Delivery changes improve service, says Ministry

"Over the last three years, the ministry has made progressive steps ... that make it easier for clients to connect with the ministry."

Re: Local governments set to address barriers in helping the vulnerable, (Trail Times April 6)

I would like to respond to some of the concerns raised regarding the services provided by the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation in Trail and Nelson.

Providing timely service to the approximately 180,000 people receiving assistance from the ministry is a responsibility we take seriously and we are always looking for ways to improve our service delivery.

In fact, our office in Nelson returned to full-time hours on February 29th of this year and the Trail office resumed full-time service on April 4th. Both offices are now open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. We have also hired more staff to assist our clients in both Nelson and Trail.

Over the last three years, the ministry has made progressive steps, adding flexibility and options that make it easier for clients to connect with the ministry.

This includes launching “My Self Serve”, an online portal that lets clients access their information, submit their monthly reports, and communicate with the ministry.

MySS already has nearly 20,000 registered users to date.

We have added new options to our 24-hour toll free telephone line, including a convenient call back option so that no one has to wait on hold. We have hired 35 new staff and are in the process of hiring 20 more dedicated to our phone lines to ensure clients are being served as quickly as possible. I can assure you there is no time limit for helping our clients over the phone.

Our clients also have the option of receiving their income assistance electronically. In fact, the majority – about 80% – have signed up for electronic deposits.

Feedback from ministry clients indicated a growing interest in services available over the phone and online. That in turn means frontline staff have more time to help those who need extra assistance.

It is also important to note that face to face appointments are always available at our 83 offices around B.C.

The service delivery changes we have made provide people with more consistent and responsive service, no matter where they live, and with more choices on how they access those services.

Michelle Stilwell

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation