B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke (Black Press files)

Complaints about B.C. government up, Ombudsperson says

Medical premium issues continue as people await phase-out

The B.C. Ombudsperson’s office received 8,400 complaints and enquiries in 2017-18, a 10-year high in dealing with people’s allegations of unfair treatment by the B.C. government.

They range from a trapper reporting that the forests ministry had given another trapper an overlapping Crown land territory, to complaints from provincial prison inmates about their treatment, to claims of unfair treatment by local government.

Several cases summarized in Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s annual report, released Monday, involved B.C.’s Medical Services Plan payments, a complex system that the province is on the way to replacing with a health payroll tax. Administration of Canada’s only medical service fee has been a major expense for the province, even after it was contracted out to a U.S. firm a decade ago.

The complainant’s medical coverage was reinstated after Chalke’s office intervened to determine he had resumed making MSP payments, but his coverage was cancelled automatically because he had left the country for two years. He also received coverage for a $159 bill for medical lab tests.

“What I see, and what I think our work proves, is that public authorities usually want to make things right,” Chalke said. “Sometimes they need to be nudged or reminded – sometimes more than once.”

The Ombudsperson’s office is empowered to deal with problems in provincial ministries, Crown agencies such as ICBC and local government.

• An ICBC customer was notified of a large increase in her coverage because of two accidents in a short period of time. She complained to the Ombudsperson that she had one accident, not two, and that the second claim may have been a case of identity theft after she lost her wallet. The increase meant she couldn’t afford to keep driving.

ICBC concluded there was sufficient doubt about the second claim, and hired more investigators to keep up with the increased workload as accident claims have risen sharply in recent years.

• The office received 682 complaints about local government treatment in the year ended March 31. One involved a manufactured home park operator whose tenants paid their water and sewer bills directly to the Village of Canal Flats. The owner was sent a bill for unpaid charges to various tenants, receiving a refund of $3,786 after the Ombudsperson investigated the case.

• Another Ombudsperson complaint resulted in B.C. Transit enforcing its rule that bus drivers should announce their next stops for people with visual impairment. The rule stemmed from a 2014 Human Rights Tribunal settlement.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

Chief Marilyn Slett of Heiltsuk Nation near Bella Bella is leading a delegation in Ottawa this week

How to decide what to vote for in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots are due at Elections BC on Friday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

Facebook comments call for segregated health authorities

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

1 of 2 B.C. men wanted in connection to home invasion, explosives in custody

Cameron Cole is charged with two counts of possessing an improvised explosive device

Judge rules private landowners can’t block public access to B.C. lake

The Nicola Valley ranch’s position was that it owned Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake

Most Read