Victoria – The Ombudsperson announced today it is seeking public input that will provide key information for an investigation into how government programs supported people who were displaced from their homes and communities as a result of extreme weather in 2021.
Tens of thousands of people were displaced across the province as a result of wildfires and floods. The Ombudsperson is investigating whether two provincial assistance programs – Emergency Support Services and Disaster Financial Assistance – were administered fairly to people who were impacted by long-term displacement.
“Our investigation will identify whether there are gaps in how people receive services when extreme weather events occur. It’s very important that our investigation be informed by real experiences,” said Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. “Everyone who has to leave their home for extended periods should receive the services they need in the fairest way possible.”
A questionnaire, available on the Ombudsperson’s website, focuses on a number of areas including awareness and timeliness of the programs’ supports and services.
The investigation will consider whether the two government programs are responsive to the needs of all British Columbians. “The impacts of these extreme weather events to both individual well-being and community cohesion were profound,” said Chalke. “Our investigation will seek to determine how the two government programs addressed any disproportionate impacts experienced by particular communities, including Indigenous communities,” said Chalke. “By hearing from people who were impacted we can determine whether we ought to recommend improvements so that those displaced by future extreme weather events are better served by these two provincial government programs.”
The data gathered through the Ombudsperson’s questionnaire will be collected in an anonymized or statistical format and will not publicly identify individuals. Respondents will have the option of providing their name and contact information if they wish to speak with an Ombudsperson investigator about their experience. The questionnaire will be open to the public until December 31, 2022.
To participate in the questionnaire, please click here.