The Office of the Ombudsperson receives complaints about the unfair administrative decisions or actions, including lack of adequate reasons, unreasonable delay, unfair procedures, and arbitrary or unauthorised procedures. If we cannot deal with your complaint, we'll do our best to refer you to someone who can. The Ombudsperson has discretion to decide whether complaints will be investigated. read more
The Ombudsperson has jurisdiction over a wide range of public agencies but cannot investigate certain complaints, including those involving the federal government, the courts and police, or the private sector. read more
In 1995 the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia expanded our jurisdiction to include municipalities and regional districts, as well as other local government authorities such the Islands Trust, park boards and boards of variance. read more
Anyone directly affected by administrative unfairness may file a complaint. It is not a requirement that a person be a B.C. resident or Canadian citizen. Telephone interpretation services are offered in over 180 languages.
You have the right to ask the public authority to hear your concerns about actions and decisions that affect you. Here are some suggestions:
- Have the information you will need available. Consider writing your questions down beforehand.
- Keep notes and save all your correspondence. Write down the names, position titles, and phone numbers of the people you are dealing with.
- Ask for a supervisor if you are not getting the information you need.
- If you are still dissatisfied, ask if there is an appeal or complaint resolution procedure available.
- Be persistent, but remain calm and polite.
No, our services are free of charge.
Whenever possible, you should first try to resolve your complaint directly with the public authority involved before coming to us. Many public offices have an internal process for handling complaints. If you've tried resolving the problem and still feel that you've been treated unfairly, we may be able to help.
Before coming to us, it's often useful to:
- Get the names of the people you are dealing with.
- Keep track of their responses, including any relevant dates and file numbers.
- Keep all relevant documents, including copies of letters you’ve sent and received from the public authority.
- Take a few moments to focus on and summarize the decision or action you want to complain about.
- Consider what result or outcome you are seeking.
- Understand which public authorities are involved.
- Courteous and timely service.
- A careful assessment of your complaint.
- If we do not investigate your complaint, we will tell you the reasons why. When possible, we will suggest another way to resolve your complaint.
- If we decide to investigate your complaint, our investigation will be conducted in a thorough, confidential, and impartial manner.
- Written reasons for the conclusions we reach as a result of our investigation.
Your complaint will be dealt with as quickly as possible. Some complaints can be dealt with in a matter of days. Other complaints may take many months to investigate.
As an independent statutory Officer of the Legislature, the Ombudsperson cannot enforce action. However, public authorities usually accept the Ombudsperson’s recommendations. In cases of disagreement, the Ombudsperson can publicise the recommendations in order to foster an open and transparent response.
Ombudsperson reports are impartial, evidence-based, and are done to uphold the principles of administrative fairness. Consequently, Ombudsperson reports contain information, findings and recommendations that can impact people and public authorities in many different ways.
Those who may be adversely affected are offered an opportunity to make representations to us. This allows them to review and respond to content that may adversely affect them for the Ombudsperson's consideration before we complete the report.
The representations process is grounded in procedural fairness and Section 17 of the Ombudsperson Act.
The Ombudsperson is not an advocate or agent for any party to a dispute. Our investigations are impartial, independent, and based on the principles of administrative fairness.
If you are a complainant or authority and have a question, concern or a complaint about our investigation, the person to contact first is the investigator who is assigned to the file and is most knowledgeable about the matter. If you are not satisfied with the response from the investigator, you can speak to their manager. The investigator will provide you with the manager’s name and telephone number upon request.
Please note that we treat our complainants and investigations confidentially. This means we cannot offer updates, confirmation or details regarding an investigation that you are not party to.
At the outset of an investigation, an investigator must notify the public authority that the Ombudsperson is carrying out an investigation and will provide information about the complaint to the authority and any other person the Ombudsperson considers appropriate. Typically, the complainant will be informed of the decision to investigate. Before deciding whether to investigate, the investigator may make inquiries of the authority and/or complainant to better inform our decision.
We accept and consider relevant information from many sources. If you choose to send us information about a matter please note that our complainants and investigations are confidential. This means we cannot offer updates, confirmation or details regarding an investigation that you are not party to.