Ombudsblog – Spring 2017
I am pleased to launch this regular blog to highlight some of the behind the scenes work done at the Office of the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsblog is designed to give you the opportunity to learn a little more about the work we do. Some editions of the Ombudsblog will report on the outreach and education work we do to build productive relationships and promote fairness with people and public authorities across B.C. Other editions will touch on important developments across Canada and around the world in public administrative fairness. Others still will take a deeper look at some of our past reports and ask what lessons can be taken from those reports and applied now. This first issue is a quick overview to bring you up to date on recent outreach activities and our Strategic Plan.
Here at the Ombudsperson’s Office we have three investigative teams – Social Programs, Regulatory Programs, and Health and Local Services – staffed by investigators who focus on their respective sections of provincial and local governments. This focus affords investigators greater familiarity with program areas and the people delivering them. Our Intake and Early Resolution staff are experts in assessing requests from the public for our help and determining what we can do to assist.
Connecting with public authorities is an important part of our work. Since 2017 kicked off, we’ve met with many public authorities. Investigators on our Social Programs team conducted site visits to the Burnaby Youth Custody Services Centre and Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre, and also met with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to discuss quality assurance. Our Regulatory Programs team members and staff from Intake met with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to discuss liability claims handling. That team also conducted a site visit to the new Okanagan Correctional Centre. Lastly, our Health and Local Services team recently met with Health Insurance BC.
Closer to home, I had the pleasure of meeting the latest cohort of Legislative Interns. I enjoyed briefing them on our work, and the meaning of our vision statement – British Columbia’s Independent Voice for Fairness. This statement speaks to the core of our work, helping individuals by impartially receiving and investigating complaints to uphold the principles of administrative fairness.
Proactive outreach and education activities, like this blog, are on our radar as we enter into Year Two of our 2016-2021 Strategic Plan. This plan, which you can access here (PDF), was developed following consultation held in early 2016. It is our roadmap for continuously improving our service and accountability to British Columbians. 2016-2021 Strategic Plan goals include: ensuring that the people who need us are aware of our services and can access them; efficiently addressing complaints; conducting thorough and impartial investigations to promote fair public administration; supporting public authorities in improving administration; and recognizing staff for their expertise.
One of the ways we will be delivering on our Strategic Plan goals is through our new three-year Preventative Ombudship pilot initiative. While we remain fully committed to receiving and investigating individual complainants, this initiative aims to utilize our skills and cumulative experience by proactively helping public authorities to avoid administrative unfairness before it can occur. Think of it as an “administrative stitch in time, saving nine.” I’ll have more to say about the new Preventative Ombudship initiative in the months ahead.
That’s enough for the first edition. Let us know what you think of our new Ombudsblog by dropping us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ombudsperson for B.C.