From a lottery-winner being refused her $150,000 prize to a complaint of delayed service delivery by ICBC to a Facebook user being blocked on a municipal website with no explanation, the recently released B.C. ombudsperson’s annual report outlines many interesting cases resolved over the past 12 months.
The most investigations by far, however, are complaints about health care, specifically by the Ministry of Health and B.C.’s health authorities.
In fact, the ombudsperson Jay Chalke reports these particular complaints — nearing 1,300 — were the most health-care related complaints the office received in a decade.
“Whether it was visitor restrictions in long-term care, surgical delays, COVID-19 measures, quality of care or access to services, clearly health care is top of mind for the public,” Chalke stated in a news release.
Over the past year, the office received 8,215 complaints and enquiries about a wide-range of public sector organizations. After health-care cases came ICBC complaints followed by Ministry of Children and Family Development cases,
A few ombudsperson investigative outcomes in the last fiscal year include: the registration processes for foreign-trained doctors was clarified by the Health Employers Association of B.C. after a foreign-trained doctor who had hoped to practice medicine complained to the ombudsperson that they received inaccurate and misleading information about eligibility requirements; someone who was suffering significantly as a result of surgical cancellations and delays by Interior Health, received expedited surgery following an ombudsperson investigation; a historic train station was saved from imminent demolition following an investigation that concluded the District of Hope failed to consider the full range of proposals for the building; and, as aforementioned, a lottery winner whose $150,000 cheque was withheld because the British Columbia Lottery Corporation tried to insist on signed waivers from friends who were with her when she purchased the ticket, received her winnings following an ombudsperson investigation.
The Office of the Ombudsperson receives and investigates complaints and enquiries from all British Columbians and provides oversight over more than 1,000 public bodies. The office’s services are free.
“There’s no question that members of the public need a place to raise their concerns,” said Chalke. “My office can provide an impartial ear and our investigations can make things right, not only for individuals who bring complaints to us, but also future users of public services and programs,” he added. “The improvements to public administration that result from our work have real value for members of the public.”
To view the annual report, visit: bcombudsperson.ca