The Ombudsperson’s office is coming to town this June. If you live in the areas of Smithers, Houston, Burns Lake, Vanderhoof or Fort St. James, feel you have been unfairly treated by a provincial or local government agency and have tried to work things out with the agency without success, this is your chance to raise your concerns about that in person to someone who will listen.
The Ombudsperson’s office can investigate complaints about all provincial ministries and Crown corporations, colleges and universities, schools and boards of education, health authorities, local governments and self-governing professions. The office’s mandate is to ensure that provincial and local public agencies are treating the people they serve fairly. Staff investigate complaints impartially and confidentially with the goal of finding resolutions that are fair to all involved. While the office can’t require an agency to follow its suggestions, it is often able to resolve complaints because the solutions it proposes are based on thorough and impartial investigations.
Services are provided free of charge. Due to demand, appointments to make a complaint while the office is in each community need to be booked ahead of time by calling 1-800-567-3247.
While her staff are hearing about concerns from members of the public, Ombudsperson Kim Carter will meet with community groups as well as public agencies that fall under her jurisdiction. Going on regular tours is part of her ongoing efforts to bring the Office of the Ombudsperson to every community in B.C.
“We’re here to serve the entire province, and I want people to know they can come to us if they believe a public agency has not dealt with them fairly,” Ms. Carter said.
Ms. Carter noted that while her office receives the bulk of complaints by telephone, mail or online, some people are more comfortable raising their concerns face-to-face, and it’s important to her that this opportunity is available to people throughout the province.
The Ombudsperson is an independent officer of the legislature. The Office of the Ombudsperson responded to approximately 8,000 inquiries and complaints in 2009/10.
The schedule for the tour is below:
Smithers, June 20 and 21;
Houston, June 21;
Burns Lake, June 22
Vanderhoof, June 23
Fort St. James, June 24.