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Ombudsperson to set up office in Campbell River

People will be able to make a complaint in person with Ombudsperson staff as an Ombudsperson Office for the Day is set up in Campbell River on June 4.

Nearly 7,500 inquiries and complaints were responded to and 1,900 early resolutions or investigations were completed last year by the B.C.’s Ombudsperson Office.

“We serve the entire province, if people have not been successful in resolving their problems with the public agency and still feel they have not been treated fairly and reasonably, they can come to us,” says Ombudsperson Kim Carter. “While the majority of complaints are by telephone, mail or online, some people are more comfortable meeting face-to-face and I feel it’s important that this opportunity is available to people throughout the province.”

B.C.’s Ombudsperson Office can investigate complaints about all provincial ministries and boards, Crown corporations, colleges and universities, schools and boards of education, health authorities, local governments and self-governing professions.

Appointments need to be booked ahead of time by calling 1-800-567-3247.

While Ombudsperson staff meet with individuals, the Ombudsperson will speak privately to public agencies under her jurisdiction and with community groups.

The role of the Ombudsperson is to uphold the democratic principles of openness, transparency and accountability, to ensure that every person in B.C. is treated fairly in the provision of public services, and to promote and foster fairness in public administration. The Ombudsperson does this by receiving and investigating individual complaints and conducting systemic investigations to consider issues from a broad perspective. Individual complaints resolved were varied last year.

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation; the Ministry of Children and Family Development; the Ministry of Justice; WorkSafeBC and ICBC were the five most significant provincial public authorities dealt with during the year. Examples included:

 

  • Senior gets dental coverage after all from Pension Corporation
  • Family facing eviction doesn’t lose home following speedy action
  • n Student continues with education after StudentAid BC reconsiders its appeal decision

 

A number of complaints also resulted in improvements to program delivery including:

 

  • Ministry of Education refunds fee to 1,302 non practicing teachers following complaint to office
  • Vital Statistics Agency makes information more thorough and accessible for people

Recent systemic investigations include Time Matters which resulted in $350,000 in lost benefits paid to persons affected by government delays.

Most recently, Striking a Balance made 25 recommendations of which 24 were accepted, aimed at improving gaps in how an environmental protection program was operating.

The Office is currently investigating the regulations of private career training institutions.

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