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

VIDEO: Man killed in shooting at Abbotsford bank

Police believe incident on Thursday night to be targeted

Langley Township council hopefuls take part in Q&A

A Voter’s Guide to key election questions.

Vaudeville keeps senior actors young, active

The Vaudevillians ready to storm the stage with ‘As Time Goes By’

Online fundraiser to cover funeral costs of motorcyclist killed in collision

Larry Nizio, 37, died after crash with pickup truck Oct. 12 in Abbotsford

Free ‘hoops’ fun brings Aldergrove youths together

Aldergrove Basketball Club revives the sport at Aldergrove Secondary

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Campus brawl leads to charge against B.C. football player

Takudzwa Timothy Brandon Gandire, a 21-year-old defensive back from Vancouver, is charged with assault causing bodily harm.

Stadium vendor seen in pizza spitting video pleads guilty

The 21-year-old’s sentencing is Nov. 15. His lawyer has said he understood what he did was wrong and was remorseful.

5 to start your day

Man killed in shooting at Abbotsford bank, ex-Surrey cop to appear in court after Creep Catchers sting and more

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

Jeromie and Jennifer Clark were found guilty of criminal negligence causing death

Fed report to show $19-billion deficit in 2017-18

The deficit is slightly smaller than Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s prediction of $19.4 billion in last winter’s budget

Vancouver Island homeowners buy more earthquake insurance than the rest of B.C.

Insurance Bureau of Canada says that’s because the perception of risk is greater on the Island

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Most Read