July 31, 2017

Ombudsblog – Mobile Complaint Clinic

On July 10 - 14, I had the pleasure of taking the Office of the Ombudsperson’s mobile complaint clinic to Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere and Cranbrook. Starting early each day, we met face-to-face with dozens of residents to receive and review their complaints. In each community I also sat down to “talk fairness” with a variety of non-profit service groups, local governments, school districts and other officials and leaders who make our communities work.

Across each stage of life, we all interact with government bodies frequently – at work, at school, at home and in the community. These interactions can be as routine as signing up for a course at the community centre. Other interactions can be a little more extraordinary – registering the birth of a child, filing a car insurance claim, or being admitted to hospital; just to name a few. Big or small, the way you are treated by public officials can really matter.

Helping folks get treated fairly: that’s the work of the B.C. Ombudsperson. By receiving and investigating individual complaints my staff and I help public bodies keep their standards, processes and policies administratively fair. We’re here to help whether you’ve dealt with a municipal office, school district, provincial ministry, Crown corporation, or any other provincial or local government body.

The Office of the Ombudsperson receives inquiries and complaints from more than 7000 British Columbians each year. Aside from the face-to-face meetings held on tour, people reach us by phone, letter, or online submission. Anyone and everyone can come to us, and our service is free.

When you come to us, we’ll commit to an initial assessment of your complaint within five business days. In fact, many complaints can be resolved sooner through referral, assistance, or by our early resolution process which streamlines some of the issues that reach our desks most often. After that initial stage, more complex complaints will go to an investigation team – these are our trained investigators who carefully sort through all the relevant information obtained from complainants and directly from the public body. We then carry out an independent and impartial investigation and, if the public body has acted unfairly, we’ll propose a resolution to put things right.

As an independent office of the Legislature, we are not the government. Nor are we a court of law. Rather, our unique ability to review records and question officials means we can shine the light of fairness on the workings of public bodies all over the province.

If you have a complaint about a provincial or local government body and missed us on tour, please give us a call at 1-800-567-3247 or click here.  The Office of the Ombudsperson is B.C.’s Independent Voice for Fairness. We’d like to hear from you.

Jay Chalke
Ombudsperson for B.C.