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Reimbursements made, benefits accessed and decisions reversed as a result of Ombudsperson investigations in 2019/20

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Victoria – BC Ombudsperson, Jay Chalke, released his office’s 2019/20 Annual Report today highlighting the impact of Ombudsperson investigations on individual circumstances and on strengthening fairness in public administration across the province.

“It’s our job to determine whether people in BC are being treated fairly by provincial and local public bodies and when they’re not, we recommend steps those public organizations can take to make things right,” said Chalke.

The office received nearly 8,000 complaints and enquiries last year about a wide-range of public sector organizations. The five most complained about organizations were the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, ICBC, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and the Ministry of Health.

“The complaints we received last year were wide-ranging,” said Chalke. “Concerns included decisions that people believed were unfair, delays in receiving services and poor communication by public employees. I’m heartened that people from across the province trusted us to share their complaints about public services.”

Notable outcomes of Ombudsperson investigations from 2019/20 include:

  • A grandmother received nearly $4,500 in income assistance payments she had been mistakenly denied while caring for her granddaughter.
  • A new procedure was implemented to ensure the proper administration of medication when individuals are transferred between custody facilities.
  • A late payment charge that arose because BC Assessment had mailed a notice to the wrong address was reversed.
  • The Mental Health Review Board strengthened the fairness of its hearing process and committed to providing clearer communication to patients involved in reviews.
  • A student with a learning disability received additional tutoring services funding after StudentAid BC reconsidered its decision to partially deny her grant request.

The report also summarizes five investigations the Ombudsperson conducted into BC Hydro billing practices. These cases highlight the importance of fair practices when public bodies make decisions to deny individuals access to basic services in the event of a billing issue. BC Hydro modified a number of its practices as a result of Ombudsperson investigations including changing its policy to allow meter testing for customers disconnected for non-payment.

To learn more, view the Annual Report here.

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