B.C. Ombudsperson open for complaints

Mobile clinic in White Rock Feb. 3, staff booking appointments for complainants.

B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke.

B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke.

The B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson – which investigates complaints against public authorities – will be in White Rock and Surrey next week to meet with residents who feel they’ve been treated unfairly.

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke told Peace Arch News Monday the mobile complaint clinic – taking place Feb. 2 in North Surrey and Feb. 3 in White Rock – provides his office the opportunity to “reach out to individual members of the public face-to-face,” to hear concerns about treatment by government bodies ranging from city halls, to Crown corporations and provincial ministries.

“(Participants) will be sitting down with one of our staff and discussing their concerns, and we’ll be there to answer questions they have and to gather the information we need in order to do what we do,” Chalke said, noting the office carries out hundreds of investigations every year involving more than 2,800 public bodies.

Upon reviewing a resident’s complaint, Chalke said, staff will confirm it is within the office’s jurisdiction (complaints against federal bodies are not) and proceed with an investigation.

If the complaint has merit, Chalke said, the public body will be advised of a recommended resolution measure to undertake.

“Very often public authorities want to do the right thing, they recognize they may have made a mistake and they want to fix it,” Chalke said. “There are rarely times when public bodies and we don’t see eye to eye, and in those circumstances, we can issue a public report which is ultimately reported to the legislature of the province.

“But we generally find that public bodies want to resolve things co-operatively.”

Those wishing to make an appointment are asked to call 1-800-567-3247; space is limited, Chalke noted, and often the mobile clinics “get quite heavily booked up.”

“For people who are not able to see us face-to-face, we’ll figure out if we can talk to them and take their complaint in another way,” Chalke said.

While in White Rock Feb. 3, Chalke will also address income-assistance issues at a public forum hosted by Sources Community Resource Centre at South Surrey Recreation Centre (14601 20 Ave.), 10-11 a.m.

He will also discuss his office’s work investigating various provincial programs, including Medical Services Plan, BC Housing and the BC Bus Pass Program.

Visit www.bcombudsperson.ca for more information.

Surrey North Delta Leader