ontario news watch

Manitoba Public Insurance announces new leader amid review

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Public Insurance has replaced its president and CEO with an interim leader amid a review the province ordered last month of the Crown-owned insurer.

Ward Keith, the chair of MPI’s board of directors, said in a statement posted on MPI’s website Sunday, that Eric Herbelin is no longer employed with MPI, effective immediately.

Keith says Marnie Kacher has agreed to be president and CEO on an interim basis while the board of directors begins recruiting for a permanent leader.

In early April, the Manitoba government ordered an external review of the automobile insurance provider following a sharp jump in the cost of technology upgrades and a steep rise in projected staffing levels. 

Kelvin Goertzen, the minister responsible for MPI, said at the time that there were other factors, including untendered contracts, and that the review should be complete by the end of the year.

Keith says in his statement that Kacher has 12 years of experience with MPI, most recently serving as vice-president and chief operating officer where “she has had broad oversight of MPI’s Operations division.”

“She is well respected by staff and stakeholders, and brings a welcome perspective on how MPI can continue to deliver value for the benefit of all Manitobans,” Keith said.

Goertzen also issued a statement Sunday, welcoming Kacher.

“MPI is an important Crown corporation and I want to thank Marnie Kacher for taking on this new leadership role as it transitions from the former president and CEO,” said Goertzen. 

“With more than a decade of experience as a senior leader at MPI, most recently serving as vice-president of operations and chief operating officer, she is well suited to provide leadership to the corporation at this important time,” he added.

Neither Goertzen’s nor Keith’s statements explained why Herbelin was being replaced.

Keith, himself, was only named to the position of chair last week, replacing former chair Michael Sullivan.

MPI’s overhaul of its core information technology systems, called Project Nova, has nearly tripled in cost in three years from its original $106-million price tag.

Goertzen said last year the corporation did not realize the scope of the work needed to make the new technology secure. The corporation also submitted plans to increase its staffing by 420 people, or 21 per cent, from the level before the COVID-19 pandemic, with much of the new staff linked to Project Nova.

That drew a rebuke from the province’s independent regulator, the Public Utilities Board, which said in January the hiring seemed imprudent and Project Nova was lacking in management control.

The government appointed Ron Schuler, a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus, to MPI’s board of directors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2023.

The Canadian Press