B.C. Ombudsperson coming here to listen to complaints

Representatives of the B.C. Ombudsperson’s office are coming to town.

Representatives of the B.C. Ombudsperson’s office are coming to town.

Residents of the Kelowna area, as well as the Vernon or Kamloops areas, who feel they have been unfairly treated by a provincial or local government agency will have  a chance to complain about that in person to someone who will listen.

The Ombudsperson’s office can investigate complaints about all provincial ministries and Crown corporations, colleges and universities, schools and boards of education, health authorities, local governments and self-governing professions.

The office’s mandate is to ensure that provincial and local public agencies are being fair to the people they serve.

Staff investigate complaints impartially and confidentially with the goal of finding resolutions that are fair to all involved.

While the office can’t force an agency to follow its suggestions, it is often able to resolve complaints because the proposed solutions are based on thorough and impartial investigation and consultation.

Services are provided free of charge.

Due to demand, appointments to make a complaint while the office is in each community need to be booked ahead of time by calling 1-800-567-3247.

While her staff is taking complaints from the public, Ombudsperson Kim Carter will meet with community groups and some of the public agencies that fall under her jurisdiction.

Going on regular tours is part of her ongoing efforts to bring the Office of the Ombudsperson to every community in B.C.

“We’re here to serve the entire province, and I want people to know they can come to us if they believe a public agency has not dealt with them fairly,” Carter said.

She noted that while her office receives the bulk of complaints by telephone, mail or online, some people are more comfortable raising their concerns face-to-face, and it’s important to her that this opportunity is available to people throughout the province.

The Ombudsperson is an independent officer of the legislature.

Carter was appointed by an all-party committee in 2006.

Her office responded to approximately 8,344 complaints and enquiries in 2009/10.

Representatives will be in Kelowna on March 21 and 22, Vernon on March 23 and Kamloops on March 24.