where ICBC could make policy changes to address growing losses at the public insurer.

The report, authored by John Chant, points to increasing rates for young drivers as one of the ways the insurer can cut into $1.3 billion in losses last year.

“It is ICBC’s policy to charge drivers the same rates regardless of their age. Yet, much evidence shows that the incidence of accidents differs markedly among drivers of different ages. The costs of personal injury and property damage caused by drivers from 16 to 20 years old are estimated to be $900 more than for average drivers,” reads the report.

“The costs for drivers between 21 and 34 are also higher. This rate structure requires safer drivers to pay higher premiums to subsidize riskier drivers. ICBC’s plans to add $100 to its premiums for inexperienced drivers will reduce only a small portion of the differences in costs.”

The provincial government is in the midst of overhauling rates and insurance payouts.

Attorney General David Eby signed off on regulation changes last week that will come into effect April 1, 2019, that caps payouts for minor injuries.

The B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) is expected to approve a rate increase for all drivers next year but it is still unclear how much.

As part of the regulation changes, the province also announced that concussions and brain injuries would be classified as minor injuries. But there would be no $5,500 annual cap on payouts if a psychological injury persists for more than four months.

“Through consultation with the medical community and looking at the experiences of other jurisdictions, it became clear B.C.’s minor injury definition should include mild concussions,” reads an information document for the attorney general.

The province is also changing the rate structure so that high-risk drivers pay more and low-risk drivers pay less. But the Fraser Institute analysis shows that young drivers are not covering the share of the cost they put into the system.

“With the announced changes to its rates, ICBC now plans to add $100 to the annual cost of insurance premiums for drivers with less than 10 years of experience. This measure will reduce only a small share of the differences in costs incurred by higher-risk drivers,” reads the report.

The major changes proposed by the province include greater rate increases for drivers that are found at-fault in crashes, a move towards a driver-based model and increasing insurance discounts for drivers with up to 40 years of driving experience, up from the current nine years of experience limit.

The B.C. government has also announced new discounts available for vehicles with original, manufacturer-installed automatic braking technology and for vehicles driven less than 5,000 kilometres per year.

WATCH HERE: Province releases details of ICBC overhaul

But the province has not changed its policy around no-fault insurance. The Fraser Institute found that forcing drivers to pay no-fault has unnecessarily driven up the costs in some cases.

“At present, many motorists are forced to pay for no-fault coverage from which they do not benefit. Homemakers, students, and retirees do not need wage loss protection,” reads the report.

“Drivers who already have medical insurance will not value this feature of ICBC’s basic insurance. The no-fault coverages cost $71 for each personal policy, or more than eight per cent of ICBC’s average premium.”

WATCH HERE: New concerns about ICBC fee for lending vehicles

The final argument from the Fraser Institute is the cost associated with non-insurance products ICBC offers.

The report says ICBC does not charge the province anything to conduct road-safety programs. ICBC is also responsible for conducting driver testing, driver and vehicle licensing, and collection of fines.

Manitoba conducts similar programs for the province but receives government money to defray the costs.

“ICBC also carries out non-insurance activities on behalf of the provincial government at no cost. These activities include programs for improving road safety together with testing and licensing for both vehicles and drivers,” reads the report.

“The $170-million expenses for these activities are borne entirely by ICBC and add $50 per policy, or over six per cent, to the costs of basic coverage.”

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