Jay Chalke is B.C.’s Ombudsperson. Photo courtesy B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson

Have your say: Bring your concerns to B.C.’s Ombudsperson

Jay Chalke and staff bring road show to Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers and Hazelton

Do you have a concern with a provincial ministry or Crown corporation, maybe feel you’ve been treated unfairly by a local government body or that such organizations aren’t following the rules?

Speaking with B.C.’s Office of the Ombudsperson could help resolve your concerns.

As part of the annual trip around the province next month, Ombudsperson Jay Chalke and his staff bring the Office’s mobile complaint intake clinic to Smithers (Oct. 1), Hazelton (Oct. 2), Terrace and Kitimat (Oct. 3) and Prince Rupert (Oct. 4 and 5) to hear from people with a range of experiences, which can range from long delays for social assistance to complaints over treatment at a local hospital.

How to register your concern

The first step to register your complaint is to call the Office’s toll-free line at 1-800-567-3247. Professional staff will get the details of the situation and from there, schedule in-person appointments in the five North Coast communities.

Sara Darling, communications lead for the Office of the Ombudsperson, says the mobile outreach clinics are an important way to reach out to communities around the province.

“Our team is here to listen and walk through individual complaints to see if our office can look into their specific situation further,” she says. “Often times we can get good resolutions for people; maybe they get a reimbursement of a support that was denied to them, or sometimes a policy is looked at and is changed and impacts more than just one person.”

Ombudsperson marks 40 years

As the Office of the Ombudsperson celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, it continues to field a large number of calls from B.C. residents. In fact, July’s annual report to the legislature noted that the number of complaints and inquiries received hit a 10-year high, with 8,400 over the course of the year.

The ministries or organizations topping the list:

  • Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (625 complaints)
  • Ministry of Children and Family Development (555)
  • Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (353)
  • Health authorities (376)
  • ICBC (325)

The Office also received 680 complaints about local governments – the top-three topics were bylaw enforcement, developing/zoning and municipal fees and charges.

“This 10-year high is both positive and negative,” said Chalke. “It’s great that people know we are here to receive and investigate concerns about fair and reasonable treatment by provincial and local governments. However, it also signals that there is still lots of work to be done until public bodies in the province are treating all people fairly.”

 

Do you have concerns about you or your family’s treatment by staff from a public body, or that a government organization in your area isn’t following its mandate? Letting the Office of the B.C. Ombudsperson know can be a good first step in resolving an issue. The Office’s mobile complaint intake unit is coming to the North Coast soon.

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