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

Where to find community holiday feasts in Langley

A variety of groups are hosting free meals for the Langley community to fill up on.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals in Aldergrove

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Langley Mounties get new tool to find drunk drivers

New legislation take effect this week that will allow broader breathalyzer testing.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

BCIHL Young Stars lose hard-fought hockey game to Kazakhstan at Langley Events Centre

Coach calls it ‘a great opportunity for those guys to have an international experience’

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Emergency task force calls for safe supply of drugs in Vancouver to prevent ODs

Dr. Patricia Daly says more people are dying alone in the city than elsewhere in the province

Most Read