March 28, 2018

Four Facts about the Office of the Ombudsperson

As B.C.’s independent voice for fairness, the role of the Office of the Ombudsperson is to make sure provincial and local governments and their agencies treat people fairly.

Here are four fast facts about the Office of the Ombudsperson.

1. The Office of the Ombudsperson is independent from government.

As is often said in their line of work: "An Ombudsperson is neither an advocate for the complainant nor an apologist for the public body.” They’re impartial and independent. They report to the Legislative Assembly and are independent from the government and its agencies.

2. The Office of the Ombudsperson receives 8,000 inquiries each year.

Three-quarters of those who contact the Office of the Ombudsperson are either helped on the spot, such as with a bit of guidance or referral information, or have their complaint resolved within a short time period. Other complaints result in an investigation to determine if the actions of a public authority were fair and reasonable. If, after an investigation, they find that government treated a member of the public unfairly, they look for outcomes that help that person. They also look for how that one case can be applied in the future. So one case can help many!

3. The Office of the Ombudsperson has jurisdiction over virtually every provincial and local public authority in B.C.

As the B.C. Ombudsperson, Jay Chalke, likes to say, they’re the public’s “one-stop-shop for any fairness concerns” the public has about virtually any provincial or local public body – some 2,800 entities in British Columbia. In addition to provincial government ministries, the Ombudsperson can investigate complaints about Crown corporations such as BC Hydro and ICBC, public schools, municipalities, universities, self-governing professions or the health system – just to name a few under the Ombudsperson’s jurisdiction.

4. The Office of the Ombudsperson regularly goes on the road.

The Office of the Ombudsperson does outreach into communities across B.C., rural and urban. This is an important part of their work. Not everyone has the same access to information as others - there are British Columbians who do not have access to the Internet or to a telephone. There are others whose concerns are best heard face-to-face. For example, our February 2018 mobile clinics in Coquitlam, Maple Ridge Mission and Langley gave residents the opportunity to discuss their complaints about B.C. provincial and local authorities with us. No lines or waiting – just a simple call to 1-800-567-3247 to book a free and confidential appointment.

If you would like to have someone from the Office of the Ombudsperson present to your organization, please contact the Outreach Officer here.