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

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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Pamela Anderson was given a Ladysmith Heritage Award for the restoration work on the Arcady Auto Court property that she purchased from her grandparents. (Pamela Anderson photo)
PHOTOS: Star-studded Ladysmith Heritage Awards honour local commitments to heritage

Barrie McDonald, Pamela Anderson, John & Luke Marston, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society recognized

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

The Ladysmith Museum has two new exhibits open to the public. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith museum opens up with two new exhibits

The museum is featuring Prime Predators of Vancouver Island and ‘Red Flag, Red Flag’

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read